Sunday, October 03, 2004

Misunderestimating Dubya

Let's not since that appears to be the name of their game.

Man, expectations for Dubya's getting really low. I don't care by how much Kerry 'won'. In the end, the press spin after all the debates are over is what counts, unfortunately.

For perspective, I saw an interesting piece on C-SPAN (and I so 'heart' CSPAN), about debate style based on something by James Fallows. His print piece, written up for the July/August Atlantic Online, was, I hope, required reading for the Kerry people.

If you don't have time to read it, check out at least the first part of the CSPAN piece(go to 'C-SPAN special on the Bush and Kerry debating styles'). The eyeopener for me was the huge change in the Dubya persona speaking style from ten years ago. Guess what? Dubya spoke fluently and rapidly. He sounded smart, crisp and confident. Used long and complex sentences, too, I might add.

Fallows writes that he discussed the change with Lakoff, and Lakoff thought the Dubya speaking style change was deliberate, not pathological. Interesting. But note the conclusion: Dubya's always on message, regardless of how he speaks.

Whatever's going on, I still think the biggest mistake for the Kerry camp, as well as for us, the blog echo chamber, is to misunderestimate Dubya and his team.

As a reminder of that, something in Sunday's LAT really jarred my senses. LAT's listed short summaries of swing state debate coverage. In some cases, surprisingly negative, but overall, geez Louise, what is with all that spin in defense of Dubya? Did we see the same debate or do they live in an alternate universe?

Spin makes a difference. I don't care how many people saw Dubya's smirks.

My inlaws, who claim to be independents, sometimes voting Dem, other times Repub, rely on media analysis (yes, TV talking heads) post-debate for their opinions, no questions asked. So what if Dubya got a few deer-in-the-headlights looks a few times; if big media ignores it, they certainly will ignore it, too. Certainly this is all about that Lakoffian strict father worldview but, unfortunately, I'm afraid this is the way many people have been trained to be, from childhood, from culture, whatever way.