You may recall a glinting beacon in the ’92 US Presidential Race. The handsome Keilwerth gleamed like hope and made its debut on national late night US television. Attached to it was a little-known and over-fed Arkansas Governor. A less-than-virtuosic version of Heartbreak Hotel leaked out of the sax and, oddly, straight to its target.
The Baby Boomers had their candidate. Like an aging Garage Band hopeful, he took care not to inhale for a critical four-minute performance. Snigger if you will. And, indeed, you are encouraged. Any instrument popularised by Kenny G is worth a hearty laugh. This moment, it’s popularly agreed, was a decisive one for the future president.
As I fruitlessly asked Kevin Rudd to be my Facebook Friend for perhaps the sixteenth time last night (he’s got a full quota), the image of Bill Clinton and his hep-cat posturing was manifest. Kev’s blokes have counselled him well.
Avoid a single reed instrument, that’s already been done. Get your lips, instead, around some intermediate Mandarin and if you’re going to blow, do it on a social networking site.
Rudd’s efforts, like Clinton’s, have been less than adroit.
On Facebook, MySpace and his own Kevin 07 site (which is rather more web 1.5 than web 2.0) he offers the name of his family cat (Jasper) but is yet to become fluent in internet cant. On YouTube, unlike Howard, he does allow users to affix their comments to his Knockin On Kevin’s Door rocking visual homage.
However, his cyber minders ensure that these are moderated.
This half-ars-d web 2.0 performance is not intended to be a winning one per se.
Rudd has not plunged headlong into the mores, habits and language of the interwebs. And this, I’d wager, is a decent strategy. Most particularly as the Coalition fails so spectacularly in the same realm.
That he bothered at all to esteem the medium and, at the very least, understand its distinction from traditional top-down media is to his campaign credit.
Despite the overweening claims of bloggers, the election will not be won or lost on the internet. At this point in the cyber saga, Rudd has much more to gain by being seen in more traditional terrestrial media as a man of Fresh Ideas.
And he’s achieved that by talking about Jasper the cat.
Rather like a middling version of Heartbreak Hotel, his effort echoes as remarkable for, well, just being an effort.