Debate Analysis

Debate Analysis

Debate Analysis

To the average punter, the recent USA leaders debate between Trump and Biden was boring, embarrassing and one could even posit an indication of the fall of a nation. Honestly, what a duo! It makes Sophie’s choice look like a walk in the park.

To make that choice, as a communication scholar, one firstly turns to the ancient wisdom of rhetorical scholar Quintilian, who, in his 12 volume ‘Institutio Oratoria’ made it clear that the skills of oration must only be utilised by a ‘good’ man. So, in fear of the danger that a skilled rhetorician could pose to society, we first ask ourselves firstly of about the moral standing of these two men.

On the issue of good, few have questioned the intention of Biden to lead for the betterment of all, while for Trump, it is questionable that his personal ambition may place him in the danger zone.

Therefore, with equally vibrant debate, this question would consume us. However, that was not the case as this rhetoric hardly met base standards.

Trump trudged onto the stage, looking tired and stressed. His arms stuck to his side as he lurched forward with his head jutting forward and his mouth downturned in anger. He appeared to approach the lecturn reluctantly, his get-up-and-go looked got-up-and-gone and his childish school-debate tactics were full of ridiculous hyperbolae and falsehoods.

On the other side, Biden, was quite simply pathetic in its most literal translation (arousing pity, miserably inadequate). His words were jumbled and mixed in logic and his delivery was worse. He lacked energy in his mouth with his jaw not closing at the ends of sentences. His tongue became frozen and he mumbled, while his eyes stared blankly and his hands seemed to be out of sync with his words.

Worse was Biden’s voice. Having been told he had a cold, his voice had signs of vocal fold swelling and, not wanting to put pressure on them, the diminished amount of air coming out of his lungs made him quiet and incomprehensible.

Above all, Biden’s mind seemed confused. His jumbled logic and lack of association with question and answers, as well as mentioning confused figures, which warranted Trump’s comment that he did not understand what Biden had said and that he did not think even Biden knew what he was saying.

All of this leads to the assumption that Trump is a deflated wind bag and Biden is diminished physically and mentally. In fact, both are on the tipping point of their use-by-date.

So we have one man good and one man of questionable moral standing, but we don’t even go there with our thinking when one man is exhausted and lacks drive while the other is incoherent.

Here’s the twist.

Following the debate, while Trump apparently moseyed home, Biden went out to meet the public the next day, where we saw him speak coherently and strongly on stage with almost full voice, emphasising points and giving power to his words. It was a complete and instant transformation.

What was going on?

The answer may lie in performance anxiety. We have seen Biden suffer from this before, where, in its mild form, it triggers his stuttering. Many people activate their anxiety at the very thought of public speaking, but Biden has learnt to manage it in most situations. That was until he reached his ceiling at this debate with no audience to bounce off, no possibility to move his body, over 20,000,000 viewers in prime time and the world hanging on every word.

Quite frankly, he had a performance anxiety snap. What that means is that the diaphragm jams, which limits the amount of air going in and out of his body. The repercussions are a frozen body, stilted gestures, set eyes and an immobile tongue. Above all, the lack of oxygen begins to shut down the organs of the body, the first to be affected being the brain. You quite simply can’t think. We all have our limits of stress under which we can perform and, in Biden’s case, this debate outreached it.

The question then becomes, how important performance anxiety is in one’s ability to run a nation with critical decision-making powers? The answer is, it does not. Performance anxiety is no longer recognised as social anxiety that imposes on any other aspect of one’s performance other than speaking in public. One’s critical decision-making faculties are not altered and do not pose any threat. In other words, Biden was right when, in strong loud voice following the debate, he pronounced he may not be a debater, but he can do the job of running the country.

Now our decision is obvious as we see a man of good moral standing who simply had a performance anxiety attack and can make a clear decision. But its not that simple.

The decision-making criteria for the voting public involves none of the above. It is purely one of perception. People are guided simply by their perception whether we like it or not.

In Biden they will see frailty, which will be assumed to be age-related and concerning ineptitude.

If Trump had performed stronger the choice would be a slam dunk. He didn’t and I fear the consequence will be no choice. The voters will vote with their feet – away from the polls.

Read my lips: Biden must resign now.

Let me know your thoughts.

Love Dr Louise Mahler

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About Me

Dr Louise Mahler is a body language expert. With a focus on study of the mind-body relationship and business applications; providing practical inspiring improvement to global leaders.

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