Making the Best out of Your Hook Hand When Running for Senate

In Oregon, one of the 49 states that I am not from, Democratic Senate candidate Steve Novick has released a few campaign ads that cleverly play on two of his attributes that might otherwise be construed as weaknesses, his 4'9" height and his prosthetic hand. A friend forwarded me a link to a Huffington Post blog entry about the ads. I have embedded the actual ads below.

I like to use short videos like these in my rhetoric class to get students talking about basic rhetorical principles, such as how a person develops a particular ethos, and what the ramifications of that ethos might be for various artists.


I love these ads!! They are

I love these ads!! They are really great examples for talking about ethos - so good, in fact, that I will probably use them in my class this coming week. And I'm with Melanie - they definitely win me over.

But to expand on Melanie's point about the effects of Nixon's appearance on voters, I find these particular ads to be good for not only talking about how a person constructs their own ethos but also a place to talk about how audience effects a constructed ethos. So, Nixon lost support because of how he visually presented himself - but also because the American audience found that presentation to be repulsive (or at the very least, off-putting). Novick, on the other hand, aligns his physical differences with characteristics that his Oregonian constituents value (e.g. not like other politicians). So, when I use these in class on Monday I'll first ask my students to talk about Novick's constructed ethos, but then steer the discussion in the direction of audience-held values, and how these affect Novick's presentation of himself.

Shock and awe

I think it's great that Novick is challenging assumptions about what a leader should look like. This actually reminds me of those historic televised debates between Nixon and Kennedy; the election was Nixon's to lose until he took to the airwaves, fluish and sweaty against Kennedy's all-American good looks. Where aesthetics worked against Nixon in that instance, I suspect that Novick is actually endearing himself to Oregonians with those ads. I'd vote for him.

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