Everything Language and Grammar

Presidential Debate–Contrast in Style

Posted by languageandgrammar on September 26, 2008

The first presidential debate just ended, and we at languageandgrammar.com want to join the ranks of millions of bloggers who are currently penning posts about who won the debate.

It’s our opinion that the difference between the two candidates is as stark as it’s been between any two candidates in the history of the United States. We’re not endorsing either candidate–that’s not the purpose of the blog (and technically, we already did with an earlier post), but it’s clear that the difference between the candidates extends to their debating style.

Senator Obama clearly used a cerebral style of debating while Senator McCain employed a much more aggressive, almost physical style. Obama’s cerebral style matched his personality–he’s always been one to think about issues, calmly make decisions, and explain them thoroughly and completely. McCain’s more aggressive debating style also matched with his personality–reactionary and rash with a more simplified approach to issues.

The most striking difference between these two styles, according to the crack staff at languageandgrammar.com, was the manner in which McCain was often dismissive of and condescending toward Obama–an aggressive tactic indeed. McCain insisted on a couple of occasions that Obama “didn’t understand” this or that and half-heartedly laughed at Obama’s comments while making his own.

The differences are clear. What type of president do Americans want?


2 Responses to “Presidential Debate–Contrast in Style”

  1. pacer521 said

    great post and perspective as well as recent blogging — here’s my take (I’m 13) on the debate.


  2. Pepperguy said

    What’s your take on the use of personal name vs. title as the method of direct address? Senator McCain consistently called Senator Obama, “Senator Obama,” while Senator Obama consistently called Senator McCain, “John.” Do you think this was a conscious effort? Do you think it shows respect/lack-of-respect? Or do you think it’s just a difference in style? Could be their age difference as well. The more respectful address (and the more proper one, IMHO) seems to be lost on younger Americans.

    Reply: I think the approach in addressing each other was consistent with the general style of the debaters. McCain was more dismissive of Obama overall–not looking at him, not addressing his opponent directly, and keeping distance by using the more formal title. Obama was more inclusive, more open, and more informal by using McCain’s first name–more consistent with the idea that they knew each other and were peers.

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