Political Conventions, Images, and Spin

By Hoffmann, Gregg | ETC.: A Review of General Semantics, January 2005 | Go to article overview

Political Conventions, Images, and Spin


Hoffmann, Gregg, ETC.: A Review of General Semantics


September 2, 2004

THE POLITICAL CONVENTIONS have not served any real substantive purpose in the democratic process for years.

By the time they roll around, we already know who the candidates of the two parties will be. The platforms of the parties often are made public before the events.

The conventions primarily serve two purposes: 1) to provide delegates with a big party, often on the dime of those companies and organizations that would like to buy influence and 2) to provide an opportunity on television to spin certain images and establish dominant themes.

Many general semanticists would consider most of these images and themes higher order abstractions, playing off the viewers' fears, assumptions, and projections.

This summer, the main imagery of both parties' conventions centered on which party best could provide strong leadership in the War on Terrorism. Both parties created spin intended to convince those in the middle of the political spectrum--wherever that might be--that their candidate could better fight that war. TV coverage not only bought into the imagery; it helped establish the images.

The Democrats put on a convention that looked like it could have been a VFW gathering. Military veterans were everywhere. They accompanied John Kerry to the convention and escorted him to the podium. Kerry started his speech with an emphatic salute, and said he was "reporting for duty."

It was an obvious attempt to gain some ground in what has traditionally been Republican territory--national defense.

The imagery became very clear. Kerry would be just as tough as, and much smarter, in the war on terrorism than George W. Bush. The images of supportive veterans, and Kerry's Vietnam War heroism, were meant to ease the fears of anybody concerned about national security under a Democratic administration.

Kerry, primarily known as a liberal during his long tenure in the Senate, was using his military background, and all the imagery the DNC experts could spin, to appeal to more conservative groups that supported the military.

The imagery didn't really match up with Kerry's voting record in the Senate. He often has opposed increased spending for the military, and in fact has a mixed voting pattern on funding for the War on Terror. He has questioned the wisdom of "going it alone" in Iraq.

A presumed unintended offshoot of this spin and imagery was that Kerry also opened himself up for the Swift Boat commercials, in which some vets who claimed to have served with him in Vietnam disputed his accounts and those of his supporters.

For at least a couple weeks, more media attention was paid to what happened 30 years ago than what Kerry would try to do as President. He slipped in the polls during that time.

Moderate, "Compassionate" Republicans

The Republicans knew their candidate already had the advantage of actually being a war-time President, but the concerns centered on two areas: 1) mixed poll results about Bush's handling of the Iraq war aftermath and 2) some polls that showed many of those potential voters in the middle considered the President too far to the right on other issues, such as health care, the environment, economic policy, gay rights, etc.

So, early in the convention, Senator John McCain, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani and the Terminator-turned-California-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger took to the podium. First Lady Laura Bush, who has favorable ratings in most opinion polls, spoke on the second night to relate the more compassionate side of her husband.

All had images of being more moderate than Bush on social issues, with appeal that crossed party lines. As one pundit put it, McCain, Giuliani and Schwarzenegger likely would not have been nominated by the more conservative delegates at the convention, but by having them endorse Bush's leadership against terrorism, they spun the image of a broader, farther reaching GOP. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Political Conventions, Images, and Spin
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.