Sunday, April 27, 2008

Presidential Race

Relating to the current focus in the media on the presidential race:
We’ve been hearing a lot in the news about the candidates, an important issue to be sure, as it will determine where our country will be headed in the next four years. But a trend has been emerging in the media coverage of this important race: the determined focus of coverage on “political gaffs” made by the candidates in their bid for nomination. For example, Hilary has been labeled a liar for saying she was “under sniper fire” in Bosnia. Obama has been called elitist by saying that people from Pennsylvania who were frustrated have been turning to “religion and guns”.
The most surprising thing about all this political hoopla is how many intelligent people I have heard justifying their positions on these candidates based upon these gaffs (versus the issues, as I expected).
So the question is: do these gaffs represent simple mistakes made during a stressful time by overtired candidates or are they signs of major character flaws? What WOKs do we use to justify our judgment of this? And how does the media coverage play into our perceptions of these gaffs (as it focuses on these versus the issues)?


Alina Kassenbrock said...

This is certainly an issue in which previous experience causes us to allow emotion to override logic. Obviously, the knower's political party has a major influence over the extent to which these gaffs are taken seriously. In general presidential elections, petty issues of this nature are used more often as justifications for choices that have already been made, rather than to aid voters in the decision-making process. This election is interesting in that the variable of political party is constant, as are the candidates' views on many major issues. People may be turning to gaffs as justifiers out of a perceived lack of other considerations. While it is perhaps more logical to research the true differences between the candidates such as their health care plans or their ideas about withdrawal from Iraq, most people are more comfortable with accepting the information that is presented to them. This brings us to the role of the media. In some ways, the increase in coverage of gaffs is in the nature of the beast. When a contest lasts over fifteen months and the media needs something new to say every day, they will focus on the things that change rather than those which are constant. Also, they stand to gain from strong emotional responses in their viewers, which are more likely to occur from 'lies' and 'scandals' than from explanations of policy.

s_to_the_donnelly said...

McCain has some of his own little scandals or 'shenanigans' as I like to call them. People may find this a little odd, but I cannot handle how much he sweats during speeches and public events. It's almost as if he sprints on a treadmill in a Vietnamese restaurant for twenty-minutes before he goes on stage. Is anybody else annoyed?