Political Science at Huntingdon College
Huntingdon College | Political Science | Courses
PSC 305: Presidency & Congress | PSC 311: Voters, Parties & Elections

Student Notes on Video Documentaries

Revised 6 Dec. 2008, by Dr. Jeremy Lewis

How true to life is this fictionalized account of the campaign trail?

The War Room (Clinton campaign, 1992)
How did a 3rd rank candidate win the presidency in 1992?
Is it feasible to run a campaign openly, with a large group of young people having access?
Must a campaign manager be Machiavellian -- or is there room for ideals?
Introduction: The 1992 Clinton campaign
Begins in New Hampshire, Jan. 1992
Casual attitude in war room, young (20 something) workers, low ranking candidate
War Room is kept in Little Rock, Arkansas, to symbolize candidate is from outside Washington DC
Gennifer Flowers phone call, TV appearance, lover for 12 years
tapes of phone conversation with Bill Clinton, where he questions her about evidence
she claims Clinton told her to deny the truth
Admits Republican party encouraged telling story, and Star paid her
(At that time, for media to pick up story from tabloids was unusual -- formerly normal for quality press to lead the pack.)
Carville pep talk about Republicans attacking previous Democrat campaigns, need to fight back and keep campaign going. Real enemy is Bush team, not media.
Leak of letter from Pentagon about Clinton's draft, protested by Carville
Clinton speaks of Hillary as future most influential first lady
Clinton on night of NH -- "comeback kid", strong second "wins" NH and then South
Gerry Brown in debates turns directly to Clinton, leaves out Tsongas.
Clinton defends wife,
Perot enters race, with slight lead.
[documentary film skips most of primary season]
Democratic convention, New York city
Carville's pep talk
Stan Greenberg pollster, net positive balance for Clinton, Bush negative and Perot even, good 6 point change
Carville keeps focus on Bush as skilled politician, spin room
Gerry Brown fights for a place in debates -- still a spoiler
stage managing posters
state by state count
Perot drops out during Dem convention, saying Dems have revitalized themselves
Acceptance of nomination, speech by Clinton, a place called Hope.
"Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow" campaign song, symptomatic of access to Hollywood talent
Bush speech, Clinton "has been spotted in more places than Elvis"
Carville reacts, President has given acceptance speech without refering to economic policy.
[economy is mired in recession]
TV spot edited, to focus on Bush's broken pledge "Read my Lips, no new taxes"
negotiated editing with Mandy Grunwald, probably in NYC.
first debate with large audience results in polls showing Clinton won, President Bush even below Perot
Debate spin room: Carville and Matalin, spinning to media [and, unable to talk to each other during whole campaign, back into each other in the media crowd]
Campaign becoming cheerful and confident in final month
Phone call of implied blackmail threat, scandalous allegation, in final days.  Stephanopoulos denies allegation.
Elation at impending win.
Victory talk:
Stephanopoulos eulogizes Carville, and highlights the campaign theme Haiku written under "Rules" on the marker board:
Change versus more of the same
don't forget health care
It's the Economy, Stupid!
He says becuase of their win, there will be more jobs [there followed an 8 year boom] and people will pay less for health care [not realized, though health care inflation did taper off].
Carville speaks of the youthful team and the experiment in running the campaign from the war room in Arkansas (rather than Washington).
[A young and inexperienced campaign defeats an experienced VP and President, while surviving "bimbo eruptions"]

CNN video, Al Gore (2000)
Notes by Damian Mayho.

Gore grew up in Washington D.C. and spent his summers in Tennessee on a family farm.

Gore attended private schools and was the captain of the football team.

Went to Harvard were he met his wife Tipper Gore.

Al Gore was very anti war at the time of the Vietnam War. Gore did volunteer for the draft and served a year and nine months as an army journalist and was treated special due to his father being a Senator from Tennesesse.

Gore was discharged to go to graduate school. Work at a Tennesesse paper after Vietnam.

He followed in his father's foot steps  ran and won The House of Representatives seat his father once held.

Very attached to his district

Switched his political positions on many major issues such as abortion and
tobacco. At one time he was Pro-Life and now he is Pro-Choice. Changed his
position about tobacco after losing his sister to lung cancer.

Moved into the Senate a few years later and worked many issues in solitude.

His wife Tipper, 'The Surgeon General of Rock and Roll", published a book in response to lyrics of popular rock and roll music at the time.

Al Gore ran for President but he never knew Jesse Jackson would run and spoil his chances.

Dropped out of the presidency race after a huge New York disappointment.

Family troubles pushed him back into family life.

Bill Clinton asked him to be his Vice-President in 1992. As Vice-President
Gore made a promise with Clinton to be on the inside of the decision making.
Gore was there for every issue.

The two were re-elected in 1996. Al Gore was the focus of a fund raising scandal.

Received the nomination of the Democratic Party for 2000

PBS, The Choice, 2004
George Bush and John Kerry: The Earlier Years
Al Zachos 2004
(Early life skipped.  We begin with 1971.)
Kerry protested the very war that he just finished fighting in.  January 1971, Kerry joined the Winter Soldier Investigation.  It was a confessional of what really happened in Vietnam.  Kerry was eloquent, didn't turn off people, as opposed to most rash, irrational Vietnam Veterans.  The veterans then marched on Washington, Kerry recounts the injustices that he heard at the Convention.  Torn limbs, shooting dogs, and cattle,
There was then a quote of Jack Kennedy, "How do you ask a man, to be the last man to die." Regarding pulling out of Vietnam, explaining that it couldn't be soon enough to pull out of Vietnam.
Kerry threw away his ribbons at a war rally.  250,000 marched and danced and partied at the mall in Washington to protest the war.
John O'Neil said that war crimes weren't part of allied policy.  This is probably a ploy put on by Nixon
O'Neil debated Kerry on war crimes, Kerry said that he took part in Free fire zones and war crimes.

George W. Bush
Murphy Archibald says that Bush didn't talk much about his flight duty.  George lost his flying status and went back to Texas.
Bush then applied for early discharge and enrolled in Harvard business school.
1972-Kerry was going straight into public life, John ran for Congress in Lowell county, Massachussetts, the county was Blue Collar,
and not where Kerry was from.  Kerry actively ran against the war in 1972 and for the economy. 6000 volunteers joined the Kerry
campaign.  They were young and naive but quite earnest.  Local writer in Lowel hated Kerry, Costello was a hard right wing
conservative.  Kerry's lead vanished after that writer did his story, before that Kerry was ahead in the polls 2 to 1.  Very difficult period, he then entered Boston College Law School.

Bush, however, went to Texas w/ his Harvard MBA, looking to make his fortune.  Especially looking into oil.  He started out as a land man, buying rights to oil land, and drilling rights.  He then decided to run for Congress, George met Laura Welch, and married her 3 months later.  All of them were political novices including Laura.  Don Evans, oil man, was his campaign manager.  Bush connected well with the people, even remembered many first names.  He lost by 6 % points, life wasn't going well.  1982, the price of oil began to decline.  George had 2 new responsibiliteis, kids, but then kept drinking and wasn't making much money.  George met a travelling evangelist, and prayed the sinner's prayer.  Bush says he began a new walk of Life.  He quit drinking alcohol.

John Kerry graduated law school.  Had incredible administrative skills.  Kerry was an effective prosecutor, 1982-Kerry ran as Michael Dukakis's lieutenant Governor in Massachussetts.  Julia divorced him around 1985, after 13 months as lieutenant governor, he saw an opening and announced he was running for the senate.  Kerry won handily, and took office in January 1985.

He lobbied for a seat on the Foreign relations committee that he testified 13 years earlier.  Reagan admin. accused Kerry of running own foreign policy.  John spoke to Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega.  Reagan didn't want negotiations, wanted a war.  Kerry was then looked on to be a Communist because Ortega went to Moscow and received communist aid.

W Bush, worked on his father's campaign in 1988, GW was a born again Christian and campaigned for his father against a
reverand.  W. then went to Texas, helped out the Rangers baseball club.  Built a new ballpark and raised sales taxes to pay for it.  He became a partner in the club.  Business man, public face for Rangers franchise, Bush reaped a a profit of 10 million

[continued ... by Jeremy Lewis]

Karl Rove persuaded W. BUsh he could run against Ann Richards for Gov. of TX.  Karen Hughes kept Bush and team on message.  Increased crime attacked by TV ads, despite reduction of real crime figures.  Bush turned questions about his stock holdings into Welfare reform, juvenile justice, education.  Religious fundamentalists targeted for ads showing two homos kissing -- even though irrelevant to governor's campaign.  Aggressive campaign even by TX standards.

Kerry's second marriage to Theresa; first date to VN memorial at night.

Kerry working at time on closing book on Vietnam war, full accounting of MIA.  Demonstrations called "rolling thunder", protestors believed MIAs were stil alive in captivity, and could not be pacified by evidence.  Kerry interviewed 200 witnesses, got DOD to release 1.5M documents, travelled to VN 5 times.  1993 Report with 1,000 pages, unanimous: no compelling reason to believe any MIAs alive today.  Bipartisan commission to Sen. McCain.

Bush bipartisan also, in Governorship working with Democrat legislature.  Bush's warm personality more disarming than his father; though not analytical.  Instead, surrounds himself with staff.  Karla Faye Tucker execution, despite her religiosity and widespread religious support, shows Bush's capability in taking difficult decisions without second guessing.

Kerry faced Gov. Bill Weld in Senate race, 1996, listed legis accomplishments like crime bill that put cops on street; but Weld unable to find many votes to oppose.  Kerry however, frequently over-complicates his two-handed arguments.  Kerry performed better as he reduced his points to essentials, and eventually won the race after 8 debates.

George Shultz invited W. Bush to home to meet leaders on foreign and domestic policy, who impressed them with his "seat of pants" ability.  Money poured in for Bush campaign.  Gov. reached out to evangelical TV program -- an administration "to lift the spirit of America."  Bush was drilled in NH by 19 points by McCain, so took a tougher line in South Carolina "dangerous world demands a sharper sword" to rebuild military.  McCain complained of dirty tricks, and Bob Kerrey corroroborated vicious smear campaigns.  McCain confronted Bush on Larry King's show, but Bush counterrattacked against questioning his own character.

2000 victory in Presidential race with 271 electoral college votes, a narrow win and weak mandate.  W. Bush was expected to govern from center like his father -- but took much more conservative line in first year.  Lehmann: conservatism is the path of maximum ambition for him.

Late May Republican Senator defected, turning control of Senate to Dems.  Senate bogged down after tax cut.
Sep 11, '01 message of day was education, President visiting school and Laura testifying to Congress.  Bush slow to react to 9/11 attacks.

Don Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz brought up an opportunity to attack Iraq, but President and Cheney chose to attack Afghanistan first.  Bush seemingly planned to attack Iraq during term, but not immediately.  BUsh turned fringe position into mainstream: attack Iraq and fix the problem of Saddam Hussein.  Bush, "Final proof could come in form of mushroom cloud."

Sep 11, Kerry saw disaster on TV.  As Senator unable to take action, but agreed with Afghan war.  Skeptical of case for Iraqi war, in Senate speech 2002 -- called for a rationale under international law and with evidence.  Only voted for presidential auth to go to war on basis of last resort -- "risk inflaming an entire region."

Bush declared major combat operations over (on aircraft carrier) but had failed to plan for aftermath.  Continuing violence cost 1,000 Americans in first year, but Bush had no doubts.

Kerry, Bush had "arrogant and inept foreign policy."  Applying lessons of Vietnam war.
Kery takes government very seriously as an exacting profession of service.
Bush more ambitious, wanting to be a transformational conservative president, to leave a bigger footprint.

The Perils of Electronic Voting:
Trust in Paperless Systems Ignores Chances of Fraud, Unforeseen Failure
By Avi Rubin
this page compiled purely for teaching purposes, and this material must not be used for commercial purposes.
San Jose Mercury News | August 8, 2004 | Commentary
Online at www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/news/editorial/9349147.htm?1c [expired, no longer available]

In August 2003, a large portion of the Northeast United States, including all of New York City, suffered a two-day blackout because of a software glitch in one of the power grid control systems.

Last Sunday, thousands of airline passengers on American Airlines and US Airways were stranded in airports across the country because of a software glitch. US Airways was down for two hours; American was down for three. More than 200 flights were canceled. "This has never happened before," said Tim Wagner of American Airlines. "We were unaware that there was the potential for this to happen."

Software glitches are no surprise to computer scientists. Software is highly complex, and large, computerized systems often fail in unexpected ways.

Experienced computer experts cringe at the thought of relying on fully automated systems for critical operations. Nowhere is this more pertinent than in voting.

There is a reason that the vast majority of the computer-science community, the very people who dedicate their lives to pushing the envelope of technology, are in almost uniform opposition to the rapidly growing phenomenon of fully electronic, paperless voting. It is not because the computer-science community has suddenly decided that computers are bad. Rather, those who deal with technology daily know that there are risks associated with electronic systems that are not as apparent to those with less experience.

Even limited exposure to computers, however, gives some appreciation of the dangers. Who hasn't lost data because of corrupt files? Who hasn't experienced a hard-disk failure, or data loss due to an operating-system crash? "Our computers are down; please call back later," is a recognized excuse. We've all heard it.

Unseen failures

When considering voting technologies, it is important to remember that the worst problems we are likely to encounter have probably never been experienced. Advocates for fully electronic, or Direct Recording Electronic, machines say that these systems have never experienced a failure. Unfortunately, regardless of whether this is true, it does not matter. The most horrendous system failures are ones that have never been encountered before.

The question to ask is whether there is a potential for catastrophic breakdown of the system, not whether a particular failure has been experienced. And the answer is that every fully electronic system has that potential.

What happens in the case where the results of an election appear questionable after the fact? Two weeks ago, in Miami-Dade County, Fla., a group of citizens requested copies of the ballot images from the 2002 race for governor where DRE machines were used. The request was prompted by the fact that the number of reported votes was suspiciously lower than the number of people who signed the registers at the polls. At issue was whether the voting machines failed to count some of the votes.

Unfortunately, when officials looked for the data, they discovered that it had been wiped out because of a system crash. For a few days, it seemed that the electronic voting system had faltered. Then, luckily, a CD was found with a copy of the data.

Hidden problems

The lesson from Miami-Dade is not that the CD was found. Rather, it is that electronic data is fragile and easily corrupted or deleted.

When electronic data is lost, it is not always obvious. Electronic data can change with no visible evidence, which is why the disappearance of the data in Florida was so startling. One cannot tell by looking at a hard disk whether it contains any data. Unfortunately, the leading vendors of DREs exacerbate this lack of transparency by refusing to allow inspection of the code that runs inside the machines.

While the airline cancellations last Sunday were inconvenient to many, post-mortem analysis of the system revealed the cause of the failure, and measures were instituted to decrease the likelihood that the problem will repeat. In an election, there is only one chance to get it right, and the stakes are extraordinarily high. If the system fails on Election Day and votes are lost, deleted or counted incorrectly, it may be of little comfort if a flaw is identified later.

The haste to adopt electronic voting in this country resulted from the election debacle in Florida in 2000. Poorly designed butterfly ballots and substandard punch cards with hanging, pregnant and dangling "chad" resulted in disaster.

But the fact that both of these voting techniques involved paper ballots does not mean that all forms of paper ballots are flawed. The ballot design in West Palm Beach in 2000 and the punch-card systems used in other parts of Florida represent the worst of paper ballot technology. They should be criticized.

But we should not compare DRE voting to the worst paper technology. We should compare it to the best. Our choice should be among the finest of each possible technology, and well-designed optically scanned paper ballots should not be discounted because punch cards are bad.

Paper ballots can be stolen, misplaced or burned. But if proper procedures are employed, it is likely to be obvious when something amiss occurs. There are measures that can be taken to protect paper ballots, including poll-worker training, redundant observers and chain-of-custody tracking.

But even the most experienced computer scientist cannot tell by external observation whether a hard disk has failed or whether a file system is corrupted. When problems occur with paper ballots, they affect the election locally. Software glitches in widely used DREs could affect votes cast on all of those machines.

High risk

Logic and accuracy tests are performed on DREs, but no amount of testing can stress the system the way an actual election does.

In November, more than 30 percent of American voters will use DREs. That is more than a threefold increase over any previous election. A full-fledged election involving an unprecedented millions of people casting votes on DREs is at best, a high-stakes experiment.

Furthermore, testing only helps detect certain classes of problems, which do not include foul play. As long as there has been voting, there has been fraud, and fully electronic systems can be manipulated in imperceptible fashion. In addition, manufacturers of DREs are in a position to rig their machines in unpredictable and undetectable ways.

Ballots should not be invisible. Several states, including California, Nevada and Missouri have realized this and moved toward voter-verified paper. These ballots have tremendous benefits over their electronic counterparts. Having tangible, humanly readable ballots that voters verified before casting protects against unexpected computer failures and malicious tampering or rigging. They also allow for recounts in close or controversial elections.

If we ignore the potential for malfunction and corruption in future electronic voting systems, we may end up some day looking back on Florida 2000 with nostalgia.

AVI RUBIN is a professor of computer science and technical director of the Information Security Institute at Johns Hopkins University. He wrote this article for Perspective.

©2004 MercuryNews.com and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.  [expired, no longer available]

Documentary Film, I'm On The Ballot (PBS, circa 2000)
Minor parties are a persistent feature of American politics (several historical examples)

Third parties give alternatives to safe, centrist major parties.
Political legitimacy one vote at a time.  750,000 signatures nationwide and 50 different sets of rules. Green party (Nader) ran low key bid in 1996, but a more visible campaign on economic and labor issues in 2000(?)  "Corporate hucksters" and "child molesters."
Mastercard sued him for parody of their ads.
VP candidate Winona LaDuke a native American from MN, critical of Gore for being fake environmentalist.
McReynolds not claiming chance to win but building a movement.  Pacifist activist from NYC, numerous arrests for nonviolent resistance.
1920 Debs campaigned from jail cell.
Difficulty of distinguishing from communists -- socialists in US actually predate Russian revoution.
Communal ownership platform and limit to CEO salaries.
Libertarians, for individual freedom, opposite of socialists.
"Mind your own business" philosophy.
Need military that defends country but does not take over the world.
Legalize drugs & guns, privatize social security, eliminate income tax.
Scaled down government, radical cuts in defense and end alliances, overseas bases.
Refused public funding on principle.  Private donations limited to $1,000 per donor -- they reject becuase inhibits minor parties from growing.
2000 Bush $90M, far more than Gore -- but third parties much less, unable to compete at national level.
Constitution party opposed to sep of church and state.
Howard Phillips criticizes even Repubs who allow abortion for rape and incest.
Govt does not defend God's creation.
Founded 1992, Phillips only candidate -- others have declined.
Formerly US Taxpayers party -- and name varies with each state.
Natural Law party 'fastest growing on earth',