Particularly worrisome for those rooting for him in the veep debate, two of Edwards' worst primary debates—the Larry King-moderated debate in Los Angeles and the Dan Rather-moderated debate in New York City—occurred when the participants were seated at a table with the moderator, just as Cheney, Edwards, and PBS's Gwen Ifill will be here on Tuesday night.
Here's a speculative explanation of why Edwards did poorly in those debates: Edwards is a highly theatrical performer on the stump. He is, at heart, an actor. That's how one member of the media who has followed Edwards this campaign described him to me. Bill Clinton, this person said, was no different in front of a crowd than he was on the campaign plane. But for Edwards, this reporter said, "It's acting." He's a different guy backstage. Maybe Edwards has a tough time "getting into character" when he is seated at a table with his opponent, instead of roaming free onstage as he would in a courtroom. He's one of those actors who looks great on a proscenium, but who doesn't translate to the quieter media of film and television.
Tuesday, October 05, 2004
Edwards' Table Manners
Good pre-debate discussion of John Edwards' strengths and weaknesses: