February 24, 2017

"What do you think happens to the political sensibilities of young people watching a political discourse like that?'

It's 1992 and Bill Moyers asking his his intellectual panel about the remix video made from George H.W. Bush's "Read my lips: No new taxes." You can watch the video, followed — beginning at 2:11 — by the egg-headed discussion:

I got that over at Reason.com, where Jesse Walker writes:
The publisher of The Hotline replies that the video "debases the process"; the dean of the Annenberg School for Communication calls it an "invitation to cynicism that I think is very unhealthy." And they both go on from there, condemning in advance the entire media landscape of 2017. I'm not sure 1992 has ever felt as distant as it does while I'm watching this.


surfed said...

To put that into perspective: in two years Seinfeld will be a 30 year old tv show.

Michael K said...

A very good discussion of where we are and where we are going if the left does not wake up.

And they won't, as illustrated by the local branch.

David said...


A quarter century has since passed.

Think these intervals:


A hell of a lot can change in 25 years.

TosaGuy said...

I was a "young people" then.

Bill Clinton was all about creating connections to people, policy and ideas didn't matter. They were the means at that moment to creating the connections.

My first vote in an election was for GB in 1988. I thought he was an honorable person and showed great leadership when needed. I was in college in 1992 in a different state and also in the National Guard. I was perplexed at how my fellow students were obsessed that GB seemingly didn't understand a grocery checkout scanner, thinking he was disconnected. In reality, it was a new type of scanner and he was genuinely interested in it. As a soldier I was far more interested in a president able to lead and though the scanner issue was dumb. Ultimately, I didn't care enough to jump through the absentee process to vote (typical college kid) and didn't, the only major election I haven't voted in.

Todd said...

Bush said no new taxes. Dems said "work with us!" "try a little compromise". Bush says OK. He is crucified for it and it became a cudgel to beat him with.

Dems also said do amnesty first and later we will fund the boarder security. Never happened either.

Just two examples (of many) of why Dem politicians can't be trusted.

TosaGuy said...

Clinton would have lost if Ross Perot wasn't around.

That is not to say that the Perot voter would have went away. Perot gained votes for a reason and that reason did not go away, and one could say it was the force that put Trump over the top.

However, the Democrats after four lost elections might have evolved differently without Clinton, who was a temporary political sugar rush that the party needed to support tooth and nail because they fell into a dumb-luck victory and were afraid of losing it again. Probably, the party would have evolved to gain the Perot block (thus retain Congress in 1994) and keep the uber-prog wing at bay.

Once written, twice... said...

Ann, you might laugh, and blithely be dismissive calling it "civility bullshit," but what will things look like in another twenty-five years given this trajectory?

wildswan said...

It certainly was interesting to see that a now prevalent form of comment emerged in 1992. And the description "a visual ad hominem argument" was good. Interesting also that those TV people felt that no one would speak up boldly if they had to face "visual ad hominem" arguments because the voters would not recognize such arguments for what they were. Whereas in this last election we did have someone step up and speak boldly but Trump's speeches included continual analysis of media attempts to bring him and his supporters down by repetitious visual ad hominemism.

And while the Democrats as a group seem to feel that if they just raise the volume and increase the quantity the technique will work its usual devastation on Republicans, voters are actually capable of seeing a man with a message. The message was: the economic situation in the USA and the world has changed since 1945 and we must change the infrastructure of institutions to reflect those changes. The Europeans must pay for their own defense, trade deals must be reexamined, the government must stop regulatory over reach and the US government and the Democrats should show some concern for US citizens.

This last is especially true. Democrats should at least be as concerned about US citizens as they were under Obama for Islamic terrorists. "Don't insult them and do understand that they want jobs" - that's what Obama and the Democrats said about ISIS and others who throw gays off buildings, enslave in Darfur, and burn surrendered enemy soldiers alive in cages. So "Don't insult them and do understand that they want jobs" is the minimum level of courtesy and understanding Democrats should accord to the still more terrible people who [GASP] voted for Trump, despise the media lackeys and see through clever visuals.

The Godfather said...

GHW Bush was a fine man, a good public servant, and a pretty good president, but he was an AWFUL politician.

buwaya said...

Good point, Once...

Consider the extreme popularity of "assault weapons" and consider the (usually) unconscious motivations for accumulating them. People react to what they hear. The final state of all this is likely to be unfortunate.

The other side has had the megaphones and the Wurlitzer these thirty years. The civility bullshit comes when, after all that, they demand the civility they never offered.

Once written, twice... said...

The comparison between Obama and Trump in the examples they set about the importance of civility is quite stark. It is sad that Ann prefers the Trump approach.

buwaya said...

Trump offers the quality of candor.
Obama offered the qualities of passive-aggression and condescension, while leaving the open viciousness to his proxies and allies.

Michael K said...

Bush was twice taken in by Democrats. I continue to believe that Rostenkowski extracted a promise to increase taxes to buy the Democrats' votes for Gulf War I.

Second, George Mitchell blocked a capital Gains tax cut to bring on the recession that sunk Bush. It was already over when Clinton took office but it was enough to give Perot a hold on the electorate and kill Bush,

Bad Lieutenant said...

buwaya said...
Trump offers the quality of candor.
Obama offered the qualities of passive-aggression and condescension, while leaving the open viciousness to his proxies and allies.

2/24/17, 11:10 AM

This, a thousand times this. If you were a woman I'd marry you. Got any hot nubile female relatives?

Bob Ellison said...

"giant sucking sound" is my strongest memory from the '92 election. Perot was correct, but not about who sucked the most.

Crazy Jane said...

The high-minded discussion looks like something out of an ancient time capsule.

OTOH, our political campaigns historically have been short of couth.

A thought experiment: Would the same commenters have reacted similarly in 1964 when LBJ's campaign ran the little-girl-and-flowers ad that ended with the mushroom cloud and the subtle suggestion that a President Goldwater would be sure to start a nuclear war?

exhelodrvr1 said...

"The comparison between Obama and Trump in the examples they set about the importance of civility "

You mean like telling his supporters to "get in their faces" of their opponents, telling Hispanics to vote against their enemies, "I won", "bitterly clinging", praising "the Chicago Way", etc.? Obama was a condescending prick, who promoted a lack of civility. Probably still is and does. Trump is abrasive, but is also civil, despite the best efforts of the Demo-media crowd.

boycat said...

Bush's one term was eventful: Noriega and the invasion of Panama, the Clarence Thomas hearings, Desert Shield and Desert Storm, blowing chunks on the Japanese Prime Minister. People seem to forget in the runup to 1992 Bush was seen as invincible, so the Democrat heavy hitters stayed out of the race deferring to '96, and Bill Clinton was a unkown, almost lightweight gadfly candidate, not given a snowball's chance, merely propped up to take the landslide loss that Mondale took in 1984. Meanwhile, Bush, who rode into office in '88 in the afterglow of Reagan, turned out to be NOT like Reagan, but instead was the quintessential establishment country club Republican who was not trusted or liked by conservatives, who in the election either stayed home and sat on their hands or went with Perot. Bill Clinton benefited mightily from all that.

Robert Cook said...

"The high-minded discussion looks like something out of an ancient time capsule."

Moyers conducted all his discussions in such manner up until he retired his program a couple of years ago.

Michael K said...

when LBJ's campaign ran the little-girl-and-flowers ad

That ad was run once on TV, if that (I forget if it ever ran) and was mostly repeated by the media as "news stories" not as an ad.

What boycat said.

Sebastian said...

Sure, standards of public discourse have changed. But civility was civility bullshit a long time ago, i.e., not genuinely valued self-restraint and mutual respect for the sake of social cooperation and some imagined public good--but instead a strictly instrumental insistence that the other guy shut up while your side can do whatever it likes. FDR and Truman and JFK and LBJ and WJC and BHO didn't practice "civility."

Yancey Ward said...

Reagan's biggest mistake was taking Bush as the VP in 1980. I think Bush was a very decent man, but he was a lousy politician. And that video, unfortunately, was effective because it was largely true.

People who say Perot cost Bush the election are completely correct, but if Bush had been a better politician, Perot doesn't run.

William Chadwick said...

Pious Parson Bill Moyers would have preferred an ad in which Bush drops an atomic bomb on a little girl picking flowers in a field.

gnome said...

Two great lines from that election Ross Perot :"I'm all ears" (if someone has a solution to that problem), and
Bush : "Read my lips!" We have an riddle here in the deepest south - how can you tell if a pollie is lying? His lips are moving!

cubanbob said...

Bubba ran as a conservative. So much so that he hurried back to execute a retard to establish his bona fides. The foolish voters thought there was such a thing as a conservative Democrat. They wised up a bit when the Congress went Republican in 1994.

rcocean said...

"Reagan's biggest mistake was taking Bush as the VP in 1980. I think Bush was a very decent man, but he was a lousy politician. And that video, unfortunately, was effective because it was largely true."

Sorry, I never bought the "decent man" stuff. Bush-I was a liar and a knave. He pretended to be Reagan Part II, when he was always Gerald Ford Part II. He said "read my lips, no new taxes" and raised taxes. He promised to give us more Scalia's and gave us Souter. He wimped out in 1992, and looked at watch rather than debate Clinton. Politics and dealing with "the people" was beneath him. He wanted to be POTUS, said anything to boobs that would get him elected, and like Redford in "The Candidate" asked "well, what do I do now?".

Reagan should have made him Secretary of State. That's what he was born to be. Not POTUS.

rcocean said...

Bush-I always thought there were two parts of being POTUS. First part, campaigning. This is where you told the boobs anything you had to, in order to get elected. Second part, governing. That's where you ignored anything you told the boobs, and ran the country in accordance with whatever the DC elite wanted.

Like I said. A liar and a knave. But no doubt a nice guy on a personal level.