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Guest essay: GOP Politics and the “Little Woman” in 2012

2012 Republican National Convention: Day 2

The Political Denizens are pleased to present our first guest essay! In the wake of the 2012 party conventions, public discussions of the potential “candidates” for First Lady — Ann Romney and Michelle Obama — has featured their functions as a humanizing element for their husbands and their rhetorical emphasis on “family” as a warrant [...]

A post-factual convention? Part 2: Reality? We can change it.

ryan we can change it

In a satirical debriefing of Paul Ryan’s nomination acceptance address on The Daily Show, “RNC correspondent” John Oliver considers the theme of the Republican National Convention’s second night, “We Can Change It.” A slogan clearly designed as a commonplace strategic appeal in the “challenger style” of campaign rhetoric — the challenger calls for change, and argues that [...]

A post-factual convention? Part 1: They built that.

clint-eastwood-republican-convention-speech

 As has been the case for many years, Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign produced a biographical film to introduce the candidate to the American public, who traditionally start paying attention in earnest to general election campaigns right around Labor Day. The video was a dramatically produced and emotionally moving portrait of a candidate who sought that [...]

Our long national nightmare is over…

Obama-Bored_large

We know what you’re thinking… “OK, the presidential campaign is in full swing, Paul Ryan is the Republican Veep nominee, the GOP convention has concluded and the Democratic convention is days away, the economic recovery is still slow and painful (with everyone blaming everybody else), the media fact-checkers and cable news commentators are having conniption [...]

Pub Politics and the Presidency

Obama Guinness

According to the White House website, President Obama had “no public schedule” yesterday. However, this didn’t stop the President from making a high-profile St. Patrick’s Day visit to a public establishment — specifically, the Dubliner Restaurant and Pub, a bar in Washington featuring basketball on TV and Guinness on tap. Joined by his distant Irish [...]

When “Deal” is a Four-Letter Word

Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney

One of the perennial realities of campaign politics is the inevitable trajectory candidates take when moving from obscure also-ran to emergent underdog to front-runner: the higher the profile, the greater the scrutiny, and the added importance of “oppo” research. Many media observers have noted, in the wake of Wednesday’s Republican presidential primary debate in Arizona, [...]

Since When is Clint Eastwood a Democrat?

clint chrylser

And since when did Chrysler get in the candidate endorsement business? Actually, neither supposition is accurate… making the brouhaha surrounding Clint Eastwood’s “Halftime in America” Super Bowl TV commercial for Chrysler yesterday that much more amusing. Ah, the fights we find ourselves getting into. This seems to be a classic case where politicized punditry and [...]

Juice: Perceptions of Power between Presidents and Congress

obama_boehner

Time and time again, I speak to my students about the importance of the perception of power to the institution of the Presidency.  The Founders of the United States never intended for Presidents or the overall institution of the Presidency to have the power and influence that is seen in the modern presidency.  Presidents and [...]

Change Is… Obama’s New Tactic

President Obama has begun using a variation on his "Change" slogan, "Change Is..."

Recently President Obama has rolled out his new campaign tagline, “Change Is…”  Obama is making an attempt to answer questions from the opposite side of the political spectrum.  Many conservatives have been known to ask “Where is the Change?”  This is a trend that began very shortly after President Obama took office.  It will be [...]

Why Polls are for Nerds… Usually.

OK, Point 1 on why polls are for nerds, at least usually: it’s the day after Thanksgiving, I read a Washington Post blog article on some recent polling from the Tarrance Group for Politico and George Washington University that I think has limited usefulness at best, and I proceed to start writing about it immediately. That’s nerdy.

But while there is much we can learn from public opinion polls, especially in politics, it’s important to keep them in perspective — particularly the perspective of media framing and institutional norms of journalism that are usually all but allergic to a long view.

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A New Political Landscape?

Sometimes the Denizens just want to pass along someone else’s analysis that makes a lot of sense. With the groggy post-turkey semi-coma at work, this is one of those times. In yesterday’s online New York Times “Campaign Stops” opinion section, former Treasury Secretary Robert Reich comments on the possibilities for the American political landscape, given the likelihood of continuing economic distress. This is a great, nonpartisan analysis — check it out.

A teaser: the anti-establishment core shared by both Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party, coupled with the low probability of bipartisan moderation in federal policymaking, will make things really interesting.

Of Presidents and Turkeys

Later today, I’m going to eat lots of turkey. So will millions of Americans celebrating Thanksgiving (and steeling themselves for the ravages of Black Friday, which this year is blasphemously beginning on Thursday). But of the 46 million turkeys that will be gobbled down today (that works out to 3 pounds of bird per person — really???), at least two will be spared. Liberty, and his understudy Peace, were officially pardoned by President Barack Obama yesterday at a White House ceremony.

At a time of overseas war, national and global economic distress and virulent partisan political bickering, is it a worthy use of the President’s time to pardon a turkey? Actually, yeah, it is.

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Steve Benen Beat Us To Romney’s, umm…

So Mitt Romney’s first campaign ad was released, with a glaring falsehood created by manipulative editing — see if you can spot it:


The Denizens were all set to rip this one out – but Steve Benen at Political Animal beat us to it… and doing so with one of the Denizens’ favorite philosophers:

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Pre-Thanksgiving Leftovers

One of the things the Denizens are thankful for this holiday season is Factcheck.org, sponsored by the Annenberg Public Policy Center. It is perhaps the best nonpartisan fact-checking institution out there.  When it comes to something like a campaign debate, their services are vital.  Do be sure to check them out regularly (like we do — they’re on our blogroll! See the menu to your right.)

Here’s their take on last night’s GOP primary debate: Pre-Thanksgiving Leftovers.

Poll Numbers Have Their Privileges

Clearly, a number of linked circumstances (public stumbles by Rick Perry and Herman Cain; perpetual lukewarm support of Mitt Romney; a media blitz last weekend) have led to former Speaker Newt Gingrich’s new frontrunner status in the GOP presidential primary race.

As evidence of the relationship between ephemeral audience preferences and media agenda-setting, my friend Eric Ostermeier, a political scientist at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs, has released an illuminating content analysis of last night’s GOP debate. Frontrunners get more talk-time, potentially perpetuating their frontrunner status by framing them as such (unless they commit a serious gaffe, provide a generally unimpressive performance, or… what was that third thing?).

Smart Politics is a great nonpartisan site for research and analysis… it’s on our blogroll!  You should read it.

Missed Opportunity: Funding our Future

Republican candidates debate national security issues at CNN debate in Washington, D.C. on November 22, 2011.

In CNN’s Republican debate on national security issues, there was a point where issues of immigration and education came into the discussion. The latest entrant to the frontrunner spot slightly ahead of Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, said the U.S. should have a visa attached to every math and science degree to assure foreign graduates stay. While this is a nice sentiment, it brings up the question of how the Republicans as well as the rest of the political establishment in the United States really feels about education.

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Will the Bath Wash Off the Pepper Spray?

Last Saturday at a forum for Republican presidential candidates at a church in Des Moines, Iowa (one must hesitate before labeling this event a “debate,” as precious little competition of ideas actually took place), Newt Gingrich took on the progressive Occupy movement with some words that provided red meat to the cultural conservative GOP base. These words came a day after peaceful Occupy protestors at the University of California – Davis were subjected to point-blank pepper spray from police, a moment that quickly became a point of national controversy and a rapidly viral internet meme.  Gingrich’s remarks illustrate both how he has filled (at least for now) the rhetorical leadership gap in the national Republican party, and why his candidacy is ultimately doomed.

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All About Dr. Steve Klien

So, when folks consult “experts” in American politics, political scientists and historians tend to be the go-to specialists.  What can a rhetorician bring to the table? A little background on me might shed some light.

I am currently Associate Professor of Communication Studies, and Chair of the Fine and Performing Arts Division of Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois.  As a member of the Communication Studies Department faculty, I teach courses in political communication, rhetorical theory and criticism, media studies, and communication research. Two of the current staples of my teaching responsibilities are courses entitled “Communication, Politics, and Citizenship” (an introduction to political communication and rhetorical studies), and “Critical Analysis of Messages” (a course in the rhetorical criticism of public address, which I teach in a Learning Community with Chris Whitt on “The American Presidency in Times of Crisis”).

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All About Dr. Christopher Whitt

I have been living in Rock Island, Illinois since moving here to take a position as a professor in the political science department at Augustana College in August of 2007. Being a part of a supportive and dynamic department such as Augustana’s Political Science Department has be a real blessing. A little while after arriving at Augustana I became one of the four principle founders and a contributing faculty member in the college’s Africana Studies program. Another one of my roles at the college is advising a number of student organizations and working closely with the administration on issues pertaining to diversity in the faculty, administration, staff and even the student body. Continually I have worked to make special efforts to reach beyond the boundaries of the Augustana campus into Rock Island, the Quad Cities community and across the country in many instances of service and outreach.

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