Friday, August 31, 2012

What Mick Jagger knows that Obama doesn't

Interesting short piece here saying that Obama isn't very good at schmoozing wealthy donors, which you have to do when running in a Presidential election. He particularly finds it tiresome to pose for photographs with them, which is basically what they want. Clinton didn't find it tiresome.

The grip-and-grin on the wall of the office, den or lavatory says more about the person who put it there than cash ever can. It costs the gripper no more than a few seconds. For the grinner it's beyond price. The grip is firm, practised and over before it's begun. The grin makes the junior partner in the pairing look vaguely foolish, as if they've been goosed and quite enjoyed it.

As Obama's disbelieving fundraisers say “They just want a picture of themselves with the President that they can hang on the bathroom wall, so that their friends can see it when they take a piss.”

Obama could learn here from Mick Jagger, who has had a slightly longer career. There's a sequence in the film about the Rolling Stones playing Copacabana Beach in 2006 in which they lurch from room to room before the gig purely to have their pictures taken with groups of clearly thrilled corporate sponsors. Each interaction takes about a minute. The Stones know it could be worth a zero on the cheque on some future tour. Not for nothing do Mick and Keith call themselves the Glimmer Twins. They know the power of giving people just a glimmer of stardust.

Even Bruce Springsteen, who used to avoid this kind of thing, appreciates glimmer power. When he turned up at the BFI to launch The Promise a couple of years ago he was installed at a stool in the bar afterwards as a queue of hacks, media powerbrokers and even Rob Brydon lined up to have their thirty seconds of joshing conversation before getting what they'd come for, a souvenir of having occupied the same actual physical space as him.

Earlier this year our son was involved in organising an event at which Bill Clinton was speaking. Make sure you get a picture taken with him, we joked and then never thought any more of it. Then it arrived. In focus. Everybody smiling. Bill knows.


  1. Mitt Romney, in the meantime, is currently working all fifty States amassing some very influential 'grip & grinners'.

  2. Fascinating this American life show about US political fundraising recently. For most senators it is literally a daily task endless meet and greets can see why Obama might be tired of them , think even Mick might slacken

  3. It's hard to beat film director David Lynch on this score - I went to a premiere of one of his movies ("The Straight Story" I think) at the London Film Festival some years back, and after the post-film Q & A, he stood at the cinema exit, and shook the hand of every single audience member and thanked them for coming... it works, I'm (obviously) still talking about it.

  4. Twenty years ago, I queued for two hours to buy a book, then get it signed by Muhammad Ali, probably my all-time hero. Word came down the line that Ali more or INSISTED that everyone have their picture taken with him (it had never occurred to me to impose on the Greatest in this way; he was already very ill with Parkinson's Syndrome). So I ran out to purchase one of those disposable cameras from Boots. The photo still has pride of place in my office. And he wasn't pushing his new album or trying finance a tour. Just being Ali. I swear that being in his presence was like being hooked up to an electric generator. Unforgettable.

  5. David Lynch once signed an autograph for me between shots on a film set of a film he was directing. (I was just some random member of the public who was watching the film being shot. I'm rather embarrassed to admit that I bothered him for it, but I am still amazed).