“The first duty in life is to assume a pose,” wrote Oscar Wilde. “What the second duty is, no one has yet discovered.” A cynic might say the same of Presidential politics. Barack Obama posed as the bearer of hope. George W. Bush posed as a compassionate conservative. John McCain posed as a maverick.
Perhaps more than most, Tim Pawlenty, has been seeking a pose of his own. As it stands, most Americans don’t know who he is or, yet, care. He tends to come across as genial, smart and bland. His recently-published pre-presidential memoir suggests his campaign is preparing to pose him as the Midwestern working man, who came up from the meat yards of Minneasota understanding the needs of guys who wear khaki Carhartt jackets. His recent online efforts suggest a different pose, as the hero of a Hollywood blockbuster, a sort of Bruce Willis for the GOP. Just watch the video Pawlenty released today. (The not-yet-a-campaign has blocked embedding.)
This is a pose, it should be said, that Pawlenty has literally bought off the shelf. The video, like the last “trailer” the Pawlenty almost-campaign released, is the work of Lucas Baiano, a talented young video director whom I wrote about last summer. Baiano did the Republican Governors Association spots that lambasted Barack Obama with “Remember November” videos, a theme that seemed to echo the popular myth of Guy Fawkes.
Baiano did the same for Chris Christie, also working on the RGA account.
The question is whether Pawlenty is overcompensating by using Baiano’s emotive, hyper-Hollywood style. Baiano’s videos are captivating, but their stylistic qualities tend to overwhelm the substance. In today’s video, shots of hockey coach Pawlenty are cut together with Marine heel snaps, fighter jets and roars from the sort of crowd that Pawlenty has yet to draw. This is a pose that will get Pawlenty more notice online. (I doubt I would have written this blog post if the video was boring.) Whether Pawlenty can sustain the pose without the aide of Final Cut Pro and a twenty-something auteur is another question altogether.