Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Debate: Pictures trump Words.

As the Fonz used to say, "I was wr-wr-wr-wr..." 

I was mildly disappointed by Sen. Obama's performance in the debate last night. Yes, Obama landed a few: mocking McCain for his "bomb Iran" ditty; unleashing a flurry of "You were wrong about..." jabs on Iraq; tying McCain to Bush.

But I was looking to him for more harder hits against Sen. McCain and fewer "John is absolutely right" interjections. I worried that McCain's theme line of "You just don't understand..." would resonate with the viewers. Whle I thought that Obama carried the early rounds, McCain came on stronger and stronger as the debate wore on.

In affect, it looked to me like the smart guy vs. the strong guy. And I feared the public would opt for the strong guy.

But then I saw this tweet fly by on Twitter's mesmerizing new election site
knowalott ... he didn't look obama in the eye. not once. he wouldn't look him in the eye, and as a southern boy, I can't accept that.
Hmm... I remembered what my college chum, Jeffrey Bell, once told me about the Nixon-Kennedy debates. Jeff had been attending school in Switzerland. In 1960 their only access to the debates was by radio. He said everyone at his school was sure that Nixon had won. They were astonished to read in the news that for TV viewers, Kennedy had won. Pictures trumped words.

Debate Clip circulated by Democrats

What did last night's pictures show?

At one podium: an old man, showing contempt and disrespect by not deigning to look at his rival. An old man whose troweled-on pasty-white makeup and botox combined to make him less lifelike than a Disneyland audioanimatronic robot. An old man whose fixed smile conveyed intense disdain. An old man who responded to his opponent with a dismissive chuckle. Chris Matthews boiled it down to "troll-like" and "grouchy."

At the other podium: a young man, poised, informed, centered, calm, courteous, and focused.

Early polling and focus groups say Obama won.
CBS/Knowledge Networks polled 500 uncommitted voters. 39% Obama, 24% McCain, 37% tie.
CNN/Opinion Research Corp polled 524 adult Americans who watched the debate: 51% Obama, 38% McCain.
Focus groups conducted by Frank Luntz (Republican) and Stan Greenberg (Democrat) also gave the nod to Obama.

Mickeleh's Take: Gore lost his first debate when the only things people could remember were his eye-rolling and the heavy sighs. This year, the lasting impression will be McCain's contempuous affect. Wanna bet that tonight's SNL sketch cements the McCain affect as in our memories.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

ok, we've now seen the young, poised, informed, centered, calm, courteous, and focused Obama. Now I want to see the fired up, passionate, don't-take-no-BS, Obama.

That's the change people are wanting. That's what got him this far.

Instead of mumbling off-camera "that's not true John", I think many americans would appreciate Obama taking John on directly. Look directly at the american public (the camera) and tell people that John is lying, and this is the kind of deceit we shouldn't put up with anymore.