Some people think that etiquette is fine for tea parties, but there's no room for it when important political business has to be done, writes Miss Manners, otherwise known as Judith Martin. "That's not true. The more controversy you have, the more etiquette you need. You need rules and order." The missing ingredient in efforts to improve campaign discourse is a set of agreed-upon norms and standards for behavior.
In this shrewd and amusing series of observations, Stephen Hess provides a political etiquette for campaign behavior on the part of both politicians and journalists. Organized alphabetically under such headings as Advertising, Bias, Cyberpolitics, Disclosure, Families, Lying, Money, Sex Scandals, and Talk Radio, forty-three brief essays examine common practices and places where the system breaks down, then recommend preventive or corrective action through a few clear rules. After discussing the paucity of local television reporting on local and state political campaigns, for example, Hess comments, "the etiquette for local news directors is to ask, 'If we are not reporting local elections, who will?' Then act accordingly." With its broad coverage of campaign-related topics and its sensible suggestions, this book provides a useful corrective for practices that are dishonest, downright illegal, or sometimes just endlessly irksome.
The book features illustrations by some of America's foremost political cartoonists, including Herblock, Jim Borgman, Walt Handelsman, Mike Peters, Wayne Stayskal, and Garry Trudeau.