- The Washington Times - Monday, September 15, 2008

CMA’s MIA

“Country insiders often bemoan the fact that female artists seem to generally have a tougher time of it at radio than male artists do, or that they at least seem to have fewer slots open to them. That is perennially reflected in the nominations for the CMAs’ highly coveted Entertainer of the Year prize. How long has it been since a woman was even nominated in the category? …

“Where is Taylor Swift? … The category really doesn’t have anything to do with who had a particularly artistic year; it’s largely an ongoing Career Achievement award for performers who are still active superstars. You have to ‘earn’ your way into the category through years of headlining amphitheaters and arenas …. And yet, year after year, when Kenny Chesney wins the award …, he comes back to the press room afterward and talks about how good it feels to get the trophy that the industry bestows upon the guy who has been the best or most visible ambassador of country music to the outside world. If that’s really the standard, then, … wasn’t Swift undeniably country’s Ambassador of the Year in 2008? …

“For the CMAs, I understand that Entertainer of the Year is like some heavyweight boxing belt, a mantle to be assumed and then given up only when one’s time has passed. … But the top prize is the only one that gets much attention or is remembered year after year, and the CMAs don’t do much for maintaining a sense of topical relevance or diversifying the brand by handing that one out to Kenny year after year in a contest that feels as preordained as a North Korean election.”

Chris Willman, writing in “CMA nominations: Not so ‘Swift’?” on Entertainment Weekly.com Sept. 10.

Politics of stupidity

“Years from now, presidential historians will look back on Sept. 9 as the day the 2008 campaign got completely and utterly stupid. … And sorry to say, most of the blame belongs to McCain (although Obama himself is not totally innocent). …

” … Obama went on stage in Lebanon, Va., and said of McCain’s newfound ‘change’ message that ‘you can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig.’ … [The McCain campaign] was ready to pounce. …

“The point, of course, was get everyone speculating about whether or not Obama had committed a heinous act of ‘sexism’ and change the day’s debate from education to gender insensitivity. Never mind that ‘you can put lipstick on a pig’ is an old idiomatic expression. Never mind that Obama was talking about McCain - not Palin - when he used it. Never mind that Obama also said that ‘you can wrap an old fish in a piece of paper called ‘change,’ [but] it’s still gonna stink after eight years.’ Never mind that McCain’s former press secretary, Torie Clarke, wrote a book called ‘Lipstick on a Pig: Winning in the No-Spin Era.’ Never mind that Elizabeth Edwards once compared McCain’s health-care plan to ‘painting lipstick on a pig.’ … And never mind that McCain said the same thing of Hillary Clinton’s health-care plan the following month …

“According to McCain, Obama wasn’t doing what he, Clarke, Edwards and Obama himself had done before … In McCain’s view, Obama was actually dumb enough to mount the stage, face the cameras and boldly announce that Sarah Palin is a porker. Or at least that’s what McCain - a man whose party has long decried the routine accusations of ‘sexism’ and ‘racism’ associated with identity politics, and whose VP said earlier this year that playing the gender card ‘doesn’t do us any good, women in politics’ - is hoping that the rest of us are dumb enough to believe. Next thing you know, he’ll accuse his opponent of calling Palin a fish.”

Andrew Romano, writing in “The Politics of Stupidity” on Newsweek.com Sept. 10.

Wayne for VP?

“I happened on this early sample of campaign comedy printed in my column of Oct. 2, 1968:

“‘John Wayne was first queried on his rumored running for vice-president with George Wallace while lying underneath a horse (that’s correct, underneath a horse!) on the ‘True Grit’ site in Montrose, Colo. Wayne’s first comment was, ‘What a … time to ask me a question like that!’ He then answered with the classic and somewhat unprintable answer … (Described as a ‘barnyard phrase’ by wire services) …

“Wayne had told us after his visit to the Republican Convention he would never run for political office, despite his always-active interest … As for the Wallace invite, he joked yesterday afternoon, ‘I asked him to send me a script, and I also asked Pilar-bird - but she said NO!’ Wayne didn’t think it would sound too well for the vice-presidential yacht to be named ‘The Wild Goose’ - the monicker of his converted minesweeper.

“Ah, forty years later, politics continue to makes strange bedfellows.”

Army Archerd, writing in “John Wayne for Vice-President?” in Variety.com Sept. 4.

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