February 24, 2012

Romney's Stadium Daze

Here’s the point about the Romney stadium photo story. Political candidates have been partitioning off small portions of stadiums and arenas for years without anybody raising the roof about it.


(click for stadium view)

Just above, for example, is a photo of a McCain event Getty photographer Mario Tama sent me back in ’08 to clue me in on the scale and of this kind of staging. Now, if Romney had more gravitas, or the 2012 GOP campaign featured more weighty candidates deliberating in a more substantive way on more weighty issues, I’m sure that greater credence would more than offset yesterday’s viral fixation on an otherwise standard bit of stagecraft and there would have been only minor chatter and snickering about this.

Instead, however, Romney’s (now widely perceived) lack of substance made the trappings thoroughly relevant as a reflection of the emptiness and the overselling of the candidate, his campaign and the GOP race overall.

So let others attribute the media angle and the viral gawking to the power of social networking and the Twitterverse, or the fact that Romney leaked most of the contents of his “major economic address” over the previous week so that the media had nothing much else to focus on. The real explanation though comes down to a much simpler equation: Substantial candidates draw the focus to themselves and the content of the message while insubstantial candidates (or, ones largely perceived that way) leave other minds and eyes to wandering.

In this last shot, which not only blatantly emphasizes the empty arena, but makes it look like an overreaching Romney can’t draw a crowd beyond the programmed few, it seems that Romney’s perceived lack of substance is not just being called out but hung around his neck.

(ending slightly revised 2/25 – 8am PST)

(photo 1: Byron York / Twitter via The Atlantic. photo 2: Mario Tama/Getty Images. February 2008. Illinois.  photo 3: Scott Olson/Getty Images. caption: Members of the Detroit Economic club gather to hear a speech by Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney during a luncheon at Ford Field on February 24, 2012 in Detroit, Michigan.)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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