Let’s Hear it for the Boy…cott!

I won’t watch the reboot of Roseanne on ABC. This does not mean I am close-minded, want her removed from the airwaves or in any way prefer she is silenced, censored or modified.

It doesn’t even mean I am angry that 18.1 million people tuned in to watch her in actual real time – an unheard of number for the premiere of a prime time network show these days.

Nor does it say I want to opt out of the national conversation or give up my status as an incurable, inveterate culture vulture.

Wink #hehehe

It simply means I want no part of a woman who in March 2018 basks in the glory of a congratulatory phone call from Donald J. Trump, enthusing of the exchange the day after her ratings triumph:

It was pretty exciting, I’ll tell you that much…They said, ‘Hold please for the President of the United States of America’ and that was about the most exciting thing, ever. It was just very sweet of him to congratulate us. 

I find nothing about Trump exciting, and certainly never sweet. I believe he is destroying our country, and democracy along with it, by his corruption, his racism, his incompetence and his vile treatment towards anyone or anything that opposes him.

Oh is that all???

I believe deep down that if he got his way we would not only be under the thumb of Russia, we would BE RUSSIA.

I also find everything the actual Roseanne is pushing under the guise of her fictional doppelganger to be disingenuous. Like Trump, I am convinced she is first and foremost out for herself – using our red vs. blue divide as a way to once again be relevant and earn wheel barrels full of money.

Roseanne is definitely hitting the slopes

The thought of giving her 150,000th of one single penny is even more nauseating to me than eating a side of the watery canned peas and carrots my mom used to serve to us at dinner every week – and that’s really saying something. (Note: DM me on Twitter for my sister’s handle and she will confirm).

The same cannot be said about Fox TV host Laura Ingraham and what I hope is her curtailment at her network and elsewhere after she chose to bully and gloat about David Hogg, high school student and Parkland school shooting survivor, NOT getting into four of the colleges he applied to.

By consistently demonizing the teenager, not to mention his friends, who had just witnessed 14 of their friends shot to death before their own ears and/or eyes on Valentine’s Day, Ingraham and her colleagues at Fox have been the leaders of a right wing media assault of ADULTS hoping to make these TEENAGERS the subject of national ridicule by millions more of their viewers by fanning the flames of resentment that will implicitly urge as many of their acolytes as possible to go on virtual attack.

Nothing would please me more than seeing Ms. Ingraham’s ambitions flattened and watching the fire-breathing flames of hate she espouses daily turned directly back at her. And with the help of Mr. Hogg and others far more powerful than me and my tweets and my blog and my blah, blah, blah, I might be getting my wish.

Oh I’m not enjoying this… not even a little bit

Thanks to Mr. Hogg and his fan base, so far she has been dropped by these ELEVEN sponsors:

Hulu, Nestle, Johnson & Johnson, Trip Advisor, Nutrish, Stitch Fix, Expedia, Liberty Mutual, Wayfair and Jos. A. Bank.

Panicked, she issued a faux apology that read:

On reflection, in the spirit of Holy Week, I apologize for any upset or hurt my tweet caused him or any of the brave victims of Parkland…

Notice there was no regret about any of her words, which she obviously stands by (Note: And presumably believes Jesus would, too). Ms. Ingraham obviously understands what her base wants. But so does young Mr. Hogg, who wisely called her out on her B.S., noting it was due to a loss of revenue and not any real desire to change her or her network’s behavior.

Pass the Purell

Had Mr. Hogg done a little more research (Note: Though perhaps he has) he would know the full story. Yes, he called her out for tweeting at basketball greats LeBron James and Kevin Durant to shut up and dribble when they gave an interview and dared to express support for fellow players taking a knee during the national anthem, but she has also:

– Said Mexican immigrants have come here to “murder and rape our people.”

– Called Planned Parenthood employees “heinous, Hitlerian freaks.”

– And said the NAACP is “a push organization for racist sentiments.”

More importantly, this goes further back than that – all the way to her college years.

In the eighties, as editor of the Dartmouth Review, she called her campus’s Gay Students Association “cheerleaders for latent campus sodomites” and sent a reporter to secretly tape the meeting because she disliked they were treated as any other student organization where the campus would provide an activity fee ($100 per student) for them to operate.

Oh yes she did

So much so that she then went on to print the names of gay students present at the meeting, outing some of them in the process. All this occurred at the height of the AIDS crisis in the 80s. #WWJD.

A decade later she did go on to write a 1997 editorial in The Washington Post explaining her past and to admit her views were somewhat modified when she found out her brother Curtis was gay and that his lover was dying of AIDS.

She also asked not to be judged about things she did in college – which somehow seems to presuppose she learned her lesson about hurling personal attacks towards young people who represent causes she disagrees with.

But well, clearly she hasn’t.

She definitely hasn’t #tellemjessica

Though maybe this would be different if David Hogg were her brother with a girlfriend who had sustained life-threatening injuries from gun violence that she could then see David caring for up close and personal.

Oh, and for the record, she is still NOT A SUPPORTER of gay marriage.

Roseanne does support gay marriage and was one of the first to feature out gay characters on network television in a more than casual way. Does this somewhat temper my personal line in the sand?   Perhaps a little, though not entirely.

Not impressed #whatever

There is a difference in choosing to personally boycott the work of someone with whom you disagree and don’t respect vs. urging the national boycott of someone who bullies minors, rages against non-white and non-straight minorities and eggs on her millions of followers to do the same.

There is free speech but also the free market. They simultaneously co-exist and there is a cause and effect to each.

One last word on Ms. Ingraham –

Do we have to?? #OKChair #staywithme

While so many of her contemporaries have evolved through personal experience she has remained her same strident professional self as she pursues, what exactly? Personal fame and fortune? World domination? If either is true, and they seem so, the most dangerous, real-life comparison that quickly comes to mind are the actions and/or motivations of our current Electoral College president – @realDonaldTrump.

So no surprise that she is not only one of his most ardent supporters but the name that is most often at the top of the list to become his new White House Communications Director.

Pass the advil #notanad

With her just announced one-week vacation hiatus, that might happen sooner than later. Or, it may not. Though as someone tweeted this weekend, another similarly deposed right wing Fox firebrand, Bill O’Reilly, is still on the one-week vacation he took more than a year ago.

Hope springs eternal. Roseanne notwithstanding.

Meghan Trainor – “No Excuses”

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Quacks

christmas09_large

Happy Holidays Everyone!

Notice I did NOT say MERRY CHRISTMAS or BELATED HAPPY CHANUKAH.  This is because I’m done being religiously correct.  You heard me – RELIGIOUSLY CORRECT.  Bah humbug.  I am so done.  No, actually…I am just beginning.

I just read this to my partner of 26 years and he said – Here we go – did you get to the part about Jesus being Black yet?

No, not yet.  Wait…you mean Jesus was as Black as….Santa Claus?

So much ground to cover here.  And we’ll get to Phil Robertson – that hate-spouting Fool from Duck Dynasty, who happens to also be religious, in a moment.  I promise.  But first, a story.

Many years ago in the 1970s I was minding my own business on the campus of Queens College.  I was 18 years old and a junior (yeah, I was smart for my age, so what – does that mean anyone listens to me any more than they do you?  Uh, no).  In any event, there I was minding my own beeswax when these Jewish guys dressed in full garb – you know the way that I mean – beards, long coats, big black hates – I meant hats! –  and ringlets of hair flowing down past their ears called payot (look it up) – urgently approached me and asked in very relentless and very accented loud whispers:  Are you Jewish?  Are you Jewish?

I could have been Mr. November

I could have been Mr. November

Sensing something was wrong – I mean, duh, my last name is Ginsberg, I’m 5’7” tall, wear glasses and read books, did you think I wasn’t a Yid – I reflexively answered yes.  I mean, what if someone was in danger?  The entire fate of my tribe could hang in the balance.

Boy, was that the wrong response.

Suddenly, these guys shoved me into this large van decorated with religious symbols and Hebrew scripture, shut the door and backed me into a seat.  All around me – and I mean everywhere – walls, ceiling and on TV screens – where images of Jews being tortured or persecuted.  Jewish fundamentalist music played.  Prayer books were put in my hands.  More religious guys paced around and began shooting questions at me about Jewish history.  Another guy offered me a yarmulke and prayer shawl and still another urged me to roll up my sleeves and put on these leather straps called tefillen and said he would pray with me (or was it us, perhaps there were a few others, I can’t recall) – for Us.

Never a shrinking violet and always with a strong survival streak given some earlier childhood traumas that involved bullies on the playground and various screwed up family dynamics, I pushed the guy out of the way, said something like, Uh, no and ran out of the van.  Well, at least I attempted to.  Because being just your average Jew I couldn’t figure out how to open the latch on the van door.  Little did I know that decades later I’d become quite familiar with these things and learn those vans are really trailers which the film industry would rename Honey wagons and they would be the spot where I’d spend endless hours with other regular Jews (as well as people of other religions and even atheists) who star in and make Hollywood movies about still other people whose actions my ultra religious captors would  certainly disapprove of.  Yes, they often do disapprove – even now – along with all the other fundamentalist nutbags from all of the other religions all over the world –and that includes the United States – of anyone who does not fit into their own tightly constructed beliefs.

But back to this story:

Somehow I did get out of that van (did I break the latch?  I was never sure) and survived, perhaps in order to tell this tale to you more than 35 years later.  The lesson?  Well, there are many.  But the primary one is this:  Never get into a van – or really anything – with a religious fundamentalist.   No good will come of it.  It is a sure recipe for disaster and the only way you’ll win is to escape with your life.

Another reason to never get in an unfamiliar van

Another reason to never get in an unfamiliar van

Years later I learned that this van I was shoved into was called a Mitzvah Mobile and was started by the ultra orthodox Jewish sect called the Chabad Lubavitch Hassidism to persuade (nee intimidate) American Jews to adhere to the more stringent religious beliefs that group espoused.  The good news: this didn’t work on me.  (In fact, it produced the opposite result).  The bad news: there are now Mitzvah Mobiles all over the world.

Just one example...

Just one example…

How this vehicle got onto the Queens College campus of the 1970s, I will never know.  (Note:  Well, our film society did have a midnight showing of the X-rated classic Devil in Miss Jones on campus, so there was that).  But what I do know is that those Mitzvah Mobile fellas are no different from Duck Dynasty figurehead Phil Robertson.  Who is no different from Pat Robertson or the late Jerry Falwell.  Who are all only several steps away from the Taliban.  Who is a mere one step away from the Westboro Baptist Church.  Who are only several steps away from the Muslim fundamentalists who hijacked the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center. Who bear some resemblance to the Ayatolloah Khomeini.  Who is not that far removed  Reverend Louis Farrakhan or the present radical Chabbad sect in Brooklyn.  It’s all the same snake pit.  Which in no way, shape or form resembles the Garden of Eden.

One might argue this is not the correct statement to make Christmas week, or during the time of Kwanza, or even a month after Chanukah.  However, I would say this is precisely the moment for us all to reflect on this:

Any single religious person who tries to persuade you that their way is the high way using any means they deem fair and moral based on their own individual religious dogma is no different than the most radically violent one.

It all leads to the same place.  Eventually.  The Crusades.  The Third Reich.  Osama Bin Laden’s Jihad.  No, this is not an overstatement.  It simply is – fact.

Now, don’t get all fire and brimstone or your tribal equivalent on me.  This by no means disqualifies anyone of faith from speaking his or her mind.  However, it does disqualify them from public insults, intimidations, racist rants and other forms of emotional and or physical discrimination without outcry and consequences.  That is the price for living in a free and civil society.   And it’s a very small one.   Hiding behind a “God” of your own choosing does not exempt you from the rules of a still secular society.

Simpsons+on+Religion.+seems+legit_69dc80_4449964

Which brings us to the charming Phil Robertson, head of the family on A & E’s most highly rated reality show (14 million viewers and counting backwards) – Duck Dynasty.  Here are some of the lovely statements Mr. Robertson made in GQ magazine last week that has gotten him into hot water and, in turn, suspended from his show.

Sorry buddy, but you don't exactly blend in

Sorry buddy, but you don’t exactly blend in

On sinful behavior:

Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there.  Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men…Don’t be deceived….Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers – they won’t inherit the kingdom of God.  Don’t deceive yourself.  It’s not right.

Or on his experiences working alongside Black people picking cotton in the pre-Civil rights era.

I never with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person…They’re singing and happy.  I never heard one of them, one black person, say, “I tell you what:  These doggone white people” – not a word!  Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy?  They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.

Or this excerpt from a sermon in a Pennsylvania church in 2002:

Women with women. Men with men.  They committed indecent acts with each other.  They are heartless.  They are faceless.  They are senseless.  They are ruthless.  They invent ways of doing evil.

Makes you want to have him over for meal, doesn’t it?  Well, that is as long as he doesn’t turn around and try to place your evil head on a platter and announce dinner is served.

Well, unless it's this head, in which case.. i'm in!

Well, unless it’s this head, in which case.. i’m in!

Oh, of course Phil has every right to say whatever he wants.  That’s what free speech is about.  But the first amendment allows freedom of speech, religion, assembly and the press.  It does not guarantee others can’t object to what you are saying or that there cannot be consequences to your actions.  Meaning just as we don’t require a fundamentalist church to marry a gay couple if it chooses not to, a religious fundamentalist whose

  1. dogma equates gay people with bestiality and evil and
  2. suggests Black people (whose ancestors were dragged to the US in chains and forced into centuries of slavery), were always singing and happy…

..IS. NOT. ENTITLED. TO. HIS. OWN. REALITY.   (TELEVISION SHOW, that is).

Because — as Sir Isaac Newton taught us science-believing heathens long ago –

To every action there is always an equal, opposite reaction.

Stocking stuffer?

What is scarier than the news articles on the Duck Dynasty Debacle are the thousands of virulent comments from other fundamentalist supporters who somehow have adopted a dogma so stringent that it leaves no room for anyone that does not adhere to their own rigid, born again rule book.  We Jews don’t really have a hell so their comments that non-believers will burn don’t really rankle me.  But the threats of violence to us sinners (Note: I’m in double trouble being gay AND a non-Christian), not to mention the virulence with which they are written, is a tough road to hoe.

Fringe, you say?  Well, perhaps right now.  But I don’t think so.  The 14 million viewers of DD, a one-hour A & E basic cable show, are nothing to sneeze at.  That’s far more than the number of people who read the NY Times or any other newspaper on any given day.  Though nowhere near as many (41 million) who tune in to view just one hour of Fox News on any average month.

tumblr_m75n3ktXDh1qgh6ru

Of course, there were other stories of intolerance last week.  For example:

  • In Pennsylvania, Methodist Minister Franklin Schaefer was officially defrocked for having the temerity to officiate over the marriage of his gay son and his partner.

Yes it’s true – this week gay marriage was a hot button thorn in the side of the religiously superior.  But make no mistake about it, next week it could and probably will be a woman’s right to choose.  Just as in some Middle Eastern countries it will simply be about the right for a young woman to be educated.  While in still others it can all boil down to being born with the right color skin or in the more advantageous economic class.

Of course, here in Hollywood it’s merely a battle to look young and stay relevant in a business that is as unforgiving of those sins as the Duck Dynasty family is of alternate lifestyles.  Perhaps even more so.  But I’m not going to get into that.

Oh — fun fact: did you know that the creator of Duck Dynasty is a guy named Scott Gurney and that just 12 years ago this very handsome fellow starred shirtless – and often naked – in a movie about the gay male porn industry called The Fluffer? Oh yeah, he so did.  He played an X-rated actor who was “gay” for “pay” AND was a meth addict. 

Uh oh - someone's been a bad boy!

Uh oh – someone’s been a bad boy!

Hmm, but apparently, Scott isn’t taking phone calls these days..  And he also doesn’t answer emails from journalists.  Nor does he speak live in person to anyone asking questions unless presumably they’re, well – members of his own tribe.  Which might not only be optimal but usual.  How are we (I?) to know the truth when we can’t ask?

I’ve been thinking all day about what I would say if I actually did get a chance to talk to him.  Like all writers, my thoughts were many – in fact all over the place.  But like all the mentors before me have taught me I edited and boiled them down to just three words.  These are the words I’d use to describe him and all others who choose to be profiteers on the backs of hate spewing religious zealots hiding behind their own version of God – as well as a way to categorize the zealots themselves.  And all of the zealots the came before them or will follow after.  And those words are:  QUACK, QUACK, QUACK.

QUACK. QUACK. QUACK.

And did I mention – happy holidays?

Owning the room

“They can smell desperation a mile away,” was the harsh assessment from a very successful and wealthy (not the same thing) friend of mine years ago when I was going through a particularly dry employment stage.

“Screw you,” I thought, “I’m not desperate!  And even if I am, the projects I’m pitching are great and I am charming, funny and exude confidence no matter how I’m feeling.  So I know for a FACT you’re wrong and that it doesn’t have anything to do with that!”

“or ….does it?”

After all these years I hate to admit — Yeah, it does.

It’s easy to preach this sort of advice from high atop your pile of money or at your “A” table or house in the snazziest neighborhood in town.   Certainly easier than doing it from a broken down kitchen table in a crumbling studio apartment where you can hear your neighbors’ every footstep at all hours of the day or night.

Well, not necessarily.

The reality is – it’s all about ownership.  Of yourself, of the idea and…of the outcome – meaning you’re not even thinking about whether it’s good or bad, that’s how much you believe in what you’re doing or saying.  The latter is the toughest, especially when you’re desperate.  How do you pretend you don’t care when your very life and livelihood depends on it?  Because your life and livelihood never DEPENDS on it.  Repeat:  It NEVER does.

Workin’ it.

Former President Bill Clinton gave the master class in ownership this past week when he addressed the Democratic National Convention in a highly detailed 48-minute speech on economic and governmental policy that had most of the nation, and worldwide audience, at the edge of their seats.  How do you do that in an age where even the ratings of “30 Rock” and “The Office” have slipped while “Keeping Up With The Kardashians” is enjoying a never-ending ratings surge?

Consider the following wrong answers:

  1. Bill Clinton has a near genius I.Q. (approximately 137) so he can pretty much do anything.
  2. Bill Clinton is rich and not motivated by money so he doesn’t care about success or failure anymore.
  3. Bill Clinton is selling someone else (Pres. Obama) and everyone knows it’s easier to do that than to sell yourself.
  4. Bill Clinton was speaking to a crowd of people already on his side.  He was preaching to the choir!  There’s NO degree of difficulty there!!!

Really.  Isn’t this the guy who was impeached from the presidency in national disgrace, reviled by half of the country and most of its women AND nearly died from heart disease just a few short years ago?  How do you make a public comeback from that no matter how smart you are and how much money you have in our cynically cynical A.D.D. age of fact-checked, slogan-bloated, generically engineered reality?

Here’s a thought – by knowing what you’re saying and standing by who and what you are and what you believe no matter the outcome.

Let’s break those wrong answers down.

Piece of cake.

1. Genius and talent. As a person who has traveled through the businesses of entertainment, politics and academia through most of my life I’ve met some incredibly brilliant and talented people.  I mean, so smart that it might make you never want to utter a sentence again and so talented that you have the urge to never, ever even attempt to try to do anything original in your field because this person has already gotten there and done it way better than you could have ever hoped.

But what I also know is one of the finest female singers I ever heard, who was in my high school class, I’ve never heard from again in my adult life.  And that Van George Serrault, the brilliant artist, never sold a painting in his life. Also, that Sarah Palin was the nominee for vice-president of the United States (I’m partisan, get over it) and ——  – —– (too soon to be that partisan) was actually president.  Plus, there was also that teacher you got stuck with in college (or even high school) who convinced you that even you knew more about a given subject than they did. (Do I need to even mention his or her name?)

As my Dad so wisely told me, “there will always be people more and less smart (and talented) than you.”  The key is what you do with what you have and how hard you are willing to work.  What is it they say in the World of Dated Though They Shouldn’t Be Homilies – talent is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration?

Meaning Bill Clinton didn’t just get up on a podium and espouse a bunch of partisan talking points.  He had lots of statistics, research and thought to back it up.  But he also didn’t list a boatload of genius statistics and expect you to understand it.  He took the time to analyze and synthesize all of the information in order to make his points.  In fact, he did such a good job that even factcheck.org and countless other organizations found his speech to have a total of ZERO stats that didn’t check out.  Talk about arithmetic.

Former Clinton spokesperson Terry McAuliffe confirmed that on a vacation with Mr. Clinton more than a month ago the former president spent innumerable hours each day personally working on this speech, despite being rich enough to have a few other geniuses do the digging and at least one to write it.  And the freedom to not even give it in the first place.  Not surprisingly, he chose none of the above.

I’m rich, bitch!

2. Being rich means not caring about the outcome.  Seriously?  Well, I’ve met several billionaires in my life – that’s with a “B” – and the opposite is true.  A billionaire’s credo: every deal is personal and winning is the only acceptable outcome even if it takes years of double and triple dealing to make it so.  For most active, wealthy people, rather than retirees or dilettantes (because who wants to talk about them anyway), there is always something being worked on – a project or an argument or a personal desire to bring into fruition.  That’s often what made the person wealthy in the first place.  The determination and desire to win, communicate and/or prove the other guy wrong or yourself right.  It’s always personal and there is ALWAYS something at stake.  All the money in the world won’t change deep down inside the fact that – YOU LOST – even when you try your best to convince the world that you don’t care.

Note:  Now let’s not mistake losing for financial failure.  For example, I’ve met many famous (and less than famous) artists, myself included, who do a project that might not make a lot of money or receive mixed to bad reviews, who truly believe and feel that in the end they’ve won.   In the final analysis, the victory can be getting it done in exactly the way you want.  This is universally true for a section of both the wealthy AND the poor.   For the top 1% the loss is usually much more public.  But for the other 99% it can be equally humiliating, or perhaps even invigorating, depending on one’s point of view.

As for Bill Clinton, he’s made many mega-millions through memoirs and high-priced speaking engagements in the years since his presidency AND has even given away billions to solve worldwide problems through his Clinton Global Initiative.

But it’s also taken him more than a decade of hard work and dedication and image rehabilitation to emerge as the most popular living American political figure of 2012, according to recent polls.   All the money in the world can’t buy that.  Ask Meg Whitman, former EBAY CEO who is wealthier than Bubba but whose money couldn’t even lift her to the governorship of California that she so desperately wanted.  Or Ross Perot, whose presidential run against Elvis  Clinton cost him more money than Bill Clinton is now probably worth in total.

Shilling for a living, baby.

3.  Selling someone else is easier than selling yourself. Most writers, directors, actors or any other creative people in film who want to work will at some point find themselves on projects that, to put it kindly, was not their idea, choice or in any way their personal favorite.  In other words, it’s not uncommon in the world to be a “gun for hire” – employed to do the best job using your particular brand of expertise.  Often times you get paid, sometimes you’re doing it for merely the credit, and still other times you’re doing it as “a favor.”  (Yes, people still do those).

I can recall a particular low point myself going to work on a grade “C” Jean-Claude Van Damme movie.  Some designer friends of mine like to recant stories of lugging bags of cut rate underwear from a shopping mall in the middle of nowhere on a 100+ degree film shoot or stacking miniscule pill bottles in a fake pharmacy that will probably never be seen onscreen for a drug store commercial.  The take away here is not how dedicated we all were but that even if you’re working on the crappiest thing in the world at some point it dawns on you that your name will be on it and that, “screw this, I’m gonna make my part of this piece of crap slightly less crappy” even if it kills me AND them (hopefully, the latter).

This is not quite the case with Bill Clinton in his DNC speech since his wife is the President’s Secretary of State and by all accounts relations between the two Presidents have grown much more cordial in recent months.  So that means there is some personal investment. Still, here are several reasons why this speech had to be extremely important to a man who is no longer president:

  1. His wife is Secretary of State AND might herself want to run for president in 2016.
  2. His entire life has been about building himself and the Democratic Party up – meaning he truly believes the first two are what is best for himself and the country.
  3. All presidents are concerned about their legacy and are somewhat egomaniacal (who else would want that job?) despite what they might say to the contrary.

You might think this is “just a job” and “easy money” when you start.  But if you’re any kind of real, high-achieving professional, by the time you finish you’ll swear you were extremely overworked and way, way, way underpaid.

Preach Whoopi!

4. It’s easy to preach to the already converted.  In the early 1970s, my mother told me she was going to vote for Richard Nixon because he promised to end the Vietnam War and she didn’t want me to be drafted.  Well, you can imagine how this went down with me.  I couldn’t vote but was a Chicago 7 revolutionary at heart.  How could my Mom, the person who loved me more than anyone in the world and would swear on a stack of bibles I was innocent even if she witnessed me gun down a busload of senior citizens, betray me like this???  It literally still makes no sense to me.  Because despite my ample persuasive abilities – and as my friends, family and students will tell you, they are formidable – no amount of nagging, cajoling, intellectualizing, tantrums, facts, figures or even tears would change her mind.

Good god, Mother!

Lessons learned at an early age: no matter how friendly your audience is to you, it will take a lot of work to convince them of something they might not want to be convinced of.  You have to be crafty, mature and in most cases, over the age of 17.  (Especially when dealing with my mother).

Bill Clinton’s speech at the DNC certainly roused the attendees in the hall.  But he was shooting for a lot more than that.  He was shooting for undecided voters watching or reading about he said.  He was aiming towards dispassionate Democrats who didn’t particularly think working on this campaign was important.  He was addressing the rest of the world about what he, the President who presided over the greatest economic upturn in the last half century, thought would be the best strategy to solve the world’s problems.

Part of owning the room on any given day is taking nothing for granted and leaving a little bit but not everything to chance.  Compare the text of Bill Clinton’s written speech and the actual version of the talk, complete with 20 minutes of ad-libbing, as Sec. of State Hillary Clinton joked a few days ago that she planned to do.  Then consider Clint Eastwood’s almost totally ad-libbed address at the Republican Convention talking to an invisible Pres. Obama seated in an empty chair.   Several days ago Mr. Eastwood admitted to his local newspaper in Carmel that the idea for his speech came to him moments before he went onstage and that rather than massively prepare he had little idea what he’d do prior his entrance onstage.

Certainly both Mr. Eastwood AND MR. Clinton are hard-working icons who, on any given day, could take on each other.    And if on a film set and not on a political stage, Mr. E would, in particular, have the advantage.

But on that given moment, on those two arguably equal nights, who truly OWNED the room as they spoke?  Think about it.  Then, think about it some more.  Then, take some action of your own.