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Spoons nails it

I was working so I missed the debate (but boy I think from the descriptions, I might have to watch it on the TiVo.)

Apparently Spoons and John Edward's mother were the only two people in the country who thought Edward's won... And rumor has it Cheney had to be rushed back to his undisclosed location because Mamma Edward's had her umbrella out and was last seen running out the door scream something about that big bully picking on her boy.

Anyway, Spoons makes a point I've tried to a number of times but he say it so well, it is worth, repeating/discussing:

...it may be why I'm in such stark disagreement with most of the blogosphere and professional pundits.

Look at it this way: If you're a pundit, or a blogger, or even an avid blog reader, then you're in about the top 1% of the most politically informed people in the country. You have a familiary with the issues that is borderline irrational. You've seen the different positions taken by the candidates over time. You're aware of their flip-flops. You know the context surrounding their arguments. You understand why the facile answers of an Edwards or a Kerry are full of shit.

Well, I've got news for you: you're not the target audience.

The average voter barely knows anything about the candidates or the issues. This is especially true of the undecideds, a group bizarrely lauded for their inability to make up their minds.[heh -ed] Someone tuning into the debates to pick a candidate won't know all the different positions Kerry has taken on the war. They won't understand the tax or spending issues the candidates are alluding to. They won't be familiar with the obstructionism of our European "allies," and the futility of relying on the U.N. They won't know that John Kerry saw the same intelligence the Bush Administration did, and that Kerry advocated unilateral U.S. military action against Iraq when Clinton was President. They won't know these or a couple dozen other things that you and I have read about for the past six months.

So, when I watch a debate like this, the question I ask is, which of the candidates is doing a better job of persuading the blank-slate voter who comes to the table without all of the background information that you and I take for [g]ranted.

Forget for a second that the only one in the blogosphere that agreed with Spoons was Andrew Sullivan. (dude, I'm sorry for rubbing it in.)

The point he makes is spot on. The debates aren't aimed at us and in someways, even ignoring inherent partisan bias, we are not the best people in the world to pick the winner.

There was a study done that I don't remember enough about to find a link on but it was after the first Bush/Clinton debate. They had 3 groups of people. The first group watched the debate on T.V., the second group listened to an audio recording and the third read a transcript.

The people who saw the debate said something like 60/40 Clinton won. The people who listened to the debate called it a draw and the people who read a transcript call it 60/40 in Bush's favor.

What was one of the reasons given by the T.V. viewers as to why they picked Clinton? Because George Bush Sr. looked at his watch.

I don't know where clock-watching ranks on your list of requirements for a President. It doesn't even make my list. But that one act made a big difference the perceived winner of that "debate." They aren't about issues as much as image.

I'm not saying that everyone who says Cheney mopped the floor with him is wrong, just that Spoons' point is well taken and should be considered when these events are view in the future.

BTW He gives a perfect example from the Bush/Kerry debate. Go read it.


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Comments (21)

Well if body language messa... (Below threshold)

Well if body language messages are so important then I think Edwards did himself no favors by constantly pointing at Cheney and his arched eyebrow, snotty look really started to make him look condescending and disrespectful. Or so says my wife who up until a few weeks ago really disliked Bush and was considering voting for Kerry. Believe it or not after last night she made up her mind to go with Bush. My take on it can be found here: http://www.meckz.net/archives/000349.php

Kerry won. Cheney won. What... (Below threshold)
Rodney Dill:

Kerry won. Cheney won. What's disturbing to me is the emphasis not on substance, but on who has the best debating presence. From the previous administration everyone knows that verbal eloquence and charisma are not good indicators of competence and strength as a leader. Yet, the media, and many people go along proclaiming winners and loser based on debating skills.

If you could actually believe that Kerry was somehow going to act differently than he has for the last 30 years and that he has a plan with actual substance to achieve what he says he would do, then he may actually be the best candidate. This is a huge if as his credibility and track record are sorely lacking.

What we need now is "Queer ... (Below threshold)

What we need now is "Queer Eye for the Candidate Guy". It'd be about as relevent.

Spoons premise is probably ... (Below threshold)
ctob:

Spoons premise is probably right but his conclusion is wrong. Cheney bitch slapped edwards t least 3 times. Doesn't matter what the issues were. In the dissing the allied Edwards actually flinched. No matter how hard core pacficist you are, when someone bitch slaps you and you don't respond well you look week.

If you listen to the pundits they give the win in the same terms not issues but overall impressions. I personally think edwards did well but the lasting impression is one of a couple spnksings.

Scrappleface nailed it this... (Below threshold)
Steve L.:

Scrappleface nailed it this morning:

VP Debate Ends: Viewers Eager to Learn Who Won

Edwards lost on the issues ... (Below threshold)
Dead Parrot:

Edwards lost on the issues and on style, which is the only thing that stupid undecided voters are able to assess considering that they don't have political knowledge.

Steve L,Scrapplefa... (Below threshold)
Ari:

Steve L,

Scrappleface was funny, as usual. Within that parody of post-debate spin and polling was a brilliant line:

" ...commentators from the major news networks and CBS"

Thanks to Danny Boy, CBS is becoming minor league.

In the defense of Chaney no... (Below threshold)

In the defense of Chaney not remembering Edwards.

Whn a fellow hasn't done a thing to be recognized who will recognize him?

Example:

During the Dole/Kemp Campaign my wife and I attended two rallies. I met and shook hands with Bo Derek.... Now it was a big deal for us. I'll bet that if you were to give that woman truth serum she would not remember us.

I talked to some friends to... (Below threshold)
Neil:

I talked to some friends today who are still undecided. They all thought that Edwards won.

Who won? - do what Cheny sa... (Below threshold)

Who won? - do what Cheny said, go to factcheck.com

That would be <a href="http... (Below threshold)
Rodney Dill:

That would be factcheck.org not the Kerry flunky drivel at the .com site.

I understand where spoons i... (Below threshold)
Willie:

I understand where spoons is coming from and agree. The political aware amongst us knows what we need to see done and Cheney did it. The average voter is not well informed so Edwards went after their votes. What is more important though, is the media, all forms, say who won and for the next three days or so they will repeat who the winner was. This is why I think Cheney won. The electorate will hear that repeated and the undecided and uninformed will go with the winner.

Kevin, (and Spoons) the poi... (Below threshold)

Kevin, (and Spoons) the point is well taken. And on the basis laid out, Cheney mopped up the floor with Edwards. Edwards' side of the debate sounded like "I'm rubber, you're glue". Edwards had the negative mannerisms this time. My wife finds him "goofy looking" and very annoying. If I was a know-nothing voter, I certainly would not want to put John Edwards in the White House on the basis of that debate.

What happens in the VP deba... (Below threshold)
Neil:

What happens in the VP debates means next to nothing. Mostly VPs have to demonstrate that they can walk and chew gum at the same time. Remember, the presidential debates resume Friday. What happens then is much more important. Let's hope the President decides to show up this time.

Cheney was powerfull, he w... (Below threshold)
postit:

Cheney was powerfull, he wiped the floor with Bush!

That's the conclusion most undecideds are likely to take from last nights debate.

I forget who said it, and ... (Below threshold)
Steel Turman:

I forget who said it, and I know most 'voters' are
not savvy .... BUT NEVER under-estimate the intelligence of the American voter.

Win the battle, lose the wa... (Below threshold)
Rance:

Win the battle, lose the war?

Cheney actually came out and said "I have not suggested there's a connection between Iraq and 9/11"

Don't you think that little statement is going to show up on TV, over and over and over?

Kind of like your inanities... (Below threshold)

Kind of like your inanities in these comment threads, Rance?

There is a flaw in your the... (Below threshold)
bains:

There is a flaw in your theory. If one is unaware of the context enveloping the contest, unaware of even the most rudimentary political history, and watches the entire debate, most likely, they will need a pundit to explain what just happend, why it happened, and its significance. More probably, they'll either just surf on by in their ignorant bliss, or already have a viceral horse in the race.

dehydrate... (Below threshold)

dehydrate

dehydrate... (Below threshold)

dehydrate




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