The Pulse of Politics by James David Barber
Electing Presidents in the Media Age

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Synopsis

Every four years, journalists propel a presidential campaign into the national consciousness. New candidates and issues become features of the political landscape while familiar rituals are reshaped by the unpredictability of personalities and events. Underlying this apparent process of change, however, is a recurrent cycle of political themes and social attitudes, a pulse of politics that locks the process of choosing a president into a predictable pattern. In this bold and brilliant examination of modern presidential politics, James David Barber reveals the dynamics of this cycle and shows how the pattern of drift and reaction may be broken in this most critical of political choices.

Barber probes beneath the surface of campaigns to detect a steady rhythm of major political motifs. The theory he advances in colorful narrative chapters is that three dominant themes-conflict, conscience, conciliation-recur in foreseeable twelve-year cycles. A combative campaign-Truman vs. Dewey in 1948-is followed four years later by a moral crusade-Eisenhower vs. Stevenson in 1952-which in turn is succeeded by a contest to unify the nation-the Eisenhower-Stevenson rematch in 1956. The pattern is then renewed: the fierce combat between Kennedy and Nixon in 1960 was followed in 1964 by the contest of principle between Johnson and Goldwater. In 1968 Richard Nixon defeated Hubert Humphrey by promising to bring the nation together.

Monitoring shifting national political moods is a new elite: the journalists. Barber makes the case that the party system, increasingly clumsy and inflexible, can no longer pick up the beat of politics. Instead it is through newspapers, magazines, and television that the main themes of a campaign are sounded, created, and destroyed. This new edition of The Pulse of Politics provides a timely guide to the themes of the 1992 presidential campaign and to future elections. It will be of special interest to political scientists, historians, media analysts, and journalists.

 

About James David Barber

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Published December 31, 2011 by Transaction Publishers. 353 pages
Genres: Health, Fitness & Dieting, History, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

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Not content to ruminate, like everyone else, on TV and the modern Presidency, Duke political scientist Barber (The Presidential Character) argues that the media in general have critically influenced the whole tenor of Presidential politics since the turn of the century—which is stretching t...

May 03 1980 | Read Full Review of The Pulse of Politics: Electi...
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