Vice Presidential Frenzy

I’ve been getting kind of weary of the vice presidential speculation and frenzy. How many times can we talk about how Barack Obama is going to text message his choice and you can be the first to know? I heard three of four times that Obama could make his announcement as early as Wednesday morning. Everyone’s a buzz. It’s as if the political junkies have nothing else to talk about and refuse to move on until both candidates name a VP.

So yesterday I had enough and decided I’d pretend to be the first to know and start spreading fake vice president announcements on Twitter. I did Obama VP picks yesterday and McCain picks today. And let me tell you, I had way too much fun.

Fake Barack Obama VP Picks:

I know people say Obama needs to beef up his foreign experience & military credentials, but picking Cobra Commander as a VP?!

I can’t believe Obama picked Clinton—Bill Clinton—as VP! First black presidential candidate picks first black president as VP.

Obama/Bono ’08. Wow. Nobody saw that coming. Shrewd bit of marketing though, vote for Obama & buy Bono (new U2 album due in November).

Obama picked Michael Phelps as VP! I think that means it’s going to be an incredibly close vote, but a historic victory nonetheless.

Obama’s VP? Morgan Freeman! Seems obvious now: Morgan’s presidential role in Deep Impact lends credibility. Plus movie’s tagline? “Hope survives.”

In a counter to the charge of his celebrity status, Obama picked Pittsburgh plumber Fred Smith as VP!! Fred’s mom: “I’m voting for McCain.”

OK, Evan Bayh is Obama’s VP! News sends Stephen Colbert into an aneurysm-of-joy over the foreign-sounding Obama/Bayh ’08.

Wow! Obama picked Steve Jobs as VP! He turned Apple around, why not? I’m envisioning incredibly well designed but much pricier government.

Did you hear? Obama picked Bill Gates as VP! Well, actually it’s the other way around: Bill Gates picked Obama.

It’s official: Michelle Obama is Barack’s VP! She’ll have the cushiest of cushy jobs: 1st lady & VP. Plus no need to reprint yard signs.

Barack Obama announces Ralph Nader as VP: It’s Obama/Nader ’08! Democrats eliminate a spoiler threat & can run cool “Obominator” ads!

Instead of naming a VP pick, Obama & Fox announce American Idol: VP, a fall reality show to select a running mate. Hosted by Ryan Seacrest.

It’s official: Obama/McCain ’08. It’s McCain’s only chance of winning.

Obama picks VP committee head Caroline Kennedy as VP! Pro: Connection to JFK no longer symbolic. Con: Ticks off Hillary (or is that a pro?).

Obama names MN gov Tim Pawlenty as VP before McCain can. McCain: “Son of a #$*!” Pawlenty: “Obama asked 1st, it was the polite thing to do.”

Obama names former Secretary of State General Colin Powell as VP! Press conference consisted of a fist bump. McCain: “Son of a @#$*!

Barack Obama just named Al Gore as his VP—OK, nevermind. Cobra Commander was more plausible. (But poor Al Gore, always a VP, never a Prez.)

Fake John McCain VP Picks:

McCain announces 2000 failed VP candidate Joe Lieberman as his VP. If at first you don’t succeed, switch parties and try again.

Wow: McCain picks current VP Dick Cheney as his running mate. At the press conference McCain shrugged and said, “It was this or duck hunting.”

McCain names Condoleeza Rice as VP! At press event McCain botches fist bump, but unveils new ad: “Republicans: We’re not all old white guys.”

McCain names Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia as his VP. McCain: “Scalia proved decisive in 2000, so we wanted him on the team.”

Not to be outdone by Obama’s VP choice of Cobra Commander, McCain picked Destro as his VP, splitting the Cobra vote.

McCain names Franklin Graham, son of legendary preacher Billy Graham, as his VP. Graham: “Daddy avoided politics, but I say screw that.”

Did you hear? McCain picked Darth Vader as his running mate. McCain: “The dark overlord thing worked for Bush, so I’m going with it.”

It’s official: McCain names former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales as VP! At the press conference McCain shrugged and said, “I lost a bet.”

McCain names the Poopsmith as VP. McCain: “I know firsthand the kind sh!t that goes down in Washington, so I need the right kind of No. 2.”

More Thoughts
The whole exercise in writing fake VP selections in under 144 characters was a lot more fun and challenging than I expected. It was a new way of using Twitter, and one that I really enjoyed.

The instant feedback helped propel the whole idea. Initially I had a few people who almost fell for my fake news, then I had a few folks joining in and making fake announcements of their own. I had plenty of folks commenting and encouraging the whole gambit, and even today there were a few folks who didn’t seem to get the memo and were trying to figure out if the fake announcements were real or not (now I know how The Onion people feel). Not everyone appreciated it, but in general the feedback was positive.

It was also interesting trying to figure out what style of fake candidate worked best. My initial thought was to do semi-plausible candidates like Bill Clinton. I think those helped push the ‘is this real?’ factor and made it more interesting. Then there were the fictional ones (Cobra Commander, Darth Vader, etc.) that just pushed the goofy factor. Josh encouraged me to do more of those and I was especially proud of the Poopsmith.

I also had to figure out which ones were worth sharing and which ones weren’t. I published about twice as many Barack Obama fake picks, partially because he was easier and partially because I got pickier the second day. I published a few the first day I should have thrown out (Steve Jobs & Bill Gates) and it took some time to learn which ones worked and which ones didn’t. I held back on Madeleine Albright, Elliot Spitzer, Jessie Ventura, Arnold Schwarzenegger, James Dobson, Rick Warren, Bob Dole, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and a few others. The editing process was kind of hard, especially doing it alone (here’s where working in an office would have helped). At times I started to wonder if this is what it feels like to work on <em>The Daily Show</em>.

In the end it was a very fun (and distracting) little exercise. I’d love to do it again sometime if the right topic comes up.

2 thoughts on “Vice Presidential Frenzy”

  1. The Poopsmith was your triumph!

    I’d have to disagree, though, I think the vast majority of people who see or hear The Onion’s “news” know it’s fake. Obviously many people knew yours was fake too, but many didn’t know. The Onion is almost always too far out for people to make that mistake.

  2. But there’s almost always a kernel of believability to an Onion news story that makes people believe it, if only for a second. Sometimes it’s the news-like way an off-the-wall story is written, and sometimes it’s the not-so-off-the-wall nature of the story.

    Especially when you see the headlines outside of the context of “The Onion.” Onion stories are taken for reality more often than you’d believe. Did I ever tell you about the Onion article about Harry Potter that was re-published in a church bulletin? ;-)

    Anyway, I don’t think the Onion people care whether or not people can figure out if a story is real or not, I was more comparing my experience to there’s in the ‘oh my gosh, they bought that’ sense. They must get that a lot.

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