What rhymes with Kucinich?

by Caroline McKenzie | 11/19/03 6:00am

Ever think that politicians just have no clue what the youth of America want? Well, your premonition is pretty accurate.

Rock the Vote, a non-partisan organization with a mission to enlighten America's youth about voting, challenged eight of nine democratic presidential candidates (Rep. Richard Gephardt of Missouri abstained) to create a 30-second advertisement specifically targeted at drawing in adolescent attention.

Here The Dartmouth presents you with a candidate-by-candidate guide:

JOHN EDWARDS

John Edwards believes in your generation. Or, at least, so he says. But he's apparently not comfortable enough to talk straight to them.

Edwards' ad shows Ashley Bell, a college democrat leader, speaking about what he believes in. Afterwards, Edwards concurs with Bell's ideas, and finally is seen shaking his hand.

Bell says to the camera, "I believe in my generation," and Edwards proceeds to agree with him. But then Edwards goes on to talk about this generation, our generation, as the generic "they." He concludes, "They deserve a president who believes in them."

Yeah, tell me about it.

WESLEY CLARK

Any American teenager who secretly wished that the American president could be cool can take solace in Wesley Clark's commercial, in which the former general waxes whimsical about Outkast.

Clark's commercial is by far the best of the lot. Speaking to a group of students, Clark speedily lays out some of his platform, and ends by saying, "I don't care what the other candidates say, I don't think OutKast is really breaking up. Andre 3000 and Big Boi just cut solo records. That's all."

Rock on Wes Clark. Rock on.

DENNIS KUCINICH

This conundrum of an ad is a mix of shots of the Iraqi war, people on the street and Kucinich pounding a podium set to a homemade gangsta rap that starts off with the brilliantly original line, "De-de-de-de-Dennis Kucinich." Which obviously begs the question, "What on earth rhymes with Kucinich?"

Apparently the MC had no clue either, because the next line is "Who you know run for prez with no corporate sponsor?" Then there's Ani DiFranco extolling the brilliance of Kucinich in case the gansta rap alienated the folk crowd.

But DiFranco saves her hide by adding that he has the "best intentions." Way to be euphemistic.

JOHN KERRY

I fell asleep after the first second of generic inspirational blandness, effectively proving his inability to capture my generation's attention.

HOWARD DEAN

Dean's commercial is probably the second best of the lot. Although it does employ the generic techno music, its fast-paced cutting between sped-up images of Dean rallies cut and the word-by-word appearance of the message "You have the power to take your country back," makes it both aesthetically pleasing and attention-catching.

Considering the success of "Generation Dean," he had a step-up on this competition before it began.

CAROL MOSELEY BRAUN

Apparently, Braun's campaign organizers don't have "iMovie." They appear to be stuck with the 90s method of VCR-to-VCR editing. The commercial is simply shots of Braun preaching at a podium, and her last few words get cut off to display a blackdrop with the line "Carol Moseley Braun." Extra points for creativity, Ambassador.

JOSEPH LIEBERMAN

Apparently Lieberman thinks that all young voters have ADD. His commercial is a frenetic series of pictures and facts about Lieberman cut-in over a background of sped-up road scenes and set to a techno track (again). It's not that it's bad, in reality; it's just that it looks more like a cheesy commercial for a sports sedan than a political campaign commercial.

AL SHARPTON

Democratic candidates sure seem to think that young voters like techno. Sharpton's is the third out of the eight to incorporate techno music in the background of his commercial. But Sharpton's commercial is otherwise relatively effective.

But what exactly is "Walking the Talk" supposed to mean?

So next summer when you apply for an internship in a campaign office, remember that you can serve politicians their coffee and stuff their envelopes, but they will probably never understand you. At least try to get a job for Wes Clark. Then you might get to hear music other than techno.

The ads are available at www.rockthevote.com/rtvcnnvideo.php

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