Monday, September 24, 2012

Tori Noble's The War Room Review


  1. Tori did a fantastic job conveying the theme of The War Room. From my understanding, the theme appeared to be the significance and impact of the “behind-the scenes” strategists/campaign workers as it pertained to Clinton’s campaign from the democratic primaries to his eventual defeat of incumbent George H.W. Bush. Tori particularly pointed out that many of Clinton’s policies, speeches, and overall campaign redirection were the brainchildren of James Carville and George Stephanopoulus, two of his chief strategists. She pointed out that these people are paid professionals who give a campaign “teeth” and traction and really shape the candidate’s views and policies. Although the film exclusively followed the Clinton campaign, Tori points out that the importance of these workers is universal to all presidential campaigns.
    The pacing of the broadcast made it easy to follow and listen to. There were really no awkward pauses to speak of. Additionally, volume was fine—I could hear Tori perfectly. Tori appeared to have her points prepared ahead of time, and the broadcast definitely had a point by point structure that made it easy to follow. She seemed to know what she was talking about, and the white background and the pleasant appearance (hair done) were nice stylistic touches.
    Another thing, Tori seemed to not only comprehend what she was watching, but also could pick out and analyze certain themes and apply them to what we were learning in class. This made the video especially informative. For example, she discussed the whole idea of Americans not worrying so much about a candidate’s gaffs, as long as the facts of the campaign are solid. She related this to a scene in the War Room in which a woman comes forward claiming she and Clinton had an affair. She explains how this was mostly glossed over by voters and made the point that the public connected more with facts about his stances on the economy than his sexual life.
    Yet another effective argument she made was the influence of the presidential campaign on the media. She brought up how campaign workers, in this case Carville, would feed information to the press in order to positively benefit their own campaign. For example, Carville got his hands on footage of yards of Bush campaign signs being printed in Brazil. Carville made sure that the news got hold of the story to make Bush appear anti “made-in-America.”
    An additional argument she brought up was the whole idea of presidential campaigns promising the public things and the positive effect it has on polls for them. The example she used was Carville coming up with the whole “Don’t Forget Healthcare” Clinton mantra.
    The broadcast definitely made the film appear interesting, especially considering were nearing a presidential election. It gave an insight into presidential campaigns that’s not usually highlighted. I particularly liked the idea of the president’s ideas oftentimes not being his own. Instead there are paid professionals hired to craft them.
    Tori pinpointed a weakness of the film to be its glossing over of Ross Perot and his effect on the election as a whole. Although it touched Clinton reaching out to Perot supporters as a “New Democrat,” Tori said there was little to no background info on Perot’s candidacy and his positions. This was a glaring weakness considering his candidacy arguably helped propel Clinton into the White House.
    One final thing I’d like to point out was how she explained the title of the movie. She pointed out that these professionals who are paid to get people elected focus group everything and run them all through a committee. This committee for the Clinton campaign met in the “War Room.”

  2. Part 1: Part1: Overall, Tori did an excellent job with this vlog. It’s clear that she is very knowledgeable about the importance of campaigns. After watching this vlog, the main premise of this documentary appears to pertain to the Clinton campaign in a broad sense. Obviously the “Clinton Era” of American history was particularly turbulent and controversial, but the documentary that Tori chose had a specific focus on the “behind the scenes” dimension of the 1996 election. It explored the campaign industry and discussed the necessity of this “industry’s” employees. Tori clearly expressed this main theme throughout her vlog, and offered many specific examples and instances where political professionals affected the outcome of the election.
    I commend Tori for making this entire vlog exclusively her talking to the camera, because for some people this can be daunting from fear of making an incorrect statement. Her volume throughout the vlog was very comprehensible, and she maintained a solid tone of voice that kept the watcher engaged. Further, the fact that Tori chose to put on makeup and do her hair added a very nice stylistic touch and proved to the watchers that she was engaged and cared about her legitimacy. The only criticism that I wanted to make with regard to stylistic points was at times it was very clear that Tori was reading from the screen. The only reason why I mention this is because it sometimes caused her to hiccup or stutter which made comprehensibility difficult (ex. 1:30-1:40). She self-corrected this by the end of her vlog, though, and she talked much more off the cuff as opposed to off the screen. Tori clearly seemed to know what she was talking about especially when she was speaking “off the cuff”, and again, this added to her legitimacy which is very important when viewers see vlogs. Further, Tori’s knowledge of economic policy and monetary usage certainly was evident in her vlog. When she discussed the idea of “New Democrats” she was able to give examples of how Clinton exemplified characteristics of a “New Democrat” as governor in his home state of Arkansas before his ascension to the presidency. Although Tori made a few interesting arguments with regard to economic policy and a desire for bipartisanship in the age of “New Democrats” I want to focus on the arguments that she made that pertain to the “conspiracy theory” behind election processes. Tori talked in great length about how prior to watching this documentary she was ignorant to just how important these political professionals are to the election of an official, and argues that they are almost the pinnacle of ensuring that a nominee turns into a candidate and then into the elected representative and then incumbent. In government class we study the forms of democracy and how every citizen should have his/her voice heard and represented based on the information presented to him/her. But is it necessarily democratic when all of the information that we hear on a particular candidate is put through a strainer and the negative aspects of a candidate are not discussed as much and the positive dimensions are keyed in on?

  3. Part 2: The example Tori gave was that there was a presumptive affair that went on between Clinton and a worker BEFORE his election, but it was undermined by Clinton’s strong economic policy. Obviously I believe that if an elected official cannot remain true to his/her moral standards, they cannot be trusted to run a country (most Americans believed this subsequent to the Monica Lewinksy affair as well, but that was obviously because they had been informed of such an incident via the media). And yes, the media is supposed to be a strong check to our “balanced” system, but Tori makes another argument that even this balance is weighted. The case that the War Room highlighted involved the political professional Carvil. He supposedly fed information to the press in order to positively benefit the Clinton campaign. Somehow Carville had access to footage of yards of Bush campaign signs being printed in Brazil, and Carville was able to use his ties with the media to make sure that President Bush appeared anti American.
    I personally found that the documentary seemed extremely interesting, not only because of this supposed “conspiracy theory” but because of its solid application to real life policy. Currently we are in the midst of a very decisive election, and being cognizant of what really goes on behind the scenes would be extremely valuable knowledge to have. Although Tori discussed some of the weaknesses of the film, including the inherent biases, and the films lack of inclusion of the issue of Ross Perot, I definitely still would love to have the opportunity to watch this documentary. I know personally that Tori works very hard at a campaign center herself, and although she did not mention it, her knowledge of “behind the scenes action” certainly shined through in her vlog and added to her confidence on the subject matter discussed. Overall, great job!