October 17, 2012

Change the Voters Can Believe In

Hatched by Dafydd

I have noticed an interesting response-pattern develop in the most recent debate:

  • Lawyers and journalists who watched this debate were generally disappointed (if on the right), seeing it as a tie at best, more likely a small win for President Barack Obama.

So for your Hinderakers and Mirengoffs, to a lesser extent your Scott Johnsons, and to a greater extent your Beldars. Ditto for your Brit Humes and Charles Krauthammers, and of course for the leftstream media darlings, who sincerely believe their guy won the debate. That is, the adversarial professions, which put a premium on combative argument driven by a need to win, not to accomodate, saw a victory for Obama in yestereve's debate.

(I leave aside those who are more activists than anything else, such as Hugh Hewitt and Sean Hannity.)

  • But those not involved in either the practice of law or the malpractice of journalism -- those historians, doctors, contractors, people who work with their hands, administrative personnel, bankers, and stay at home moms -- they sure look to be responding to Mitt Romney, big time, in this last debate.

Maybe attorneys tend to view a debate as they would a legal argument in court, scoring on specific points and authorities, on argument and who "wins" it, on who can best use objections to keep his opponent's evidence out of the record, and on who does the best job of submitting juror instructions that the judge accepts.

Meanwhile, the rest of us are looking for something very different: We want to see a candidate who can supply genuineness, sincerity, empathy, reassurance, a hopeful vision of the future, and a leaderly demeanor. We don't want glibness, aggression, or menacing body language; we're unimpressed by well-memorized talking points we've heard a hundred times before. We can taste defeatism and faux enthusiasm in a candidate the way you can taste overcooked barbecue even before you bite into it.

I suspect the laity look, more than anything, for nominees with a plan to get from here to there; one that is specific without drifting into the tall grass; plausible without sinking into logical lemmas and ponderous proofs; and gradual enough that we don't have to suffer radical dislocations and the upending of everything we believe into something foreign and frightening.

If I'm correct, then those whose entire professional life is adversarial by nature really are seeing a different debate than those of us whose work or profession is far more about consensus, comity, and agreement than about conflict. (You know, an ordinary workplace.)

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 17, 2012, at the time of 6:22 PM


The following hissed in response by: GW

Interesting observation, Dafydd. I was equally surprised by the many you mentioned who scored it as a victory for Obama.

My own view was that Romney had done extremely well on the economy, and that while Obama was perhaps more aggressive in attacking Romney, he did not effectively defend his record or even come close to convincingly laying out a plan for the next four years. Other than the Libya debacle and a few other small points, Romney gave better than he got. I was left wondering if Krauthammer, Hume, Hinderacker et. al. had watched the same debate that I had. You may well be right that they did.

The above hissed in response by: GW [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 18, 2012 9:23 PM

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