Sep 9, 2014

Stop Playing Their Game

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What game?

The game I am speaking of is the partisan and divisive game used by many politicians, candidates, and polarizing news radio or television pundits.  It is the game of manipulation.  The game of manipulation is designed to gain your attention and to then gain influence over your opinion.  I am talking about the politicians in your party, especially the "celebrity" types, as well as the television and radio news hosts you listen to, all of whom find a way to be the loudest mouth in the national conversation.  DO NOT assume that I am only talking about the other party, the other shows, or the other politicians.  I am talking about the politicians in your party, especially the "celebrity" types, as well as the television and radio news hosts you listen to, all of whom find a way to be the loudest mouth in the national conversation. 

What are the methods of play?

These divisive and polarizing figures take the path of least resistance.  On one hand, this entails "dumbing us down" with overly simplified, overly broad, misleading and sometimes downright untruthful statements.  These characters do not get your vote or attention unless you are filled with rage or passion; but more importantly, they do not get your attention unless they reduce complex arguments down to a "bumper sticker sized"statement.  Bumper sticker sized statements, sometimes referred to as "sound bites" are better tools of manipulation than complex discussions or nuanced statements.  Bumper sticker statements and sound bites convey a minimal amount of information that is devoid of context.  To include context in a statement, would lead to facts that do not support the statement or opinion, and would also lead you to believe that the world is a bit more complex than the speaker would like you to believe.  Context and fact may also lead you to put yourself in the shoes of someone else.  For some politicians, partisans and ideologically extreme media characters, educating you in historical fact, statistics and context would be counter-productive to their effort to hold your attention and counter-productive to their policy goals.  

The second method of play is distraction.  The game's objective is not to have analytically and substantive discussions or statements about meaningful action and policy, but to prevent us by distraction from coming to our own conclusions using critical thinking skills.  One such "shiny object" used for the sake of distraction every summer is the vacation taken by the President.    Another such shiny object is the attendance at a fundraising event by the President.  Most of these shiny objects are brought to us by a steady barrage of pictures and video clips of Presidential activities.

Example...don't's non-partisan ;)

Every president, Republican or Democrat, goes on vacations, some extended  and some short; and every president, Republican or Democrat attends fundraising events all over the country.  Much of the time, these trips occur shortly before, during, or after a major news event.  For President Obama it has been the recent August vacation and golf outing in the midst of the growing ISIS threat and beheading of journalist James Foley.  President Obama also received some flack for neglecting to visit Ferguson, Missouri during the civil disorder related to the police shooting of Michael Brown.  For President Bush, the most resilient memory Americans have of a bad photo op is his 2005 fly over of the damage in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina.  Another memory of the Bush administration is the great deal of

time spent in Crawford, Texas on Bush's ranch even while Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a fallen soldier, protested at the ranch entrance.  What Americans must understand is that the "optics" do not necessarily convey a truth.  A photo or a trip does not convey action or inaction of a President, no more than a photo posted on Instagram or Facebook for all the world to see conveys your priorities, actions and decisions on a daily basis in managing your career, home and family.  Any knee-jerk reaction of a President is either an action taken in ignorance and without forethought, or is simply to put forth an illusion of control and action.  American action, whether through the executive branch or Congress, takes time.  There are legislative, executive and legal officials that must be consulted; there are facts that must be learned, obtained and continuously updated; and there is often an attempt to build a coalition of support.  This is true for domestic events and not just those concerning foreign policy.  President Obama's golf outing and delayed press conference did not imply a lack of behind the scenes action in terms of the military and diplomacy, but only implied a lack of public relations.  Similarly, President Bush's fly over of Louisiana did not imply that he was failing to fulfill his responsibilities as President when it came to executive action through FEMA.  Nor did it imply that he "hated black people" as Kanye West so famously stated on live television.  The people of New Orleans were not let down by George W. Bush and thus ended up in the predicament they found themselves in.  The people of New Orleans were let down by a system, at the federal and state level, of inadequacies and missed opportunities that goes back decades.  President Bush, because of the singular and easily identifiable nature of the Presidency, was made the "poster boy" for this societal and governmental failure.  Others questioned why Bush continued to sit and read a book in front of a group of elementary students after the initial news of the 9/11 attacks were whispered in his ear?  Those critics couldn't put a human face on Bush and think that like many of us he needed a minute to wrap his head around what had just happened or conceive of the fact that a President should not jump up arms flailing and produce national panic.

Use your own head; think logically.

For a brief and painful moment allow the mostly exaggerated hatred you have for former President Bush, or for current President Obama to disappear.  To reference a line from "A Time to Kill", imagine President Obama were Republican or imagine President Bush were a Democrat.  Now, think about the following:

1.  Presidents, just like us, need to clear their heads.  For Presidents, this may be especially so due to the enormous pressure of multiple foreign and domestic crises, the daily tasks they must complete, and the daily pressure of public relations now so reliant on facial expressions, sound bites and hand gestures.  And like most of us, they are attempting to nurture a marriage, be involved in the lives of their children and other relatives.  Well they asked for it right?  Yes they did; but I am glad someone does it because I will not.

2.  Presidents are obligated to fund raise for their party.  No other political figure can raise the amount of money a president can.  It is a simple fact.  For this reason, Presidents are under a moral and professional obligation to use the presidency to fund raise for their party, fellow candidates and for groups sharing their policy views.  Candidates and non profit organizations, like political parties, survive purely off of donations.  Moreover, to not help in raising funds for the party, would mean for the president the prospect of unrealized goals working with an opposition Congress full of those that have opposite view points and policy solutions.  To avoid fund raising, which is central to politics, is a silly expectation that Americans have of their presidents.

3.  There is always something going on, perhaps even a "crisis".  As a super power, every international event is laid at our doorstep.  And as a nation of 50 states and over 300 million people it is not a stretch to say that something tragic or worrisome will happen when a president goes on vacation or travels to attend a fundraiser.  If Presidents live by the rule of "come back" or "don't go when something bad happens" than they will never step foot out of Washington D.C. except to go on foreign diplomatic trips.  This is yet another silly expectation on the part of the American people.  However, there are some levels of crisis that would demand that a president drop everything and return to D.C. We have had only a few events in recent history that rise to that level.

4.  It is illogical to assume that a president simply "does not care".  This is a hate driven opinion that is not rational or logical.  We are determined to make the politician of the other party a terrible person bent on destroying America; or at the least, stupid, incompetent, unaware, and unsympathetic.  Furthermore, since the presidency travels with the President, they know they can "step away" without actually stepping away.

5.  The presidency travels with the President; and because of the huge institution that is now the presidency, presidents are constantly informed, constantly taking part in meetings, constantly managing PR and constantly weighing decisions with input from advisers and analysts.  When I go on vacation, I may write some notes down and check email.  When a president travels, just about the whole office goes with him.  So are they really on vacation?

6.  Stop making assumptions based on a trip, a photo, or a sound bite.  Presidents are generally tuned in and know more than they may let on for reasons relating to national security or in order to avoiding overreacting, misspeaking or misleading.  Presidents cannot give the American people minute by minute accounts of their knowledge, plans, or even feelings.  Moreover, a photo op is a photo op and a statement is simply a statement; nothing more.  These opportunities may feed the beast of public opinion, but they do little to nothing in terms of governance.  A real measure of a president's competence, awareness, and intentions comes by weaving together the many substantive actions taken by a president over a longer-period of time.  This does not come as a result of a compartmentalized, week by week or day by day attempt at analyzing a President and demanding that he or she be as reactionary and short-term in thinking as we are.  Perhaps there is more going on behind the scenes than we see displayed on the television.  

7.  Stop acting as though Presidents started vacationing and playing golf only since the beginning of the internet and the 24 hour news network.  We allow this silliness to sap our intellect because technology has allowed the daily actions of a president to become the subject of public debate.  Do you think that President Roosevelt did not vacation or golf during the Great Depression or World War II when there was a weekly barrage of events demanding his attention?  In case your wondering, though, has a nice summary of how each president stacks up when it comes to number of vacations and golf outings.  You will find a few surprises about recent Presidents, as well as learn that Wilson, President during World War I, arguably an international crisis, golfed more than any president every has.

8.  Presidential optics and actions do not just matter to Americans.  For every action there is a reaction.  This is especially so for Presidents, who are just as visible to foreign leaders and citizens as they are to us.  We may not like or understand an action or lack of action taken by a President, but the decision to act or not act may have been to fulfill a purpose not related to public opinion here in the U.S.  The president may be attempting to send a message to a foreign government or group, or to a group of politicians here at home to produce a desired result.  This is the nature of politics and diplomacy that few Americans understand or are aware of.  Just because you get a CNN update on your phone does not mean the President should hold a national press conference.  There are times when that is necessary, but there are many times, even when an American life is lost, that this action would be unnecessary or even counter-productive.

If you want a president to drop everything to cater to the minute by minute demands of the media and public opinion in an era of technology-driven rapid response, than you will have a failed presidency on your hands.  Stop playing the game by entertaining a thought while thinking critically, rather than immediately accepting it.  And do not just do this when it comes to the politicians or party you have been socialized to automatically hate. 


  1. I would not like to be in the shoes of the president. I cannot the imagine the work and effort they go through each day. However, we expect so much from the president. We are always looking at the bad thing they have done. People think that just because they are the president they have the ultimate power of the of the government. WRONG. Its so much a president can do because just like us they also have rules and regulations. In my opinion i don't think its bad for a president to have a vacation. Everyone need a vacation every now and them. The presidents are just as humans as we are. They also need to spend sometime with their own family. Unfortunately, the media always have to be everywheeeere and feed our minds with ignorance. Especially feed us with the wrong things. I don't see nothing wrong for the president to be on vacation. Its not like they leave there job to go on vacation. They are always informed day by day on what going on around the world, and in the USA. They don't even have a normal lifestyle as we do. They are build up with stress, because i don't think it's easy to manage a country. However, its there job to get thing done. Even if they want to have thing done, people will oppose. Therefore, it makes things harder for the presidents to accomplish things.
    (Fifth blog comment)

  2. I have noticed that politicians try to "dumb down" and simplify their statements in order to appeal to more voters. I never really noticed how effective bumper stickers and other sounds bites were until I read this and began to think. Even president Obama's campaign slogan "Change" was very simplified and did not go into the complexity of what that change is. I also agree with you and find it annoying and ignorant when people criticize a president for going on vacation, and that presidents need to be able to clear their heads when such disasters as Hurricane Katrina or a beheading of a U.S. citizen occur. I believe that people should be understanding that the president is just another person like you and me, like you said.
    p.s. I used Obama's campaign slogan because I'm a little too young to remember

    1. Great point: "Obama's campaign slogan "change" was very simplified and did not go into the complexity of what that change is". Great point, because supporters and opponents define that change differently, giving opponents the ability to use it against the president and his supporters.

  3. John Adams said, "There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution." His warning is against the development and institution of two separate, strong political parties, aka Democrat and Republican. The "division of the republic," I believe, is the reason why so much hate is targeted at every president. Whether the president is or is not being active or empathetic toward the needs in each "crisis", the opposing political party is going to find something wrong with what they are doing. As the daughter of two republicans, I have heard many of the slams on the Obama Administration, including that he is lazy for vacationing and 'overly concerned with popularity' because of his and Michelle's involvement in the media. However, after reading this blog, it has come to my attention that without the lighter involvements of the Presidency such as hosting events and vacationing, anyone in the Presidency would likely just about die from the constant stress and pressure. This blog does an excellent job of humanizing the President for the average citizen/reader.
    Also, the mention of the "celebrity" types dumbing down issues and slogans to "bumper sticker sized" statements, brought to mind an actual bumper sticker my Art History teacher once had posted in his classroom. It read, "I think, therefore I do not listen to Rush Limbough." Rush Limbaugh is a well-recognized speaker/radio host of the Republican Party known best for his witty and offensive 'loud mouth' against famous, active members of the Democratic Party. This bumper sticker is the epitome of what the beginning of the blog is about, because it is simple, hateful, and directed at a "celebrity" member of the opposing party. I especially love that Limbaugh is not the President in this situation because it expands the mentions of the blog into the people of the parties, not solely the heads. This blog lays out the game that the opposition of political parties has turned into and how it has inspired hate into those affiliated with either party. The blog then gives ways the reader can overcome those ignorant views of the Presidency. It is eye-opening.
    Meagan Moss

  4. Ajah Ochoa (GPC)

    I often hear people, when dissatisfied with government action or lack thereof, say, “The President…” People also play the blame game; they are quick to point fingers, mainly at the president as a single person, but also the opposing party, especially when they are extremists on the political ideology spectrum. Those who are uninformed or misinformed about how the government operates are easily susceptible to the manipulation game; therefore they become quick to play the blame game. People who have a bias toward a certain political party and political ideology find it easy to blame the other party. Technology has created a level of laziness; people want things quick and easy, they don’t have as much drive to look into information given to them. For example, people want to easily download the latest apps, but hardly anyone will read, or at least skim through, the terms and conditions. When politicians and news hosts feed us “sound bites” we find them easy to take in, so we accept them without truly considering what we have been fed.
    Instead of focusing on a picture of what the president is doing, citizens should look at the bigger picture of what the government as a whole is doing and has done. Personally, I wouldn’t want a president who reacts too hastily and becomes overwhelmed with stress. At times, golfing and taking a vacation can be a positive thing for the president to do. I see it as a chance for him to clear his mind, gather his thoughts, and think, so that he can make wise decisions on important matters. Human beings in general, when stressed, need a moment to step back and take a breather so that stress doesn’t cause them to react negatively or make poor decisions.

  5. It is true that most Americans do not think deeper than the skin of an issue, before judging and conveying an opinion. I have to admit to having an immediate opinion about an issue or topic that I hear about but do not know the full story. As I gain more information about the issue or topic my opinion may change or stay the same. Jumping to conclusions is a bad habit most people suffer from. The only problem is that finding unbiased facts and details about a issue or topic is difficult and most people do not bother to look for the correct information. For someone to convey a fully educated opinion, they need good sources, common sense, and analytical thoughts. A bad habit is hard to break for most people, but for Americans to truly be able to have educated opinions, it is important to try to create a better habit.

    When it comes to public figures most Americans forget that they are just human beings who have the same needs as the rest of the population. Most Americans need a break from life, so they go on vacation, so why do they believe that the public figures do not want a vacation or break. The presidency is a hard and stress full job and not many people believe they could handle the job. The President has to think critically, have strategies, be a public figure, be a parent, and a focus on their marriage. Out of all the jobs in America the President is most deserving of vacation time and relaxation. Taking breaks can help to make better decisions and release stress.

    Most people think they could do other peoples' jobs better or more efficient without really knowing what or how the job is done or what it requires. I have a job as a cashier and experience customers that come through my line believing they know how to do my job. In most cases they are ignorant on what it takes to do my job. Being a cashier is a small comparison on the role of a President. The best person to become a President are politicians who know how things are done and what it takes to make the best decisions at the moment to get a desirable outcome. The Presidency is like a body of water. A person can see only the surface, but they are unaware of how deep the water is or what consist underneath the surface. People have an idea of what goes on in the White House but they do not know the full depth of the job.

  6. Honestly, I had no idea that politicians used manipulation in their ads to help grasp voter’s attention before taking American Governement . Even though this method is deceiving the public, it is helping these candidates get more votes. Education can play a role in how you perceive everything you see or hear in the news. Many people know that they cant believe everything they here in the media, but its kind of hard to distinguish between the true and false statements. This is where education comes into effect. If you have an education you’re more likely to do your own research and decide for yourself whether the information you obtained is true or not.

    What the American people fail to realize is that being a president is a 24-hour job with little breaks. The stuff broadcasted in the media only shows about one third of what actions the President takes to help run the country. I agree with the statement that something is always going on. This is why we have state and local governments setup just for the simple fact that the president cannot be everywhere at once. He has many responsibilities dealing with foreign affairs, the military, making policies, and etc. People find it easier to blame the President for something he had no control over.

  7. I completely agree with this article. If you look at any president in history, check out their picture before office and picture at the end of their time in office. They usually look a hot mess. Dealing with everything a president has to is unthinkable. I can barely get through a day of class even if i'm just sitting there doing nothing all day. If i had the stress of knowing one wrong move could boot be out of office, blow of the nation, or create anarchy in the U.S. I would need some time to clear my mind to, probably a lot. The presidents, whether hated or loved, try their best to please the American people, but they honestly can't control what happens in the world. If Al Qaeda wants to blow up a part of America at some random point in time, that isn't Obama's fault or Bush's fault. They can only react to what's happening. It also doesn't help that the second a president messes up, the other party is their to point out what they did wrong and why they're such a bad president. If both parties would try and work together at least on some issues, our nation would be a lot better off instead of getting caught in gridlocks every 2-4 years. I think it would be great if the parties could work things through together, so that whoever is in office isn't necessarily controlling everything, it's just more of a the person who signs everything in together after it's been agreed to by all parties. Our nation could benefit a lot from some real truth and get things done.

  8. I agree with the blog, I would never want to be President of the United States. Thank goodness there are individuals out there that have the determination and desire to serve in that capacity. The presidency appears to be a thankless job. A large percentage of the population is always in disagreement with your decisions. Often, during a president’s tenure, they are one of the most disliked people in the world. One of the most negative things is that every decision is analyzed and scrutinized by the media
    I agree with the blog that the media is to blame for a lot of the negativity and bad press. In my opinion, the media and its interpretation of events is more to blame for the negativity about the president then the decisions that the president actually makes. The distortion of the news and the focus on “shiny objects” as the blog calls it is simply bad for the country. It promotes divisiveness and hatred. I have two strong opinions in relation to the presidency: 1) you don’t have the right to complain about the elected official unless you exercise your right to vote and 2) once the election is over and the Presidency has been won, no matter what your political party, the President should be respected and supported. As I already pointed out, it is not an easy job and not one that many people would want let alone would be successful in.

  9. Ben Gagnon
    In my opinion, much of the political polarization of today can be traced back to the tradition of negative advertising. This tradition makes people of one party despise the candidates of another party. This is the main reason why I do not agree with negative advertising. If someone who I trust tells me that the other candidate will destroy the economy, or if they are not morally stable then how will I react if they win the election and take the seat in the government?
    The general population of the United States have a very difficult time remembering that our leaders are people too. I find this phenomenon to be a little backwards. It seems like in the past, people were able to see the president as a representation of them. Now, even though we have more instantaneous media and we are able to see more of what the President is up to, but it seems like we are more disconnected than ever

  10. I thought this article brings up some really good points relating to the way we view the presidency. It's so easy to place all of our nation's shortcomings on our President, when in reality, many of the issues in our society are a long time in the making. It is good to keep the points you mentioned in mind when we begin to criticize the president for an action or supposed inaction. Being the President of the U.S. is an extremely taxing job, that comes with endless responsibilites.

    One thing that this article also highlights that also happens to be the biggest thing I am taking away from this course, is the prescence of a motive behind everything in politics. Before taking this class, I had already known that some people have a general distaste for our government, or governement in general, but I really didn't understand. Now I see that, like you said, it really is just a giant game, with constantly shifting "winners". The point you make about how politics as we know it would collapse if Americans were truly knowledgeable about the complexities and context of issues in our world today is very poignant.

  11. I am in total agreement with this article that “Presidents, just like us, need to clear their heads”. It is true that due to partisanship people view a President of the opposite party with subtle hatred and forget that they are simply people like us. But it is also true that media feeds such minds with more ambiguity and “half-truth” to preserve the perspective of hate for the other party. It also makes the news more spicy and interesting for the viewer. Like the article states it is also a result of “partisan and divisive game used by many politicians, candidates, and polarizing news radio or television pundits”. But it only damages the image of a President and also encourages dispute amongst the people when we treat a President merely as a “celebrity” of the other party and not someone we entrusted our general safety upon.

    I also agree that the "bumper sticker sized" method of “playing these divisive games” is very dangerous since they use the technique of ambiguity and hide the complete truth. I believe this is a very effectively damaging technique because in today’s time short statements are what people are used to because of texting, twittering, etc. and therefore they believe in “sound bites” without giving a further thought.

    Overall I admire this post because it discusses a very vital topic and reminds us to look at a President, who is constantly under public scrutiny, with more empathy and understanding. I especially agree with all the enumerated points to “think about” at the end of the article. Yes Presidents are burdened with enormous responsibilities and they do have the right to spend time with family or take a vacation. What should matter is what the President did to tackle a crisis and the aftermath, not what the President was doing when the crisis just began. I also like the fact that the author points out to the “silly” expectations people have, like the President should not be raising funds for their party. It is absurd to have unrealistic expectations of a President who won the election due to the fact that they belonged to a party in the first place.

  12. Most American are too quick to blame the president when tragic events occur. Even though our president is powerful he still has limited power that many fail to realize. When President Bush did not run out of the classroom on September 11th, 2001 many Americans say him as weak and thought he did not care. I think he handled the news the way it should be handled. He calmly finished reading to the children then he left. I think presidents need vacations just as anyone else. When they go on vacation I'm sure they are still working.

    The President has a stressful job. Everyone of them looks as if they have aged tremendously by the end of their term. I believe in freedom of speech but sometimes the media can put too much emphasis on the President's vacation time that viewers get the wrong perception of what the president is doing.

    I do not agree with President Obama and The First Lady going on talk shows. I know with today's technology the Obama's were the first to use different channels to reach younger voters. I think it has taken them from "The First Family" status to celebrities.

  13. This is exactly why people need to always have an eye on politics. We can't rely on our one favorite partisan news outlet and base political opinions off the information we get there. It's almost our duty as voters and constituents to stay well informed on the actions of our representatives and be able to make well-informed judgements on the jobs they are doing, good or bad. We even have an advantage today over voters from years past since presidents have started to "go public" with their opinions and actions. We know more today about the happenings in Washington than American voters ever have. Sure, even the president uses his words to manipulate our opinions to a certain extent, but there's no better source for the public to judge the president on than what comes straight out of his mouth. Americans need to learn to broaden the way they gain knowledge about politics. "Bumper sticker" slogans are a great example of how easy it is for the public to be manipulated by even just one word from Washington. President Obama's slogan "Change" implied that he was passionate about change and he was going to work hard to make a lot of changes which sounds great. It's our duty thought to dig deeper and investigate what changes he wants to make, how he plans to make them, and what his track record for passing legislation is like. We can't allow ourselves to be tricked by a word as simple as "change" or by any one-sided political news outlet.

  14. 1. In my opinion the blog have some great point, because during the 2008 presidential campaign I was inspired by President Obama with idea of “Change” to society. I really never paid much attention to politics until the 2008 presidential campaign, so I paid cost attention to what was being said by each candidate. Some of the commercial took me for loop and I was stocked by some of the things that was being put out on the air waves from the candidates. We live in a world where people complain about the smallest things. So what President Obama or President Bush took vacations. They are human just as you and I! Even Superman need days off sometimes. Being president is a very stressful a job, and there are a lot of things that being taking care of behind closed doors that the average person have no idea is going, Instead of fussing the President about taking a vacation or attending a fund raising function let’s give them praise for the hard work they do every day. I would never want to be President in a million years, because for every 10 people that supports you and happy with you work there is 20 or 30 people complaining about something you didn’t do correctly in their eyes

  15. 1. In my opinion the blog have some great point, because during the 2008 presidential campaign I was inspired by President Obama with idea of “Change” to society. I really never paid much attention to politics until the 2008 presidential campaign, so I paid cost attention to what was being said by each candidate. Some of the commercial took me for loop and I was stocked by some of the things that was being put out on the air waves from the candidates. We live in a world where people complain about the smallest things. So what President Obama or President Bush took vacations. They are human just as you and I! Even Superman need days off sometimes. Being president is a very stressful a job, and there are a lot of things that being taking care of behind closed doors that the average person have no idea is going, Instead of fussing the President about taking a vacation or attending a fund raising function let’s give them praise for the hard work they do every day. I would never want to be President in a million years, because for every 10 people that supports you and happy with you work there is 20 or 30 people complaining about something you didn’t do correctly in their eyes

  16. First of all, I agree it (the rhetoric) is a game played because too many people are under-informed and uneducated. It is easy to have a divisive effect when the language used is inflammatory because it will undoubtedly offend someone. It is a game from which many have learned to benefit by using fear tactics to shift voters to their way of thinking. Secondly, I agree with the “bumper sticker” mentality. In this era of fast and furious information, we expect to receive our data in small amounts and rapidly. In general we don’t want the intricate details just the headlines. One of my favorite sayings to describe this phenomenon is: “Don’t confuse me with the facts, I’ve made up my mind”. We need to stop allowing the media to hold the keys to our knowledge and dig deeper into the facts by conducting our own research through reliable and multiple sources before making decision and before regurgitating the same nonsense.

    I am so happy that it is not required of me to be the President nor any other political figure. They are terribly hard jobs, I am quite sure, and ones for which I would not take if they were given to me. It is hard to imagine that the President can truly be on vacation at any time. He may be on the golf course, or somewhere else that can be portrayed as a vacation, but he probably does not have a moment when he is actually away from the job nor away from the responsibilities of his office, nor the prying eyes of the insatiable media. We should all respect the enormous burden that job places on its holder, as is evidenced by the rapidly graying hair of each and every person to have ever held the position. Further we, as a country, need to realize that moments like President Bush’s response to 911 were not only appropriate but exactly what we, and that class of children, needed in order to remain as calm as possible.

    Can you imagine how the media would have portrayed it had he screamed and ran out of the room? Our leaders always need to take a moment to mull over situations before jumping into action. This is a lesson we all need to learn when reading bumper stickers, headlines on our news feeds and hearing sound-bites from politicians and the media. Make your own rules and quite playing someone’s game.

  17. Since I do not have cable television, I miss out on most of the mud-slinging of presidential candidates. I figure this is a good thing, because when I do see public opinion on social media, or random pictures with exaggerated finger pointing I know it is no different than the cheap celebrity news magazines which sit next to the grocery store check-out line.
    I will say that this article drew my attention to the pretty much unlimited vacation days a president can take. How interesting it would be if members of Congress and the Presidents were held to the same standards as the millions of Americans who only accrue 2 weeks of vacation a year (10 days). Sure their job is tough, but have you ever worked in one of the automobile factories in northern Indiana? Or how about a call center for companies that are open 24 hours a day 7 days a week, like Verizon, Bank of America, or GEICO? Working in a call center, you are being monitored every minute of the day, including bathroom breaks and how many minutes you were "logged out" for lunch. Not only do they deal with the angry public, but they deal with being micro-managed with only a 5 day vacation to look forward to each year. The factory workers I know do not accrue vacation days. Instead they get laid off for two weeks during Christmas, which means no money. When they are working, they are being yelled at all day to move faster by line supervisors, and they work in metal buildings with little or no heating and cooling.
    Our leaders should challenge themselves to work as hard as the people who put them in office. If the average American only gets to take 2 vacations a year, this is the standard I would set for myself as President. Besides, it's only a 4 year gig and then they are retired (in luxury) for the rest of their lives.

  18. Excellent article. I am a fan of neither of these presidents to be completely honest, but I could not agree more that people use reasons such as a picture to sway their opinion, and not things such as the economy, or bank bail out. Presidents in this century are under so much more scrutiny because of social media, and most of the time it is just people seeking "click shock" so to speak, they have a grossly exaggerated headline, then you read it and almost feel stupid for visiting the site. As I have mentioned, I believe both of these presidents had some great qualities, however both had made very many mistakes, as a veteran part of me loves the patriotism of George Bush, and this very reason is part of why I dislike our current president who attended the funeral of Michael Brown, but not many of those fallen regardless of how high of a rank. But these are in fact the opportunities that the media jumps on, for example just the other day during a press conference Obama said "we need to ramp up our training of ISIL forces", we all understand he didn't mean that. But this sort of Gaffe, that once went unnoticed is plastered all over the place, trying to portray him as an idiot, when infact he misspoke, like many people do.
    The reality is that social media, and the internet has really made people create celebrities out of politicians, not politicians trying to become celebrities, in my opinion at least. We focus to much on the small things, and forget that there are real issues. We should know presidents most probably don't intend to do harm to our nation, regardless of if we believe their policies are destructive. Hopefully one day we will learn to just see the issues, and debate based off facts, instead of talking points and photo shoots.

  19. I could not imagine being in the shoes of the President. It would be more stressful then any words can describe. Every President makes mistakes and they all have their good and bad days. Due to all the social media we have in our generation it makes it even more difficult for Presidents to remain sane. I believe that both of the Presidents possess great qualities. In this article I want to reference the line "A Time to Kill" I never thought of switching the Presidents political views up. For example, Imaging that President Obama had views of a Republican or imaging President Bush as a Democrat. It's incredible to think that the Presidents have to manage so many things in their daily lives. That we could not even imagine doing half the things and dealing with all the stress they deal with on a daily basis. Yes, as it states in the article that they decided to be in that position. That is exactly right but someone has to do it, and I would want someone that knows what there doing to run this country.

    Presidents might not always make the decisions we would personally agree with, but we have to put trust in that they know what there doing. That person is the President of the United States for a reason and not just any random person can wake up and decide to run for office. I am glad it is not required of me to be in that position. I enjoy politics but I want to be able to have a normal life with my family, and not have to worry about every little thing I do. I also agree with the statement "when it comes to politicians or party you are socialized to automatically hate" in our society we are subject to just despise the other party and not accept them and give them a chance. We need to be well educated so we can formulate our own opinions and put an end to this automatic hatred.

  20. Not only informing about how the candidates use the game of manipulation, this article also points out bias that people have toward a certain political party or president. Even before reading this article, I understand that politicians use media and other techniques to get the voters’ supports. Though the information provided on the news is not completely true, it is partially based on some aspects of the truth. It is true that the presidents are great and amazing enough to stand up and lead the country. It is stressful to be the president of a nation because presidency comes with sleepless nights of work, extensive travels, personal sacrifice, and responsibilities. The president always tries to improve the situations, but unexpected things happen, and sometimes he is unable to control it because he is just a human like every single one of us. Instead of blaming the president and the opposing party because they are misinformed, people should consider the problem and see both sides of the decision that the president or politicians made.

  21. It is true that media plays huge role in our subconscious mind regarding the politics and current news. Even if some are just not into politics, they are still nonetheless receiving political agendas through so called "celebrity" in media. According to the article, those messages are composed of simple and stimulating contents such as short text, photographs or political scandals for examples. It is interesting that article mentions President's vacation or an attendance in fundraising event as a method of play for distraction. I never thought those actions as a strategy for distracting people away from the issues. I agree that those can be more intersting to viewers than just numbers and figures about the President. However, as the article also mentions, there are always people who criticize for such actions in the midst of the national crisis. (I also agree that the national crisis can never stop.)
    Those eight points directly struck me because I myself also have been accepting the media's play too easily. When it comes to critics, it is always too easy to denounce than to acknowledge, especially when the target is in the opposite party. I think it is important to acknowledge that the president is the representative of the country and have a belief in him/her.

  22. According to this article, the author points out the politician’s game. The politicians used manipulation in their ads to help get people’s attention before taking election such as television, radio, and newspapers. How does this game effect opponents? Millions of people are watching television, listening to radios and reading newspapers. The main reason of advertising is to make people of one party “dumb down” the candidates of another party. This would also lead people to believe that what the candidates said would be wrong. How can you believe all this advertising?
    In my opinion, we can watch television, listen to the radio, and read the newspaper, but we should be considering that people are human, including the president. Everyone has a time limit of their own private lives: time for family and time for jobs. Most people are spending time at work more than spending with their family or their own private time. I believe that the president is spending his time on his job more than with his family. The president job is very challenging. No one can be able to change the country in just one night or one month. We should give time to the president to approve his message, but if he cannot do like he promised, so we can be able to decide who will be the next president.

  23. It is very easy to get sucked into the rhetoric that news outlets feed us. I personally cannot listen to most talk radio or watch Fox News because of how conservative it is but, as the book showed, most other networks are more liberal. While I agree more with what they say, they still have a political agenda. I feel like I am more susceptible to the distraction method, rather than the dumbing down method. I usually end up researching things that have been dumbed down because often they have been so dumbed down they don’t make sense anymore.
    While I identify as a liberal, I will defend Bush for the 9/11 reading to children. He probably did need a few minutes to wrap his head around the news, but getting up and leaving without explanation in the middle of reading would have been rude and disruptive. If he gave the real reason he was leaving, at best the children would not understand what was going on and at worst, he would scare them.

  24. I honestly feel like every American citizen should read this post. I feel like if everyone understood this and was on the same page about this issue, then presidents would not get as much flack as they do now. At the end of the day Presidents are human beings just like the rest of us who, at the end of the day, have lives OUTSIDE of their job to tend to. People criticize the President more than they show appreciation that they rightfully deserve. The President, by far, has one of the toughest jobs known to man. Running a country seems like a pretty tough job, and I commend anyone who steps up to the plate to take on that job. Although we all might not have the same views as the current president or past presidents, we do, however, owe them credit where it is due. What interests me most about this post is the role that the media plays in today's politics. If more people knew that earlier presidents vacationed during a rough patch, then I'm pretty sure they'd be less judgmental of presidents like Obama. Presidents deserve a break. This topic is so important and it really opened my eyes. I hope more people grasp this concept going forward.

    Morgan Ukaonu

  25. Politicians have a difficult job in that they must convey their policies in a way that grabs the most votes from constituents. To do this many use one liners taken out of context to gain attention. Due to mass media, staying in the headlines keeps your name relevant. I agree with this article in that the public must form their own opinion based on detail. Not a picture or slogan that has little context. I hear people speak on politicians stretching the truth or skewing data to support their agenda. Politicians have agendas that must be met such as fundraising and they have tools to make use of their celebrity. In addition, don’t hate or harshly criticize the president for the one or two things he did not do but instead judge him on the totality of their term. The president has one of the hardest jobs in the country so allow him time to relax.

  26. This post was pretty eye opening. I agree with the above response in saying that every American should read this post because opinions of presidents rely more heavily on their social and moral activities than most of us realize. Aside from carrying out every thing that they must in order to portray what they would believe to be the right way to run a country, they also have to partake in activities that would please the public but are pretty irrelevant to politics and the well-being of our government. President is a tricky role to play. I imagine it becomes quite difficult at times to balance between doing what is truly best for the country and what would truly please the people in order to maintain their general support. The reason that most people are so judgmental and have their focus in the wrong place is because they don't really take the time to think about these kind of things.