[eDebate] Gov. Palin is a formidable adversary
Fri Sep 12 14:11:59 CDT 2008
I've read all the political posts with great interest. I hesitate to
wade into this. but here goes.
it does seem to me that the slate article, which was posted a couple of
posts ago, I did visit at the website, Ms. Dahlia Lithwick, by titling
it "How to Debate a Girl and Win", clearly has stumbled once again into
the seemingly endless void of sexism and sexist attacks by surrogates,
notably left-wing women, that have seen Sen. Obama's support among white
women plummit more than twenty points during the last two weeks, seen
his ten point lead over Sen. McCain evaporate and instead turn into a
small but comfortable lead for McCain, and many other unfavorable
polling results for the now-Dukakis like nominee, who had he gotten into
a tank and ridden around as proof of his foreign policy credentials
could not have done more damage to himself in the last two weeks. Of
course, as yogi berra or casey stengel once said, it ain't over til it's
over and there's a long way to go.
No one on this webpage would have referred to Greta Stahl of Michigan
State, an NDT winner this past decade, or Rebecca Tushnet, who got to
NDT finals three times in the 1990s for Harvard, as "girls" you had to
debate and win. To the contrary, they were formidable adversaries. And
you wouldn't beat them just by closing your eyes and "pretending they
were a man" as Ms. Lithwick ridiculously suggests.
Gov. Palin, for all her virtues and vices, is trained in communications
studies from a major university, which means she has the same training
that virtually all of the debating coaches on this website offer their
graduate students at their communications departments. Her oratorical,
rhetorical and speaking skills, not to mention debating and public forum
debate skills, are as much the result of academic training as they are
practice from several years of small town politics and Alaskan state
politics. In short, she's got the same training that many of our
academic colleagues have.
I've only watched her on television, but she seems to know her speeches
/by heart/ (indicating a good memory) and she also appears to
/extemporize/ rather spontaenously and well, adjusting each stump speech
to the audience she is in front of. These are the mnemonic and
rhetorical devices of a skilled and practiced speaker and debater, I
think we'd all agree. She's far from wooden at the platform, had good
control of her non-verbal gestures, and she maintains good eye contact
with the audience and with the camera. She slows her cadence down at
key points of the speech, and she also utilizes the bible, quoting the
cadence of Ecclesiastes "a time for war, a time for peace" in key places
of her speech, which is language easily picked up by evangelicals.
Indeed, a large portion of her speech has meta-language which is easily
recognizable, and picked up by, evangelical christians and those who
attend church or read the bible frequently.
Lincoln also used the bible effectively in his speeches, as did
Reagan won the 1980 election by /beating/ Jimmy Carter in the debate the
week before the election was held. The memorable line, "there you go
again" was a winner, and the undecideds broke heavily for Reagan the
weekend before election tuesdays in 1980. That was the election which
ushered in the modern Republican era.
This is important to remember. The Republicans have been winning
Presidential elections, Congression elections and Senate elections by
/winning debates/ and by their use of /superior rhetorical and
When the Democrats come up with a better speaker, as they did with
President Bill Clinton, they win a couple of cycles in a row. Sen.
Obama is a fine speaker, and with him, the democrats have a chance to
win, and they were winning, until they started damaging themselves in
the last set of news cycles.
Sen. Biden is a very nice man and I see him on Amtrak all the time.
He's religious, a good catholic and a good family man. But debating is
not his strong point, and he's known for going on too long at times
without saying anything of substance, as we know from the widely
televised Robert Bork and Anita Hill Hearings. Nonetheless I like Sen.
Biden, and I wish him well in this debate.
Imagine you were prepping Biden. What would you do to prepare him for
this debate? Do you agree with Lithwick all Sen. Biden needs to do is
"close his eyes and imagine she's a man"? or does he need to moot his
argument carefully at least five or six times against a female surrogate
and get all his talking points down neatly?
What would you do?
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