I don’t know about you, but I watched this last Presidential Debate very closely. In some ways, I did not expect anything new, but I’ve been thinking lately about the way we watch and interpret these things. Because of my interest in how body language and subtle expression can reveal what is in the mind, I look very closely at all kinds of nuances . But just how many of these nuances are actually spontaneous or “genuine”? I think most of us have heard by now that candidates go through a lot of coaching in order to learn how to force a smile while their opponent is contradicting them, but some of those smiles will look more forced than others. Everything we communicate through our face, words, and body results in a marriage of both our conscious and unconscious thoughts…

My favorite way of watching all the Presidential Debates this year was with the split screen (on CNN), because this artificial focus on two faces at the same time allows me to really appreciate just how much both candidates are working to keep it together. Knowing that literally an entire nation is hanging on not just what they say, but how they say it, and how they look all the while must be unnerving. Yet both candidates appeared pretty collected this time around. It was mentioned that Romney was perspiring  whereas Obama seemed quite composed, but it was not too easily noticeable to someone who  did not watch for it. My overall assessment was that the opinion of the nation on the debates would end up being divided between party lines.

But the thing that most intrigued me about the most recent and final debates, which you will also find happens to be the thing that is being talked about the most, is how Governor Mitt Romney seemed to avoid any of the President’s remarks to hold him to a past-position he had, by simply responding to the President flat out that what was being said was not true and then by being agreeable to most of Obama’s policies on foreign issues. President Obama seemed ready to present his views on most all foreign concerns as contrasting from Romney’s, so it was confusing for the President to argue with Romney without looking as if he was being aggressive with the Governor, especially while Romney seemed to even praise and embrace many of Obama’s already instilled policies. I don’t think John Kerry, who acted as Mitt Romney while preparing President Obama for the debates, could have ever expected that Romney would use such a debate tactic.

One must admit, it’s a strange tactic. But it’s used time and time again by influential communicators. In a way, it’s as simple as Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” It is considered purely as an effective way of communicating to make people find you interesting and attractive. President Obama was on top of his game as well. He was forceful, presidential, and unwavering in his stances. He was also equipped with one or two quite witty remarks. But it was as if Mitt Romney was using a “”Drunken Monkey” style against Obama’s more “Well-Rounded” approach, leaving democrats scratching their heads, wondering what in the world just happened.

By the end of the debates, it appears that we have the choice between two men, one with liberal values, and the other with conservative values, but whose opinions on foreign policy, by the end of the most recent debate, seem similar enough…

So how prepared could they be in their outward projection of their personal expression in addition to their being able to answer with clarity the actual questions?

For more on the subject of Body Language, Big Bird, Binders, and Bayonets, check out this recent article from the Bradenton Herald: http://www.bradenton.com/2012/10/23/4249290/debate-impressions-a-reversal.html 

I will refrain to make a prediction about this year’s election. That might be MY smartest position yet.

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