Tuesday, January 13, 2009

1/11/09 (Bryant Harden)

After a great trip up and an afternoon and evening to get settled, the seminars began. 6:00AM. The group met @ the METRO station and headed to the University of the District of Columbia.

The introduction was filled with rules and how we probably shouldn't go meet "friends" (take it however you want to).

Steve Bell, professor of telecommunications at Ball State University, started by speaking about media and the Presidency. As we all know, the media is very much apart of all elections and because of the 24/7 news channels, news on the internet, and blogs no one can hide from the news. Traditionally Presidential candidates would only appear on Sunday morning news shows because they were known to be a serious outlet, but during this election candidates were making appearances on shows such as The View, Leno, and Saturday Night Live. Mr. Bell also spoke about the "Obama-phenomenon" which is President-Elect Obama's ability to persuade people to feel what he feels and see what he feels. When Barack Obama would make a speech with his sleeves rolled up about Hope, somewhat preacher-like, his audience felt that emotion. As a Republican in a group that is filled with peers who are Democrats, I think Steve Bell is right. There is argument of if the media actually was biased in favor of Obama or if Obama's charismatic nature somewhat forced them to lean that way, but regardless the media does play a major role in politics and McCain was not the only candidate that felt pressure. Mr. Bell showed a clip that was off of Saturday Night Live in which a debate is taking place between Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton and after a question being directed towards Obama the "anchor" said something to the effect that no one could possibly have a better answer that Obama. (more on this later)

The next speaker was Dana Bash, a Senior Congressional Correspondent for CNN, whose lesson was titled "From the Campaign Trail to the Newsroom". Ms. Bash traveled around with John McCain from the very beginning and saw that New Hampshire was the resurrection of John McCain. But the drama on the left made it seem as if McCain was being ignored, if you will. She described McCain's town hall meetings as his shining moments. He would take a question from anyone on any subject and have a conversation with them. His humerus side was very apparent and he was comfortable meeting new people who had questions dealing with their concerns. Not only is Bash the Congressional Correspondent now, she was also a White House Correspondent. So obviously she had a few things to say about President George W. Bush. "This may not be popular here", but Bush was different when the lights were on. When they were off he was casual and articulate; a talkaholic. She said that he transformed into an "issue-guru" while she was talking to him. She then went on to say that McCain's career had been about him being approachable and his straight talk but after he won the Republican nomination his Senior Political Advisers pushed him to be more "standoffish". During the election some people brought up that McCain was a racist but Bash combats when she said that McCain does not have a racist bone in his body! Her example was how he was in the military which back then was one of the only integrated area in the country. She then brought up some points of why McCain lost. He was not an effective speaker and seemed incomparable to Barack Obama. And also at the beginning Sarah Palin was a huge boost for the core of the Republican party, but it actually seemed to hurt him with Independents and women. I though Dana Bash did a great job in analyzing some of McCain's mistakes and after hearing hit after hit on the Republicans and cheers from the crowd after each one it was great to hear her nice comments from personal situations with George W. Bush.

Next was Dr. Michael A. Genovese of Loyola Marymount University on The Peaceful Transition of Power. Dr. Genovese quoted Abraham Lincoln saying that a ballot is stronger than the bullet (although not the case for Lincoln himself, which lightened the crowd a bit). He also pointed out the historical aspect of this Inauguration because Obama is an African-American, but another interesting point is that Michelle Obama is a great-great-granddaughter to a slave; slaves built the White House and now the great-great-granddaughter of a slave will be occupying it! He also talked about how earlier Presidents spoke to the Constitution in the Inaugural Address but that there has been a change so that Presidents now speak to the people. I think this is a great change because the President works for the people and takes an oath to protect the Constitution of the people. Another interesting point is that this is the twenty-first time in the United States that there was been a peaceful transfer from one party to a different party in the executive branch. Also saying that George W. and Laura Bush have been very accommodating to the Obama's.

I think it is great that so many young people are taking part in the democratic process of the United States and no matter which candidate it was, they (we) are voting and getting deeply involved. I voted for McCain and I stand by that, but it is great to wake up everyday in the United States of America and have the opportunity to go to the University of D.C. and have the chance to ask questions and have our own beliefs.

Pictures - http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=97313&l=19e3b&id=569265070

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