Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

The Gravitas Gap

The polls are starting to trickle in, but I have yet to get a clear view as to how the moderates/independents viewed the debate last evening. The common line seems to be that Cheney won on substance, and that Edwards had the edge on style. I think that this may be wrong. This seems to have been a debate in which style and substance came together. Cheney was relentless in showing the errors of Edwards statements, and he did so with facts. Edwards would say that Cheney wasn’t being honest, but he would then go off on tangents or fail to provide the same kind of factual support. For example, after Cheney pointed out Edwards mistake regarding the $200 billion for the war, Edwards said that the $200 billion figure was right, but offered no support. Cheney by contrast had provided a detailed statement of how much was spent by who on what. Here is where style and substance merge: even if you didn’t know the issues or which candidate was right, the relentless marshaling of facts by Cheney--his style in presenting the substance--made it clear that Cheney was the man on stage and Edwards was the boy-debater. There was, quite simply, a gravitas gap--one which you would expect given that Cheney has a lifetime of public-service experience, compared to Edwards, who has been in public-service only slightly longer than the kid who asks "do you want fries with that" has had his job.

Discussions - 3 Comments

Alt is right. That was possibly the most one-sided debate I have ever seen. Edwards had a couple of talking points that simply did not work, and even after he recognized this, he just kept repeating them anyway. Hats off to Cheney for declining to even rebut some of Edwards’ sillier comments. Cheney is a man among boys, and his repeated punk-slaps on Edwards highlighted an important fact that many in the media seem to have forgotten: leadership is far more than "looking young" or being a "good speaker." It is about substance, and all the substance in this debate was on one side of the table.

Independents in the polls disagreed. They preferred Edwards by a pretty decent margin. PArt of this was driven by an enormous gender gap.

Maybe, maybe not. No one knows for sure, because the CBS "poll" you are referring to had a sample population (178 people) that was far too small to have any statistical reliability. All I know is what I saw, and I saw Cheney throw Edwards a beating that he won’t soon forget.

As for the gender gap, I’m pretty sure that there is not one at all in this election. In fact, I believe that Bush’s popularity among women voters - not merely closing the gap but in fact taking the overall lead - has been the subject of significant media coverage in recent weeks.

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