Monday, October 20, 2008

Prescient "Batman" episode nails the Obama-McCain race

Penguinformayor Thanks to YouTube, the below video of Batman's televised mayoral debate with the Penguin, from the "Dizzoner the Penguin" episode of Adam West's 1966 "Batman," is gaining new currency.

The clip, first uploaded in early 2007, has been picked up by several political commentators and compared to recent debates between Senators John McCain and Barack Obama.

Besides being an amusing clip on its own -- the great Burgess Meredith turns in a virtuoso performance as the Bilious Bird -- viewers have noted some chuckle-worthy parallels between this fictional debate and the real thing.

In last week's face-off, moderator Bob Schieffer asked the candidates about the smears and personal attacks that have become a significant part of the discourse as the campaign winds up.

"I think the tone of this campaign could've been very different," said McCain at the time. "And the fact is it's gotten pretty tough, and I regret some of the negative aspects of both campaigns."

Likewise, the Penguin starts out humbly enough: "Friends and fellow citizens, I want to give you my solemn word that there will be no mudslinging in this campaign. ... I intend to stick to the issues."

But with that disclaimer out of the way, the Penguin wastes no time in getting to his point. "Now what are the issues? There's only one issue: Batman!"

"I suggest that behind that mask, Batman is, in reality, a dangerous criminal. Why else does he wear a mask? Why else does he conceal his past? Would you think about that a moment, my friends? Whenever you've seen Batman, who's he with? Criminals, that's who!"

McCain makes a similar pivot, this time to the controversial subjects of Obama's association with former radical Bill Ayers, a founder of Weather Underground who McCain called a "washed up terrorist."

"Senator Obama chose to associate with a guy who in 2001 said he wished he'd bombed more." McCain then draws links between Obama and the community organization ACORN, which, he says, is "maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history in this country, maybe destroying the fabric of democracy."

It's probably a comment on the predictability of this presidential campaign that it was anticipated by a 40-year-old TV show populated by wacky caricatures. Same hack script, same hack channel.

Unfortunately, Penguin's brilliant plan hits a snag. Afraid that his lead in the polls is shrinking, he kidnaps the Board of Elections so the vote cannot be certified. This scheme backfires, and Batman turns up to rescue the hostages ("Pengy, you said we associated with criminals. So ... here we are." BOOM! POW! WHAMM!).

Batman is elected but resigns to allow the current mayor to keep his position. But not before one of the major parties calls to offer him the presidential candidacy for 1968 -- exactly 40 Novembers ago.

Exclaims Robin: "Bulging ballot boxes, Batman, that was some offer!"

-- David Sarno

Original here

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