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« Are you a populist? | Main | Update: CUFI »

Election Ads, Narratives, and Political Discourse

In her conversation with Bill Moyers on the JOURNAL this week, media expert Kathleen Hall Jamieson suggested that politicians' campaign ads and other media appearances are akin to puzzle pieces that together form a larger, albeit ambiguous, narrative of the candidates' lives, characters, and campaigns:

"We elect a person, not a set of issues... The strength of an underlying biographical narrative is extraordinarily important. You can't underestimate its importance when you're attacked, as every candidate will be, with a counter story... One of the things that advertising is able to do is to make some things more important in your decision about who should be president. And so ads are always a contest about what is important as an issue and what is important as an attribute about the candidate... There's an element of emotion in all of this... And we shouldn't lose track of the fact that advertising doesn't exist in isolation. People are drawing material from news, from what they are talking with their friends about, from the front pages into advertising to create a composite message"

What do you think?

  • Do you agree that Americans vote for candidates as people rather than for their "set of issues?"
  • Can sound bites and 30-second ads sufficiently inform citizens about the issues, the candidates, and/or the policy differences between them? If so, has this happened so far in the race to November?
  • How would you like to see candidates and issue groups use the media to elevate political discourse?


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    Comments

    Politics in America, do we choose our candidates on the issues or on their personalities as we perceive them in 30 sec. ads and sound bites? Well, the problem, I believe, is the fear of offending anyone. Our politicians have been conditioned by attack campaigns to be as oblique as they can. Don't get into specifics because some interest group will pay to tear your POV apart. There's the rub, we are being held ransom by money for access politics in America. 'He who has the money makes the rules', is not just a clever quip, it is our political system. In any other country on Earth they would recognize it as corruption writ large!

    I wanna see Barack and Hillary ride a bicycle built for two down a wide open freedom trail with no more cars and much less plastic. beretco.op@gmail.com

    Unfortunately Lauren, actions speak louder than words.
    1.The last two Presidential elections were probably rigged.
    2.The false flag conspiracy of 9/11 led us into holy war.
    3.Our imploding economy was no accident, but inevitable considering the hollowing out of self-sufficiency and infrastructure in our "Homeland."
    4.New Orleans is a preview and a test of what is in store for everyday people without the connections to print their own ticket.
    5.All this in conjunction with erosion of Constitutional rights and protections means the next President will be a spokesmodel (and not the usual game show host to which we've become accustomed)>

    If our long shot resistance is successful, as in 1789 France, we must implement safeguards to prevent an elite from ever undermining the people again. So quit your phenomenological blubbering Lauren, and find concrete means of resistance. Obama ain't yo'
    mama, McCain means pain, and Hillary leads debtors to the pillory.

    Deconstructing tactics

    I thought of more examples:

    The Republicans are extremely manipulative with their tactics - that is why the first gulf war was called "Operation Desert Storm," why the Iraq War was called "Operation Iraqi Freedom," - those don't sound like all the ugliness of war, do they? Other examples: "Shock and Awe," when you are bombing people, or "The Healthy Forests Initiative," when you are cutting down forests primarily for profit only. No... but they do the opposite to their opponents. Republicans strategists tend to attribute themselves excessive positives and their opponents excessive negatives - demonize them - "The Axis of Evil," "The Clintons will do anything to win."

    I think John McCain himself has more integrity, and is of a different ilk than some of the others - the worst ones especially - perhaps even because of his own torture experiences. But for the greater good - Democrats need to see these highly manipulative strategies and tactics for what they are now - because too much harm has been done.


    Deconstructing Damage:

    Why so ugly? When Democrats use Republican attacks...

    I have heard Republican strategists say that they are not afraid to be "mean," "that's why we're Republicans." I have heard them say they will "eviscerate" (= disembowel) the Democratic nominee no matter who it is. Well, they have been trying to eviscerate the Clintons for years and some damage has been done(that is partly why Hillary is not thought of more positively.) But what is going on now?


    Republicans reach far deeper into the "dark side"

    The truth is that Hillary and Barack will not be able to hurt each other more than the Republicans would try to - the Republicans do reach into the "dark side" of manipulation and tactics to use whatever means necessary to try and win. Look at what much of Bush's administration did - the so called "compassionate conservative" brought us a brazen, reckless war, Guantanamo, torture techniques. They went to the "dark side" until it unfolded on them with such massive destruction that they could not hide nor control it anymore.

    Democrats usually play nice; like a sports match. Competitive but mostly decent.

    This has been the ugliest Democratic race I've ever seen, but it's because the Obama campaign is using old Republican attacks on the Clintons.

    You see it is a strategy the Republicans like to use against the Clintons: "The Clintons will do anything to win." When it's actually the Republicans who will do anything to win, and this is just a strategy against the Clintons that seeks to deceive and cloak the actual reality, and work against the opponent (in this case the Clintons) at the same time. It's like the Republican campaign strategy version of 'weapons of mass destruction.' You say that your 'opponent' 'has them' - they say the 'Clintons' 'have them.' But the Obama campaign co-opted this purposefully from the beginning saying Hillary "will say anything" to win. Same overall strategy/tactic - same phrasing - slightly different action verb.

    So now, anything Hillary says, is spun and "labeled" to be the lowest denominator.

    She could say "Happy Easter," and a Tim Russert type would say:

    "Obviously, she's trying to change the subject. She's behind in the math. She's trying to tell the American people what they want to hear. Everyone knows she'll say anything to win... And she's not even above bringing Easter into the equation... that's how low the Clintons will go..." So that Hillary saying "Happy Easter," would take on a diabolical strategy position. Sound too familiar? That's because it is - it's quite ridiculous. It's like you frame your opponent with blame.

    She can't even answer a press question addressed to her about Reverend Wright, without being accused of bringing it up to change the subject.

    The truth is what the Democrats do to each other is nothing compared to what the Republicans will do to them.

    Again - it won't be John McCain - but the 527s and rumours.

    The Obama Drama in New York City -- A Black Swan Phenom

    This year’s historic quest by a woman and an African American to become president of the United States has largely managed to avoid fanning the flames of xenophobia, racism, and gender bias. That is, at least until the race tightened after Super Tuesday February 5 when Obama’s surge in momentum led to 11 concurrent primary victories. While Hillary Clinton won the California primary, she narrowly staved off Obama’s formidable challenge on her home turf in New York State, to the great surprise of those who assumed she was by far the most electable and held a comfortable lead. Obama’s showing sparked a political firestorm that ruptures the old Democratic vanguard’s narrative – that Clinton’s experience and presumed lead would easily trump Obama’s mantra for change.

    Before Super Tuesday most New York Black Democratic leaders had assumed that the former first lady’s position would be firm as the presumptive Democratic nominee – that Iowa had been an electoral fluke, that Senator Obama’s proverbial goose would be cooked, and that politics as usual would prevail in a refurbished Clintonian era with the same old players. Few post-Civil-Rights era politicians could have imagined that the juggernaut of inevitability that energized the Clinton political machine could be so dramatically slowed by an army of grass-roots devotees armed with laptops and i-phones, political neophytes, cyber wonks, socially progressive Democrats, moderate Republicans, and Independents committed to change.

    Are we as a nation on the verge of a radical new political transformation that could nullify distinctions of race and gender in the political arena in what some have called a post-racial America? Or is Obama mania an aberration, a black swan?

    In his Amazon 2007 best seller, Black Swan, Nassim Nicholas Taleb offers the black swan as a metaphor for a highly improbable event with three principal characteristics: 1) It is unpredictable; 2) it carries a massive impact; and 3) after the fact we concoct an explanation that makes the event appear less random and more predictable than it was. For example, the astonishing success of Google was a black swan; so was 9/11. Taleb writes, “The profundity of black swans is that they change the way people look at the world. Black swans underlie almost everything about the world from the rise of religions to current events.”

    The emergence of Senator Barack Obama as the Democratic front runner seems to place him among that rare breed – a black swan, a phenomenon that key Black Democratic party leaders and elected officials in New York failed to see coming. Could New York State’s Black political leadership be trapped in a time warp, unable to heed the tenor of the times? Are they neglecting to adhere to the will of their constituents? By continuing to follow a conventional political course, keen on personal loyalty, party discipline, and consensus around their leadership’s chosen candidate, a preponderance of New York City Democrats elected to public office have been unwavering in their support for the junior Senator from New York.

    Held together by ties to Harlem, common political interests, and career aspirations –and with the hope of redeeming old favors – some are still tethered to the Clinton Dynasty of the nineties. But Obama’s unforeseen black-swan impact could well begin to gnaw away at old loyalties.

    The tactic of characterizing Obama as inexperienced and unelectable has actually had the countervailing effect of spewing a debilitating message of cynicism, low expectations, and defeat that has been soundly rejected by a new generation of voters who see Obama as the embodiment of hope. By disparaging Barack Obama as a “hope mongerer, long on vision but short on experience,” New York’s democratic leaders have tried to “flip the script” on Obama’s hope narrative by rendering his message of hope and change as fanciful, magical, pie in the sky thinking.

    If Obama does win the nomination, Democratic Party leadership in New York City will surely rally around him as its nominee. But it will be difficult for these influential Democrats to offer credible voices as his surrogates, now entrusted with touting his consistent message of hope and change against Senator McCain’s strong suit of experience, particularly after having excoriated Obama for being, in their estimation, woefully inexperienced.

    Political accommodation is the grist of a politician’s life. But could it be that some Black Democratic political leaders in New York are blinded by their longstanding proximity and allegiance to the Clinton legacy – so much so that they have seriously miscalculated the public will and risk being on the wrong side of history? In Georgia, African American Civil Rights icon and staunch Clinton loyalist John Lewis (D), in a play out of Machaciavelli’s handbook, switched his support to Obama after Obama’s solid victory in Lewis’s district. This ensured Obama an important superdelegate and assured voters that their Congressman is in fact willing to vote the will of his constituents in the event of a brokered convention in Denver. It could well be that other key Congressional leaders presumed to be loyal Clinton supporters may feel pressure to jump the “good ship Billary” in favor of Senator Obama because they fear voter backlash in future elections.

    Such political calculations become more probable if Obama wins either the Texas or Ohio primary on March 4, and if that prompts Clinton to press toward a brokered convention in Denver. From that point forward the superdelegate issue becomes littered with political mine fields unless incumbent political leaders feel compelled to capitulate to their constituents’ preference as reflected in their electoral district.

    In New York, support of the powerful Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee and Senior House Democrat, Congressman Charles B. Rangel, had to have been pivotal in Senator Clinton’s decision to seek the highest office in the land. Assurance became crucial that her home turf was "locked up." And Congressman Rangel, as the dean of New York's Democratic House delegation and a dominant figure in the politics of Harlem for four decades, was expected to help deliver the urban vote on behalf of Clinton.

    But that vote was not so easily delivered. Senator Obama ran a tighter than expected race in Clinton’s home state. In Harlem, according to John Nichols in an article penned for The Nation, the race was “close enough to create a 3-3 delegate split in Congressman Rangel’s 15th Congressional District, according to unofficial results from the New York Democratic primary vote tallies.” While the popular vote was narrowly in Clinton’s favor, her win was clear enough that there would be no pressure on Rangel to vote the will of a congressional district that backed Obama.

    Nichols further observes that “with such a tight race, what New Yorkers should be asking for, however, is a complete review of the results in New York City, with a heavy focus not just on the 80 election districts, where according to a recent New York Times article Obama supposedly received no votes, but also on those where it appears that his vote was far below the level of support that he received in surrounding districts.”

    Could there be another several thousand votes for Obama in the 15th Congressional District and in other under-counted districts, where the official vote has not been publicly reported? The primary results in New York City are only official when certified by the State and County Board of Elections and thus far there has been no disclosure of the official tabulation from some districts. Such delays do not bode well in the interest of free and democratic elections. The public has a right to transparency and to know how New Yorkers voted in the primary. To ensure urgent full disclosure of the vote count, our elected officials ought to be leading the charge demanding that the Board of Election conduct a recount in the interest of free and fair and elections.

    The current political standoff and the larger questions of electoral accountability requires that New York’s Democratic leadership reexamine their relationships to past loyalties to an outdated albeit powerful political machine, to the interests of the voters who put them in office, and to the black-swan phenomenon of Barack Obama.
    Posted by Dennis Day

    The suggestion here is that most people get decision making information from pop culture sources centered in television. Many Moyer's viewers also read books and long, involved articles. That is the best advocacy Bill Moyers does,"Read this informed person's research presentation and decide for yourself." Books can be expensive and time consuming though.
    We have a diversity of informed and capable people here on the blog who could carefully compose book reports or critiques with informative summaries in word processing and then import them to the blog for informational purposes. This would serve a similar purpose to links but is more rational, scholarly and thoughtful. I'd like to see competing reviews for all relevant works mentioned for the President's reading from this special community.
    I believe it would serve a much higher purpose than rehashing TV. Producers and Moderators: Please provide a heading for this purpose with guidelines. I have 3 reviews ready to submit for audience critique. Let's uplift not plow under.

    • Do you agree that Americans vote for candidates as people rather than for their "set of issues?"

    Although I cannot speak for all Americans regarding their political process of candidate selection, I can examine my own process and offer it as a functional model for the formation of a candidate preference. To say the least, a candidate’s appearance - clothing, posture, grooming, etc… - Initially creates a visual first impression from which I draw my preliminary inferences regarding the person’s character. From that point, their speech, considered by some a political act, provides me with more information that either validates my initial inferences or invalidates them. Are they well informed, are they articulate, can they logically defend their viewpoints, or are they simply reading from a teleprompter and spouting slogans or sound bites? Finally, I depend upon the media’s investigative reports to provide me with the necessary background information in order to determine whether or not the respective candidate would be good representative of my political interests.

    • Can sound bites and 30-second ads sufficiently inform citizens about the issues, the candidates, and/or the policy differences between them? If so, has this happened so far in the race to November?

    As I see it, 30-seconds, although the maximum attention span for some Americans, is in no way enough time to sufficiently inform citizens about complex choices involved in certain policy issues, and the candidate’s reasoning behind it. However, it is sufficient enough time to bombard the viewer with images and slogans, and in doing so, direct the public’s attention to a particular subject for further in-depth discussions.

    • How would you like to see candidates and issue groups use the media to elevate political discourse?

    The media should be used to create a public record of the discourse that occurs between all of the interested parties. In short, each problem should be carefully examined by representatives from each group – Industry, Labor, Banking, etc… - in an attempt to identify a working solution.

    The issues serve as the "elimination round" or first screen, though. Once you have candidates whom you support based on their stance on your issues, then, yes, it becomes a more personal matter. You listen and watch: character, whom do you trust more? Which candidate's perspective or vision feels more authentic, more capable? And how's the candidate conducting her or his campaign? Is a candidate using negative ads? Reading a report that a candidate's campaign is staying in only the most expensive hotels, a recent example, is a negative with me.

    Do you agree that Americans vote for candidates as people rather than for their "set of issues?"

    Although I cannot speak for all Americans regarding their political process of candidate selection, I can examine my own process and offer it as a functional model for the formation of a candidate preference. To say the least, a candidate’s appearance - clothing, posture, grooming, etc… - Initially creates a visual first impression from which I draw my preliminary inferences regarding the person’s character. From that point, their speech, considered by some a political act, provides me with more information that either validates my initial inferences or invalidates them. Are they well informed, are they articulate, can they logically defend their viewpoints, or are they simply reading from a teleprompter and spouting slogans or sound bites? Finally, I depend upon the media’s investigative reports to provide me with the necessary background information in order to determine whether or not the respective candidate would be good representative of my political interests.

    • Can sound bites and 30-second ads sufficiently inform citizens about the issues, the candidates, and/or the policy differences between them? If so, has this happened so far in the race to November?

    As I see it, 30-seconds, although the maximum attention span for some Americans, is in no way enough time to sufficiently inform citizens about complex choices involved in certain policy issues, and the candidate’s reasoning behind it. However, it is sufficient enough time to bombard the viewer with images and slogans, and in doing so, direct the public’s attention to a particular subject for further in-depth discussions.

    • How would you like to see candidates and issue groups use the media to elevate political discourse?

    The media should be used to create a public record of the discourse that occurs between all of the interested parties. In short, each problem should be carefully examined by representatives from each group – Industry, Labor, Banking, etc… - in an attempt to identify a working solution.

    3am. A red phone rings...rings...
    1.Obama answers,"Change this number!"
    2.McCain answers,"Bomb, bomb, bomb. Bomb,bomb Iran!
    3.Hillary answers,"Where in the *!*# are you, Bill?"

    Kathleen, how will the candidates deal with the stock market downturn as precipitated by the multiple debt crisis and inflation? So far they are ignoring it.
    Will they even notice when Bernanke lowers the FED rate for wealthy bankers and expands the money supply again to celebrate St. Patrick's Day?
    The resultant inflation as the price of profits is going to give the next President Hell. Have the candidates become "personalities" decoupled from the economic reality on the ground? Are they just spokesmodels for corporate interests? How will the Depression affect TV Guide? I really wonder sometimes... why I keep watching.

    The 30-second ads can be sufficient and powerful enough to
    sway people from the real issues! Citizens effected by such
    ads are, taxi drivers, construction, transportation, service,
    electrical-line men, factory employees etc. [Example, “Dukakas
    release a murder criminal...”!] These are people who get up in
    any hour of the day to go to work, to support their family, kids etc.
    Yes, she is correct, “We elect a person, not a set of issues...”!
    The main issues is and has been, “the will of the people to
    express their will on issues.. ”! The “will” is denied! It is a
    and should be a constitutional question. The Constitution should
    be amended!
    The people should be empower to “express their will on issues....”.
    The citizens working in any hours of the day and night, should be
    empowered to express their will on issues. No person should be
    empower at any time of the day or at 3:00 am if the phone rings to
    plunge the country in more crises! The Congress and Senate had
    breached their duty, fail to comply and enforced the Constitution.
    There is no “accountability”!
    To continue on the same road for more of the same,
    empty hopes is not justified! Non of the candidates address the
    most important issue to empower the citizens to express “ their will
    on issues...”! It was blame Mr. Nader before, when the fact is that
    millions choose perhaps not vote for reason not being able to “express
    their will” on issues...”!
    To elevate political discourse should be to “amend the Constitution”;
    To empower the citizens, to decide their destiny!

    Much of the program focused on the value of political ads on network and cable TV. I'm a DirecTV subscriber and that content comes to me on my TiVo. So, I watch only what I chose to watch and I skip all ads. When I'm through watching, I turn the TV off. I have not seen a single political ad on TV in the last three elections. How should they reach me?

    To Doug Rogers 3-4 2:59PM
    Assuming your info is correct--Great point! Plus the 40,579 usually aren't mentioned, nor that Gore failed to carry his home state of Tenn. Thanks!

    Holly 3-3 7:07PM See your trouble with Clinton. Suggest you check out Independent Lens on PBS "An Unreasonable Man" & see what Nader has been offering for decades. Admittley, I did not take Ralph seriously as a pres. candidate until this nomination dissappointment.
    Nader has been telling us that we would arrive at this point in our country's politics & look at our choices today-from 16 yrs. of govenors to the whitehouse we now have a choice of which senator to choose.
    Also, Hillary can ware a dress if she likes-my remarks were in response to Rosemary 3-2 1:57.
    Respectfully,
    Billy Bob, Fla.

    Just to recap the 2000 Florida vote results:

    Bush- 2,912,790
    Gore- 2,912,253
    Nader- 97,488
    Others- 40,579
    People who didn't vote- 6,348,696!!!!!

    So who's responsible for Bush? Certainly not the 97,488 who voted for the guy who was right.

    Why isn't the same scorn heaped on those who didn't vote? Because who can blame them. Our two party system is a farce, with an almost certain guarantee that nothing is going to change.

    I'll vote for real change every time and I'm not going to feel guilty about it.

    To Paul N (3/2 3:26 a.m.)

    Am well aware of Andrew Jackson's role as a slaveholder and his destruction of the Cherokee via the Trail of Tears. But he was and remains the champion of the "little guy", albeit white and male...against the Bank of the U. S., etc.
    And unlike you, Paul, I will not vote for Hillary Clinton if she wrests the Democratic nomination from Sen. Obama nor for Sen. John McCain, who ASKED prescher Hagee for his endorsement.
    As to Billy Bob's remarks about Hillary's attire (3/3 9:23 a.m.), the person who is most responsible for calling attention to her manner of dress (is there a problem?)is non other than her spouse, (who is responsible as well for a number of Hillary's problems).."I can't make her taller, I can't make her younger"..
    Vote for the Clintons? Not on your life. Google Clinton and Frank Giustra, Clinton and Ron Burkle, Clinton and the Ruler of Dubai....

    The Obama Drama in New York City -- A Black Swan Phenom
    By ddaymedia group - Mar 2nd, 2008 at 11:33 pm EST
    Comments | Mail to a Friend | Report Objectionable Content
    This year’s historic quest by a woman and an African American to become president of the United States has largely managed to avoid fanning the flames of xenophobia, racism, and gender bias. That is, at least until the race tightened after Super Tuesday February 5 when Obama’s surge in momentum led to 11 concurrent primary victories. While Hillary Clinton won the California primary, she narrowly staved off Obama’s formidable challenge on her home turf in New York State, to the great surprise of those who assumed she was by far the most electable and held a comfortable lead. Obama’s showing sparked a political firestorm that ruptures the old Democratic vanguard’s narrative – that Clinton’s experience and presumed lead would easily trump Obama’s mantra for change.
    Before Super Tuesday most New York Black Democratic leaders had assumed that the former first lady’s position would be firm as the presumptive Democratic nominee – that Iowa had been an electoral fluke, that Senator Obama’s proverbial goose would be cooked, and that politics as usual would prevail in a refurbished Clintonian era with the same old players. Few post-Civil-Rights era politicians could have imagined that the juggernaut of inevitability that energized the Clinton political machine could be so dramatically slowed by an army of grass-roots devotees armed with laptops and i-phones, political neophytes, cyber wonks, socially progressive Democrats, moderate Republicans, and Independents committed to change.



    Are we as a nation on the verge of a radical new political transformation that could nullify distinctions of race and gender in the political arena in what some have called a post-racial America? Or is Obama mania an aberration, a black swan?



    In his Amazon 2007 best seller, Black Swan, Nassim Nicholas Taleb offers the black swan as a metaphor for a highly improbable event with three principal characteristics: 1) It is unpredictable; 2) it carries a massive impact; and 3) after the fact we concoct an explanation that makes the event appear less random and more predictable than it was. For example, the astonishing success of Google was a black swan; so was 9/11. Taleb writes, “The profundity of black swans is that they change the way people look at the world. Black swans underlie almost everything about the world from the rise of religions to current events.”



    The emergence of Senator Barack Obama as the Democratic front runner seems to place him among that rare breed – a black swan, a phenomenon that key Black Democratic party leaders and elected officials in New York failed to see coming. Could New York State’s Black political leadership be trapped in a time warp, unable to heed the tenor of the times? Are they neglecting to adhere to the will of their constituents? By continuing to follow a conventional political course, keen on personal loyalty, party discipline, and consensus around their leadership’s chosen candidate, a preponderance of New York City Democrats elected to public office have been unwavering in their support for the junior Senator from New York.
    Held together by ties to Harlem, common political interests, and career aspirations – and with the hope of redeeming old favors – some are still tethered to the Clinton Dynasty of the nineties. But Obama’s unforeseen black-swan impact could well begin to gnaw away at old loyalties.
    The tactic of characterizing Obama as inexperienced and unelectable has actually had the countervailing effect of spewing a debilitating message of cynicism, low expectations, and defeat that has been soundly rejected by a new generation of voters who see Obama as the embodiment of hope. By disparaging Barack Obama as a “hope mongerer, long on vision but short on experience,” New York’s democratic leaders have tried to “flip the script” on Obama’s hope narrative by rendering his message of hope and change as fanciful, magical, pie in the sky thinking.
    If Obama does win the nomination, Democratic Party leadership in New York City will surely rally around him as its nominee. But it will be difficult for these influential Democrats to offer credible voices as his surrogates, now entrusted with touting his consistent message of hope and change against Senator McCain’s strong suit of experience, particularly after having excoriated Obama for being, in their estimation, woefully inexperienced.
    Political accommodation is the grist of a politician’s life. But could it be that some Black Democratic political leaders in New York are blinded by their longstanding proximity and allegiance to the Clinton legacy – so much so that they have seriously miscalculated the public will and risk being on the wrong side of history? In Georgia, African American Civil Rights icon and staunch Clinton loyalist John Lewis (D), in a play out of Machaciavelli’s handbook, switched his support to Obama after Obama’s solid victory in Lewis’s district. This ensured Obama an important superdelegate and assured voters that their Congressman is in fact willing to vote the will of his constituents in the event of a brokered convention in Denver. It could well be that other key Congressional leaders presumed to be loyal Clinton supporters may feel pressure to jump the “good ship Billary” in favor of Senator Obama because they fear voter backlash in future elections.
    Such political calculations become more probable if Obama wins either the Texas or Ohio primary on March 4, and if that prompts Clinton to press toward a brokered convention in Denver. From that point forward the superdelegate issue becomes littered with political mine fields unless incumbent political leaders feel compelled to capitulate to their constituents’ preference as reflected in their electoral district.
    In New York, support of the powerful Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee and Senior House Democrat, Congressman Charles B. Rangel, had to have been pivotal in Senator Clinton’s decision to seek the highest office in the land. Assurance became crucial that her home turf was "locked up." And Congressman Rangel, as the dean of New York's Democratic House delegation and a dominant figure in the politics of Harlem for four decades, was expected to help deliver the urban vote on behalf of Clinton.
    But that vote was not so easily delivered. Senator Obama ran a tighter than expected race in Clinton’s home state. In Harlem, according to John Nichols in an article penned for The Nation, the race was “close enough to create a 3-3 delegate split in Congressman Rangel’s 15th Congressional District, according to unofficial results from the New York Democratic primary vote tallies.” While the popular vote was narrowly in Clinton’s favor, her win was clear enough that there would be no pressure on Rangel to vote the will of a congressional district that backed Obama.



    Nichols further observes that “with such a tight race, what New Yorkers should be asking for, however, is a complete review of the results in New York City, with a heavy focus not just on the 80 election districts, where according to a recent New York Times article Obama supposedly received no votes, but also on those where it appears that his vote was far below the level of support that he received in surrounding districts.”



    Could there be another several thousand votes for Obama in the 15th Congressional District and in other under-counted districts, where the official vote has not been publicly reported? The primary results in New York City are only official when certified by the State and County Board of Elections and thus far there has been no disclosure of the official tabulation from some districts. Such delays do not bode well in the interest of free and democratic elections. The public has a right to transparency and to know how New Yorkers voted in the primary. To ensure urgent full disclosure of the vote count, our elected officials ought to be leading the charge demanding that the Board of Election conduct a recount in the interest of free and fair and elections.
    The current political standoff and the larger questions of electoral accountability requires that New York’s Democratic leadership reexamine their relationships to past loyalties to an outdated albeit powerful political machine, to the interests of the voters who put them in office, and to the black-swan phenomenon of Barack Obama.

    To Holly 3-1 4:57PM Dr. Jamieson's appearances with Moyers generate large numbers of comments, both for & against. Isn't that what TV programs hope for?

    Rosemary 3-2 1:57 AM Clinton is damned if she does & if she doesn't. A female president must show she can be as strong any male, so she shows the stern, serious, business like side. But, women that aren't nurturing don't fit the mold, so they are critized for not being soft--Catch 22

    Paul 3-2 3:26 AM Ethics? Obama "...gave my word..." to deny a 3rd party of its rights, so not going back on his word is sort of like not telling the police what you know about a neighbor that committed a crime. Gee!
    Grady Lee 3-2 1:12 PM Who is holding Bill hostage?
    Are you familiar with Hyde on "That 70s show?
    God bless America! That is my hope.
    Billy Bob, Florida

    I agree with the idea that a lot of factors come in to play for each voter. Some of those factors have even unconsciously steered them. One area that I do not think was touched upon during the discussion but is still relevant is the impact that the way in which a candidate is visually perceived by voters. In fact, I wonder if something as simple as a bad pantsuit could be standing between Hillary Clinton and the Oval Office? And does it matter? Now for those of you, who just rolled your eyes, hang in there with me.

    This really is the election of the 21st century. It is exhilarating. Just four years ago it seemed impossible to consider that a “person of the opposite gender” and a “man of color” would be vying for the position of Supreme Commander of one of the most influential countries in the world. It may not be the first time Hillary Clinton has perceived herself as a Commander in Chief, but it is the first time she has tried to convince her voters to view her as President of the United States. And perception is everything. The way in which Hillary is perceived by others and how comfortable she is in conveying her personality and message is critical. She must distinguish herself to the country and to the world as a leader who has dynamism, intelligence, confidence and authenticity.

    So what seems to be the problem?! Why does Hillary seem self-conscious, dated, and physically uncomfortable in her current attire? Ironically, this outdated image she is projecting fails to coincide with her message of ‘experience plus change.’

    In On Beauty and Being Just, the philosopher and literary critic, Elaine Scarry, acknowledges that “…beautiful things have a forward momentum, the way they incite desire to bring new things into the world: infants, epics, sonnets, drawings, dances, laws, philosophic dialogues, theological tracts”. She goes further in pointing out that if a person or a thing isn’t aesthetically gratifying, there is aversion and avoidance.

    It makes sense then that when someone presents as visually pleasing, we want to pay more attention to his message. This does not mean that he or she has to be the most handsome or beautiful; what it means is that we perceive that person as confident and fully engaged in her effort to share with us her expertise and talents. Simply put, that is attractive. Our interest is piqued.

    Due to vast, incessant international media coverage and immense public interest, Hillary can no longer afford to separate appearance from who she is. The way she presents herself is more important than ever. Especially for the woman who’s the first one paving the road to the White House whether it happens now or later. In setting a precedent, Hillary has a responsibility to consistently convey her expertise and dynamism. A Commander in Chief needs to command attention. When someone looks authentically comfortable with herself, she immediately radiates all of those essential leadership characteristics.

    What is becoming more and more clear is that in today’s visual world what someone says is not enough to keep our attention. We are visual beings who have a visceral reaction to what we see. Visually, at the moment, Hillary’s personal style communicates status quo: status quo appearance…status quo ideas. The voting public is asking ‘will what we see extend to…status quo leadership…status quo execution…status quo future?’

    This does not mean that Hillary, in communicating “forward” thinking, should have to dress a “part.” There are definitely very simple options that both communicate her forward thinking and make her feel comfortable and confident enough to passionately communicate her ideas.

    Whatever misconception is holding Hillary or Hillary’s team back from having her look her message needs to be corrected. Today’s very talented and serious American designers would offer a quite appropriate resource of contemporary classics at a reasonable cost. An Americana chic, if you will, would allow her to represent both her fresh message and fresh American talent to the rest of the world. Michael Kors could certainly provide her with a figure flattering chic pantsuit. Or there is Vera Wang’s expertise in making a woman look femininely empowered for special events. And, of course, there are always Ralph Lauren’s well-groomed casual yet appropriate collections that would be perfect for travel or more informal situations. Another idea that might feel inspiring to Hillary is showcasing Linda Loudermilk’s sustainable apparel, reinforcing her environmental commitments. And it’s a good bet that Taryn Rose could present her with contemporary comfortable footwear that would get Hillary through her challenging days ahead in easy going style. Other notably capable American designers include Proenza Schouler, Marc Jacobs, Tory Burch, Narciso Rodriquez for Liz Claiborne, Brian Reyes, Carmen Marc Valvo, Rodarte, Bradley Bayou, Behnaz Sarafpour, Peter Som for Bill Blass, Chaiken, Zac Posen, Bryan Bradley for Tuleh, and of course Lela Rose from Texas.

    The selection of gifted American designers is vast and would undoubtedly be able to support Hillary in visually communicating her message and feeling proud, empowered and confident enough to verbally communicate it.

    Hillary is partaking in a long and arduous interview process with the American public, the press and the international world at large. Conscientious attention to her appearance becomes a metaphor for pride in being a world leader, pride in being a transcendent progressive Democratic leader, and pride in being a leader of women everywhere. No longer is attention to appearance thought of as narcissistic. On the contrary, it is considered a responsibility. Hillary must dress her message of informed change as she speaks it!

    I’m sure for many of you this may not be your cup of tea but I wanted to put another factor out there as food for thought.

    To the question “do you agree that Americans vote for candidates as people rather than for their ‘set of issues’”, I’d like to express my general dislike for the whole system. The whole process has devolved to a popularity contest between people of questionable motive and ability. The primary criteria used to select candidates are how much money they have and how likeable they are to what set of people. Wouldn’t we all be better off if the issues were the primary consideration? What if we elected a legally binding contract first, then sought “qualified” candidates to take on the issues?

    I'm enjoying the ripoff airport prices during my Miami layover.
    RE Mant Feb. 29-10:56 pm. Are you out there with a shovel and pick digging up mythical Ike?
    Do you see Ike reborn in John McCain? Ike and John both enjoyed out of wedlock sex just like Bill and Jack. George W. Bush needed Jeff Gannon to get off. The Bigmen all have their pecadillos. So Napalm John is gonna be using that bank fraud and hedge fund trickle down to build little red schoolhouses and overpasses.
    Ike was integral to the elite cabal he decried at the end. He and the Dulles boys shot up Central and South America like a cheap saloon, and them wuz his pigs in that Cuban bay. Ole Jack musta done sumpin' wrong to da other Bigmen for his head to explode Nov. 22, 1963. Peter Lawford was told by Jackie that the bullets came from the front. Later Bobby cautioned Peter that no recourse existed because we had an "covert government." I don't call that little (Onion) Diebold video humor. Maybe you do, RE Mant. Also Bud, your rascism is showing when you liken naive Obama to "Longjohn" Thomas and OJ. Let Obama live his dream while he can: He's winning American Idol and Dancing With the Stars at the same time. Now he's taking a Reagan dummy to Antiques Roadshow for some ventriloquism. Hillary needs to get on Letterman and spell some long words, do some stupid dog tricks with Bill (as the "dawg").
    It's a great "whore'srace" alright, Kathleen. Moyers has now been a hostage 30 days.

    When talking about Barak Obama's new media ads, the Moyers and Jameson mentioned a Spanish-language video clip. I would like to direct your attention towards an even more significant clip that, if Obama proves victorious in Texas, may encapsulate his appeal to Latino/as. But first, a correction: Professor Jameson mentioned Obama's nation-of-origin specific Spanish language appeals, yet when she listed examples of Latin American countries, Brazil was at the top of her list. As I'm sure she realized after the broadcast, Brazil is the largest Portuguese speaking nation in the world.

    But back to Spanish. A Mexican friend showed me this clip, and she explained her mixed yet visceral emotional reaction. Beyond the claims of Obama's authenticity as a community organizer and his presentation as someone who will fight for poor families, it was the chorus that caught my friend's attention. She is well versed in the corrido/mariachi tradition, so much so that the first time she heard "en esta gran nación" she thought nothing of it. But then it occurred to her: the our nation in the song is not her nation: she is Mexican, but these musicians are singing about their America. Not only are they doing it in Spanish, but in a way that is specifically identifiable as Mexican. She was accustomed to hearing these sorts of campaign songs growing up in DF, only now, she was hearing one in the campaign for the president of the United States.

    In that sense, this little video clip has infinitely more content than will.i.am's lightning flash. It represents the Latino community's belief not in hope itself, but rather in this candidate's dedication to come to terms with demographic reality, in his commitment to recognize our America and nuestra América as two overlapping, non-antagonistic political concepts. McCain has suspended talk about comprehensive immigration reform until "the border is secure." If Obama wins Texas (and thus the Democratic Party's nomination), it will be because Latino/as believe that he has suspended talk about immigration until we "hold America up to its ideal of opportunity and equality [...] on behalf of all people, not just some people."

    Of course, the true meaning of such affirmations remains to be seen.

    I believe our decision-making process regarding candidates is framed more in the sense of banal marketing than rationality. Even going beyond the brief "ads" that purport to convey something meaningful, to the longer, selectively televised speeches and debates, we are left with repetitive, largely abstract themes devised to tickle our marketing buttons, that lack truly important detail and content.

    So no, we are not sufficiently informed by any current communication formats about our candidates. And yes, our choices become oriented toward personality appeal, shined up through the magical trickery of marketing.

    As for a solution, where we might come to truly understand our candidates and, more importantly, the issues behind them, we're in a bit of a pickle.

    First, though the well of potential candidates might be large, the number of slots available are very small. We do not, in the end, have much blood to choose from. Who we choose from really is determined by how much money the candidate can raise, and how well they are able to court the media outlets to gain any exposure. This alone creates an impossibly uneven playing field where only those candidates who "play by the rules", and thereby homogenize the issues, have any hope of becoming serious candidates.

    Secondly, once we have the homogenized candidates, any issues put forth to them for discussion in debates or national public forums is often
    controlled. This further homogenizes the issues and the candidates, sanding them down to a few rough and undefined edges that allows the marketing shine to stick even better.

    The solution seems to be, separate our candidates from the forces of media shine, sever their connections to money sources to level the playing field, and use our publicly-owned air waves to distribute their messages equally and fairly.

    I also think it would be wonderful having a central source of political information on positions and issues for each candidate, maintained under US law, which can illuminate fact and real political history, and offer comparisons. It's not even a complex task. Candidate positions can be altered, with tracking, over time, and issues raised, with responses, by other candidates. We can even have a pool of questions and issues brought forward by citizens, uncensored, to be addressed.

    It would be a wildly unpredictable experiment. However, the one thing you could predict with certainty is transparency. I would love to see our candidates and their issues, standing side by side, on equal footing, having to address true concerns. Concerns that exist not only between themselves, but between each candidate and the American people they will lead.

    The public can sense the difference between a Values statement (home team pep talk, belittling others) and an Ethics statement (appealing to principles and fair play, independent of specific values). Obama is speaking about Ethics and we all love fair play even more than our home team Values. This contest is not about 'values butting heads', it is about values alone, or values tempered by Ethics. In the public space, we need the latter and people love it.

    As a woman born in the final months of WWII, I have spent a lifetime working with other professional women of my age to break through "glass ceilings" in the workplace and gender prejudice in every aspect of life. Finally, after years of disappointment, I foolishly thought our society had learned to value intelligent, experienced professional women and would recognize that Senator Clinton should be our next President. I have heard all the campaign slurs against her clothes, her lack of emotion/or conversely too much display of emotion, and listened to criticisms of her for voting (with all but one Senator) to go to war. Because she was not a psychic who could recognize that President Bush and his cohorts were lying about Iraq's weapons, she is belittled nearly every day by Senator Obama. Forgive me if I do not see in him the gracious deity that others seem to be worshipping.

    I noted with interest your display of Ike's TV ad from my time, in which he pronounced himself as the candidate for change. I believe that probably every candidate since George Washington's presidency has proclaimed that he was for 'change.' So far, I have not heard what will change should Senator Obama be elected, or how he proposes to bring about this change. Of course, people of my generation are not persuaded by sound bytes and charisma. Unlike many younger voters, we have long attention spans, so we actually read the speeches of the candidates and examine their voting records and biographies. I don't trust U-Tube to give me accurate information about the best candidates. However, I am somewhat offended by the assumption on the part of younger voters that all people over sixty years of age are not computer literate.

    If the Democratic party fails to support Senator Clinton, I may well support Senator McCain. He at least has respect for strong, outspoken women, and years of experience in the Senate.

    By the way, I read a comment preceding mine which compares Barack Obama to Andrew Jackson. Too bad this Obama devotee did not watch the PBS special on Jackson, or at least read a biography of the man. Jackson was a SLAVE OWNER! I hardly think Senator Obama would like that comparison.

    Please continue to present us, the faithful viewers, with thought-provoking programs, Bill. Yours is one of the few TV programs we really enjoy.

    Rosemary

    It's always a pleasure when you invite Ms. Jamieson on the show. She thoroughly dissects the sound bites and political ads and puts then into context by exposing what part of the ad is based on truth, falsehood or emotion. It's all too easy to let critical thinking with regards to political ads fall by the wayside and just believe what we hear. Ms. Jamieson reminds us all that critical thinking is a tool best kept sharp.

    What I picked up from this came mostly from Bill's summation of the ads: Obama's ads were: "eccentric", "Woodstock", "negative to make the Conservatives come after him". Last I checked, some conservatives were running to his side.
    Hillary's ads were: "empathetic", "nurturing", not to mention showing the full ad, that I've seen only a gazillion times. Try to hide your feelings a little more, Bill.

    Bill Moyers:

    Would you please have someone other than Kathleen Jamieson on your JOURNAL? Ms. Jamieson may be a media expert, but I certainly would prefer having someone on your program other an excepted "expert," to comment on the current political action..we haven't seen a movement like Barack Obama's since Andrew Jackson invited the American citizenry in mass, to partake in democracy. He wrested it from the New England political aristocracy, represented in that father and son team, the Adamses (who, brilliant as they were, were also extremely peevish) and Virginia's landed gentry....imagine, Sen. Barack Obama, has issued an invitation to us, Americans all, to participate in government. My, my, what a novel American idea. How about explaining HIS political MOVEMENT to us???

    Bill,

    I think you asked us if an ad moved us to change our minds about a candidate. I was firmly in the Edwards camp until he dropped out. I was moved once I saw Will.i.am's video which was cut with an Obama speech and now I am firmly in the Obama camp. Here's the link to the YouTube video:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jjXyqcx-mYY

    Jacques Derrida originated deconstructionism. It was related at first to text. I am competent to say after all my years examining post modern philosophy that what Bill and Kathleen think of as deconstruction is pop culture garbage. If anyone has a pointed disregard for all three leading candidates (and Mr. Nader, Rev. Huckabee and Ron Paul etc.), I do.
    The crime is that you are suggesting templates, attempting to pattern the thought of voters to superficial norms, playing into the metaphor of a horserace. You have become a demeaning and retarding force, complementing commercial media and ignoring issues in a time of multiple crisis. I have no more patience or mercy for your indulgence in bulls**t, Bill and Kathleen. You are the magnetic field spinning modern philosophers in their graves. I know Jean Paul Sartre would be spitting at the screen if he could witness your unconcern for the imminent fate of humanity, Monsters!

    I have noticed, what I believe, are ads by companies that tell you of their strength in an area of business, but on reflection the co. has had a customer relations problem in that area & is attempting to overcome a mkt. problem.

    I beilve I have noticed political ads that are designed to allow the hearer to interpet in a way they like, but the candidate can not have their feet held to the fire.

    For those that make decisions based on ads, it is probably easy to believe that Iowa & New Hampshire should determine the 2 candidates.

    This may very well be a revolutionary election, not a non white, or non male being elected, but that Fla. Mich. Calif. Texas, etc. realize that their participation in selecting a candidate should always count!

    I was struck by the Obama add discussing his family history. In the vein of biography, no only did he wish to disply is ability to overcome, but he seemed to be distancing himself from his father. This could deflect those who latched onto the Keynan/Muslim heritage of his biological father. In essence, defining Obama as American and non-Mulsim.

    I was remembering when as a kid I saw the ads and had to watch the local news for history class. They did not have polls therefore no one could 'predict' the winner. I miss that time. As for thinking Obama is Christ, did you not as a republican espose that same thing about Mr. Bush? Did not Mr. Bush state that God spoke to him and told him that he needed to President? Did not you and others tell the rest of us that God spoke to Mr. Bush therefore he was always right and good? The press is playing up Mr. Obama so don't blame the ones who are listening to someone who can speak in sentences as playing God for we have that person in office today. But I don't want someone trying to scare me, have that person in office today. I am still undecided and think hey we have months to go! I can look at web sites, read articles and make a decision in November. So keep finding fault with Mr. Obama's name, worry about him being Black or not Black enough, whatever. Worry about if Mrs Clinton can keep Bill away from other women or not. Worry if she can lead this 'great' country because she is a woman. Worry about Mr. McCain being old, very old and so wanting to be called Mr. President that he flip flop on torture. Here is a man tortured and was against it until he sees that he can be president if he just say all the right things to the right. Hey, I am over here and will vote against you Mr. McCain and I so liked and admired you until now. Get back on that bus, straightness, and be the better person you used to be.

    You ask if Americans vote for candidates as people rather than for their "set of issues". Any person with enough incentive to vote has issues, real or imagined. It is, of course, helpful when that voter perceives that the candidate of choice IS, in fact, a person.

    Can sound bites and 30-second ads sufficiently inform citizens? That depends on one's perspective. If you're the candidate and the voter buys your message then the answer is moot. If you're a voter, the answer is always no. It's classic Catch-22. If a voter is reasonably informed they don't need the ad. If a voter isn't particularly informed then they don't have an issue. Thus, political ads highlight made-up and made-for-TV issues. Take a look at Hillary Clinton's ad concerning a ringing phone at 3AM. What, exactly, does this have to do with reality? Since when is the president completely isolated from all resources in a crisis? Is one's judgement less important in a crisis when it takes place at 3PM?
    How (should) candidates and issue groups use the media to elevate political discourse? I find it interesting that we don't find the concept of "using the media" troubling. Having said that, there is no other way than the way they're already using it. It's not the candidate's job to inform the public. It's the candidate's job to endear themselves to 50% + 1 of us. It is the news media's job to provide us with information and detached analysis. Good luck with that.
    Bill, you should consider doing a segment on an issue that appears important to the candidates and their target constituency but not the media - NAFTA. In the last debate, the candidates promised to opt out of NAFTA if the agreement couldn't be renegotiated. While this plays well with some voters, the ramifications of doing so seem, on the surface, to be significant enough for someone in the media to notice. Nope.
    So what would the ramifications be if Canada suddenly put tariffs on all the natural gas, oil, pulp and paper, nickel, copper, lumber, etc. that it exports to the US? What would the valley of the Rio Grande look like without cross-border commerce? What jobs would disappear from reduced exports to Canada and Mexico? Would any of those old manufacturing jobs return? Why am I asking these questions???

    You're astute, Ms. Jamieson, but at times you do get a bit carried away in making a point.

    Tonight I was awfully bothered by your suggestion that a child without a father present suffers the worst fate conceivable. With a few moments' further thought, I'm sure you'd retract the statement.

    Many worse things could have happened to Barack Obama (or any child) than being raised by a loving mom and grandparents who were comfortably well-off. Imagine, say, a father who stuck around to beat up or emotionally terrorize the family -- or circumstances in which he'd have lacked proper food and shelter, as far too many children do.

    By having a single mom, he certainly did NOT "beat all the odds," in the way that you characterized his biography. Nor did my son, whom I raised not without difficulties but competently, with love and with a little help from my parents, when his father chose not to be part of his life after our divorce.

    Let's save the heavy sympathy for those who really need it, huh?

    I don't watch the ads. Thirty second ads and sound bites create an informed public to the same extant that free food samples you get on a toothpick at a big box store, create a gourmet meal. The way I would like to see the media or public television cover a campaign would be to have people like Ralph Nader, Ross Perot, Jesse Ventura, James Buchanan, or Ron Paul ask the candidates questions on issues important to them. It would be easiest and work best if the candidates could not hear the others answer. Have the candidates in separate studios, the panel could all be in another location. Each candidate would have a timed response period to fully explain their position on the question asked. The candidate’s answers would be recorded, then both candidates would hear the next or a follow up question and their answers would be recorded.
    This format would serve the electorate well in each candidate would have to form their own answer. No one would go first, and they would each have to state their position no “me too” responses. I support Ralph Nader’s right to run; I don’t think he has any chance of being elected. But the issues that make him feel the need to run on would be discussed. His question could define his perception of the importance and impact of the issue. The candidates would be well tested on their knowledge of the issue. I’m not really interested in how well Wolf Blitzer or Tim Russert does in a debate. What a service public television could perform. The candidates could use almost any public TV studio in the country to record their answers. I think it would be good to have bill Moyer involve too.

    i hate to say this guys, but i am on my hands and knees thanking God (and the DNC) that we here in florida were spared all those tv commercials before our primary! my God, we didn't even get mailings! and i have to say IT WAS GREAT!!!

    we had to make our decisions the old fashioned way: we had to find out where the candidates stand on the issues!

    we trolled their websites, read newspapers, downloaded position papers, watched debates at pubs (i can't afford cable). we joined discussion groups, listened to opinions and had to, wait for it, think for ourselves!

    it was great NOT to be targeted, demographized, categorized, or "sold."

    i hope we get "penalized" like this in every presidential cycle! :)

    America seems to think Obama is the Christ. I am serious about this. Only our obsession with victims can explain a phenomenon like Him. He has out-suffered both Bill Clinton and George Bush. He may meet his match in McCain in terms of actual suffering, but I doubt McCain would play on it as they have. Many commentators are saying Obama's election will show ppl around the world that America is not racist. Perhaps so, but Obama is "passing," just "black" enough for the politically correct to swoon over, yet not so "black" as to repel them. It might reinforce the idea of America as a country of immigrants, but I think over-all they would be happier if we stopped invading and impoverishing them in the name of free-trade and benevolence. Be that as may, Obama seems to me to have an "attitude" like Clarence Thomas and OJ Simpson, and I think he is playing the electorate in a similar fashion, daring them to reject a black man, like Jesus did. He may need all the loaves and fishes he can produce, because it remains to be seen whether he, anymore than Bush or Clinton, can deliver more than demagogery. He may win the presidency this way, but he will certainly lose the war - assuming he is honest - because ppl always get the kind of govt they deserve. All three are momma's boys, BTW, as were LBJ and Reagan, and like momma's boys always do, tend to overcompensate. This was no doubt part of the cause of both the Vietnam and Iraq wars.

    For those who know nothing of JFK except the Zapruder film clip: his father was a boot-legger and a Quisling, and he only won election by corruption in Illinois, allegedly financed by his family, as well as by telling lies about the state of Soviet-American military strength. He was as much a womanizer as Bill Clinton and also cheated on his wife. He was a rabid anti-Communist just like LBJ, and if anyone thinks he would have pulled out Vietnam, he is mistaken. He created havoc in local politics with a plethora of senselesss and offensive programs, and his tax cuts began the massive inflation and disparity in the distribution of wealth we have seen in the past 50 years, and which served as a model for those of Reagan and Bush. The Peace Corps has never helped anyone, anywhere. Eisenhower, sensibly, thought the space race "just nuts." It was Ike who built schools, highways, and bridges, ended the Korean War, sent troops to Alabama, and restored American military strength dismantled in the Truman administration.

    Thank you for this intelligent discussion of political ads. It is a relief from the unrelenting political babel that pervades our airways.

    I took Dr. Jamieson's class on political rhetoric in 1988 when she was teaching at the University of Texas at Austin.

    She was one of the best professors I had. She had an influence in my starting in 1997 an advertising agency focused on AUTHENTIC environmental advertising.

    From seeing her again tonight, I must say she's still got it! Her critique of current political ads is so good, we should be thankful she never gets hired by any candidate to tell them how to do it right. She has been a vocal advocate for getting presidential candidates to DEBATE more so people will learn more about the candidates.

    I still live in Texas, and have been excited we've had the benefit of all the ads, speeches and one debate. I'm am amazed by the remarkable speed at which the candidates are posting rebuttal TV ads (the same day!) But I'm still not finding all the answers about specific environmental policy at any rally or their web sites.

    I was disappointed with Jamieson's and Moyers' performance tonight. I found it not only uninformative but also patronizing.

    They seemed to be thinking that they were teaching us how to interpret the candidates' message. But theirs was a very simplistic view of interpretation.

    As Moyers' has so eloquently championed: Facts precede interpretation. And that the modern 'professional' media has surrendered the Facts to an Orwellian concept of 'Objectivity'.

    Please... Please, check the Facts for us.

    But with the Facts in place, please trust us to interpret the message.

    Or at least have a intelligent discussion about the Facts.

    We are trying to decide who will make the best elected official Not who will make the best advertiser.

    We want to push the Candidates to be better representatives of our interests. Not better shapers of public opinion.

    -Ben Schainker

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