These and similar poems may be enoughnto maintain her place in Americannpoetry. Still, there are too many whichnare either embarrassingly confessional ornsimply cmde, as “The Jesus Papers,” innwhich Christ is, among other things, annOedipal buffoon.nAll fine poets occasionally write badly,nsome more than others, and mostnhave sometimes indulged in autobiography.nIn almost all cases the final judgmentnon their work is made in terms ofnConsultative DemocracynLarry J. Sabato: The Rise of PoliticalnConsultants: New Ways of WinningnElections; Basic Books; New York.nby Mark G. MichaelsennA he culture of a society is perhapsnbest measured by the tools its membersnuse to go about the business of everydaynlife. The tools which mark modernnAmerican culmre are those of advancedncommunications: the telephone, the television,nthe computer. Ours is an informationnage, and advanced communicationsntechnologies permeate everything—fromncommerce to education,nfrom entertainment to medicine. Itnshould come as no surprise, then, thatnthe postwar technological revolution affectsnAmerican politics. Since a candidatenmay lack the expertise necessary tonwield the new weapons effectively,npolitical image-making, polling andnfund-raising now require the services ofnspecialists—the political consultants. Sabato’snstudy focuses on these figures behindnthe modern candidate and carefullynexamines the role of the media consultant,nthe pollster and the direct-mailnspecialist.nHimself a campaign veteran of somennote, Sabato writes knowledgeably andnMr. Michaelsen is director of communicationsnfor the Fiscal Policy Council innWashington, D.C.nthe quality of introspections into thenhuman condition and rarely upon theirnpersonal misfortunes. Plath and Sextonnare indeed distinguished poets, but theirnworth must be predicated on somethingnother than the severed artery and thenlacerated heart. But given the fascinationnof late 20th-century culture with violencenand perversity, this is not likely to happennsoon. Later, perhaps, they will benproperly categorized as able verbalizersnofsterile night thoughts. Dnlucidly. In the course of his research, heninterviewed dozens of leading consultants,njournalists and scholars familiarnwith the trade and viewed hours ofnpolitical advertising footage. The result isna thorough study of the origins and refinementsnof modern campaign technology,ngenerously sprinkled withnquotes (both amusing and horrifying)nfrom the cognoscenti and examples ofnsome of the best and worst of political advertising.nNotably scarce, however, arenthe views of politicians—and not withoutnreason: the author claims that his discussionsnwith a former President andnother elected officials proved fruitless.n”At first I was astounded at how littlencandidates knew about either the mennand women they had hired at great costnor the tools of the consultant’s trade,”nwrites Sabato, “but in retrospect this isnless surprising. The new campaign technologynis more complex than ever before,nand an understanding of it requiresnspecialized training and experience thatnmost candidates simply have not had.”nIn other words, a candidate must putnever-greater trust in his specialists, anpoint Sabato makes frequently.nIt is Sabato’s contention that the risenof political consultants has hastened thendecline of the democratic process and traditionalnparty politics, although he admitsnthat the demise of party identificationnwas under way well before the adventnof the specialists. Consultants havennntraded on and hastened that decline bynwaging “personality cult” campaigns,ntypically portraying the candidate asnfiercely aloof from the influence of thenonce-notorious party bosses. The skillsnneeded to wage a winning campaign arenseen to be possessed less by party leadersnthan by mercenary, nonaligned specialists.nSabato fears that consultants havenbecome preselectors in the electoral process.nTheir skills may appear so vital thatna candidate who is unable to secure theirnservices may be unwilling even to mn.nAnd as a consultant’s services do notncome cheap—a typical bill may runn$100,000 per election—several possiblencandidates are immediately excluded.nM ore chilling is the effect of the consultantnon the electorate. Political advertisingnincreasingly takes on all the characteristicsnof Madison Avenue, offeringnvoters not the vital information necessarynto make responsible, informed choices,nbut concentrating instead on attractivenimages and simplistic bumper-stickernslogans. Polling becomes more than anmere demographic exercise; its findingsnserve also to shape opinions. Direct-mailncampaigns often appeal to the emotions,ndiscouraging rational discussion of complexnissues. Then there are negative advertisementsnthat are designed not tonpush a candidate but to sully his opponent.nThe combined effect is to influencenvoter behavior through bombast rathernthan fostering enlightened electoralnchoices.nEqually disturbing is the consultants’npostelectoral influence on the candidates.nIt augurs ill for democratic governmentnwhen an official’s closest circle ofnadvisers consists of professional imagemakersnand public policy becomes a matternmore of form than of substance.nPatrick Cadell and Gerald Rafshoon ofnthe Carter White House were prominentnexamples of that phenomenon.nOabato does not consider all politicalnconsultants a low and unscmpulous lot;nindeed, many are highly principled andneven more claim to be. Yet in an era ofnNovember 1982n