Thursday, September 27, 2007

A Touch of the Old Shrum Magic

British PM Gordon Brown has made a big splash at the Labour Party Conference. The dour rumpled technocrat came out swinging with a new hairstyle and a new passionate speaking style.

He’s certainly saying many of the right things regarding terrorism in the clip below (except for the absence of the verboten word “Islam.”) Note the special guest cameo appearance by Smeats, the Glaswegian Jack Bauer. Also, is it me or is Gordon Brown an unnerving combination of Richard Nixon and Dan Rather? Another reason to outlaw human cloning.

But fast forward and listen from about 3:40 onward. Sound familiar? It should if you’re an American voter.

Do you hear the revealing personal anecdotes, the sticky compassion dripping from every word, the shameless tugging at heartstrings? The Times online via An Englishman’s Castle has done a bit of pattern mapping to refresh your memory and it seems Gordon’s words bear the mark of the beast:

Al Gore 2000 nomination acceptance speech: I know my own imperfections. I know that sometimes people say I'm too serious, that I talk too much substance and policy.
Gordon Brown: Sometimes people say I am too serious and I fight too hard and maybe that's true.

Al Gore 2000 nomination acceptance speech: I pledge to you tonight: I will work for you every day and I will never let you down.
Gordon Brown: This is my pledge to the British people: I will not let you down.

John Kerry 2004 nomination acceptance speech: And what can I say about Teresa? She has the strongest moral compass of anyone I know
Gordon Brown: And this is my moral compass.

Bill Clinton 1995 State of the Union: As we move into this next century, everybody matters; we don't have a person to waste.
Gordon Brown: This is the century where our country cannot afford to waste the talents of anyone

Of course, that treacle you hear is extruded by none other than Bob Shrum, wordsmith to every formerly rising star in the Democratic Party.

For those unfamiliar with Shrum, he is the Angel of Political Death, the sea anchor on the ship of state, the losing-est political consultant since Joseph Goebbels.

Fresh from the John Kerry campaign, trailing clouds of glory and having exhausted all possibilities for defeat among the now canny Dems, has Shrum turned his magic on old Blighty?

I’d say that doesn’t bode well for Gordon Brown.

But more importantly, why would a mature political organization like the Labour Party want to imitate the transparent insincerity of the American political culture? Are American campaign consultants actually respected outside of the U.S.? Do overseas statesmen think these hacks are going to help them win elections?

And how can it be that the least imaginative consultant in history, a man who clearly cannot conceive of a single new talking point and therefore must recycle Spotted Dick from a decade ago, how can this guy support himself as a communicator?

And I ask you Washington, D.C. . . . what do you have to do to never work in this town again?

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