Monthly Archives: January 2012

Imagining the State of the Union: Part I of II

January 31, 2012
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Imagining the State of the Union: Part I of II

Following President Barack Obama’s recent State of the Union address, we thought it a fitting occasion to invite a dialogue from two leading scholars of civic rhetoric and the democratic tradition. Today, Sandra M. Gustafson, author of Imagining Deliberative Democracy in the Early American Republic, examines the metaphor of war in Congressional politics and evaluates President Obama’s use of military imagery, in light of his initial post-partisan appeal. Tomorrow, she’ll be joined by James Kloppenberg, author of Reading Obama: Dreams, Hope, and the American Political Tradition, who accounts for our own projections onto the President and explores Obama’s use of moderate policies and progressive language. We’re delighted to host both of them on the blog, and hope you’re as intrigued by their analyses as we are.

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“Fighting for Cooperation” by Sandra M. Gustafson

President Barack Obama opened his fourth State of the Union address with a paean to the American armed forces. In a tribute designed to showcase important achievements of his first term, he celebrated the end of the Iraq War, which Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta declared over on December 15, 2011; the assassination of Osama bin Laden earlier that year; and the diminished power of the . . .

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Why Iowa?: The median state on the media

January 10, 2012
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Why Iowa?: The median state on the media

As New Hampshire voters take to the polls in today’s Republican primary, more and more media analysis continues to emerge on the role played by the Iowa caucuses, and whether or not such a “primary” position is warranted by the state’s demographics.

In Why Iowa?: How Caucuses and Sequential Elections Improve the Presidential Nominating Process, David P. Redlawsk (five-time former Iowa precinct caucus chair), Caroline J. Tolbert, and Todd Donovan argue that not only is Iowa’s impact warranted, but it reveals a great deal about other informational aspects of the campaign. Iowa’s exceptionally well-designed caucus system brings candidates’ arguments, strengths, and weaknesses into the open and—most importantly—under the media’s lens.

A recent piece by John Sides for the NYT‘s FiveThirtyEight blog focused on Iowa’s dramatic finish, where a late surge by Rick Santorum left Mitt Romney with a narrow, eight-vote victory. Sides’s appealed to media data and commentary from the Why Iowa? authors, in addition to polling data from Nate Silver. The result? In Sides’s words:

Why does this matter? Mr. Redlawsk and his colleagues demonstrate that not only do candidates who do relatively well in Iowa do better in New Hampshire—see also Nate’s analysis—but this shift in media . . .

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