What happens when one idea segues into another? Here’s what happens to me:
The presidential race. Obama has it wrapped up, as we predicted in this column on February 20, just a few days after Super Tuesday. (Of course, we also predicted — in the issue of January 23, shortly after Michigan and Nevada — that Clinton would wrap it up. But, as we pointed out then, the trick to being a successful political commentator is to have absolutely no shame whatsoever and to never let past mistakes diminish your enthusiasm for more predictions.
That said, let me continue with a few more predictions.
First Obama will not pick Clinton as his vice presidential running mate, but he will let everyone know that he is seriously considering her. Why? Because he’s no fool and he knows that he needs her and her supporters to win in November. He also knows that Clinton has done him a major favor by prolonging the race. She helped him energize hundreds of thousands of more voters in the late primary states — witness North Carolina. More important, her candidacy helped put the spotlight on Rev. Wright, and gave Obama a chance to dry clean that dirty laundry well before the general election.
Of course, even if offered the vice-presidential spot, Hillary would decline. Why? Because she’s no fool and she knows there’s no upside to the job if he wins but there is a downside if he loses: People could blame her and her negativity ratings. And that would not help her case in 2012 if the Democrats are searching for a candidate to end 12 straight years of Republican rule.
But — another prediction here — Hillary and even Bill will campaign as extensively as Obama permits them to do for the Democratic ticket in the fall. Why? Because Hillary will be seeking help to pay down her campaign debt and because she wants to look like a trouper, just in case Obama withers in November.
The vice-presidential picks. In that column from February 20, I also offered some vice-presidential nominations. My pick for Obama was so far off the wall that I am going to forget I even made it (you could look it up but I hope you won’t). But I will stick by my prediction for McCain: Mitt Romney, who can appease conservative businessmen who still think McCain is a nut job and who can represent youth on the ticket. Romney is “only” 61.
Animal Farm. Now that it is finally half time of the political television season, I have turned my cable tuner back to the animal shows, just in time to catch the remarkable National Geographic documentary, “Caught on Safari: Battle at Kruger.” The hour-long show tells the story of an eight-minute home video taken by an American tourist in 2004 while on a photo safari at the Kruger National Park in South Africa. The video shows a herd of African buffalo encountering a pride of lions. The lions attack, and separate a calf from the rest of the buffalo. The calf ends up in a watering hole while a half dozen lions attempt to choke it to death.
The lions, relatively young and inexperienced as hunters (or so the experts in the documentary surmise), take their time killing their prey. And while they fumble around trying to get a suitable death grip on the hapless calf, another beast enters the fray. A crocodile strikes the calf on the bank of the watering hole.
That precipitates a tug of war, with the calf as the rope. The lions soon prevail, dragging both the calf and the croc up the bank, until the crocodile retreats. The lions get back to their prey, and at that point the video takes its most remarkable turn. The buffalo herd returns, and drives the lions away from the calf. One lion is tossed unceremoniously into the air by the horns of one powerful buffalo. The rest of the lions scatter and the calf struggles to its feet and hobbles back into the herd. Disney could not have scripted a happier ending.
“You could sell that video,” one of the tourists exclaims to the amateur cameraman.
But not immediately. Back in the States the major animal channels all decline — they do not accept videos from amateurs. Then, instead of copying the video onto a CD to mail to a friend, the tourist uploads the video to YouTube, where it soon builds an audience. Within a year or so more than 30 million views are recorded. Eventually National Geographic calls the tourist, and a deal is struck.
Television on the Internet. For me “Battle at Kruger” segues into the Michael Vick case (August 22, 2007) and to thoughts of this year’s Kentucky Derby and what PETA will do next.
But it also segues to a little column I wrote back on September 26, 2007, commenting on the advent of feature movies and full length television shows produced by nothing more than a hand held video camera and a DSL line. And we had a hometown example: Dan Brady, a former television sportscaster now in his early 50s and living in central New Jersey.
Brady, wanting to keep his hand in the sportscasting game, joins forces with an Internet entrepreneur in Newtown, PA, and devises a plan for a sports talk show, televised and “broadcast” over the Internet. Since then he has done just that, cranking out his first 25 shows or so from “a basement somewhere in Pennsylvania.”
I checked out his first few shows (www.newcenturytv.biz/bradysports/) and found them to be an engaging change of pace from the 8 by 10 glossies that trade sports banter on the big commercial shows. But I worried about how the show would ever build an audience. As I wrote back then: “For every 10 viewers you attract you have to figure that a certain percentage will say, ‘hey, I could do that,’ and then set out with their $500 camera and DSL line and — even without Nike as a sponsor — just do it.”
Brady continues to just do it. I google him and find his show not only at its host website but also at YouTube and some YouTube imitators, including AOL video, bliptv.com, and mefeedia.com. I catch one episode on YouTube, where he is still lagging behind the lions of Kruger Park in the ratings — his show has only 100 views and my visit presumably makes 101.
But Brady’s reach is growing. This past Monday night, May 12, he moved his show to a new venue: Hooters at Mercer Mall. Another subject, for another time.