From Punch Lines to Statesmanship to Ground Warfare: Eagleton Institute's Guest Speakers Cover the Political Gamut

From Punch Lines to Statesmanship to Ground Warfare: Eagleton Institute's Guest Speakers Cover the Political Gamut

Charles E. Cook Jr.

Charles E. Cook Jr.

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – Issues. Analysis. Statesmanship. Humor. The spring semester lineup at Rutgers’ Eagleton Institute of Politics will offer something for political junkies and more casual observers alike. All programs are free and open to the public, but online or phone registration is required.   

For those trying to make sense of the current political scene, Elliott Kalan, a writer for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, will attempt to clarify with “Humor and Politics: How to Write Jokes When the News is Ridiculous.” The Emmy award-winning writer and comedian will bring his perspective to Trayes Hall in the Douglass Campus Center, 100 George Street, Wednesday, Feb. 8, at 7 p.m. Kalan is co-author of Earth: The Book and has contributed to Discover magazine, the New York Public Library and Marvel Comics. He co-produced the Gay Cowboy montage for the 78th Academy Awards.

On a more serious note, former Congressman Patrick Kennedy, a visiting associate at Eagleton, will present “One Mind for Research: The Politics of Advancing Brain Health Research” Thursday, March 8, 7 p.m. at Trayes Hall.

Kennedy, a Democrat, represented Rhode Island for 16 years in the U.S. House of Representatives and is predominantly known as the author and lead sponsor of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008. He is co-founder of the One Mind for Research campaign, the next step in the effort to bring together scientists working in various domains of brain research toward a common goal.      

On March 21, Ira Shapiro will discuss his book, The Last Great Senate: Courage and Statesmanship in Times of Crisis (Public Affairs, 2012), an account of the workings of the U.S. Senate in the late 1970s. Copies will be available for signing at the 6 p.m. program at Wood Lawn, 191 Ryders Lane.

Shapiro is an international trade lawyer in Washington, D.C., and for 12 years held senior staff positions in the Senate, including as minority staff director, chief counsel of the governmental affairs committee and chief of staff to Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV. He was general counsel and ambassador in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative during the Clinton administration.

Inching a bit closer to Election Day, Charles E. Cook Jr., editor and publisher of The Cook Political Report, will give his take on the 2012 political outlook, Thursday, April 5, 7:15 p.m. in Hickman Hall (Room 101), 89 George St.

Cook is widely regarded as one of the nation’s leading authorities on U.S. elections and political trends. He is a political analyst for NBC News, an analyst and writer for the National Journal and CongressDailyAM, and a columnist for the Washington Quarterly.

Finally, for a look at the “trench warfare” conducted by political campaigns, author Rasmus Nielsen will discuss his book, Ground Wars: Personalized Communication in Political Campaigns (Princeton University Press, 2012), Thursday, April 19, 4:30 p.m. at Wood Lawn. Nielsen is a research fellow at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford and an assistant professor at Roskilde University in Denmark.

According to Nielsen, “Political campaigns today are won or lost in the so-called ground war – the strategic deployment of teams of staffers, volunteers and paid part-timers who work the phones and canvass block by block, house by house, voter by voter.” His book provides an in-depth look at two campaigns in the 2008 congressional elections and reveal how personalized political communication is “profoundly influencing electoral outcomes and transforming American democracy.”

To attend any of these programs, call 732-932-9384, ext. 331, or register online at


Media Contact: Steve Manas
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