Clinton: The Corpus Callosum of Politics

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Neuro-3.jpgIn response to this explanation of why Bill Clinton is good at explaining complex issues clearly, a reader writes:

Reminds me of the Adlai Stevenson story:
A supporter once called out, "Governor Stevenson, all thinking people are for you!" And Adlai Stevenson answered, "That's not enough. I need a majority."
Obama tends to connect to us wonkier people that like math - and have read the CBO reports :-)

Michelle Obama tends to connect with the "feeling" people - she does this wonderfully.

Clinton integrates the two masterfully.  I just love to watch him speak - and realize what an art it is.  He's the corpus callosum of politics - connecting right and left brains together.

And, about my claim that politicians could and should learn from sports-talk radio hosts, another reader writes:

I've begun listening to sports talk radio on my way to work because I cannot bear to listen to the news--even NPR cannot escape the false equivalence trap and I find it depressing.  I am not at all interested in sports--as I was so obsessively when I was a boy.  But I enjoy the calls, the laughs, the passion of everybody on 98.5, The Sports Hub.  And I'm always telling my wife how amazing it is that these people know so much about their sports.  I laugh about it.
 
You are right, though.  Nobody talks down--in fact, the hosts and callers pile on detail after detail, especially here in Massachusetts about the loved/hated/damned poor Red Sox and all their troubles.   I'm going to listen more respectfully now.

Corpus callosum image from here. UPDATE. A reader suggests another area of discourse where we assume the audience to be smart. Thanks to this reader -- and to many, many others whose suggest that any reference beginning "corpus" raises unfortunate unintended imagery concerning Bill Clinton. Assuming the audience here to be smart, and since this is a family-rated magazine site, I will leave it at that.

You contrast sports media with political  media. The other place where the media regularly displays high level reasoning is in high profile court reporting. I first noticed this during the OJ case. Every detail was examined and intricate legal arguments were explored from all sides. The media assumed that their viewers were intelligent enough to follow the discussion, and more important, were interested enough to care about all the details. I don't see this anywhere in the media coverage of political issues.
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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.
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