3-Minute Interview: Joe Tuman

The professor of legal and political communications at San Francisco State University is a frequent political analyst at CBS5 News and a former political speechwriter. The author of several essays that examine the relationship between politics and mass communication, Tuman recently finished his latest book, “Political Communications in American Campaigns,” which he will speak about today at the Commonwealth Club.

As a political analyst, this must be a busy time for you. If I were an accountant, this would be my tax season.

You mention rhetoric as a powerful tool in political campaigns. Why do Americans keep falling for the same political speech? I think being persuaded by rhetoric is like being wooed at a bar. You know what they’re doing, they know what they’re doing, but you’re still flattered by it and every now and then it works.

How is rhetoric being implemented by the current presidential hopefuls? In the primary season, we’re seeing a lot of politicians speaking to their base. The candidates are being very audience-specific. In the general election next fall, I think the message will be a lot broader.

As a speechwriter-turned-political analyst, what has struck you the most about political campaigns? Campaigns are very much a competition, a game. If the end result is all that matters, then anything is fair game, as long as it’s technically not illegal.

What does the current election mean for Americans? I think unlike any of the recent races, this election is about restoring pride to this country. I think Americans are aware of how they’re viewed negatively around the world, and how that ties back in many ways to 9/11.

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