The Denizens took their students to Springfield, Illinois earlier this month to visit the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, as well as selected Lincoln historic sites.It gave us a great opportunity to examine the intersection of institutional politics and public communication in the historic work of perhaps the iconic American president. Among the episodes of Lincoln’s mythic history that are highlighted in Springfield is the rivalry between Lincoln and Stephen Douglas, the “Little Giant” who bested the “Big Giant” in the 1858 US Senate race but lost to him in the 1860 presidential campaign. The seven 1858 Lincoln-Douglas debates over “popular sovereignty” and the extension of slavery into US territories were an epic political circus at the time, launched Lincoln into the national spotlight, and became the historic archetype for debate as a component of campaign discourse.
Flash-forward fifty-three years, and we observe a pair of provocative phenomena: a candidate for president using debate challenges as a game of political chicken with opponents, and media pundits pondering whether a debate-driven campaign is actually valuable. What’s going on?
So, the big news coming out of Iowa over the weekend was a new poll that puts Newt Gingrich as the frontrunner in the GOP nomination race for the caucuses, which will be held January 3rd, with Mitt Romney dropping to third place. A key element to this story is Romney’s “slide” into third place. What doesn’t seem to be discussed: the surge of iconoclastic GOP candidate Ron Paul in the face of declines by Herman Cain and Rick Perry.
My friend Eric Ostermeier at Smart Politics provides another insightful media content analysis that reveals a key part of Paul’s inability to capitalize on this good fortune. Check this out… if I were Paul’s camp, I’d be furious:
OK, so Herman Cain just announced the suspension of his presidential campaign. That was pretty predictable (despite moves in recent days that seemed to confuse this predictability). Perhaps less predictable, given that he pledged to stay in the race the day after the Ginger White allegations went public, is that, in his remarks today, he announced that he would endorse another candidate “in the near future.” Who will it be? The smart money is on Newt Gingrich. There are many reasons to think so, but the immediate one that comes to mind was tweeted just moments after Cain’s announcement.
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 very interesting to see how much traction the new “Change Is” approach will get and if it will catch on with supporters and later with the wider electorate. An example of Obama’s new tactic comes across much more pro-active than previous mentions of his own record, “Change is the decision we made to rescue the auto company from collapse, even when some politicians were saying we should let Detroit go bankrupt.” Instead of running from actions and decisions that seemed absolutely necessary when being undertaken, he is pointing out how bold they may be considered.
The Washington Post just started a new featured resource: “Mad Money,” where the reader can “watch the latest campaign ads in the 2012 presidential race and track ad spending during the primaries and general election.”
The Denizens will be following this site regularly… you should too! To help, we’ve added it to our blogroll on the right-side menu on your screen.
Ever the intrepid defender of accuracy over b.s., the Annenberg Public Policy Center’s Factcheck.org released an analysis of the DNC ad that identifies a host of distortions of Romney’s public statements and positions. What did they come up with?
Today’s Talking Points Memo reports on a Campaign 2012 phenomenon that the Denizens have recently commented on: the persistent competition between Mitt Romney and “Not Romney.” Here’s the guts of Eric Kleefeld’s take on the poolling in key early primary and caucus states, which depict Romney’s stagnation amidst an ebb and flow of Not-Romneys:
As has been noted many times, the Republican contest has gone through a cycle of one candidate or another gaining a sudden, massive amount of support against Romney, only to collapse after a combination of blunders and media scrutiny — see Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, and Herman Cain. The big question, then, is whether any candidate will be able to put up a stable anti-Romney front, or if the competition are too flawed, and Romney can take it by default. (Newt Gingrich, you’re now up at bat.) And if Herman Cain should now drop out of the race — he suggested on Tuesday he was ‘reassessing’ things — that could mean a sudden turn to a much rougher road for Romney. The numbers suggest Gingrich would be much more the beneficiary of a Cain departure than Romney.
Note: The views of the Political Denizens, their guest contributors and visitors do not reflect those of Augustana College. The Denizens are thankful to the College for providing them with resources and an outlet for their observations and commentary in the spirit of academic freedom and free public speech.