Media Time Travelers

TCS’s Nick Schulz had a piece today about predetermined storylines, stemming from a Lewis Lapham article for Harper’s analyzing the Republican convention in the past tense even though it had yet started. Apparently, Lapham has started a trend:

Schwarzenegger praises Bush for character and leadership (Erica Werner, AP)

(08-31) 13:28 PDT NEW YORK (AP) —

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger put his star power to work for President Bush on Tuesday, praising him for “perseverance, character and leadership” in a time of war and terror.
The Austrian bodybuilder-turned-Hollywood star and politician drew heavily on his own unique immigrant story to cast the GOP as a party of opportunity. “I want other people to get the same chances I did, the same opportunities,” he said. “And I believe they can. That’s why I believe in this country, that’s why I believe in this party and what’s why I believe in this president,” Schwarzenegger said in excerpts of his prime-time speech to the Republican convention. “America is back,” he said, in a line reminiscent of his slogan from the “Terminator” movies: “I’ll be back.”

Schwarzenegger was trying to reintroduce himself as a politician to a country that might still see him as a movie star. The prime-time convention appearance was his first chance to give a purely political speech to a national television audience since taking office in California last November. He used the opportunity to tell the country about his own experience as an immigrant, and to welcome other immigrants into a party that is eager for their votes. “To my fellow immigrants listening tonight, I want you to know how welcome you are in this party. We Republicans admire your ambition. We encourage your dreams. We believe in your future,” he said. He also praised the nation’s compassion. “We’re the America that send out Peace Corps volunteers to teach village children … And we’re the America that fights not for imperialism but for human rights and democracy,” Schwarzenegger said.

Now, granted, advance copies of speeches are routinely handed out and, presumably, the “live” version of the speech is unlikely to differ substantially from the text. But wouldn’t it be more honest to write a piece in the future tense and then amend it for the post-speech version, where one could add in crowd reactions and so forth?

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. carpeicthus says:

    Honest? Yes. Possible to turn out copy 5 minutes after the speech is over? Not so much. Spontanaiety is not generally something found in conventions anymore.