T Nation

The Reality of Presidential Debates

As you all know, the first Presidential Debate is tonight. This thread is not to debate “Win of Lose”…but rather to debate “Who do debates really convince”?

Historically, other than perhaps Kennedy/Nixon and Reagan/Modale, I don’t think that the debates sway anyone one way or another. Even THOSE two debates did more to solidify one canidates position than anything else.

My feeling is that the Debates are REALLY for “convincing” the Political Pundits, other politicians and the media. In turn, it’s THESE groups that truly have the power to sway public opinion…or at least “nudge” that person who is truly undecided as they are going into the voting booth.

So…my thought…the Debates are more for those who truly sway public opinion…pundits, politicians and the media.

What are you guys thoughts?

Mufasa

The latest survey shows that up to 20% of voters could be swayed by tonights debate. In a race this close this debate becomes very important.

I also think the potential for a gaffe by either candidate sometimes determines the winner of the debate and the election. For example, in 1976 then President Ford claimed that Eastern Europe was not Soviet dominated. He lost the debate and then went on to lose one of the closest elections in history!

That debate made a big difference. Tonights could as well.

I’m upset at the stipulations that have been placed on the debate – primarily that the candidates can’t ask each other questions. In my opinion, asking questions can be a greater weapon than answering them. Having a third party more or less interview the opponents favors Bush since he’ll know what to expect. Kerry, however, still faces the challenge of being able to articulate his viewpoints and cement them in the minds of Americans.

You’ve gotta love these other stipulations as well:

–2 minute cap on responses – this is Bush’s preference, primarily because he’s able to regurgitate blanket statements in neat soundbytes utilizing catch-phrases, and Kerry tends to be long winded and go into detail. Being brief will certainly be a greater challenge for Kerry.

–Bright flashes of light! – To help drive home the feeling of Kerry’s long-windedness, the Bush camp requests blasts of light upon a candidates violating the 2 minute time cap.

–No invasion of space – candidates cannot approach their opponent. This lack of freedom of movement, I think, favors Kerry, as Bush is considered to come off as more relaxed and comfortable. Moving about on stage – including near his opponenet – would probably benefit him.

Miami is buzzing and we’re ready for action! Hopefully we see the start of a Kerry campaign push toward victory!

Mufasa: I disagree. Last time the debates pundits all had gore as the winner, and yet the public had bush as the winner and it helped him considerably. I think people actually watch the debates and form their own opinions rather than listening to how well someone does in the eyes of the media.

RSU: I think the not moving around helps bush because Kerry is a good 7 inches taller than bush and a comparison between the two makes bush look tiny if they were standing next to each other. So not having them next to each other etc is big.

Bring on the FAKE BAKE.

[quote]biltritewave wrote:

Bring on the FAKE BAKE.

[/quote]

LOL - whoever applied that shit should be fired! Everyone on TV uses that stuff now, but that looked ridiculous. Kerry’s probably been showering vigorously to get it off quicker than usual.

RSU

I did hear a great line: “Kerry went on Orange Alert.”

Some people lament that fact that this isn’t a real debate in which candidates truly engage each other.

I actually prefer it the way that it is. Just as we see on there forums, a ‘debate’ can quickly turn into utter nonsense and ad hominem attacks (I suspect tonight’s debate would look like the JibJab piece if they let a real debate take place).

When that happens, it’s hard to get a feel for what the candidate is about. I like the idea that candidates should have to defend their ideas by answering direct questions, but when that theory met action, I suspect it would not be very informative.

Tonight’s debate will be a series of speeches, which is fine with me.

Drinking game: if you’re a Bush fan, take a drink every time he says ‘evil’; if you are a Kerry man, take a drink every time he says ‘quagmire’.

Or make up your own.

Cheers to you gentlemen - the fact that we can have a debate on television between candidates in a democratic republic is something we should be thankful for. The fact that we can vote while not dodging bullets on the way to the ballot box is something we shouldn’t take for granted.

Let the games begin.

Strong post Thunder,

We should count our blessings and thank our forefathers and current brothers/sisters for making November 2nd possible.

I’d rather have the sour-grapes Democrats crying “recount” than thugs forcing people to vote one way or the other.

The Debate rules are a direct reflection of who the parties chose to hammer out the parameters of the debates.

The Democrats chose Vernon Jordan. I have nothing negative to say about him.

BUT, the Republicans chose, JAMES BAKER!!! The Velvet Hammer.

Whenever something needs to get done, the Bush’s call on James Baker.

Remember the recount?

That man has dignitas oozing from his pores. I think even RSU/Lumpy/DanH/Todd would agree that his is a formidable presence.

The lights shining on the candidates is a master stroke!!! I don’t want to hear John Kerry pontificate to the nth degree anyway. Just answer the question: Yes/No/I Don’t know.

I expect politicians to dodge and deflect to a certain degree. Kerry makes the dodge and weave his trademark.

He’s going to lose.

Therefore, the less time Kerry has to bluster and bubble, the more time we have to hear W. set the agenda for the next four years. In these moments, W. lays out where he will lead us.

I will be watching very closely. I look forward to discussing the President’s vision with you all.

JeffR

Sigh, I’m afraid the debates are going to be about who can make a negative spin stick to the opponent after the debate is over.

This will be reported on in the media over and over until the public believes it… ending up with the persuasion credited to the debate itself.

A couple of days ago on C-Span they were showing Bush’s debate for the governorship of Texas. His strategy was to ignore his opponent and make as best a speech as he possibly can. He won easily that time even though his oponent seemed to have better arguments. I would say Bush can easily win using the same strategy this time. Kerry is much more skilled in debating, but the format of the debates will not allow a long-ass one-on-one stand-off. I’m can’t wait to see which strategy both of them choose. And if Kerry can’t show a decent performance here than the Democrats truly lost any knowledge of how the game is played.

Bush will win by saying "I like your answer to that question a few weeks ago… " :slight_smile:

Seriously, this isn’t a “debate”. It’s scripted.

[quote]thunderbolt23 wrote:

Drinking game: if you’re a Bush fan, take a drink every time he says ‘evil’; if you are a Kerry man, take a drink every time he says ‘quagmire’.

Or make up your own.
[/quote]

If I took a drink every time Bush said “hardwork” I’d be dead of alcohol poisoning before it was half done.

[quote]chrisrock wrote:
Seriously, this isn’t a “debate”. It’s scripted.[/quote]

Someone wrote Bush a shitty script, then!

[quote]KevinKovach wrote:

If I took a drink every time Bush said “hardwork” I’d be dead of alcohol poisoning before it was half done.[/quote]

Excellent! I noticed it as well – he spoke as though he was surprised to find out that the presidency is tough stuff, and the American people ought to know about it (and somehow sympathize)!

RSU,

It’s because Bush hasn’t had a life of hard work like most of the population. I’ll admit Kerry is stinking rich, but at least he’s faced the world first hand and dealt with hard work.

Oh my god, being the president is such hard work, you’d never believe how many hours a day I’m making decisions, damn, it almost cuts into my month long vacations… wauuuugh!

Sorry, couldn’t resist. See the other debate thread for a more balanced review of the debate maybe.

Vroom,

"It’s because Bush hasn’t had a life of hard work like most of the population. I’ll admit Kerry is stinking rich, but at least he’s faced the world first hand and dealt with hard work.

Oh my god, being the president is such hard work, you’d never believe how many hours a day I’m making decisions, damn, it almost cuts into my month long vacations… wauuuugh!

Sorry, couldn’t resist. See the other debate thread for a more balanced review of the debate maybe."

Wow. I think I could eat alphabet soup and shit better criticism of Bush than this.

Not having a “real life filled with hard work” didn’t prevented Bill Clinton from being elected and then reelected!

The debates are worthless. They do not attack real issues. It is nothing more then an emotional battlefield and I don’t believe in making decisions based on emotion. The is no real substance to what either of them are saying. I would have liked to see a third party in there to stir things up and bring some substance to the debate. I would have liked to hear someone speak who is willing to bring home our troops, who wants to end the 100 billion dollar lost war on drugs, who wants to propose fair taxes, who wants to work to better the lives of the american people and reduce the amount of coporate corruption. Someone who is not representing big business. I just think the debate would have been alot more interesting that way.

And one thing I wanted to point out was that whenever Bush was asked a question about the war in “Iraq” he always responded with the war on “Terror”. He always made sure to change the word Iraq to Terror whenever he spoke on the topic and made sure he used the word Terror in the response. I know these are not the same thing. Does Bush think they are the same thing? Is he trying to fool people be using these tactics? The war in Iraq and the war on Terror are two different things. Ask anyone if they think the war in Iraq is a just war (not necessaryily an american, anyone). Ask the same person if the war on Terror is a just war. It will be likely you will get 2 different answers. Sneaky fucker…

Kerry was really loosing me before last night, but with he really showed me that he is much more inteligent than Bush (even if you agree with Bush’s politics you got to admit that he looked kind of dumb last night).

I can’t see how anyone saw Bush coming out on top of this one though.

You know, even if this is a draw, it’s really a win for Kerry because I think this will energize the people like me who were loosing faith/hope.

It looks like it’s going to be a very tight race again.

[quote]ZEB wrote:
Not having a “real life filled with hard work” didn’t prevented Bill Clinton from being elected and then reelected![/quote]

And the difference is when Clinton was in office there were jobs, the economy was good. Under Bush, we went into a war that was unconstitutional (The president does not have the right to decide whether or not our country goes to war, the constitution says the congress decides. The congress cannot grant the president this power, this is because our founding fathers did not want such a major decision left in one mans hands.) We are now in a huge deficit because of this war. And to top it off BUSH WAS ON VACATION OVER 50% OF HIS TERM!. Clinton may not have had a hard life but it least he made it look like he was working and trying to do something for this country as opposed to clearing brush on his texas ranch for OVER 50% OF HIS TERM.

Vroom old buddy…

"Sigh, I’m afraid the debates are going to be about who can make a negative spin stick to the opponent after the debate is over.

This will be reported on in the media over and over until the public believes it… ending up with the persuasion credited to the debate itself."

So by the media saying Kerry won, according to the above statements Kerry simply had more negative “spin” stick? Wich means you really don’t believe any of it? Come on now which is it? ;p

Vegita ~ Prince of all Sayajins