The Popcorn Stand: In politics, image is everything

I was a freshman at the University of Southern California in 1984 when Democratic presidential nominee Walter Mondale decided to make a campaign stop on the USC campus.

None of us could figure out why Mondale was coming to an overwhelmingly conservative campus as he quickly found out he came into the belly of the beast.

Campaigns were not as sophisticated in 1984, but many young USC Republican students were well-organized, standing in front of all the television cameras. They were just a few feet away as Mondale tried to give his speech in front of Tommy Trojan in the center of the USC campus.

The young Republicans heckled Mondale throughout his speech. Nobody really heard anything Mondale said except when he yelled out “Shut up, will ya.”

It was one of the more infamous moments of Mondale’s campaign. Even prominent sports talk show host Jim Healy regularly played the tape of Mondale yelling “Shut up, will ya,” making fun of the presidential candidate.

The young Republicans accomplished what they wanted and even though Dean of Students Robert Mannes who I got to know very well was furious, they didn’t care.

That moment for Mondale was just as brutal as Howard Dean’s “yeaaaahhhh” ( in 2004. (We have to admit in the newsroom we get a kick out of the Dean scream and play it when we need a lift).

I thought about those infamous moments for Mondale and Dean after what happened Monday when a military mother confronted Mike Pence (who I thought handled the situation well) about Donald Trump’s comments concerning the Khan family and was booed here in Carson City.

Nevadan Andre Agassi was right. Image is everything. Right or wrong, fair or unfair that moment isn’t being reported as a gathering of people who booed a military mom. Carson City is being reported as the community where a military mom was booed.

So, yes I admit I care about Carson City’s image. Unlike what I see on Facebook when people don’t seem to care about their image.

It’s enough to make somebody say, “Shut up, will ya.”

— Charles Whisnand


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