Debate and Beyond

September 6th, 2012 Comments Off on Debate and Beyond

The start of any semester is exciting, but this fall the School of Communication is especially looking forward to being part of Hofstra’s hosting of the second Presidential debate. Students will be attending—and covering—the debate, and faculty members are teaching special courses on the subject, drawing on expertise from such fields as rhetoric, television production, advertising, and journalism.

And beyond that, the debate, and the campaign, give us the chance to reflect upon the way our communications media have become the forum of the 21st Century, the place where the citizenry meet to discuss the health of the republic, and to assess the best ways to move the nation forward.

In the past I have written a bit on the role of images in presidential campaigns, and I was struck at how the image dominating the race so far isprobably Clint Eastwood talking to a chair. Campaigns spend countless hours planning photo opportunities, selecting scenes and backdrops that they think will send the right message to voters. But then reality intervenes and their efforts fall short, and a rogue image comes to dominate a news cycle. To the misfortune of Mitt Romney, this happened to be timed for the evening of the most important speech of his life. For days afterwards, it was the image of Eastwood and the chair, not anything that Romney said, that dominated the conversation.

Clint Eastwood and a Chair

Perhaps you have other images you wish to nominate, and I would welcome your thoughts on what those images of Eastwood from the Republican convention in Tampa convey to the nation as we enter the fall campaign.

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