Tonight's Tango: Think Dance, Not Debate

Get ready for Barack and Mac to bust some Clintonian moves
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Oct 7, 2008 11:11 AM CDT
Barack Obama reaches to shake hands with John McCain after their first presidential debate at the University of Mississippi in Oxford, Miss. Friday, Sept. 26, 2008.(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)   (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
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(Newser) – Tonight in Nashville, don’t expect either a real “town hall” format or a true debate, advises Jack Shafer in Slate. We won’t see unvetted questions or reasoned exchanges. What we can expect are some interesting moves, with the candidates taking cues from earlier performances by Bill Clinton, “the living genius of the town-hall format,” who perfected the art of debate choreography.

Clinton maneuvered himself into other candidates’ shots, used “challenging body language,” and faced the camera in an appealing way, a study found, “reinforcing his own oration and ‘invading’ the discourse of others.” Watch agile Barack Obama to see if he busts some Clinton moves; McCain’s “age and war injuries” could make his gestures stilted. “A robot just can't dance with a cat,” Shafer writes.