Tuesday, January 20, 2009
I'm going on a picnic and I am bringing a whole bunch of stuff that won't get through security(Aaron McKinney)
Monday, January 19, 2009
Sunday, January 18, 2009
While our mornings were filled speakers, our afternoons were filled with site visits. Most of the sites were entertaining. I could have done without the Chinese embassy. On the other hand, the Canadian embassy and it's representative, Roy Norton, was fairly informative. I never realized Canada was so impressive. Another site I could have done without was the media watchdog group, Accuracy in Media. Even though this visit produced the most debate within our group, I found the speaker to be pretty hypcritical in the end. The Capitol tour was kind of underwhelming, but that is because we had a really great tour back during my senior year trip. On one of our days off, Autumn and I went to the National Gallery of Art. Personally, I love museums. The exhibits were so beautiful. I'm a sucker for French painters...Monet and Van Gough. Yesterday we went on my favorite visit yet, the Newseum (a museum about the news, clever right?) I found the museum absolutely fascinating. They have acquired so many pieces of history! For example, there was a piece of the Berlin wall as well as one of the death towers. There was the door from the Watergate break in and the most emotional piece, a scrap of metal from one of the Twin Towers. Watching the documentary the Newseum put together as well as seeing the front pages from around the world brought back so many emotions from that fateful day. This museum in particular was the highlight of the trip thus far. It kind of tied together everything we have learned thus far. As Tuesday draws near, the excitement is building and the city is filling up...I can't wait!!
OH YEAH! I forgot to mention that we saw the motorcade belonging to President-elect Barack Obama and Joe Biden!! They were on the way to the Supreme Court Building. The streets were all blocked off, and then the cops on motorcycles started coming followed by about ten black SUV's. One of the SUV's was filled with very heavily armed secret servicemen...totally badass!! That might have rivaled the Newseum on being the most thrilling site of the week :)
Overall i believe the speaker that i would love to hear more from the most was Steve Bell.
On Wednesday Bell spoke about Media Bias which was a great follow up to our, ahem, interesting experience at Accuracy in the Media the previous day. Just a little side comment on that.. WOW! that guy was ridiculous. i was so excited when he began speaking about his organization's wish for unbiased media. Which i took to be unbiased on BOTH sides, right AND left. Even my liberal-loving self was still optimistic about the organization when he said that they were a conservative organization (b/c that makes sense due to the liberal leaning of the media). However, i was quickly disappointed when i realized that AIM is not truly about making the media move toward unbiased-ness (so not a word). Instead AIM is a hypocritical organization that is simply attempting to sway media bias from the left to the far right. Which is crap. Total crap. They are completely false advertising themselves. I did, however, enjoy myself while at AIM b/c i was given the chance to show my disbelief and disapproval during the Q and A session :). OKAY, back to Bell. Bell brought up an interesting theory: that the media coverage of this election was not biased but merely one-sided. Of course there are more liberal journalist than conservative but perhaps the biased was not intended for the majority of journalist. Bell quoted an old professor of his saying "Know thyself and compensate". Bell presented the idea that the media needs to realize that they, being more liberal for the majority, prefer to cover liberal candidates. And thus they should compensate by making an effort to cover both sides. The Obama Phenomena made a great story : the little senator with a great accomplishment story. The fault of the one-sided coverage was not bias but instead was simply nature. Nature to cover someone with whom you agree with and with whom has such a tremendous story.
While i do believe that Bell's theory is somewhat optimistic and gives the media perhaps more credit than they deserve, i say what the heck. Ill buy it. And even though I am ,as i said before, a liberal-lovin liberal i would love to see the media move towards more unbiased coverage so that everyone has an equal chance... .AND so that conservatives have no reason to complain anymore( i couldnt resist! ) I guess i too need to heed the word of Mr. Bell's professor :) .
We visited the Embassy of the People's Republic of China on a blistery Thursday with the 2 longest escalators I have ever run up and the longest windiest bridge in Washington DC. Once we got there we were ushered into the room where our presentation was, and dare I say it was beyond boring. The majority of us, I believe, fell asleep. I know I did. But for what parts I was able to stay out of a comatose state, I noticed some errors in the Minister Counselor Zhang Ping's PowerPoint. First of all he read the entire thing off the slides, and skipped a few as well. One of the slides in particular stuck out in mind. It stated that every U.S. administration has supported the One China Policy. This policy states that there is only one China and that island of Taiwan is a part of that China. Minister Counselor Ping gave this slide a millisecond before he moved on. The sparked a curiosity in me, because I had thought that the United States had officially recognized the country of Taiwan as its own entity. I've now found out that I was wrong. Yes I can be wrong. Though we have never officially recognized the Taiwanese, we have not said that Taiwan is a part of China. Twice has the Taiwanese President been invited to the United States. Since we trade a lot with both of these countries and our ties are very close the United States has seemingly taken a somewhat neutral stance on this issue. Perhaps that is why he skipped this slide.
He also gave the America-China relationship a beautiful lovely Bambi-cutesy glow. Did someone forget Korea? Remember its this little tiny "conflict" that lasted 3 years. The United States was on the side of the South Koreans and someone...now who was it.... was on the side of the North Koreans. Oh Yes. It was China. I watch M*A*S*H, I know China was there, I knew that even without the help of a wonderful sitcom. Funny how it wasn't mentioned...at all. As one can tell, this has really ticked me off. My Gramps was a parachute jumper in the 101st Airborne during the Korean Conflict. So I was personally offended by this lack of respect for the Americans and the Chinese soldiers that died to stop the fighting within Korea. What also surprised me was that none of the students brought it up in the Q&A session after the PowerPoint. I didn't bring it up because I was ready to get out of there, but in hindsight I wish I had called China out on that.
After attempting to listen to the presentation, the realization on the limited press and the oppression in China is so profound in their media. It made me appreciate the free press we enjoy most of the time here. Can you imagine the Daily Show or the Colbert Report in the People's Republic of China. The country where they wouldn't let a little girl sing at the Opening Ceremony of the Olympics because she wasn't "pretty" enough. I think that China is as obsessed with their image as a middle school girl. They can't stand to have anything negative to be said against them without retaliation. What a wonderful country we live in, where we can bash ourselves into a bloody pulp and be fine with it completely...almost always. There are limits for everything and everyone.
The Inauguration is technically tomorrow and the Metro is already insane. Sam and I visited Museums at the Smithsonian stop. By the time we both finished, we couldn't even get near the station there or at Federal Triangle. I cringe to imagine the chaos that will ensue on Tuesday. Hopefully we will all survived and not be trampled by tourists(more touristy than us) who don't know what in the heck they are doing.
One of the reasons diversity is so important is the fact that people with different backgrounds think, act, and respond to situation in different ways. Genovese admits this and uses FDR as an example. Because he faced such a significant challenge early in his life with polio, he was able to respond to the challenges faced as president much more calmly and efficiently than he might have otherwise. I think most of us are hoping that President-Elect Obama's obvious differences from past presidents will allow him to govern more effectively.
I realize that we were told at the beginning of the seminar to keep our minds open on the diversity question, realizing that there are many types of diversity. But after attending the entire seminar, I wasn't convinced. Out of the dozens of speakers, only a handful were not older, white, straight, able, and fairly rich men. During such an important moment of diversity in our country's history, it seems imperative to have a diverse group of people give us their perspectives on the presidency, the media, and what Obama will bring. Political Science as a field of study has been dominated by white men, and it is time to realize that there might be different, perhaps better, theories about the way government works coming from others with different backgrounds and challenges. Honestly, I was sincerely disappointed with the lack of diversity in The Washington Center's programming.
I am inspired by Barack Obama. I feel that if anyone can change the way our country relates with the rest of the world and can protect the American people by working to provide healthcare for everyone as well as a quality education, he can do it. However, I worry. America is extremely energized. They've witnessed Obama's charismatic speeches, his positive media coverage, and his emphasized message for change, and they are ready to rally behind him. Expectations are high, and I'm worried. Change is not going to come quickly. I fear that the energy of the public will quickly die down and become frustration and criticism of Obama as he begins his work as the President. I do not think that we can expect much progress quickly. As Dana Perino said, the First 100 days deadline is false. Because our government is set up as a checks and balances kind of system, cooperation between the executive and legistlative branches is key in bringing the change we need. Sam Donaldson cautioned our audience, telling us not to expect everything to get fixed soon. I just wish that the entire American public could understand the obstacles facing Obama and his administration as far as bringing change quickly to the world. We cannot be too emotional in our support for Obama. We also have to be critical and logical. I fear that the media have not emphasized this point enough. Maybe the media have focused too much on Obama's positive attitude. One girl in a Q&A session asked if our optimism is a problem. As much as I wanted to say, "No!", I couldn't. Optimism is great, yes, but without the complete understanding of the issues and the obstacles that lay ahead, optimism is a false sense of hope. We need to have hope but also have patience. If the media can focus on this now instead of Obama's rockstar image, I feel that we really can make progress in the world.
Friday, January 16, 2009
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Even though it is four degrees outside I am somehow managing to get through each long day! Each new day seems to become more and more interesting.
One of my favorite speakers so far has been Dana Bash, senior congressional correspondent for CNN. I felt she had a very intelligent insight into the media and how it affects political personalities, and especially how it affected the election of Barak Obama into the presidential office. I agreed with most of the ideas she discussed such as the idea that Obama had an advantage over Hillary in the primaries because of his positively portrayed media image. She made it clear that McCain had communication issues, whereas Obama thrived in a communicative setting.
While I agreed with most everything that Dana Bash said, I was sometimes confused at her comments and disagreed with other ones. Towards the beginning of her speech, she made the comment that Obama and McCain are more similar than they seem. Even though I wasn’t a senior correspondent for the campaign, I did not see this. To me, the too candidates were alike in very few ways. She also stated that McCain had a lot of charm. While I don’t deny the possibility of McCain having a charming personality, it seems silly to call him charming when compared to Obama. Again, I was not next to McCain for the entire election and she was, however my views through the media do not seem to think its reasonable to pick McCain as the more charming candidate. Overall, however, I really enjoyed Dana’s presentation and I think her job sounds very interesting and full of fun.
After our site visit to the Canadian Embassy yesterday, we decided to go to the National Archives. As we were crossing the street, local police were preparing for a motorcade. We waited for a while and finally the motorcade began. After many motorcycles and police SUV’s we saw an African American waving hand out of one of the SUV’s. Of course our conviction is that this was Barak Obama!
I hope to brave the even colder weather tomorrow as the temperature gets down to 0 degrees!!!!!
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
This morning in particular was extremely interesting because we were able to listen to and do a Q&A with George Bush's Press Secretary, Dana Perino. She was extremely honest with our audience and was very informative when questions were asked about the Bush administration and their choices and actions that were shown through the press.
The Canadian Embassy was also a highlight of today although our speaker, Roy Norton who is a Minister (Congressional, Public & Intergovernmental Affairs) for the Embassy. He gave us and incredible insight into what Canada thinks about the US and our policies on anything from our form of government to our different health care programs.
Some of us also visited the US Archive Museums and got to go through a couple of exhibts that includeds the orignal Declaration of Independence, Magna Carta and Bill of Rights, along with many others.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Does anything in that mission statement tell you that Accuracy In Media is really a right-wing organization concerned only with promoting conservative news stories, even at the expense of truly fair media?
This afternoon, we made a site visit to Accuracy In Media, which bills itself as a media watchdog group. AIM's executive secretary, Roger Aronoff gave us a presentation about the organization's history and purpose. According to him, AIM exists to promote an un-biased media. They follow the major news organizations' coverage and do fact checking to ensure that the stories are as accurate as possible. They also stay on the lookout for bias on a grander scale--overtly positive or negative coverage of certain candidates, excessive time given to some issues over others, or a general loss of objectivity. This all sounds pretty straightforward. After all, one of the foundations of democracy is an informed citizenry, and the media plays an important part in achieving that goal.
However, as Aronoff's talk wore on, it became clear that Accuracy in Media was in fact biased in their search for bias. In other words, they were wildly hypocritical. He spent quite some time discussing the leftward tilt of MSNBC with nary a mention of Fox News Channel. He was extremely concerned with the proliferation of coverage of Barack Obama over John McCain, but didn't seem to mind that Joe Biden was essentially ignored at the expense of Sarah Palin. Media reports that President Bush invaded Iraq under false pretenses were out of line, but stories that President Clinton's bombing of Baghdad in 1998 was designed to be a distraction from his impeachment trial were fair game. He asserted that the "liberal mainstream media" could have cost John McCain as much as 20 points in the 2008 election. Note that Barack Obama won the election by 7 points. So McCain would have won by 13 without the media distorting everything? Unlikely.
I don't have a problem with AIM promoting conservative causes through media intervention. They just shouldn't have "accuracy" in their name. Nor should they act as if they are oh-so-offended by the idea of bias in the news. They are fine with bias so long as it benefits their preferred candidates and causes.
Before I had quite realized how in the tank the organization was for the right, I asked a question about how they define a news story as positive or negative. For instance, I had read a study recently that flagged articles with assertions such as "Some conservatives believe that Sarah Palin hurt the Republican ticket" and "Barack Obama ran an extremely effective grassroots campaign" as pro-Obama stories. To me, neither of these show bias. I asked Aronoff how they qualify stories in which the facts seem biased and offered the example that Obama ran a better political campaign than McCain did, regardless of how you feel about their respective ideologies. He went off on a tangent about Obama's campaign finance and his relationship with William Ayers. Later, the Quinnipiac professor at the session tried again by asking how they would asses stories on global warming--some 90% of scientists believe that it is a man-made and dangerous phenomenon, so should journalists be required to present the remaining 10% as an equal opponent? Aronhoff pronounced AIM as "global warming skeptics" and went on to talk about why that was the case. This was too much for me. How on earth could they claim to mediate fair and balanced coverage when they were clearly supportive of a certain position? I asked, and he said they make no effort to remove their biases. Anyone who disagrees with them is biased; anyone who agrees is not. Autumn asked if they even bother to investigate the conservative bastion Fox News. He said yes--if Fox ran a story that seemed pro-global warming, then they would be all over it.
What a crock of shit.
If Accuracy In Media wants to purport themselves as a media watchdog (a truly noble mission), they need to get rid of their own biases. Until that point, they will lack credibility except as a minion of the radical right which exists only to silence critics of their politics.
Education is an issue that I have found is near and dear to my heart, and I just realized while we were eating lunch at Pizza Kitchen Sunday afternoon. Dr. Domin asked us to try and think of one success and one failure of the Bush Administration without involving Iraq. No Child Left Behind was what came into my head. I am no expert on No Child Left Behind these are only the thoughts of what I recall of it. I remembered the impact that it had on my small rural community. Our teachers were under so much pressure that they couldn't do there jobs. More focus was given to the ones that couldn't catch up than to the entire class. Not that its a bad thing to make sure everyone understands before moving on to the next subject. But when staying behind causes other children, especially gifted children to miss out on aspects of the education deserved, something has gone terribly wrong. To say that my high school always had their students had their best interests at heart would be fallacy after my sophomore year. They did however make sure most of us passed the Georgia High School Graduation Test. Passing that test would satisfy the Powers That Be for the State that gives us money temporarily. Its not that the concept of No Child Left Behind is a bad idea, but the consequences are so severe for the schools that can't make it up to standards for reasons of lacking funds or otherwise. I remember some of my teachers complaining about No Child Left Behind and the inhibitions it gave to their teaching. These are not the teachers that had anything to worry about. These are some of the best teachers I've ever had. So our education definitely needs to be near the top of President Elect Obama's priorities.
While they addressed these issues the guests on Washington Journal took questions from some of the students attending this seminar with the Washington Center. The students had some good thought provoking questions. I was impressed to say the least with the thought that goes into the questions asked. There were questions about Energy, the stimulus plan, the influence of media on the Congress to name a few. It was a great session to listen to.
After the Washington Journal, Brian Lamb came on with his Q&A segment with the Wheeler's. The Wheeler's are among other things major supporters of Obama, and helped him out in the Region 2 of Iowa, which we heard ALOT about. They weren't that fascinating and didn't have many answers to the appropriate questions asked by the students. arghh....uselessness. The final segment of the day was ab-sol-frickin-lutely fantabulous!!!! The students at the microphone were asked questions by Brian Lamb about their opinions on issues, what they thought, future plans, and impressions of the seminar. It was great listening to what people had to say, and to hear their convictions behind it. Just fantastic.
Our site visit today was at Accuracy in Media. oh the things that can be said. It was established in 1969 by Reed Irvine as the first media watchdog, and it was made clear right off that they were conservative. Honestly my mind absorbed the information, but didn't comprehend as my mind was almost in a state of comatose. I was bored out of my mind and ended up doodling so I would stay awake. But from what I gathered from my coherent notes, memory and fellow Mercerians, Accuracy in Media is a watchdog for liberal bias almost exclusively. They fight bias with their own bias, and didn't define what the bias was in the first place. AIM was good at skirting questions and coming up with unsatisfactory answers that brings up the question of their cognitive function.
This evening was especially exciting. We had a reception at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, such a beautiful building, and Bob Schieffer was the Guest of Honor. Talk about excitement. He was a great speaker and knew exactly what he was talking about. It was disappointing however that many of the students in the large reception room refused to be quiet. Ridiculuousness and Rudeness all in one. Other than that and the coat room fiasco the night went very well.
I have enjoyed this trip to Washington D.C. so very much and cannot wait for the rest of the week to follow.
On the other hand, Marc Pachter of the National Portrait Galley gave a fascinating presentation on the history of the Presidency and the use of imagery to define the Commander-in-Chief. He made his way through the Presidential portraits collection and enlightened us as to each portrait's significance. For instance, George Washington is dressed as a casual civilian in his portrait, showing his disdain for the trappings for royalty. Lyndon Johnson so hated his portrait that he had it banned from the White House. Pachter made the very interesting point that, rather than being an unnecessary distraction, the public's perception of the sitting President is a very important tool in governance. In 2008's post-election analysis, some media types have said that Obama's use of imagery somehow cheapened his campaign--Pachter would strongly disagree, saying that a politician's image is closely tied to how he or she will govern.
The last event of the day was titled "Common Ground." It was a travelling dog and pony show featuring the conservative Cal Thomas and the more progressive Bob Beckel. The two clearly had a good rapport with one another, and were very entertaining to watch. And that's about all I got out of the presentation. Basically, they wanted to change the culture of Washington by having people on all sides of various issues sit down and discuss things in a cordial manner. They said that this would lead to respect for both sides of an argument and allow politicians to have pleasant working relationships with one another. Fine. I think that is an admirable goal. However, Thomas and Beckel seemed to think that it would be the solution to all of our nation's problems. Their line of thinking was this: if you don't see your opponent as the enemy, you are more likely to be able to find some common ground and a compromise solution that works. Right. So just because I don't hate someone means that I will be able to agree with them?
The two pundits offered the example of the Obama's economic stimulus package. Republicans want tax cuts; Democrats want government spending. If you give them both a little of each (with the Democrats getting more--they are, after all, in the majority), then everyone wins. In gigantic legislation such as the stimulus, this is a perfectly valid solution. However, on more specific issues, there is less room to compromise, and to do so threatens the integrity of the argument. For instance, people against abortion believe that it is tantamount to the murder of an innocent child. No matter how many restrictions that pro-choice legislators offer as a way of compromise, no matter how much education, contraception, or adoption is put forward, the point still stands--it is murder. Where is the so-called "common ground"?
The same holds true on the other side of the aisle. Liberals who believe that the war in Iraq was illegal, badly managed, and an across the board violation of both Presidential power and human rights want the troops to come home. Now. Timetables, peacekeeping forces...these concessions by the right (or even the center-left) mean nothing. The soldiers should come home and President Bush should be held accountable for sending them in the first place. How can we expect them to compromise?
Supporters of gay rights believe that homosexuals will always be second-class citizens until they are afforded full marriage rights, protected from hate crimes and employment discrimination, and allowed to serve openly in the military. Civil unions are not enough. Local and state protections are not enough. Don't Ask, Don't Tell is not enough. What is compromise worth if it requires selling out your principles?
Thomas and Beckel contended that the American people want nothing more than solutions to their problems that work. No. Americans are smarter than that. We want solutions to our problems that are right. And of course, we all have different visions of what is right. I whole-heartedly agree that decreasing the level of animosity in our federal government will make it run smoother. But I do not concede that compromise is always a good thing. Politics should be about getting what you (or your constituents) want. Not for selfish reasons, but because you truly believe that it is right for the country.
Other than a few organizational and logistics problems, the Washington Center's seminar has been extremely well done. They have gone to a lot of trouble finding the best and most entertaining speakers available, from former "Good Morning, America" host Steve Bell, to CNN's congressional correspondent who covered the McCain campaign Dana Bash, to Secret Service Agent David O'Connor, giving us a broad range of perspectives on the inauguration and the presidency as an institution. We've discussed the way physical appearance can shape public opinion, where and how the president gets his power, and whether the media and its alleged liberal bias gave Obama an unfair advantage.
But my favorite question so far was posed by Brian Lamb of C-SPAN: "What are your expectations for an Obama administration?" I think those of us who bought into Obama's message of hope and change, who spouted the phrase "Yes, We Can," throughout the campaign (even though I am still fully behind him and believe in the message) have realized that just getting Obama elected isn't enough. Washington and our system of government are dedicated to long-standing traditions and limitations set up by the Constitution. It's easy to say that I wish Obama could unilaterally implement his policies now that my views are being represented in the White House. It's much more difficult to have faith in the slow, deliberative process that is Congress, especially when it could ruin everything I've hoped for. But I will strive to uphold what I know are strong American principles while still advocating and hoping for change.
What has interested me most in this city, however, has nothing to do with the seminar. Our time spent traveling and our free time have allowed me to see how people, organizations, businesses, and the city as a whole are reacting to the upcoming inauguration. The city is obviously spending an incredible amount of money to get ready--the construction, the security, the porta-potties (sp?)... It's an incredible thing to witness. Businesses, like IKEA, use Obama's mantras of "change" and "yes, we can" as advertisement slogans. And the people of D.C. know that the world's eyes are on their city and carry their pride everywhere they go. While the Founders wanted an executive as unlike a monarch as possible, our modern-day celebrations do seem to reflect a coronation--the possible king of the free world.
Monday, January 12, 2009
I vividly remember the first time I came to DC and some rude guy in a business suit obnoxiously cleared his throat behind me and said, "On the left" as I stood on the escalator leaving the METRO. Mind you, I am from po-dunk NC where cops used to pull me over on Friday night to chat about the football game I just got done playing. Also previous to my first visit to DC the biggest city I had visited was Charlotte, NC and by visit I mean pick my grandmother up from the airport. I was completely unaware that it was humanly possible to pass someone on the escalator but sure enough in this city, it happens. A lot.
But the next morning came as a rude awakening. After an extremely busy day, we woke up around six o'clock so that we could get on the Metro and make it to the University of DC in time for the morning session.
In this session, we were introduced to Steve Bell, the faculty director for the Presidential Inaugruation Seminar. I was most intrigued by him. His time talking to us was short, but extremely entertaining and interesting. He talked about the role of the media this election season, showing video clips as examples of his statements. For example, he illustrated Barack Obama's effectiveness of manipulating the media by showing a clip of his victory speech in Arizona during primary season. Behind him, a woman is crying, truly inspired by his words. Even though I definitely did have a moment of pride while watching the clip (goodness, he's an amazing orator!), I recognized just how much of an affect the media had on the emotions that I felt (and still feel). I'm definitely looking forward to hearing more from Bell.
Then, Dana Bash, Senior Congressional Correspondent for CNN, spoke to us. Another amazing speaker, she gave insight into her relationship with the Senators and Representatives in Congress as well as her work on the campaign trail with Senator McCain. The Q&A session with her was great. People asked really intelligent questions, and I felt like I could relate to her. Because I want to work backstage for theatre one day, I actually was extremely fascinated with her work behind the scenes of the media. She helped plant the seed for the idea of possibly working behind the scenes for news programs. I feel like this path would be a more useful way to spend my life: reporting to the public about matters that truly affect them and doing my best to let the citizens of the U.S. know more about the world in which they live. I don't know if I can escape my passion for theatre, though.
Finally, we heard from Michael Genovese, the author of our textbook. While I agreed with most of his opinions, I had a hard time connecting with him. Giving a brief insight into the changes that have occured over the years concerning the content of inaugural addresses as well as the humongous amount of pressure that Barack Obama must feel because of the extremely high expectations for a great inaugural speech, I felt more eager for Tuesday to come. I want to witness Obama's attempt to speak to the people. While the topic of Genovese's talk brought me eagerness to witness history, I still feel that I have a lot to learn from him.
That afternoon, we went on a bus tour of Washington and hit some of the major tourist sites (Lincoln Memorial, Iwo Jima, WWII Memorial, Vietnam Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, etc.). While I was extremely excited to see all of these sites and take a hundred pictures (literally), I felt too rushed to see everything. I feel like I missed the opportunity to really appreciate everything. I think I could spend a whole day just sitting at the World War II Memorial and thinking (even in the freezing cold weather). And at the Vietnam Memorial, I started reading the names on the wall and kind of creating a story about each person in my mind, and then I wondered who they really were. But since this was a bus tour, I had to get through everything quickly. I wish I could just have a week with no schedule to go to every place and just absorb everything. I think this would be more useful to me. This is a great city!
Today was just as eventful and fun. It's getting late right now, however, so I'll post about today's events a little later. I need to get some sleep now. I'm sure I will not enjoy the sound of my alarm clock in just a mere six hours...
Our first speaker was Steve Bell, who had my full attention as he spoke on the topic of “The Media and The Presidency”. He spoke about how the media has been revolutionized and how the internet has affected the media in a way that figures in the media have less control over what goes out and who it goes out to. There is no longer a “caretaker’’ that censors the majority of what is released in the media.
The second speaker, the one I thought to be the most interesting, was Dana Bash, who is the Senior Whitehouse Correspondent for CNN. During the Presidential Campaign she was also assigned to the trail of John McCain. Her speaking was enticing but her Q&A was a personal insight to the McCain campaign that was a once and a lifetime experience.
After the seminars, which were attention-grabbing, but honestly seemed to go on forever, we went to an awesome little pizza place and then went on to go sightseeing. It was freezing cold!!! We went to see the Jefferson Memorial, the WWII Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, and a couple of others. They were all equally gorgeous and uniformly historically remarkable, and I had a great time taking numerous pictures.
When we finally returned to the hotel room I was completely exhausted and wrote my blog. I am just posting it because after I wrote it I passed out in my comfy bed at the Holiday Inn where we are staying.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
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!
I came to Washington, D.C. when I was a senior in high school, but this time around I found the monuments more interesting than I did then. The first sight we visited was the Iwo Jima memorial. I was really excited to see this one because it had been closed for a cleaning the last time I was there. The second stop we made was the Lincoln Memorial, but it there was a lot of setup for the Inauguration so that kind of killed the scenery. On the same stop as the Lincoln Memorial we also went to the Korean and Vietnam War Memorials. Even though it was cold, I still stopped to reflect upon the names of those who gave their lives to protect our country. The next memorial we visited was the World War II Memorial. This one is my favorite by far. Naturally we had to get our picture taken under the Georgia pillar, and then we watched the ducks splash around in the fountains. So easily entertained. The last monument that we actually got off the bus for was the Jefferson Memorial. Of all the monuments, I thought that this one had the best view as it sits right on the Potomac. Finally, we finished our driving tour by driving by the FDR Memorial, the various Smithsonians, as well as the Capitol which was already being prepared for Obama's inauguration next Tuesday. We ended our tour at Union Station where a few of us enjoyed a very nice meal at a restaurant called 'America'. A fitting meal to end a fantastic day!
Saturday, January 10, 2009
The plane took off and up we went. Obviously when the plane reached the clouds the windows were completely white, but at the peak it seemed I was looking at a whole new world. The clouds were the ground, making their own mountains and rivers.
We landed at Ronald Reagan Airport around 11:15 and headed to get the luggage.
When we left the airport we made our way around messing up the directions plenty of times just like normal tourists always do. The funniest part to me was the site of all 12 of us with all our luggage getting on the METRO and walking around looking for the hotel. At one point, I was trying to move my luggage around so people could walk around the METRO and I did not pay attention to the "doors are now closing" notice. I fell forward, not completely, but enough to get a few laughs.
Finally, the hotel was in sight and we got checked in.
Dr. Domin treated us all to a great lunch at Ruby Tuesday's. I ordered the shrimp and chicken tenders and a coke because the only tea they had was unsweetened and peach (definitely not in GA anymore). Well I drank a few kinda fast and WOW (Coke is filling), well the waiter forgot my baked potato and brought it when I was pretty much done and definitely full so I carried a baked potato around with me. (It was funny at the moment!)
A few of us decided to go to the National Mall and it started drizzling. Well we are all tough, of course, and decided to make the trip. The drizzle kept on (seemed like the drizzle got heavier)and made the 34 degrees temperature even worse. We made it to the National Mall, Washington Monument, Jefferson Memorial, and the American History museum and went the the American Presidency section.
I am now back in the hotel room with pizza on the way and my potato on the balcony.