Posted by bru, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Oct 12, 2012 at 12:07 am
bru is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
The thing I notice now in having seen a long long line of debates since I was a politically interested kid is that the main difference in Republicans and Democratic debate behavior which has become extremely noticeable now is the style and tactics in the debate.
The Republicans use a technique, a neuroscientific tactic to confound and disorient their opponents. Bush used it on Gore, and on Kerry, and Romney used it on Obama even more successfully. Ryan tried it on Biden but Biden fought back.
That is that the Republicans start out with reframing history and then talking so long, usually well into the Democrats time, that they Democrat has to go back and try to refute all the points of this reframe in addition to answering and explaining the question.
This is very clever, and neuroscience calls this effect ego-depletion, it is a very real effect. You can see that as Biden fought back he got less able to hold back his temper, so this is another point the Republicans try for, to goad their rivals into losing it, or expending so much energy in maintaining their composure that they look bad. This debate strategy is dishonest and does not serve the American people at all.
The Democrats on the other hand woefully ignorant of even thinking or looking at this just seem to assume that they have unlimited energy and intelligence to hold their composures and bring facts to bear on the issues. This is why they sometimes come off as arrogant and condescending, because as they try to do this they have no perceptions of the faces they make, the sighs, the grunts, etc.
For a glimpse into some of this read a book by Drew Westen called "The Political Brain" and you might be very interested in how it is that Democrats keep getting tripped up in this things or why Republicans always seem more interested in dancing around the issues being vague, or just seeming like nice guys.
Remember George W. Bush saying all that stuff about being a "uniter", a "compassionate conservative", "not a nation builder" ... all throw-away lines that he just dumped because under President Bush the nation became ever more divided and hostile towards each other. Somehow the Bush was able to call Al Gore a liar and Al Gore never called him on it. Somehow he, a draft-dodger, was able to question John Kerry's distinguished service in Viet Nam and Kerry never stood up for himself, and Romney made similar but more subtle jobs at Obama ... about the five "boys" and hearing lies a lot.
Debate these days is not about informing the public on the issues or the plans the Republican candidate has, it is more about the Republican candidates attempting to prevent the Democrats from being able to articulate their vision. The Democratic candidates for whatever reason seem to always get rope-a-doped into this.
All it really takes for people to have their eyes opened to this and be inoculated from getting sucked into being carried away with emotion is to be told what is happening and what to look for. When people find out just how bad they are being cheated they are must more suspicious and aware ... and apparently that is just what we need in the USA.