Creatures of Politics: Media, Message, and the American Presidency

Michael Lempert and Michael Silverstein. Indiana Univ., $25 trade paper (260p) ISBN 978-0-253-00752-0
Timed to arrive just before the full fervor of the presidential election sweeps across the country later this year, Lempert (Discipline and Debate: The Language of Violence in a Tibetan Buddhist Monastery) and Silverstein's (Talking Politics: The Substance of Style from Abe to "W.") work deconstructs the machinations of candidates and mass media's role in their campaigns for the nation's highest office. Through an examination of "Message—" not just literal communiqués from candidate to constituency, but a "multimodal," conglomeration of "all sorts of material, from clothing and staging to gesture and speech—" the authors present a dense, academic overview of how the present-day election cycle has devolved into little more than "contemporary brand-focused marketing," creating the creatures, as they put it, of politics. Perhaps too verbose for the average reader, Lempert and Silverstein still provoke thought in their discussions of inevitable campaign sloganeering: the Bush camp's negative branding of John Kerry as a "flip-flopper," or McCain's "Straight Talk Express" campaign bus and self-referential status as a "Maverick;" the inevitable public gaffes: Howard Dean's campaign-crushing "whoop" while addressing supporters after his third place finish in the Iowa caucus; and the effectiveness of then-Senator Obama's hand gesturing during the debates. It all makes for a fascinating read and an illuminating look into the complex realm of political rhetoric. Illus. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/10/2012
Release date: 09/01/2012
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 284 pages - 978-0-253-00756-8
Hardcover - 263 pages - 978-0-253-00745-2
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