Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Mike Gravel in Lund: Abe Simpson?

As I mentioned before, I took the opportunity to go and listen to former U.S. senator Mike Gravel as he stopped by for a talk in Lund yesterday.

Gravel ran for president in the Democratic primaries and dropped out pretty quick; he then tried to run as a candidate for the Libertarian Party, which also failed. However, he gained fame and cyber-stardom for appearing in some of the most avant-garde political campaign videos ever to be produced.

Indeed, before Gravel hit the stage, the videos "Rock" and "Power to the People vs. Give Peace a Chance" were shown on a large screen, creating a strange genre-synthesis moment as YouTube met cinema.

So you might have thought that Gravel would talk about his presidential campaign. And he started out by giving the background story for the "Rock" video. Apparently, Gravel had no idea what was going on. He was told to stare into the camera and throw rocks in a lake (as several takes were shot, the film crew had brought a whole bunch of rocks from L.A. to the location in San Fransisco). The producers/directors of the film asked Gravel whether he wanted to give his approval for the final cut. He answered "It's your stuff. Do what you want with it." Then he left the set.

This intrigued me - a candidate for the U.S. presidency not caring about how he is presented in the media - and I asked him if he had the impression that the online videos had created an image of him that he felt he could not control and how he felt about that. Gravel's answer was as surprising as obvious: he needed help in order to break through, and he needed it dearly because he is broke. The fame he gained during the campaign has made it possible for him to tour the world and sell books. As he explained, his first wife takes his retirement pension, and his second wife keeps him alive.

This is the key to why Gravel could go avant-garde: he had nothing to loose. He never believed he could actually win the nomination: running for president was just a way of getting a platform for discussing his political pet: the national initiative, basically a plan for direct democracy.

Tomorrow night, at 8 pm, Barack Obama is airing 30 minute ads on NBC, CBS and Fox - causing the Major League Baseball to postpone a game in the World Series by 8 minutes, should it be necessary. Obama can afford a lot of things, apparently, but he can't afford to be avant-garde.

So, how was Mike Gravel? Well, his main point was that representative government is bad. I was not convinced. Also, his rather angry style and plentiful divertments made him look a little like Abe Simpson - an old man aimlessly raving on about whatever comes to his mind.

I guess that might be a little unfair to a man that successfully fought the Nixon administration in the 1970s - among other things making the Pentagon papers publicly available - but I'm not sad about him not becoming the commander in chief of the world's remaining superpower.

2 comments:

Eric B said...

I would love to have been there! Did anyone ask his opinion of the globalists' nefarious plans to create a total info awareness one world government big brother society?

Nils said...

Er...no.