Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Analysis: Presidential Job Interviews

The polls are showing a healthy bounce for McCain right now. Palin's pick notwithstanding, he gives good interviews. Sure his ability to excite a crowd isn't what Obama's is. But his words cut to the point and are specific. They contain less rhetoric, paint a more clearer vision, and sound like someone that is sincere.

USA Today/Gallup shows a 10% lead, but Gallup is not as accurate as Zogby, which shows a 4% lead. Either way, it appears that the tide is swinging.

This interview on CBS's Face The Nation on Sunday morning, gave McCain time to lay out some of his message and vision for the country. Kudos to Bob Schieffer for a brilliant and thoughtful interview, and for the respect he showed to McCain.

Watch CBS Videos Online

Now let's contrast the class of a Bob Schieffer, with that of
a couple of MSNBC guys.
MSNBC is removing Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews as the anchors of live political events, bowing to growing criticism that they are too opinionated to be seen as neutral in the heat of the presidential campaign.
The old reassigned routine, eh? Not much in the way of rectifying the extremely biased coverage that has already been presented, but it's enough for now. You know it must be bad, when even the most partisan of hack media organizations begin to realize they may be too partisan.

But beyond the backlash that has been witnessed of late, the real meat of the matter comes from the difference of the candidates, the different worldviews, the different ways they both want to lead the nation. Obama hasn't convinced very many undecideds, but he does excel at oratory communication art forms, when the teleprompter is on.

His weakness in selling his case is a result of a multitude of things. But let's stay with this for a minute.

Anytime I watch an interview, I am watching, listening to, and processing:

1. What he/she is saying.

2. How he/she is saying it.

3. His/her body language while he/she is saying what he/she is saying.

What is said, is important. For example, Obama's proposal of wanting to tax the upper 5% and pay the lower 95% is nothing more than class warfare. It is socialist. It's Robin Hood robbing the rich to give to the poor, except there is no divine right. On another blog the other day, a commenter made this point in his own words and the respondent came back with something like, "it's not socialism, it's redistribution of wealth". It's the same thing.

How it is said, is important. Is he using double-speak (politician style)? In other words, does he sound like a used car salesman? Does he reverse himself, to get out of a jam? How about the tone inflections, the stuttering when conflicted on what to say? Many claim his stammering in tough spots means he's trying to come up with sound answers and is thinking the question through. I see it as inexperience, and the anxiety that inexperience can cause. What about the nervous laughter? It doesn't do much to exude confidence, does it? Arrogance maybe, but confidence no (and believe there is a difference).

How does he sit? After all, this is a job interview. Does he sit confidently? Does he sit like he's insecure? Does he sit smugly? How about his hand gestures? Do they fit with what he's saying? Or are they conflicting messages?
So much to see and observe, so much to learn.

Watch the first installment (9-4-08) of O'Reilly's interview with Obama and see if you can note the things I see and observe. See if you can use this as a means to contrast the two candidates, and learn more about which one is best suited to be President, in the times we live in:

What did you see different? What did you hear? What do you feel? Are you convinced? Did you see what I saw?


Greg said...

The darned CBS video wouldn't load for me, so I can't really compare. Also, I didn't see what you were talking about with the O'Reilly interview. I'm not great reading body language, but I'd like to be, so don't be cagey with your observations there....

On the substance, though, I have comments. First, it's false that Sunnis and Shia won't work together in terrorism. Doesn't shia Iran fund and train sunni Hamas and Hezbollah?

Second, notice how he dismisses the surge and gives credit to the Sunni Awakening and the stand-down of the Mahdi "Army." Anyone who has followed the story of the surge knows that neither the Awakening nor the stand-down would have happened without (1) the strong "message" sent by the presence of extra Marines and (2) the strong message sent to all Iraqis that the US was not going to abandon them just because the war was tough and unpopular at home. Also, isn't BHO being inconsistent by citing the Awakening, but also saying the Iraqis "haven't taken responsibility"? They have made considerable political progress in the new atmosphere of security, with almost none of it being reported in the MSM.

Third, since when is BHO in favoring of "building democracy"? He wants to help build democracy in Pakistan, but not Iraq?

Fourth, again on Pakistan - we're already killing terrorists in Pakistan. Does he not know this or is he being deliberately misleading?

Good interview - look forward to watching the other installments.

LASunsett said...

//I didn't see what you were talking about with the O'Reilly interview. I'm not great reading body language, but I'd like to be, so don't be cagey with your observations there....//

Notice how he sits leaning forward with arms rested firmly on the arms of the chair. It shows he is nervous. Maybe it's because he knows his usual double speak won't work with O'Reilly, who has made his living keeping people from using double talk and spin.

By contrast, McCain sat up straight and looked far less tense. He looked confident. Had he slouched a little, it would have made him look over-confident and maybe a bit arrogant and smug.

I have interviewed many people seeking employment over the years and one of the things that gives me a clue the person is nervous is, when they sit forward like Obama does. They want to engage, they want to look interested, but they are in an uncomfortable setting and they tend to overplay.

Also notice his facial expressions and nervous laughs. He knows he wouldn't be there if it weren't necessary. The Palin pick instantly put him on defense and we are seeing it come to full fruition in the polls.

Greg said...

Interesting. I will now watch Obama to see how he acts physically with friendly vs. challenging interviewers.

The main thing I notice with Obama is that when he's confronted and challenged, he immediately searches for a way to find common ground with the opponent, even if it means changing his previously declared opinion. He's basically a wimp. It's becoming clear why he never succeeded as a real lawyer.

O'Reilly is obnoxious, but he's a good interviewer. Right to the red meat all the time....

Rocket said...


I don't know where you are trying to go with this but anyone can ready anything they want into body language. It is a very imprecise science but with certain truths. It doesn't necessarily mean that what you think you see is a precise non verbal communication message positive or negative depending on political leanings.

In fact it is said that 70% of what we really want to say is nonverbal.

If we look at McCain he constantly blinks his eyes much in the same manner as the now defunct President Mitterrand of France. Many non verbal communication "experts" consider this to be a sign of lying. Is McCain a liar? Personally I don't think so. Could he be adapting his responses to what he believe the public may want to hear. Possibly so.

As per Obama's sitting posture compared to MCCain's. Please do consider that on the one hand as in the case of Obama, where you have an aggressive pitbull without lipstick interviewing you and in the case of McCain who is confronted by a composed journalist sitting and interviewing him that doesn't have a bone to pick or worry about how this interview will affect his earning power.

I find it only natural that Obama be sitting near the front of his seat in order to better deflect what could possibly be overly aggressiveness on the part of the resident expert on everything O'Reilly. The first few minutes of the McCain interview seem to be done in a more convivial atmosphere.

As per O'Reilly and

"We have defeated terrorism in Iraq.." Blah blah blah.

Oh really O'Reilly? Obviously this man does not know the Arab mind because once it gets back to business as usual in Iraq and the troops slowly begin to come home what is going to stop another surge across the borders of terrorists who lop of the heads of the village people (not the musical group)as they enforce their ranks or silent collaboration by terror while hiding out in mosques.(The Iraq army?) No but another Iraqi strongman dictator may! You never defeat terrorism. You hold it at bay and that is what the surge has done. Name me one country in the Arab world that is a democracy without a strong man at the helm and don't say Iraq.

Have we defeated the Taliban in Afghanistan? Well they're back and if it wasn't for the coalition they would take over in a matter of months. They literally rule the countryside.

The difference between these people and us, meaning the western world is that we're afraid to die. The terrorists are not. The economies of these countries are in shambles and in order to create a strong democratic base you need to have a strong economy. (not only based on oil which one day will run out.)

Peace is all ephemeral and that's why the candidate who will be chosen to be the next President will need to understand that there is no room for hesitation.


I don't think O'Reilly is a particularly good interviewer. He interrupts all the time, he cuts people off in mid sentence, he provokes by getting angry and if he is not happy with what he hears he'll cut the interview off short or tell people to shut up.(But then again so does the King of Spain)


O'Reilly wants to get to the truth from others but what about his own truth when he had to pay millions to get out of a sexual harassment suit and then he played the victim. Did we ever get to know the real story. Like a typical neo con everyone else must be squeeky clean except himself. No that he covered up because it was no ones business except his own.

I worked for two years with ABC sports on the Tour de France and there is so much ass kissing going on in that industry and everyone is afraid to challenge the star, it's sickening.

O'Reilly an entertainer not a journalist.

He's a phony!

LASunsett said...

//I don't know where you are trying to go with this but anyone can ready anything they want into body language. It is a very imprecise science but with certain truths.//

As one who is trained in reading verbal and non-verbal communications, I was merely giving my opinion. It may not be a science that is quantified and could be held up as evidence in a court of law, but it can be qualified and analyzed.