Democratic theory mandates that candidates be judged on the basis of policy initiatives and professional capabilities. In reality, gaffes on the campaign trail too often replace substance as the criteria used to assess qualifications, especially in an era when a smart phone video clip can go viral in a matter of minutes. At times gaffes do represent character flaws or reveal significant personal shortcomings. As many a modern presidential candidate has discovered, an innocent slip of the tongue can quickly become a fatal mistake.
Combining humor and wisdom, this timely volume examines how presidential campaigns can—and often have—become undone by an unguarded comment, an unintentional misrepresentation, or an unwise initiative.
Almost every politician has occasionally misspoken, sometimes with disastrous effect, sometimes with little effect at all. O.O.P.S.: Observing Our Politicians Stumble: The Worst Candidate Gaffes and Recoveries in Presidential Campaigns observes and analyzes this phenomenon to document why some gaffes prove fatal while others are easily survived.
Combining humor with a thorough knowledge of American politics, author Stephen Frantzich uses detailed vignettes to showcase a wide range of slipups committed by presidential candidates from 1968 through 2008. He looks at what really happened in each case, as well as whether the video and reportage accurately reflected what was said or done. By delving into the reasons the media and the public react to gaffes as they do, this thoroughly entertaining analysis provides fresh insights into the workings of presidential campaigns and the roles of candidates, their handlers, the media, and the voting public, underscoring, among other things, how the media revolution has changed the landscape of presidential campaigns.
• 30 before-and-after polls that illustrate the effect gaffes can have on campaigns, both immediately and over time
• Detailed vignettes placing specific gaffes in their contemporary political and social contexts
• Sidebars and political cartoons that enrich the discussion of particular gaffes
• Presents a nonpartisan, unbiased look at presidential candidates' gaffes from 1968–2008
• Takes a humorous approach to political gaffes, at the same time using empirical data to support serious conclusions and draw lessons about modern politics
• Offers an insider's perspective through reflections of candidates and campaign managers
• Considers candidate missteps in the broader context of the human tendency to seek out the shortcomings of others