It finally happened: After two years of waiting for him to slip up, to make some grave error that will end his bid to be the first guy named Barry to become president, Barack Obama on Thursday made the decision that will cost him his chance at history:
He invited Zach Braff to a campaign rally.
As we reported earlier, Braff will join singer Ben Harper and Laura Dern, the sneaky-hot actress from Jurassic Park, at an event on the campus of CU Boulder at 2 p.m. on Saturday. He will not, as far as we know, appear with Obama at Sunday's rally in Denver, probably because of concerns that a stray bullet intended for Braff could threaten Obama.
That the campaign is holding an event on the CU campus is a strategic blunder in itself. This is Boulder, after all. No undecided voter has been seen on campus since the winter of '74, when a van full of telemark-skiing insurance men got lost on their way from Kansas to Aspen. It's like John McCain campaigning in an Alabama VFW, or Sarah Palin holding a rally in an igloo.
But if anyone can sway young voters away from Obama, it's Braff. Don't get me wrong: I have no problem with the guy. Seems like a hustler, and he's written some funny jokes for that Scrubs show. Unfortunately for Obama, I'm the only person between the ages of 25 and 30 who doesn't want desperately to stab Braff in the liver with his own prop scalpel.
Over the years –- since sometime around the release of the not-very-good Last Kiss –- Braff has become my generation's anti-Christ. Ask around, and many young people will tell you that Garden State is the worst movie ever – despite the fact that they saw it three times in the theatre and, until 2006, proudly owned it on DVD. Those same people now violently decry Braff's status as a musical tastemaker, somehow forgetting that before Garden State, they thought Nick Drake was a linebacker for the Jets and Zero 7 was Kia's new sub-compact.
I'm not sure how this happened, but I suspect Natalie Portman has something to do with it. My best theory is that some super-secret group of Harvard nerds were angry that they spent four years trying to make out with Portman, only to see some skinny Jersey prick from Northwestern –- their safety school! -- swoop in and stick his ironic little tongue down Queen Amidala's virgin throat. So they somehow, swiftly and with a vengeance, began shifting the nation's allegiance.
Suddenly, Braff was being lampooned in a newspaper headline on Fox's American Dad: “ZACH BRAFF MANIA SWEEPS ZACH BRAFF'S APARTMENT.” (Brilliant, I might add).
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Not two weeks later, Josh Levin, a writer for Slate –- the budding intellectual's binary bible -– published an oddly vitriolic story called “Why I Hate Zach Braff.” The rationale behind his anger was not “because he's rich and I'm not,” or “because he gets laid more often than I do,” although those reasons would have been way more believable. Instead, Levin seemed to be embracing that time-honored Hipster Credo: He Who Has Success is an Asshole. (You should read Levin's article; it's pretty smart. But it's weirdly angry).
And thus, the I Hate Zach Braff movement was born. Today, it's thriving. Don't believe me? See here, here, and here. Or, better yet: Walk into a hipster bar in a Garden State T-shirt and see what happens. By the time you finish your first drink, a guy in a V-neck will have shivved you with a PBR can and urged you to see a real movie, like Lolita or Teen Wolf. I guarantee it.
All of which is why, as a supporter of Obama's, I humbly suggest the campaign reconsider its plan to let Braff appear at Saturday's rally. Yes, it's Boulder. Yes, Obama seems to have this thing in the bag. And yes, I sort of feel bad for Braff, because I bet he'd really enjoy it. But it's just not worth the risk.
Besides, isn't Natalie Portman available? -- Joe Tone