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    first time they've met..., 2004-10-05 21:56:24 | Main | state of the insurgency..., 2004-10-07 11:09:53

    First New York Press Quadrennial Election Hack Invitational - some of it is pretty funny, most of it is depressing:

    To this day—and increasingly, it seems, with each successive election—the campaign press loves to celebrate the great media moments of lore that helped turn the tide in presidential elections. It loves remembering Muskie's tears, Gary Hart's "Monkey Business" picture, the Duke behind the wheel of a tank. To a man, the campaign press is positively nostalgic when it recalls these moments. Its members never get tired of reminding readers that the fates of great public figures often hinge upon these crystallized, accidental moments, and their references of these object lessons are always attended by rhetorical trumpet calls: "In a stunning public meltdown reminiscent of Ed Muskie's New Hampshire breakdown..."

    The subtext of all of this, of course, is a rolling campaign of self-congratulation, reminding both politicians and the public that media images and perceptions are the final arbiters of political power. Ultimately that's a lot of what this prolonged campaign season is about—a relentless, surprisingly humorless reinforcement of the dreary idea that we can be told who's winning, who will win, and why, before the polls open. ...

    Writes Milbank: "Body language can be more descriptive than actual language in presidential debates. No line from the 1960 debate was as memorable as Richard M. Nixon's perspiration. And President George H.W. Bush's glance at his wristwatch during the 1992 debate has endured beyond that night's words."

    The Milbank passage is where you spot the lie. He uses the word "memorable" about Nixon's perspiration to mean intrinsically memorable, the wristwatch line to mean that the glance was intrinsically enduring. But if the press hadn't reminded us about it 500,000 times since it happened, would any of us even remember Bush I looking at his wristwatch? No way. In fact, if the media hadn't ever made a big deal of it, and yet you still caught a close relative talking about the wristwatch moment eight, 10 and 12 years after the fact, you'd have that relative forcibly committed. That's how insane this stuff is.


:: posted by buermann @ 2004-10-06 21:00:26 CST | link





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