The Power of Persuasion

The US presidential debate as seen by Zoë Perry

Having spent a year at a high school in Seattle, I have seen many of Obama’s famous speeches. I was only sixteen back then but I still remember being very impressed by the eloquent way he addressed the people. However, after watching the first TV-debate between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama I felt disappointed and frustrated by his performance.

Romney seemed like he really enjoyed being in Denver while Obama wasn’t present in the moment.

Obama sometimes made breaks in the middle of his sentences and for a moment one had the impression that he had forgotten his actual point. Obama seemed distracted and exhausted, leaning on his lectern while Romney was standing upright throughout the whole debate, using mimic and gesture to underline his points.

The result was that even though Romney didn’t have very solid arguments, he brought them forward in a way that made you listen to him. If you didn’t concentrate very hard, you weren’t even realizing that Romney talked only about his goals and not about actual plans on how he wants to reach them. On the other hand you had Obama, using a lot of time to explain how he wants to achieve what he’s aiming for but talking in a way that made you think that not even he believes this is possible. During the entire debate, I waited for Obama to go on the offensive, but this just didn’t happen.
However, this was only the first debate. One could argue that Obama can still catch up in the next debate, which is on October 16th.  Personally, thought, I am not so sure this will happen because the real issue is that, let’s face it, this debate wasn’t the only time Obama failed to outrival Romney. It actually crystallized an important mistake Obama has made all along during his term of office. He always remained charming and calm while trying to convince the Republicans of his reforms. At the same time, the tea-party tried out everything possible to derail his attempts. How could he not realize that the tea-party would never ever be convinced by his arguments? That their priority would only be to get rid of this president, no matter what it takes?
Obama failed to make clear that he is the president and that he will not let anyone else tell him what he can or can’t do. He was in the best position one could be to actually make a change, but he wasn’t able to show that he is the boss. Yes, he was always kind and well-tempered, but this is not enough if you want to score a victory over the Republican Party.

Only a month ago I was convinced that Obama would win against Romney, who only went from one PR-disaster to the next. But after last week’s debate, I realized that Romney actually has serious chances to win the elections on November 6th because Obama is stuck on the defensive. After all, who would vote a man for president who doesn’t even seem to have faith in himself?

Photo courtesy of NPR.com

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One thought on “The Power of Persuasion”

  1. Those running for a second term will usually be on the defensive. Romney can accuse Obama of so many things not because he himself could have done better, but simply because he’s not had the chance of making any mistakes as a president. Obama’s performance was indeed weak and, given Romney’s foreign policies, it would be better for him to be re-elected. A major problem of the Obama campaign, and the democrats in general for that matter, is the assumption of the level of political literacy of the average american. Romney appeals to ideals, unattainable ones most of the times, and Obama appeals to “fairness”. Obama’s problem is that he tries to make too much sense. Unfortunately of the 67 million reported viewers of the debate only a small part of them change their minds after the debates. They see the debates more as a beauty contest in which they choose which candidate “sounds” or speaks nicer. I echo your fears(?) that Obama might not have as much a chance as he had, unless Romney does a series of stupid things, which I suspect he’ll not given the spotlight given to him by his performance in the debate!

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