March 5, 2008

Media Event or Partisan Rally?

Justin Katz

Has anybody else picked up on something curious in coverage of the Providence Newspaper Guild Follies?

Chelsea Clinton, in town to campaign for her mother, was squired around by US Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. And US Senator John F. Kerry of Massachusetts, the Democratic nominee in 2004, turned up as a surprise guest about a third of the way into the program, upstaging the eventual Mystery Guests, Attorney General Patrick "Superdelegateman" Lynch, his Clinton-supporting brother Bill, chief of the RI Democratic Party, and their mother, who mediated their clashing presidential choices. Vote your conscience, she said.

Of course, the political split is what it is in Rhode Island, but I haven't seen anything that made this event distinguishable from a high-profile partisan gathering.

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Andrew, if most of the officeholders in RI were Republicans, they would get more attention, I suspect, at the Follies. And keep in mind that the event consists largely of skewering various elected officials.

Posted by: Ian Donnis at March 5, 2008 10:45 AM

Kerry had the room in stitches at the start - if he had done five minutes or so, made a quick pitch for Obama and left the stage, cool. But going into a canned boilerplate stump speech at a nonpartisan entertainment event - not cool. He was finally shamed off stage by chants of "Hillary!"
My first thought as a witness: Kerry didn't do his man any favors. His blowhard approach only reminded us how he turned off swing voters in '04.
By the way, there was plenty of humor that a conservative could love, too. The state GOP leaders attended, as did Carcieri staff (though not the Don himself).

Posted by: rhody at March 5, 2008 11:01 AM


Slightly off-topic, I'll just mention that one purpose of adding our avatars to the blog was to help the readers immediately identify who had written what posts. :)

Posted by: Andrew at March 5, 2008 11:02 AM

Speaking of which, does Justin really looks quite so devilish in person?

Posted by: Jon at March 5, 2008 12:26 PM

My apologies to Justin for my gaffe.

Posted by: Ian at March 5, 2008 1:33 PM

I'm going to side with Ian and Rhody on this one (gasp!). I'd be willing to state that the attendance there was probably pretty close to proportional, relative to the percentage of Democrats and Republicans who are elected leaders in Rhode Island. In other words, it was horribly lopsided to the left.

Republicans often attend it (of course, except for the big guy), but they don't usually seem to be part of the stuff on stage. I'm not sure they want to be. We only have one statewide elected Republican, and he chooses not to attend for his own reasons (most likely, personal safety). It's bad enough to be surrounded by so many libs, crooks, and hacks; we don't need them laughing at us, too. ;)

Don't forget, it's basically a union run event -- and the unions run the Democratic Party -- so a certain skewing that way is probably to be expected. Of course, the consolation for us is that we can have fun, and know that the 5% sales tax on our great meal goes to Massachusetts, instead of to the RI General Assembly.

PS I thought Kerry was doing great for the first 3/4's of the time he was up there, and then just blew himself out of the water at the end. If you ever wondered how he managed to lose the 2004 election, he demonstrated it amply there. I happened to be right in front of the "Hillary section," too. It was probably the most memorable thing about the Follies this year.

Posted by: Will at March 5, 2008 5:26 PM


It's a show put on by Democrats and union for Democrats and union. Allowing Kerry to shill for Obama and Chelsea to pimp for mommy proves the point quite nicely. Dan Yorke observed this years show was the nastiest he's seen in the many years he's been in attendance. Seems they are incapable of doing anything on the up and up at the Projo. Everything they touch turns ugly and skewed these days.


Can't really say I blame the governor for taking a pass. Of the 1200 people in attendance he wouldn't want 1150 of them within 500 yards of his family or home. Think he had a prior committment to watch paint dry. lol

Posted by: Tim at March 5, 2008 7:07 PM

Dan's probably cheesed because he didn't get mentioned prominently. As they say, the only thing worse than being mentioned in the Follies is NOT being mentioned in the Follies.
Keep in mind, too, that only about half the cast actually works at the ProJo (and Frank O'Donnell actually works for a competitor).
Tim, this is probably the first time the Follies has been held before the primary campaign was decided. McCain and Huckabee (or their confederates) would've been welcome, too. I'd be willing to bet you in four years, Republican presidential candidates will be there to do some politicking - there were plenty of corporate types in attendance, too.

Posted by: rhody at March 5, 2008 7:56 PM

There's nothing new in some of the humor being very nasty.

Posted by: Ian at March 5, 2008 10:43 PM


Nobody claimed nasty humor is anything new at the Follies. What I did say is Dan Yorke commented that the level of nasty this year was more than he'd observed in the years he's been attending the show. Noted how Scott MacKay was unusually ill mannered and mean.

Posted by: Tim at March 6, 2008 3:25 PM

Tim, I've been going to the Follies since 2000. Judging vicious humor is a tad subjective, I suppose, but MacKay and Co. have wielded a sharp approach for quite a while.

Posted by: Ian at March 6, 2008 9:02 PM
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