Camejo's last words in last night's debate

Jose G. Perez jgperez at
Thu Sep 25 19:07:32 MDT 2003

Funny that Eli thinks it was Camejo's *best* performance, I thought what
I saw in earlier debates was a better presentation.

Better because in the earlier debates he made a bigger point of
projecting building the green party as an alternative for working people
to the parties of the rich.

That said, maybe my overall disgust with last night's format colored my
view -- I thought Arianna's food fight tactics, which might be
entertaining on Crossfire or Politically Incorrect -- undermined any
sort of effort to clearly differentiate from the Democrats and

In principle, that food-fight format tremendously favored the two
candidates who are experienced on camera "talent" -- Arianna and
Schwarzenegger. The limits of Schwarzenegger's thespian skills were very
much in evidence, you could see him meandering around trying to recall
the one-liners fed to him by his handlers. Clearly a movie guy trying to
transition to live TV, where there are no retakes.

Arianna is much more experienced in this from her Crossfire and
Politically Incorrect appearances. By engaging her, Schwarzenegger was
clearly trying to build her up, figuring any additional votes she gets
are coming from Bustamante or Camejo or non-voters, and certainly not
from his side. 

As to this or that specific economic proposal, where Eli thinks one or
another thing said by Arianna was more "radical" than what Peter said, I
think Camejo was wise to stay on message with the single idea that the
rich pay less in taxes than working people, that taxes for the rich
should rise and fall for working people. I think that's a very
accessible way of trying to get across the class point, that rich people
get rich by screwing working people.

His defense of immigrants was once again sterling, and highlighted by a
couple of the bourgeois press commentators afterwards.

His response on health care (universal single-payer coverage) was the
only one that made sense. 

Very striking to me was the contrast between the California press
coverage and the national TV coverage. On the national coverage (CNN and
Fox, both corporate outlets whose CEO's are Republican partisans,
Murdoch and the less-well-known Rockefeller apparatchik Dick Parsons) it
was Arnold, Arnold, Arnold. The California press coverage seemed to be
an attempt to be much more balanced and "straight up the middle." 

There was obviously a very *conscious* effort on Peter's part to not get
into the food fight and instead project the greens as a serious party
with serious ideas. He repeatedly made a point of looking straight into
the camera or at the studio audience, and talking to "regular" people,
rather than engaging the other candidates. Although I understand it and
appreciate it politically, as a TV producer I know that's poor TV
technique in that kind of setting. There are probably ways of
accomplishing the same thing while engaging the others, but figuring it
out exactly would take a great deal of rehearsing, work with media
coaches etc., way beyond the means of this campaign.

That said, it is getting Camejo something of a following of respect
among the political and wider press corps as a very serious person with
a lot of serious ideas. There was one commentary a few days ago
describing the overall race that said something like that he was the
candidate with all the most serious proposals could not win. And it is
doing a great deal to legitimize the green party on the national scene. 


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