7 DAYS ON THE TRAIL
NOTE FROM THE ELECTRONIC EDITOR : 1
INTRODUCTION TO THE ELECTRONIC EDITION, MANDATED AND OVERSEEN BY LITTLE, BROWN AND COMPANY OR IPUBLISH.COM OR WHATEVER THE ACTUAL VECTOR HERE MIGHT BE 1
WHO CARES 4
GLOSSARY OF RELEVANT CAMPAIGN TRAIL VOCAB, MOSTLY COURTESY OF JIM C. AND THE NETWORK NEWS TECHS 8
SUBSTANTIALLY FARTHER BEHIND THE SCENES THAN YOU’RE APT TO WANT TO BE 11
SUCK IT UP 42
NOTE FROM THE ELECTRONIC EDITOR :
There are a couple of places in the following text when the author indicates that a graphic is to follow, usually by writing something like “_____ is reproduced here.” In the eBook formats that are text-only you will, of course, not be seeing the graphic. I tried to explain that to the author, but, well, he doesn’t so much get this eBook thing. So bear with him, and rest assured that, in this case, the words are more important than the pictures. Also, this particular author, as you probably know if you’ve read any of his other work, is fond of footnotes. He has used them only sparingly in this piece, and we’ve made them into hyperlinks (with his permission, though, again, I’m not positive that he understood what I meant by “hyperlink”). Please do click on the asterisks when you get to them, if only because I’ve spent quite a bit of time reassuring the author, who is, you could say, particularly concerned with syntax, that the footnotes will indeed be in there.
INTRODUCTION TO THE ELECTRONIC EDITION, MANDATED AND OVERSEEN BY LITTLE, BROWN AND COMPANY OR IPUBLISH.COM OR WHATEVER THE ACTUAL VECTOR HERE MIGHT BE
Dear Person Reading This:
This is the part where I’m supposed to say what the following document is and where it came from.
From what I understand, this past fall the powers that be at Rolling Stone magazine decided they wanted to get four writers who were not political journalists to do articles on the four big presidential candidates and their day-to-day campaigns in the early primaries. Luckily my own resumé’s got ‘NOT A POLITICAL JOURNALIST’ right at the very top, and Rolling Stone magazine called, and pitched the idea, and furthermore said I could pick whichever candidate I wanted (which of course was flattering, although in retrospect they probably told the other three writers the same thing—magazines are always very flattering and carte blancheish when they’re trying to get you to do something). The only one I could see even trying to write about was U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), whom I’d seen a tape of on Charlie Rose in 1999 and had decided was either incredibly honest and forthright and cool or else just insane. There were other reasons for wanting to write about McCain and party politics, too, all of which are explored in considerable detail in the document itself and so I don’t see any reason to inflict them on you here.
The Electronic Editor (actual title, like on his office letterhead and everything) says I should insert here that I, the author, am not a Republican, and that actually I ended up voting for U.S. Sen. Bill Bradley (D-NJ) in the Illinois primary. I don’t personally see how my own politics are anybody’s business, but I’m guessing the point of the insertion is to make clear that there were no partisan GOP motives or neoconservative agendas behind the article even though parts of it might appear to be almost droolingly pro-McCain.
What else to tell you. At first I was supposed to follow McCain around in New Hampshire as he campaigned for 1 Feb.’s big primary there. Then, around Christmastime, Rolling Stone decided they wanted to abort the assignment because Bush2was way ahead in the polls and outspending McCain ten to one and they thought McCain was going to get flattened in New Hampshire and that his campaign would be over by the time anything could come out in Rolling Stone and that they’d look like idiots. Then on 1 Feb., when the early NH returns had McCain ahead, the magazine suddenly turned around and called again and said the article was a Go again but that now they wanted me to fly to out to NH and start that night , which—because I happen to have dogs with professionally diagnosed emotional problems that require special care, and it always takes me several days to recruit, interview, reference-check, select, instruct, and field-test a dogsitter—was simply out of the question. Some of this is probably not too germane, but the point is that I ended up flying out the following week and riding with the McCain2000 traveling press corps from 7 to 13 February, which in retrospect was probably the most interesting and complicated week of the whole GOP race.
Especially the complicated part. For it turned out that the more interesting a campaign-related person or occurrence or intrigue or strategy or happenstance was, the more time and page-space it took to make sense of it, or, if it made no sense, to describe what it was and explain why it didn’t make sense but was interesting anyway if viewed in a certain context that then itself had to be described, and so on. With the end result being that the actual document delivered per contract to Rolling Stone magazine turned to be longer and more complicated than they’d asked for. Umm, quite a bit longer, actually. In fact the article’s editor pointed out that running the whole thing would take up most of Rolling Stone ’s text-space and might even cut into the percentage of the magazine reserved for advertisements, which obviously would not do.1And so at least half the article got cut out, plus some of the more complicated stuff got way compressed and simplified, which was especially disappointing because, as previously mentioned, the most complicated stuff also tended to be the most interesting.
The point here is that what you’ve just now purchased the ability to download or have emailed to you or whatever (it’s been explained to me several times but I still don’t understand it) is the original uncut document, the as it were Director’s Cut, verbally complete and unoccluded by any lush photos of puffy-lipped girls with their Diesels half-unzipped, etc.
There are only a couple changes. All typos and atrocious factual boners have now (hopefully) been fixed, for one thing. There were also certain places where the original article talked about the fact that it was appearing in Rolling Stone magazine and that whoever was reading it was sitting there actually holding a copy of Rolling Stone , etc., and most of these got changed because it just seemed too weird to keep telling you you were reading this in an actual 10" x 12" magazine when you now quite clearly are not. (Again, this was the Electronic Editor’s suggestion.) You will note, though, that the author is usually still referred to in the document as‘ Rolling Stone’ or ‘RS.’ I’m sorry if this looks weird to you, but I have declined to change it. Part of the reason is that I was absurdly proud of my Rolling Stone Press Badge and liked it that most of the pencils and campaign staff referred to me as ‘the guy from Rolling Stone .’ I will confess that I even borrowed a friend’s battered old black motorcycle-jacket to wear on the Trail so I’d better project the kind of edgy, vaguely dangerous vibe I imagined an RS reporter ought to give off. (You have to understand that I hadn’t read Rolling Stone in quite some time.) Plus, journalistically, my covering the campaign for this particular organ turned out to have a big effect on what I got to see and how various people conducted themselves when I was around. For example, it was the main reason why the McCain2000 High Command pretty much refused to have anything to do with me2 but why the network techs were so friendly and forthcoming and let me hang around with them (the sound techs, in particular, were Rolling Stone fans from way back). Finally, the document itself is sort of rhetorically directed at voters of a particular age-range and attitude, and I’m figuring that the occasional Rolling Stone reference might help keep the reasons for some of this rhetoric clear.
There is of course another weird thing, which is that we all now know certain facts that the time-specific document itself did not—like that McCain lost the SC primary on 19 Feb., came back a couple days later and won in MI and AZ, then seemed rather mysteriously to self-destruct, the Shrub beating him in ND and Virginia and then totally smearing him on Super Tuesday, right after which McCain ‘suspended’ his campaign and then later issued that excruciating gun-to-the-temple ‘endorsement’ of the Shrub—and now by the time this document is even downloadable the GOP convention will probably be underway and the big issue may be whether Bush can persuade McCain to be the ticket’s VP (not a chance in hell), etc. But so in case you’re thinking it’s rather quixotic of the author (or crazy of Little, Brown/iPublish) to believe that there might still be anything of real interest in an article about the early primaries, let us here note two things. The first is that some of psychopolitical strategies behind the Shrub’s coup de grâce on Super Tuesday were basically the same as the tactics the network news techs saw Bush2000 using in South Carolina four weeks earlier (which latter tactics get talked about at length in the section of the document called NEGATIVITY ). And because, at least as far as I’ve seen, there hasn’t ever been much interesting or accurate stuff in the political media on just what exactly happened to McCain’s campaign all of a sudden in early March, the techs’ masterful analysis of the SC Psy-Ops appears to me still to have real teeth. (N.B.: There may in fact now be a retrospective postscript to or FN in the document [the Electronic Editor won’t like it, so it’ll be there only if it seems 100% necessary and the E.E. can be won over] making the SC–Super T. parallels a little more explicit.)
The other thing I’d note is simply what the article’s about, which turned out to be not so much the campaign of one impressive guy, but rather what McCain’s candidacy and the brief weird excitement it generated might reveal about how millennial politics and all its packaging and marketing and strategy and media and Spin and general sepsis makes us U.S. voters feel , inside, and whether anyone running for anything can even be ‘real’ anymore—whether what we actually want is something real or something else. Whether it works on your screen or palm or not, for me the whole thing ended up relevant in ways far beyond any one man or magazine. If you don’t agree, I imagine you’ll have only to hit a button to make it go away.
—Guy from RS
30 June 2000