Debate Facial-Expressions Prove Bush's Inability to Lead & Kerry's Strength
By Rob Kall
Turn the sound off of the debate and the conclusion you reach could be more powerful than the words conveyed.
The morning after the first debate I got a call from a reporter asking me to evaluate the debate from a "smile " perspective. I 've been teaching doctors, therapists and teachers the anatomy of smiling for almost 20 years and recently wrote an article; Kerry's Smile-Fix is Not Enough; He needs to Show America His Heart and Some Tough Humor This article also discussed Bush 's smirk fix.
You probably already know the short answer to the reporter 's question. Kerry won and Bush lost.
Kerry 's facial expressions clearly showed a confident leader, in charge, in the driver 's seat, occasionally amused, occasionally gently but snidely entertained by Bush 's inept, repetitive failed attempts at intelligent answers.
Bush 's collection of facial grimaces, frowns, smirks, poutings, etc. were so notable the DNC made a video collage of them, like the networks did to Howard Dean, (but the networks gave Bush a pass and didn 't use the hilarious, though pitiful footage. ) Bush 's face fluctuated from irritation, petulance, contempt, impatience, boredom, confusion.
The main thing Bush 's face did not portray was the visage of a man in control --no presidential leadership, no clear-headed attention, no signs that he was on the ball, not even in the ball park.
I 've long said that Bush is a genius --specifically, an interpersonal genius, based on Gardner 's multiple intelligences model, which also includes specific intelligences based on intrapersonal, verbal, mathematical, athletic, musical, and visual-spatial skills.
As an interpersonal genius, Bush is great with people --smooth, likable, a great persuader and salesman. He has great "social smarts. "
But debating, in which social smarts can be a useful tool, requires a deeper smarts toolbox. You have to have intrapersonal intelligence --the abiliy to aware of your own self, to be able to exercise self control of your stress, your face, your emotions, y our body language. This is an important skill to have when you are under pressure. Kerry had it. After the first few minutes, Kerry was cool as a cucumber and you could see it. One caller on C-span observed that Bush drank three and a half glasses of water. Kerry had one sip. Perhaps this was a remnant of Bush 's old drinking habit.
Debating also requires sharp, incisive thinking on your feet, with quick smart responses demonstrating background knowledge, integration of the issues on the table and keen, brilliant judgment. Kerry repeatedly hit the mark and looked like he was, attentionally, there --present, alert, eyes-wide-open.
Bush was massively out-matched here. His interpersonal intelligence is normally adequate to carry him in his shielded, controlled interactions at one-way press conferences and fake Q and A sessions with reporters. But it was inadequate for the debate. Bush almost seemed to collapse, mentally flailing for intelligent, articulate debate replies which were just plain out of his brain 's reach.
The result was frightening to see. He fell into perseverative repetition, like one sees in the behavior of a senile person trying to cover the gaps in his brain functioning. He paused, seemingly digging in his mind, only to come up empty-handed, or headed. He just about totally lost control of his face, or at the least, forgot to be conscious of it and let it "loose" a clear sign that his self control was gone.
Worse, we 've seen this empty-headed George before, sitting with the MY PET GOAT book in his hand, lost, confused, un-responding, for seven minutes after being told the second WTC tower was attacked. Put that moment of helpless immobilization together with his failure to rise to the simple pressure of the debate, not just failure, but collapse, and a pattern emerges of a man who, when faced with pressure freezes up, gets irritated, upset and unable to think.
We 've known George W. is not too bright. But now we know that all the talk about his character and leadership strengths is just another WMD story -- W is a Mess and Distracted. If he can 't hold his own under the pressure of a word-slinging scrape, how can he function at a table of smart, emotionally charged advisors, each pushing their own action plan? It 's clear he can 't integrate ideas and come up with the kind of decisive solutions our nation deserves and expects.
When Dorothy looks behind the curtain, she sees the Great Wizard of Oz is a whimpering blowhard, with no power, no magic. Perhaps it is not too late for Americans to Realize Bush 's true self, and learn that they have the power. Dorothy could tap her heels together. Americans can put one foot in front of the other into the voting booth and magically make Bush disappear.
Rob Kall firstname.lastname@example.org is publisher of progressive news and opinion website www.opednews.com and organizer of cutting edge meetings that bring together world leaders, such as the Winter Brain Meeting and the StoryCon Summit Meeting on the Art, Science and Application of Story This article is copyright Rob Kall and originally published by opednews.com but permission is granted for reprint in print, email, blog or web media so long as this credit paragraph is attached. Over 100 other articles by Rob Kall