VP Debate Reactions: Joe Biden’s Pearly Whites
If you were to ask someone on the street what they remember about last week’s debate, most would probably say that Obama “looked tired” and/or was “mumbling” too much. There are very few people who actually remember anything that was said (mostly because of the vacous one-liners). And there’s a reason for this. In the new age of digital media, what you say counts much less than how you present yourself (unless of course you say something earth-shatteringly stupid). As Paul Begala puts it in his 10 Rules for Winning a Debate:
6. The camera is always on. So, by the way, is the microphone. Al Gore had been promised that there would be no reaction shots in his first debate with George W. Bush. That, of course, was wrong. So, while Gore trounced Bush on the issues, the post-debate cut-and-paste jobs caught Gore sighing repeatedly and rolling his eyes endlessly.
Gore was in fact frustrated, perhaps understandably so. But never let ‘em see you sweat — or sigh. No matter what they tell you, the camera (and the microphone) is always on.
One of the most important skills for a debater is knowing what to do when the other candidate is attacking you. Poor Dan Quayle had his famous deer-in-the-headlights moment when Lloyd Bentsen skewered him (“Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy.”)