Total Propaganda: From Mass Culture to Popular Culture

By Alex S. Edelstein | Go to book overview

24
POLITICALPROP 1992: Gridlock and Creclibility

Political wordprop fuels the popular culture by its manipulation of language, and this was never more true than in the 1990s. Two words -- gridlock and credibility -- became the vernacular of mediaprop in the 1992 presidential campaign and framed debates over two major programs advanced by the Clinton administration -- the budget deficit and the health care program. Both were exercises in oldprop that reflected an old politics of top-down leadership.


REIFYING GRIDLOCKPROP

The 1993 budget passed Congress by the slimmest of margins, and the health proposal succumbed to a Republican filibuster. At the root of these virtual failures was the misshapen use of political wordprop. The President, the Congress, and the media joined in reifying gridlock as an immovable object and irresistible force, ruling out diversity in the popular culture as the bedrock consideration. And when mediaprop addressed candidate credibility as the overriding consideration in the 1992 presidential race, it encouraged a shortfall of knowledge about substantive issues -- the epiphany of oldprop - and it made the popular culture all but irrelevant.

President Bush exploited the gridlock metaphor during the 1992 presidential campaign to explain his failure to push legislation through a reluctant Democratic Congress. As he put it, Republicans were in favor, Democrats

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