To reprise something is to repeat it. As in the case of a serial murderer, who earns that title only by repeating (his) crime. Or a dancer who reprises a step or action during a routine. Then again, there is the friend who reprises a story ad infinitum.
In a political campaign a candidate is encouraged to reprise a central theme at every whistle stop, never varying from the details in the speech. It becomes known as “the message” and is, by standards set by (her) handlers, inviolable. “Stick to the message” is a well-known rule of the campaign. Those who violate the concept learn quickly the results of a straying commentary.
This presidential campaign, in particular, has been a study in the word reprise. For several reasons:
- Republican Mitt Romney has become a case study in the act of straying from the message, leaving most people wondering just what the message is.
- Democrat Barack Obama has become a case study in repeating the campaign message verbatim to the point that his campaign speeches have tended toward boring at times, everyone having heard them numerous times in numerous places.
- Republican Mitt Romney has practiced the theme of reprise in the sense of repeating his gaffes and blunders even after being told that they are damaging. He refers back to them as if in humor, but reminding the audience of the damaging information that he should never have mentioned in the first place.
- Campaign pundits have become robots, reprising the same commentary incessantly, depending upon which talk show they appear.
- Excessive money available to the presidential campaigns due to a Supreme Court decision allowing uncharted funds to be tapped has allowed for excessive, reprised television advertising ad nauseum, particularly in so-called “swing” states.
The result has been campaigns which seem to be studied more for their weaknesses and failures than for their successes. Gaffe watches, truth watches, stray watches, and bungle watches have become a game, even for the casual observer. In the midst of this, the messages (which for the Republicans seem to change every day…or every hour) have been lost in the shuffle. For decades to come this campaign season will be studied in political science classes and speech seminars as an example of rhetoric gone bad.
The result of these faux pas has been a campaign which is hard to track. Polls are all over the place, lead changes occurring with the rapidity of a Red Sox game. At this point, with just over a month to go before the election, trends seem to be favoring President Obama, but that can change in the wink of an eye, depending upon external events nationally or globally, and the way in which the candidates react to them.
The excessive length of the campaigns, the obscene amount of money being spent on them, the overwhelming effect of social media, and the seemingly ineptness on the part of campaign management all contribute to a condition nobody seeks: mistakes and blunders which reprise themselves to a point of norm.
Graphic Credit: Icons-Land