Language of the Presidential Election

, Don Irvine, Leave a comment

Obama may have won a second term in November, but that doesn’t mean that everyone is 100% satisfied and that includes the members of the Modern Language Association.

During a panel/session entitled “Term Limits: The Language of the Presidential Election,” three professors gave their review of the recently completed presidential race, while comparing it to previous races.

David Bromwich of Yale spoke of Reagan’s first presidential election reminding the audience that in his opinion, Jimmy Carter clearly won their first debate, but Reagan’s “there you go again’ line defined it. He added that Reagan’s style was a “charismatic gaming of politics.” While Reagan may have been charismatic, he didn’t need to change the system, considering who his opponent was.

Bromwich also echoed the Obama administration’s charge about Fox News, calling Rupert Murdoch the most important property for the Republican Party, while omitting any reference to MSNBC , which during the campaign supported the Democratic Party by a far wider margin than anything Fox may have done favoring Republicans.

But that doesn’t mean that Bromwich is completely happy with Obama.

He mentioned that in 2007, Obama said he would filibuster any attempts by telecoms to spy on citizens. Since that time there have been no prosecutions. Also Obama vowed to close Guantanamo and it’s still open. He also accused Obama of prosecuting more whistleblowers for espionage than any other president in history, and called his administration the least transparent ever when it came to negotiations over Obamacare and the budget.

As for the presidential candidates, Brownwich was critical of Romney as expected, but called Obama vague, which probably helped Obama.

Donald Pease of Dartmouth spoke about what he called the image events of the campaign—the 47 percent, the one percent, the 99 percent, Osama bin Laden is dead etc.—and said while Obama’s first debate performance was dismal, Clint Eastwood ‘s empty chair routine— his “blackface minstrel show”— delighted delegates when it backfired publicly.

Hortense Jeannete Spillers of Vanderbilt compared the 2012 campaign to 1952, saying that it was undistinguished and asked the audience if anyone learned what Obama’s campaign slogan “Forward” meant.

Spillers was equally unimpressed with Romney’s “Believe in America” motto, one that she claimed she didn’t even know he had until after the election and said it wasn’t true because he couldn’t have believed in America as evidenced by his 47 percent remark to donors.

She called Obama a man of careful terms and Romney a moral cypher and lamented how the presidency was for sale saying that it was an “overlong super expensive travesty- evacuated of gravitas.”

While there is no doubt that Spillers prefers Obama over Romney, she echoed the sentiments of Bromwich and Pease when she told the audience that Obama’s election has silenced critique from the left.

Don Irvine is the chairman of both Accuracy in Media and Accuracy in Academia.
If you would like to comment on this article, e-mail mal.kline@academia.org

 

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