Sunday, January 11, 2009

1/11/09 (Autumn Turner)

Well today was the first day of the seminar. I must admit I was surprised at how much I enjoyed myself during the lectures. The first speaker was Steve Bell who will be continue to speak throughout the program because he is our Faculty Director. I was FASCINATED by him. He seems as if hes been everywhere and seen everything. I believe I could sit and listen to him tell stories about his experiences for hours on end. I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall of Airforce 1 when he flew with all the Presidents to attend the Egyptian President's funeral.

Bell spoke today mainly about the revolution of media in politics and Obama's capitalism on new media sources. The development of 24-7 cable and news coverage did away with concentrated sources of information. This caused a loss of control of the news flow that reaches the public. Bell pointed out that ANYONE can make an impact with a simple touch of a keyboard.

Bell then spoke about how Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton both used nontraditional shows such as the View to reach people. This is proof of the revolution due to the fact that nontraditional shows were considered unsavory in earlier elections. Clinton used this to bypass the political process.

Bell closed with comments about his fascination with the Obama phenomena. He said that the only politician comparable to Obama was Kennedy but only after he was elected and possibly after his assassination . Obama was not an ordinary candidate. His ability to make people truly BELIEVE in him set him apart.

I must say I am truly looking forward to hearing more from Bell!

The next speaker was equally riveting. Dana Bash, senior congressional correspondent for CNN, captured my attention from Bell's introduction of her. I can easily see how she has became successful in the media field.

Bash mainly spoke about her experiences covering the 2008 election. She was assigned to follow the Republican candidates due to the fact that is was expected in the beginning to be the more controversial. Through her following of the "Amazing Race" she watched first hand McCain's transformation from Maverick to Structured Organizer.

She also was affording the chance to follow Obama on his first trip ever to Iowa. Bash found it fascinating how every single other politician was so completely overshadowed by the little known Illinois Senator.

Bash finished speaking about her love of working on Capital Hill as opposed to the White House. Access was her reason for this. Covering Congress affords her the opportunity to speak with Senators in a more personal manner due to the every-day setting.

Bash had my entire attention throughout her time on the podium. She even made the thought cross my mind about rethinking a career in the media side of politics. And then I reminded myself that I played her role in Dr. Domins Campaigns and Elections simulation last semester and the thought became brief and fleeting (haha).

Micheal Genovese was our final speaker. He is the author of the assigned reading for the program and the Scholar in Residence for the seminar. He easily caught my attention by providing us with fun trivia about DC and Presidents (and yes i DO find trivia fun!).

He then moved into speaking about the fact that the Presidential Inaugurations have developed into a celebration that is not truly constitutional. Ginovese pointed out that the framers were suspicious of pageantry.

Genovese used past Presidential inaugural addresses as proof of this transformation. The early presidents focused on fidelity to the Constitution and the rule of law. Modern Presidents now focus on speaking to the PEOPLE rather than to the Constitution. The inauguration transitions display the country's transgression from a constitutional republic to a democracy.

I truly do look forward to hearing more insight from Genovese!

The second half of the day was EXTREMELY interesting to me. I am a tourist through and through. I love seeing sights, especially historic sights. We took a great bus tour to the main monuments and memorials around D.C. This is my first trip actually spending time in D.C. so it was my first at each of the stops.

We began at the Iwo Jima memorial which was one that i would not have thought to visit by myself but was glad we visited. The next stop was the Lincoln memorial which i was SO excited to see. There was alot of construction going on in preparation of the inauguration which was kind of neat to see. I took TONS of pictures at the Lincoln memorial. Our bus driver had told us that there was a misspelled word on the monument. I, however, failed to find it. From Lincoln we walked over to the Vietnam War and Korean War memorials which were astonishing. Its kind of a shock to actually look at all the names of the people who sacrificed their lives for us. (Jules and I took a really cool picture of our reflection in the wall) I did take alot of pics so hopefully soon i can get some of them up. The next stop was probably my favorite besides the Lincoln. It was the World War II memorial. it was BEAUTIFUL. I liked the representation of all the states and the countries that aided us. The last stop was the Jefferson memorial. By this time i was COMPLETELY frozen from head to toe so i made a quick stop but found it equally moving. Finally the tour ended with drive bys of the FDR memorial and the Capitol.

I loved sight seeing so this was definitely a fun day for me. The fact that i was FREEZING and still had a blast is proof that i loved every minute of it. I cant wait for the rest of the trip!

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