Yesterday, on our drive home, we listened to the C-SPAN rebroadcast of the vice presidential debate. Being up north and out of TV broadcast range, we hadn’t seen the debate live or heard any of the post-debate spin.
It was odd to hear a political debate rather than to see it, as if we had been hurled 50 years back in time to 1960. And, as legend says was the case for the first Kennedy-Nixon debate that year, the visual TV medium apparently created a different perception of the Biden-Ryan debate than did the aural radio experience. Because we were just listening, we didn’t see Vice President Biden’s facial expressions and physical gestures that have been the subject of so much talk.
We could, however, hear the Vice President’s chuckles, ejaculations, and interruptions. At times the cross-talk made it impossible to understand what anyone was saying. I’m not sure politicians fully appreciate how annoying it is when they try to talk over each other, whether it’s during a debate or on a Sunday morning talk show. It’s not persuasive, either; instead, the interjections make it seem like you believe you can’t afford to let your opponent finish his point. That seems more like weakness than vigorous advocacy. When lawyers present an oral argument, they argue their case, listen to their opponent’s position, and then present a rebuttal — without interruptions or attempts to monopolize the microphone. Why can’t politicians show the same courtesy?
Other than the irksome disruptions, incidentally, I thought the debate seemed evenly matched. Biden showed more passion, Ryan showed more precision, but each side got through their talking points and sounded their themes. My radio review would score the vice-presidential debate a toss-up.