The debate may be over, but one thing still remains – the debate is still the talk around town. The reaction was clear: among a half-dozen of UM’s own experts, Kerry was the winner.
“The surprise seemed not to be on the substance of the debate, but rather the way Bush carried himself,” says A. Peter Burleigh, visiting distinguished professor and ambassador-in-residence. Most professors agreed that Bush looked extremely uncomfortable and out of his element.
“At one point, while Kerry was speaking, Bush looked right into the camera and seemed very uneasy and annoyed,” says Dr. George Gonzalez, professor of political science. “This showed a president who didn’t seem very presidential.”
Many professors believed that while Bush was becoming more fidgety, Kerry’s ability to debate shined through.
“Kerry’s steadfastness, eloquent style and attempt to connect with the people, compared to Bush’s defensiveness, uncomfortable, whiny, hunched, and weak demeanor proved that Kerry was stylistically a far more superior debater in this debate than Bush.” – david steinberg, School of Communication
“Kerry seemed much more relaxed than Bush,” Burleigh says. “The brevity and clarity of points helped Kerry connect with the audience more and showed he had a lot of discipline as a debater.”
David Steinberg, lecturer in the School of Communication, picked out stylistic differences which reassured him Kerry had won.
“Kerry’s steadfastness, eloquent style and attempt to connect with the people, compared to Bush’s defensiveness, uncomfortable, whiny, hunched, and weak demeanor proved that Kerry was stylistically a far more superior debater in this debate than Bush.”
However, not all of the UM experts agreed that Kerry was such a clear-cut winner of this debate. Some believed that the debate was considered a draw.
“I think that the people were either hoping or fearing for a blunder by either candidate, which I believe did not happen” says Dr. Edward Dreyer, a professor in the History Department.
“Though his performance was more uneven and did not look so good when Kerry was speaking, Bush did well too,” Daniel Stevens, assistant professor in the Political Science Department, said.
Not all comments about the debates were about the two candidates.
Many believed that Jim Lehrer, who was the moderator for the debate, did not do a substantial job. Both Steinberg and Burleigh agreed that his questions were disappointing.
“The umbrella topic is foreign policy and homeland security,” Lehrer said during the opening comments of the debate. However, many felt that there were no broad based foreign policy questions outside the issue of Iraq.
“Being in Miami, Cuba would have been a logical question for Lehrer to have posed,” Steinberg said.
If there is one thing that the professors agree on, it’s that the debates went off with out a hitch for UM.
“I thought the effect on the university was very positive, and people seemed to be really energized by the media presence,” Stevens said.
Meghan Risser can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.