never seen anything remotely close W r i t i n g

never seen anything remotely close W r i t i n g

I’ve watched A LOT of presidential debates. I’ve never seen anything remotely close to what I witnessed last night. I frequently volunteer as a judge at high school and college debate tournaments, and find that each one of those novice debators could have handled last night’s debates in a more serious, thoughtful, mature, and effective manner than our presidential candidates did. As I watched the debates, I kept thinking “I can’t believe I sent my students an email asking them to watch this disaster for extra credit.” It was an embarrassment for our country and its political system, and an insult to the American people and our collective values of democracy and political discourse. My sincere apologies – I had no idea it would be so bad. If this was your first experience watching a presidential debate, double those apologies, and I hope it doesn’t turn you off political discourse for life. True to form for an “unprecedented” year, this was an unprecedented debate.

As you can imagine, it was really difficult coming up with a list of questions for this extra credit assignment. Since we could barely hear more than a sentence without interruptions, and since half the time all three people were talking at the same time, I’ve decided to focus the questions strictly on body language. I’ve also decided to make this a 20 point assignment instead of a 10 point assignment because it’s, erm…. painful to watch. Again, this is not a political assignment, and I will not evaluate your answers from a political perspective but rather from a communication perspective. Below are the specifications for the extra credit assignment.

1. It is due one week from today, Wednesday, October 7th, by 9pm on Canvas.
2. It should be minimum one page long, 12 point Font, Times New Roman, double spaced, with one inch margins on all four sides.
3. SHOW YOUR WORK. Most of these questions don’t have objectively true or false answers, and I recognize that body language is at least somewhat subjective. This is like math in the sense that I’m not interested in your answer on its own, but mostly your reasoning for the answer. So, show your work, and explain the why behind your answers.
4. The questions are:
A. Compare and contrast Trump and Biden’s eye contact. Where are they looking when they answer questions? Where are they looking when the other person is speaking?
B. How was each candidates’ eye contact different at the beginning, middle, and end of the debate? Did they stay constant, or did they change?
C. Which of the candidates’ eye contact strategy did you find to be more (or less) effective? Why?
D. Compare and contrast Biden and Trump’s vocal characteristics (pitch, tone, rate, inflection, vocal variety, vocal energy, etc). Which did you find more (or less) effective, and why?
E. Compare and contrast Trump and Biden’s hand gestures. How do they differ from one another? Did each candidate maintain the same level of gestures throughout? Which did you like more (or less), and why?
F. Which of the candidates projected more strength through their body language? Why?