My students this semester are hilarious and terrific.
I have to admit that most of the time my students are hilarious and terrific, but this semester has brought classes full of sunny dispositions and meaningful questions - the most potent of academic combinations. Maybe there is something in the air: My friends and colleagues Niel Brasher and Mark Sachleben have also said their students this semester are fab.
But my students are better.
I was trying to define this "Invisible Primary" we write about, and the questions kept coming: "Does it really start RIGHT after the last presidential election?" Yes. "Do people REALLY pay attention to this?" Yes. "If this is all about getting attention, then isn't EVERY politician running for president?" No. Wait. Yes.
But a few folks are really running, and so I asked my students how they could tell the genuine contenders from the camera-greedy-solipsists who run amok in Our Nations Capital. They answered: "Because we hear from them ALOT."
See what I mean? I love these kids! Even the ones who routinely call me old. I'm talking to you, Trey.
Therefore, using "we hear from them ALOT" as the new media metric, right off the bat we turn to my man Marco Rubio on today's Sunday morning chat shows. In a tip of the hat to Passover, I ask: "What makes today different from any other day?" It ain't because he's leaning back. Au contraire: Dude is leaning FORWARD, doing what we refer to in the biz as "The Full Ginsburg." This is a shorthand way of saying Sen. Rubio went on ALL FIVE SHOWS in one morning, a bar-setting feat first accomplished by Monica Lewinsky lawyer William Ginsburg during the bar-setting political sex scandal. That in itself is a crap-ton of media, but apparently Rubio was also set to go on Univision and Telemundo just to round things out across demographic lines. I am going to give him today's IP "ALOT of Media" award for just showing up and presenting. Good Lord: I am tired just thinking about his day.
One of our sunniest and most meaningful students, Nicholas, caught the story that Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is off to the Granite State next month for a GOP fundraiser. Going to New Hampshire is one of the hallmarks of Invisible Primary action (First in the nation! Just ask them!), and the media coverage of his trip is going to be enormous. Already, the esteemed Economist published this piece about Jindal's presidential aspirations and included the joke that Jindal has been making about his White House dreams: “I mean, come on. What chance does a skinny guy with a dark complexion and a funny name have to get elected president?” Bobby: Don't make me go all Lloyd Bentsen on you and quote the 1988 Veep debate, OK. Comparisons are a dangerous game, mostly because so far the only guy you have been compared to is "Kenneth the Page" from 30 Rock. Just saying.
Finally, we are hearing about Rep. Anthony Weiner ALOT too, thanks to the NY Times piece that dropped today, which was a mammoth article filled with self-examination, therapy-laden contemplation, and not a small amount of weltschmerz. His Invisible Primary has less to do with presidential politics and more to do with personal politics, but I have to, have to, HAVE TO link to this picture from the peerless New York Post cover, which portends Weiner's pickle should he decide to run. That's right. I wrote: "Weiner's pickle." I am officially a 12 year old boy.
So if the media metric says ALOT of coverage leads to IP significance, I'm going with these three as the week's big winners. The joy of the Invisible Primary is that the field expands and contracts to fit as many contenders as possible, all vying for ALOT of media attention. Good thing there is alot of media to attend to them.