Editorial: Should politicians try to be celebrities to gain attention?

Editorial Board

Campaigning for the 2012 presidential race will be tuning up relatively soon, and every pundit, wanna-be or legit, will be chomping at the bit to deliver the “inside scoop” and edge folks’ decisions one way or the other.

The Iowa State Daily will offer opinions and coverage from its many columnists and reporters to help keep the public informed, but for now, the ISD Editorial Board will start off with a little examination of the illustrious celebrity influence on politics today.

Donald Trump is a “self-made” man with years of experience dealing with foreign powers, economic viability and prefers to speak fairly plainly when it comes to his view of a situation.

Put all this together, and you have a pretty good start for an ad campaign bent toward gathering the support of the American public for the office of the presidency.

Putting aside any actual views he holds, Trump gets a leg-up on the competition in part due to his television show, “The Apprentice,” as well as years of commercials and other appearances.

Working against him is the lack of political offices held, and the lack of experience in day-to-day politics — though, arguably, he has a great deal of “experience” because of his businesses, but that is a whole other argument.

For those politically on-the-ball, this information likely means diddly-squat because without known views and stances, a candidate’s background is dramatically secondary.

For many others, being well-known in the media is about the only way to know of these presidential-potentials before the full-on coverage overtakes all comedy shows or “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report” begin a heavy barrage of pot-shots.

As celebrities involve themselves in politics more and more, maybe it is time for some other presidential or political-officeholder potentials to jump on the train and get in the limelight so as to show how “hip” or charismatic they may be before the media gets to decide for them.

If they play offense, maybe they can help prepare themselves for the highly defensive game that is to come.

Would it be damaging to start making appearances on “SNL” or like shows to get your name out? Are people really expected in this day and age to heed the words of a politician they haven’t even heard multiple punchlines about?

Comedy aside, neglecting to understand the issues and stances of politicians is a reality among the American people; youth particularly just do not care beyond sound bites and headlines. This is not a good thing, but it is a fact that must be acknowledged.

Is it pandering for politicians to try to gain a modicum of fame before they begin battling each other with more rhetoric than action?

Judging by the influence on folks Sarah Palin has had despite the “SNL” skits and other roastings, maybe getting out in front of the media jokes is the correct play.

It can be argued that playing at celebrity is not appropriate for those seeking political office; that this would only lead to antics wholly damaging to the potential’s bid for office.

Perhaps, but looking to the past, when Nixon and Kennedy debated on TV, Kennedy won according to results from TV viewers because his appearance and movements were a big factor. That permanently altered the methods of campaigning.

Today we have a culture putting every aspect of politicians’ personal lives out on the Internet, and maybe celebrity is simply something that needs to become synonymous with politician in our changing landscape.