Presidential Debate

September 30th, 2004 · 2 Comments · Writing


Wasn’t the first 15 minutes sensational?

I first started listening to NPR when I was radio surfing in college. I was in Kansas City and radio was, well, limited. Probably a under-funded station, the KC NPR station didn’t have all the slick programming we now enjoy in LA. They mostly broadcasted political forums and it was these debates that hooked me. I was interested in the speakers, lobbyist, professional politicians, pundits and lawyers who spoke like Jedi priests with their perfumed arguments, passion and zeal.

They would make an argument for a school zoning law or a budget line item and I would be convinced. This was clearly the thing to do. Their opponent would follow with an equally intelligent argument that would leave me in a daze.

The spin: part truth and part sport.

Hearing great speakers and in particular hearing great speakers spar is a sensation: the president expertly gliding a casual approach, the senator commanding the room with bravado, the president creating doubt, the senator suggesting confusion. The president never said “Kerry,” favoring “opponent.” The senator never spoke directly to the president, favoring Jim, the moderator (or at least that was my impression listening to it on the radio).

Category: Writing

2 Comments so far ↓

  • Micah

    The funny thing about the standing rules for this debate is that candidates were specifically not allowed to address each other. Although interestingly, they managed to more or less do so in roundabout ways. But the format was essentially like a formal debate, not a repartee.
    Bush’s camp pushed for the little green-yellow-red lights that would signal when time-up was nearing because they were hoping Kerry would get all loquacious and run over the time limit and have an embarrassing flashing red light to distract everybody, but that didn’t happen. Kerry was very disciplined. On the other podium, Bush seemed to struggle with the no-crib-notes requirement, frequently appearing flustered and impatient. A lot of blinking, a lot of emphatic repetition of catchphrases. That contrast is why Kerry “won” this round. Seeing the two side by side is going to help undecided voters a lot, I think. I hope.
    Did anybody hear that short Harry Shearer spot on NPR the other day where he played Kerry preparing for the debates, and someone was “buzzing” (electrocuting?) him to get him to keep his sentences short? That was pretty funny.

  • Murray

    That’s so funny–I missed it.

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