Style Points from the VP Debate


Appearantly the TV talking heads are calling
the VP debate a draw, while the internet pundits on both sides are declaring
their guy the clear winner, not surprising in an event less a debate
than a systematic expostulation and repetition of their platforms,
positions ad talking points. Rather than wade into the deep waters of
policy and positions, we would like to make a few observations on style
and visual impressions.

Which is a valid analytic technique, we feel, in that a
sizable percentage (a majority?) of the viewing public don’t really pay
to, couldn’t understand or simply don’t give a rat’s ass about the content
of the debate.  They are using their eyes and their instincts and
thier gut reactions to ask "Which of these guys do I like? Which of these
guys do I trust?" They
are watching the eyes, readng the gestures, taking in the posture, listening
to the timbre and tone of the voices, using all of the experience and
intuition they have developed over a lifetime of meeting people, to decide
what the two
debaters are all about.

In this arena Edwards showed off the earnest and heartwarming
folkiness he honed during years of addressing jurors in personal injury
lawsuits.  He looked pretty confident and mature, an image he slightly
undermined when he repeatedly picked up the coffee mug he was drinking
out of from the wrong side, leaving the handle sticking out into the air
the opposite side from where he had curled his hand around the ceramic.

However, he laid out his case systematically, appealed to the heart as much as the mind,
a relaxed
grace which
came through
his attentive
tilt of the head and straight but not stiff posture. When he went into
his closing statement looking the audience in the eye and declaring "You
must decide" we got the distinct impression that the riff
was only slightly tailored from the closing statement he must have given
to jurors hundreds of times to personally touch them with the importance
of their role in the process.

Cheney, on the other hand, looked increasingly hot and
bothered.  For one thing, have you ever seen a white guy as completely
white as Dick Cheney? Is he an Abino? He looks as though he was bled dry
while sleeping hanging upside down from the roof of a cave. Who does
his makeup?
Last night he made
Japanese Kabuki actors look like people of color.

Also, what’s up with the shoulder hunching? Like his "boss"
Bush, Cheney looked like he was born without a neck. Is the hunch-shouldered
look the fashion statement of the season among trendy Republicans? It
seemed ironic when Cheney declared that the Iraqui guardsmen were the
ones out there putting their own necks on the line, because his was
nowhere to be seen. At most times it looked as though his ears were resting
on his jacket lapels.

We will leave the verdict on substance to weightier minds,
but in the arena of style (an area in which we modestly claim some expertise)
it seems that Edwards was a clear winner. Yet, as we noted in a previous
, in the area of political impressions, beauty is in the eye of
the beholder.

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