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October 03, 2008

Why Style Matters on a Debate and International Stage
Posted by Adam Blickstein

The majority of post debate fodder is always about style, character, and general personal approach. And while it might seem trite for pundits to criticize Biden for being too Washingtonian and Senatorial and Palin for appearing too amateurish and careless, while lauding Biden for being specific and careful with his phrasing and praising Palin for being folksy and in touch with average Americans, the words, actions and appearance matter from a domestic, diplomatic and international perspective.

Listen, we've just spent the better part of the past decade with a president who is a joke to foreign leaders and dignitaries, and a vice president who is viewed as the manipulative puppet master with the real levers of power. It might seem superficial to criticize the failure to properly pronounce the word nuclear, or failing to know the difference between who Gen. McKiernan and Scott McClellan is, but it's critical to remember the rest of the world is watching. And after 8 years of a White House being an international centrifuge for the comical caricature of American ignorance, it's important to have serious and competent people back in power. And part of this is not just knowing the facts, but being able to talk about the world in a way that is both knowledgeable and coherent. The manner in which you speak is almost as important as showing knowledge of what you are speaking about. In fact the two can't co-exist if either is deficient. It matters to the leaders of Iraq how you pronounce the name of their country. It matters to nations with nuclear weapons how you pronounce the very weapons you are trying to suppress the spread of. It matters to the credibility of America that our leaders are able to  speak in terms that doesn't make them look like fools. And tonight, Sarah Palin failed this critical test.

Regurgitating talking points only gets you so far, and can make you appear feeble and deficient on both the debate and international stage.


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Are you saying that as long as you pronounce things correctly, it's OK to claim that the US and France kicked Hezbollah out of Lebanon? That NATO troops should be sent into Lebanon??? That Article I of the constitution talks about the Executive Branch? That 3 weeks of Iraq spending was more than 7 years of the cost of Afghanistan? I could go on and on... Yeah, style matters; but basic command of the facts matters a whole lot more.

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