Political Scientist Berger Says Candidate Photo-ops Are Never A Sure Thing

Alisa Giardinelli

Political Scientist Berger Says
Candidate Photo-ops Are Never A Sure Thing    

by Alisa Giardinelli
04/15/2008

"It's a shame we have to be so careful with every single pose and stance the candidates take," says Assistant Professor of Political Science Benjamin Berger in the Philadelphia Inquirer's story this week on the history of political photo-ops.  In more extensive remarks on the subject, he adds:

Stephanie Nyombayire '08

Assistant Professor of Political Science Benjamin Berger />

 

"Campaign stops and photo-ops are an art rather than a science, and you can never ensure in advance a public relations success. But there are certainly some choices to avoid. It's always a bad idea to pretend that you're someone you're not, because the public can usually smell baloney.

"Remember when Saddam Hussein used one of his human shields, the 5-year-old British boy Stuart Lockwood, as a photo op in 1990? Everyone could tell that the boy looked uncomfortable and even fearful, and Saddam didn't get the positive propaganda that he was looking for. People can usually tell a fraud.

"Barack Obama's trip to the bowling alley was an attempt to show that he's one of the people, that he can relate to people in any environment. Hillary Clinton's appearance at the St. Patrick's Day Parade in Pittsburgh was a 'safe' move, a show of solidarity with the Irish community. She didn't put herself at any risk of looking ridiculous. Joking that she could out-bowl Obama and then trying, and failing, on the 'Ellen Degeneres Show' the other day was not quite so safe."