Friday, September 26, 2008

And in this corner.....

Who is the Master Debater?

Style and Body Language: I was at a political gathering recently and a woman who was standing near me made a comment regarding Senator Obama, “That man sure knows how to wear a suit.” It is true. Senator Obama always looks freshly pressed. Whether his suit is a several thousand dollar Armani or a J. C. Penney off-the-rack, the man is one sharp dresser. His opponent tends to look a bit wrinkled and frazzled in his suit at times. Although suits don’t win debates there are some traditional manners of dress and body language that are said to influence perception of a candidate. At the first McCain/Obama debate Senator Obama chose a dark suit and a red tie – a power statement and a combination that photographs well. Senator McCain chose a suit a slight shade lighter suit and a striped tie – generally considered to present a washed out look.

In terms of body language, Senator McCain never looked directly at Senator Obama during the entire debate. Obama, however, looked directly into McCain’s eyes for much of the evening. We’re not sure if he saw McCain’s soul, but Senator Obama wins the first two points, for style and for body language. Mississippians might also give him a bonus point for manners. While both candidates sparred over the other’s positions, Obama mentioned several times that his opponent had a valid point, but McCain never responded in kind. Rather he came across at times as crotchety, divisive and demeaning.

Heavyweights fought in lightweight class: The two candidates sparred over some of the expected issues – Iraq, the economy, and Afghanistan. But other issues including Social Security, housing, immigration, and entitlements were barely touched upon or not discussed. Part of the fault must go to moderator Bill Lehrer who at times seemed to let the debate get away from him. Frequently the two candidates appeared to be on the brink of a playground type na-na-na-na-na shouting match and McCain occasionally wandered off in all directions far from the topic as the moderator for the most part sat by quietly.

Round 1: The economy, stupid: Senator Obama won the coin toss and elected to go on offense first as he received the first question. The question was on the economy. Senator Obama took the gloves off and came out swinging and began an aggressive flurry of punches, blaming Senator McCain for the financial crisis and tying him to President Bush. This was a great move given the low popularity ratings of the President. Obama landed another flurry with a quote that failed economic policies were… “a theory that basically says we can shred regulations and consumer protections and give more and more to the most, and somehow prosperity will trickle down.”

Senator McCain fought back bobbing and weaving, avoiding taking the hits directly and spinning the topic to earmarks and accusing Senator Obama of requesting hundreds of millions of dollars in earmarks. He completed his dance by saying that spending in Washington was completely out of control. The next round had McCain trying to sucker punch Obama as naïve (a tactic repeated over and over during the debate) while Obama counterpunched by subtly hinting that McCain was a warmonger. And so the fight continued for a full 15 rounds, back and forth with many of the heavy punches being absent from the ring. When the final bell rang Senator Obama still looked fresh as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford while McCain appeared to be an angry professor who had been passed over for tenure once too often.

The hype leading up to the big fight: The debate at the University of Mississippi had been scheduled for some time. Both candidates agreed to it and the university community had spent millions in preparation. Then the economic collapse happened. A couple of hundred year old investment bank houses became insolvent and the world’s largest insurance company headed for the toilet. Bad real estate so-called “subprime” loans, like so many chickens had come home to roost. The treasury secretary proposed a plan to transfer nearly a trillion dollars from American taxpayers to Wall Street the financiers who had caused the problem. The plan called for no oversight and absolutely no responsibility! The reaction was tumultuous as citizens virtually rioted against the plan and John McCain, who had not had any part in bailout talks, rode into Washington on his white jet, sat in some meetings, and prepared to look presidential as the final plan was announced. He even announced he was “suspending the campaign,” although TV spots continued to run, and he stated that if an agreement was not reached by Friday he would not attend the debate. The move was reminiscent of the Alexander Haig “I’m in charge here” comment after President Reagan was shot. McCain’s strategy proved to be a gaffe as he clearly did not provide needed input on the plan and despite that fact that a plan had not been completed, decided to go to the debate anyhow.

Senator Obama took the opposite tack, announcing that presidential posturing had no place in the financial meltdown. He too came to Washington and stayed close, even attending a hastily called meeting by the president. But he stayed low key, not giving interviews and quietly going about the business at hand. Although the debate had no clear winner – most nonpartisan pundits gave Obama a slight edge and the pre-fight strategy clearly favored Senator Obama over Senator McCain.

This just in: Several items of news happened around the time of the debate. First, Senator Ted Kennedy suffered a mild seizure and was taken to the hospital. Also Washington Mutual Savings and Loan, often referred to as WAMU began to choke, making it the largest banking failure in U.S. banking history. J.P. Morgan rushed in to revive it using the Heimlich maneuver, infusing $ 1.9 billion for WAMU’s $ 301 billion in assets. WAMU recently hired Alan Fishman was booted. His three week stint at WAMU could pay him as much as $ 18 million for three weeks work. That is $ 6 million per week or, if he worked 5 days per week, 12 hours per day, he earned over $ 33,000 per hour or over $ 555 per minute. Nice work if you can get it. NOTE TO ANY BANKING FIRM LOOKING FOR A CEO: I’M AVAILABLE!!!!

A little blogging music Maestro... Pink Floyd singing: “Money.”

Dr. Forgot

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Having a debate (for 1 1/2 hours) with someone, and not ever looking at them, seems to me very very rude and very very odd. Cindy M. must have been mortified that her husband has such bad manners.