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Posts Tagged ‘Richard Nixon’

Blog #12: Interesting/Boring Class Discussions

This class has certainly been one that has taught me a lot. Heck, not only that but it has also made me aware of influences on my everyday life.

For starters I enjoyed the discussions concerning the way social networking affects our lives in ways of getting political news. A perfect example of this discussion becoming a reality took place last evening when I was checking my Twitter before beginning some homework. While, I was scrolling through the posts I stumbled across one stating that President Obama was to give a speech on an undisclosed topic. From here I quickly turned on the news and watched until reporters were able to confirm that the United States had the body of Osama Bin Laden. From there I continued to watch until President Obama came on to speak. Without the use of this social network, I would have never known what was going on. I related all of this information back to our political information sources discussions; it was very neat.

From here I was able to connect my life to another one of our interesting discussions.  This one was concerning the concept that Presidency had to do with strategy and image. After watching the speech given by Barack Obama concerning Bin Laden’s death I was able to explain the aspects of this interesting in class discussion to my roommates. I told them that this was going to be good for Obama’s approval ratings and re-election, just as 9/11 was a positive thing for former President Bush’s campaign. The connect I was able to make made this class not only more relevant to my everyday life but made me appreciate the discussions that I previously found enjoyable.

I also thoroughly enjoyed the book “The Selling of the President” and our discussions following that. Not only were they extremely interesting but also applicable to politics today. It opened my eyes about what exactly was going on.

While I found almost every aspect of this class to be interesting and worth my while I would not rate the discussions concerning Media Objectivity as one of my favorite. However, it was still some what interesting to hear other people’s perspectives on the matter.

All in all, this class included many topics and discussions that I found to be worth my while, not only as something that was enjoyable but something that I was able to relate to my life as well.

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Blog 12: Last Thoughts

This class definitely beat the expectations I had when first signing up. I’ve been on the brink of being interested in politics and not for some time. I always felt that it was important to vote (probably the only 5 year old who couldn’t wait to vote), but after the 2008 presidential election and before it I really didn’t pay much attention to politics.  This class has definitely opened my eyes to more political news and how to access it, and of course pushed me to my addiction of Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert. There were many aspects I liked about this class. I loved when learning about the presidential campaign and elections of JFK and Richard Nixon.

It was so interesting learning about Nixon’s fight to the presidency and made me want to find out why after all that work he would ruin it with the Watergate Scandal. I always think it’s important to know what past presidents have done to make sure that we can learn from their mistakes. I love how television was such a big factor and now we have so many different networking systems that can effect a presidential campaign. I also enjoyed the days where we would watch news clips from old reporters and from The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. I also loved how we watched that video on the Egyptian revolution. I just like how everything was tied into our everyday lives and what was actually going on currently.

What I didn’t enjoy was the Sunstein book. I found it really really boring and repetitive. I probably picked this book because we just recently reviewed it and it’s still fresh in my memory. I’m sure the information was very important, but I think it could of easily been a article instead of a book. After reading the first chapter I could have stopped reading and gotten the gist of it. All in all I really enjoyed this class and it definitely was one of my more interesting classes at Mizzou. 

Blog 12: What I Learned

April 25, 2011 Leave a comment

I learned a lot of interesting things over the course of this semester. The one thing that I really think about still is how the media portrays war. The one part that really stuck with me was how the media never shows American casualties. I never really thought about it and after I started noticing that they never really did show American casualties I was very surprised. Another part of the class I found interesting was when we studying Nixon’s campaign and how it changed American Politics forever. I found it fascinating how the Nixon Campaign kind of sold this image of Nixon to the American public and they bought it hook, line, and sinker.  One final thing I found interesting was when we discussed the Kennedy Campaign. I found it fascinating how much detail campaigns put into voting patterns and where different demographics live and such.

One thing I did not find very interesting was when we discussed Media objectivity and bias. For some reason I did not feel that the readings for those subjects were not very interesting at all. Other than that I really found the class entertaining and relevant. I would definitely recommend this class to someone who is interested in politics or the media.

Blog 11: Differences in Democratic Society

April 18, 2011 Leave a comment

When my parents were in their 20’s it was the mid 80’s and early 90’s.  They had issues to tackle as democratic citizens, but nothing that monumental other than the stock market coming to an almost crash in the early 90s.  My parents will constantly tell me and remind me of growing up in the aftermath of the civil rights movement, but they were not voting citizens during the immediate aftermath of that.

As for my grandparents oooohhhhhhhhhhhh wow.  They actually COULD vote during the civil rights movement.  Talking to them about it something I have never done which is something I should take care of before I leave this Earth.  The idea that they were in the heart of that, the Vietnam War, and the John Kennedy-Richard Nixon election is incredible.  That is what being a democratic citizen is about.  Truly taking part of things that have revolutionized our country.

In 2011, while their has been many controversial issues arising for my generation to gain knowledge on, there has not been much to vote for.  We were able to participate in electing the first African-American President, but other than that not much has occurred.  We have seen Hurricane Katrina, BP oil spill, two Japanese tsunamis, the end of a two term presidency and the entrance to another one.  Not much has occurred, but we are still young in our true democratic citizenship.

Blog 11; Being a Democratic Citizen

April 18, 2011 1 comment

The Times They Are a-Changin’. When Bob Dylan came out with this song in 1964 it truly must have seemed like the United States was changing and would never be the same. In the past couple of generations we have seen the emergence of television, men walk on the moon, the invention of the internet, and now new technology comes out everyday that transforms how we view each other. But how has our changing society impacted our democracy over the years? Does being a democratic citizen mean the same thing as it did for my parents and grandparents when they were my age?

My generation participates in politics fairly differently than my parents or grandparents. The biggest change is my generations grasp of the internet. The internet is now forever a part of politics and with my first real election being in 2008 it is hard for me to imagine the internet playing a minor role in politics from now on. The youth and the internet were a force to be reckoned with and it just goes to show you that people in their 20’s today can make a difference in politics. I think that my generation does a great job of utilizing technology for political as well as social causes. However, just because you show support for something does not mean that you have to do anything for the cause. We can see this in the low youth voter turnout.

I think that my parents and grandparents participated in politics more directly.  In that they actually donated money to candidates and actively went to their rallies and such. I think when my parents and grandparents were growing up they did not view the government with so much cynicism (thank you LBJ and Nixon). I think they believed that our politicians actually cared deeply about them and special interest groups did not hold as much sway. Perhaps that is me just being nostalgic about the past. I do believe that how my generation participates in democracy today is different from how my parents and grandparents participated and I expect how my children and granchildren particpate in democracy will be different from today.

Blog 11: Democracy Then and Now

April 18, 2011 Leave a comment

The growth of technology has forever changed the game politics and the way the average citizen actively participates in politics. When my parents were my age if you mentioned Facebook, Twitter, cell phones, or even just the Internet they would have no idea what you were talking about. Now these mediums define political elections and the way political candidates utilize these outlets can make or break their campaigns. As Stephen Coleman from the Oxford Internet Institute puts it,

Politicians used to put out leaflets with pictures of their family and pet dog and copies of their lousy speeches and it would be enough. Unfortunately many politicians now just create a web site with pictures of their family and pet dog and their lousy speeches but it is not good enough.

Politics used to be a much more interpersonal process. Campaigns relied all on the candidate traveling and meeting people because if he did not voters would have no idea who he was. In the digital age that we live in voters can know get to know a candidate by researching them through Google or even watching Youtube videos that candidates post to the site. This also makes it more imperative for candidates to have a squeaky clean image. Any small squabble at any point in their lives can be leaked to the Internet and their political career could be over in a matter of minutes. An example of this is during the 2000 Presidential Election when news of George W. Bush‘s DWI reached the press. Ultimately he was able to overcome this, but for others this proves to be a more difficult task.

Another major change from my politics when my parents were my age to now is the growth of television involvement in politics. Television in politics was brand new when parents were in college and candidates such as John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon were trying to figure out how to manipulate this medium and use it to their advantage. Now candidates almost have to have a strong television presence or they have no chance to be a serious candidate. Voters are looking for a good-looking man who they feel they can “have a beer with.” Back in my parents day if a candidate looked OK in a picture they had a good shot in the election. It is a whole new world now.

Politics have changed from my parents time to mine and I can only imagine what they will be like when I have a child who is my age. Candidates will be worrying about how they look in 3D.

Blog 3: Politics is a con game, Mr. Nixon.

February 21, 2011 1 comment

Mr. Nixon is remembered for quite a few things. There was  Watergate, of course. There was losing to Kennedy in 1960. There  were even the disastrous televised debates between himself and  JFK–  the first ever televised presidential debates. Perhaps the most  underrated of Mr. Nixon’s memories is his transformation of the  1968 presidential election campaign.

“Now you put him on television, you’ve got a problem right away,”  Roger Ailes, Nixon’s PR man said.

“He’s a funny-looking guy. He looks like somebody hung him in a  closet overnight and he jumps out in the morning with his suit all  bunched up and starts running around saying, ‘I want to be  President.’ I mean this is how he strikes some people. That’s why  these shows are important. To make them forget all that.” (McGinnis 1988, 103).

Learning from his disastrous mistakes in 1960, the Nixon campaign  used the media to its full extent in 1968. Staged panels and question-  and-answer sessions–much like the one Ailes described above–  emotional commercials that said little but made the audience feel a  lot, a carefully crafted image that was about as genuine as Fox News’s commitment to unbiased journalism and far less genuine than Wolf Blitzer’s devotion to Twitter. Nixon, on purpose or otherwise, revolutionized the very campaign process by turning it into a battle for image, for domination of the media, for the package to look and sound better than the individual parts. Before 1968, campaigns were heavily focused on the issues. After 1968, campaigns were design to, as Ailes put it “make them forget all that”.

The continuities we’ve seen since the Nixon campaign are resounding, of course. That’s the nature of revolutionary technology isn’t it? It’s only revolutionary once and then after that it’s a matter of adapting it so seamlessly that the revolution itself is forgotten. For all of the hours Nixon’s campaign spent crafting his image so that he would appear balanced, patriotic, refreshing and not a dull old man with bags under his eyes, there is double, triple the staff today to take care of what Ailes and company were so hard-put to do in 1968.

Image is absolutely still an important factor in the presidential race. What should an image of John McCain in blue with a red tie and Sarah Palin in bright red, both behind a podium reading COUNTRY FIRST evoke but an identification in America and the subsequent mental link between the McCain campaign and wholehearted patriotism? It’s not that McCain and Palin aren’t naturally patriotic. More that this image, like all images on the campaign trail even today, is a carefully crafted one–supplied and sustained by the funds of the Republican National Party. That’s not to say, of course, that Republicans are the only ones suspect. What are the Democrats but equal rivals not only in votes but in image conjuration as well?

No, politics is just as much of a con game as it was during Nixon’s time. Nixon might have used eerie music and chilling images to mask his political messages:

But even the 2008 political campaign saw advertisements where flashy images spoke more than the actual political stance itself:

What do you notice more here? That McCain has a firm stance in domestic and international policy? Or that Obama is a celebrity because there are camera bulbs flashing everywhere he goes? Carefully calculated images and political advertisements. Political campaigns are still barely more than a popularity contest and it’s just a matter of who has the winning outfit combination.

That isn’t to say that Nixon’s elevation of the presidential candidate to a “celebrity” or “god” status is necessarily the only component in today’s political campaign. That would be unfair to say. Sure, image plays a critical role, but unlike in 1968, there is a lot more exposure to different platforms and pieces of information today. In 1968, you turned on the television and saw the one Nixon campaign or the two televised debates. Maybe you read about it in the newspaper. The distribution of campaign material was very narrowly focused and so was consumption.

Today, social media has changed everything. No longer can Obama or McCain simply air commercials with flashing images and hope that the audience will ignore the fact that there is no substance behind it. For every journalist who ignores the substance for the image, there are two dozen bloggers waiting to analyze just exactly what it is that Obama and McCain said–what was their rhetoric like, was there any substance behind it, did they focus on domestic or foreign policy, did they change stances from previous votes?

The media has always been considered the watchdog of politics. Today, they aren’t alone. Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, the entire internet serves the function of a watchdog. Mr. Nixon’s image revolution is still critical, but the issues have re-emerged as important too. It’s not so easy to bedazzle the entire public through carefully constructed messages and images anymore. After all,

It’s not just that individual voters had access to a wider range of information about candidates and their positions on issues. Unlike in any other Presidential election, the electorate could harness a panoply of social media tools—blogs, social networks, photo and video sharing sites—to broadcast to the world their thoughts about the candidates and their experiences of the electoral process. (Businessweek)

There’s a lot more media and a lot more image construction for the presidential candidate to consider these days. There’s no such thing as a simple commercial or a PR team that can manipulate the entirety of America simply through emotional tactics. That’s not to say that it can’t be done to a certain extent–doesn’t your heart still skip when you hear Yes we can?–but politics has evolved beyond just looking good for the camera. Social media’s pervasiveness has made the necessity of the presidential candidate to be a double threat absolutely critical. Not only does Obama need to look flawless, but he needs to sound it too.

No doubt if Nixon was surrounded by so much technology and media today, so much media and noise would push him to the brink of paranoia and he would try to break into the Democratic Party’s Headquarters to get specific intel. Oh wait! Whoops. xoxo!