PS: Political Science & Politics


Measuring Ideas More Effectively: An Analysis of Bush and Kerry's National Security Speeches

Cheryl  Schonhardt-Bailey  a1
a1 London School of Economics and Political Science

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On Sunday, October 10th, 2004, the New York Times Magazine featured an article with the cover title, “Really, What Does He Think? John Kerry and the Post-9/11 World” (Bai 2004). On the cover of the magazine was a serious-looking photo of Senator Kerry, superimposed with keywords such as “Terrorism,” “Iraq,” “Al Qaeda,” “Multilateralism,” “Nuclear proliferation,” and so on. While the article itself was intriguing, even more intriguing was the magazine's attempt to capture Kerry's core ideas on American national security with the use of keyword graphics—namely, the keywords on the cover, placed in what appeared to be a random order around the photo of Kerry, and the underlining of “John Kerry,” “terrorism,” and “Americans” in the inside title. Catchy graphics, but hardly an accurate depiction of the keywords that might actually represent Kerry's thinking on American national security. And, for all the comparison made in the article itself with President Bush's stance on national security, where were the graphics for George W.? (They did not emerge in the next New York Times Magazine.) The magazine was, nonetheless, making an important point: that words (and the ideas they represent) are emotive—particularly in the highly charged climate of the 2004 presidential campaign. a


a I am grateful for comments and suggestions from Andrew Bailey, Diane Maurice, David Mayhew, and Frances Rosenbluth. I am also grateful to the Georg Walter Leitner Program in International and Comparative Political Economy (Yale Center for International and Area Studies) for funding that initiated this article, and to Mina Moshkeri (LSE Design Unit) for her assistance in preparing the graphs.