Guest Host Blogger Jennifer Lorenzo: More on the Debates (Additions to Odium at the Podium)
How the candidates address one another. Michael Dukakis, in his 1988 debates with George H. W. Bush, almost always referred to the latter as "Mr. Vice President" while Bush referred to Dukakis only as "my opponent." Can't recall Bush addressing Dukakis by his name or his title as governor. Dukakis, while socially correct, inadvertently reminded the viewer of Bush having something of an exalted title. Bush intentionally belittled Dukakis as being virtually nameless.
Undue familiarity. Joe Biden is using Kathleen Sebelius as a stand-in for Sarah Palin during his debate prep. How will Joe's tone of voice, facial expressions and gestures toward Sarah come across to the viewer? Will he talk down to her as many maintained George H. W. Bush did to Geraldine Ferraro in their 1984 VP debate? Will he let fly a "You're likable enough, Hillary" -type comment as Barack Obama lobbed to Hillary Clinton during a debate? With Biden's tendency to meander, could be interesting. Mondale and Ferraro hardly touched one another throughout the 1984 campaign. If memory serves, at the conclusion, Walter hugged Geraldine.
Body language. Bush and Dukakis again. Bush appeared more animated and relaxed than Dukakis whose most animated gesture would be to extend his fingers in some sort of mini-hand chop.
Body language - hands. John F. Kennedy has retired the title as being the most effective hand chop user out there.
Podium height. John Kerry, at 6'4," was significantly taller than George W. Bush, height estimated at 5'9" or thereabouts. While Kerry looked fine at the podium height used for their first 2004 debate, Bush appeared dwarfed. The podium heights were adjusted for subsequent debates.
Helping out the other guy. Dukakis and Bush, again. As I recall, their first debate was held on September 7, 1988. Bush began his remarks by referencing Pearl Harbor Day (December 7). Dukakis politely corrected him about the date. Bush proceeded without acknowledging Dukakis. Can't recall whether Carter was so disposed to help Ford when, as noted in your column, he misidentified Poland's government.
So-o-o-o, we await the '08 debates. Provided, of course, that Johnny Mac has a note from Mr. Paulson that he can come out and play.