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Those of you who watch the Jon Stewart Show no doubt have noticed how often he and his research staff manage to hang politicians on the irony of contrary statements they’ve made in the past, by digging up vidoe of their previous ironic transgressions. I call this the Jon Stewart Effect. We often enjoy these clips immensly.

But it concerns me more and more that electronic journalism makes it easier and easier to dig up people’s past comments, and use them to make them look inconsistent or dangerous in the present. I see this going on now regarding Chuck Hagel’s potential nomination for Secretary of Defense. The Jon Stewart Effect is a “perfect” example of where the perfect becomes the enemy of the good. We all make mistakes and say and do things we may regret. And we continue to learn from our life experiences. In Hagel’s case, his previous comments on Israel make sense in current terms, but are being taken out of context by those who choose to oppose him.

So, let’s be careful how we use selective clips of people’s previous remarks, made in another time and context. Such electronic wizardry can indeed become an enemy of the good. Howevere, for political comedy purposes, if the Jon Stewart Effect stays on his show, and out of the national news, I’ll have no complaints.

In the Spotlight (from current Bradley University website)

Voter Drive Wins Ebeling PR-ize

From left to right: Chuck Ebeling ’66; seniors Taylor Fisher, Molly Geraghty, Camille Ivy-O’Donnell; Dr. Ron Koperski. Not pictured is senior Morgan Kotars, the winning team’s fourth member.

By Frank Radosevich II
December 14, 2012

Getting high school seniors interested in voting can be none too easy. But it’s an important task that four Bradley seniors tackled this election year with a public relations campaign that drove home the importance of elections to young voters.

The public relation majors—Taylor Fisher, Molly Geraghty, Morgan Kotars and Camille Ivy-O’Donnell—partnered with staff at Peoria Heights High School and Russell’s Cycling and Fitness in Washington, Ill., to organize events for the senior class at the high school on voter literacy and politics.

Their campaign, called “Momentum: The Voting Cycle,” hosted speakers at the high school, ran a mock election, created a voting resource website, had the high school seniors teach younger students about voting and ended with a Tour de Vote trivia race, which celebrated the right to vote with activities and physical fitness.

“It was a different way to teach them and I think students will always respond well to something different,” said Ivy-O’Donnell, who also majors in political science. “We did make it fun.”

Besides increasing voter awareness, their campaign scored another victory when it received the Ebeling PR-ize, awarded to the top senior public relations campaign in the Communication 480 class.

The award was established in 2004 by alumnus and Bradley Centurion Chuck Ebeling ’66 and Dr. Ron Koperski, a professor in the Department of Communication, and challenges seniors to design and implement a public relations campaign centered on a key social issue.

Dr. Koperski, who taught the capstone public relations course, said students gain valuable experience working as a real-life public relations agency.

“The process that they are learning to apply to their campaign is exactly what is done in the real world of public relations,” Dr. Koperski said, noting students follow the same campaign guidelines established by the Public Relations Society of America. “They are learning how to make persuasive cases for ideas and that’s something they’ll have to do out in the real world.”

The semester-long assignment integrates all the skills the students have acquired in their communications curricula and is sponsored Ebeling, who worked in public relations with several major agencies and national corporations before retiring from McDonald’s Corp. as chief spokesman and vice president of corporate communications.

“I feel like I am one step ahead of my peers from other schools,” Geraghty, who is interested in working in corporate public relations, said of the experience. “All of us were able to implement what we learned in class into our real lives.”

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Few think the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) was a bad idea. When a bill was proposed last week to approve a United Nations treaty that would extend the ADA principles to all U.N. nations, with the full endorsement of John Kerry, John McCain and the legendary former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, who came to the Senate floor in his wheel chair to endorse the bill, the Senate, in its wisdom, rejected the bill. Why? Some radicalized right wingers suggested that the bill might somehow undermine the soverignty of the U.S., despite the fact that it was based on U.S. law.

To me, and to most thinking people of moderate intelligence, it’s just more evidence that our current Congress is dysfunctional, and is not effectively governing the country. I worry that the replacement of common sense deal-making by obtrusive demagogery in Congress is at risk of undermining the very stability of our society. Is Congress rejecting a functioning democracy at home and our global leadership role abroad in an attempt to create an isolationist, cowering culture intent on seeing shadows everywhere and seeming to be intent on reliving the Civil War?

It’s time to update our electoral processes, review our Constitution, get the money out of politics and expect our elected officials in Congress and the White House to govern rationally, which is what we elect them to do, right? Now, Senators, that you have embarrassed yourselves again, go home and have a nice Christmas reviewing your generous pension plan.

The Promised Land is not a place you reach.  It’s a place you build.

 

— Allan Goldstein, San Francisco

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