If Colorado Republican senatorial hopeful Bob Schaffer won yesterday's debate against Democratic rival Mark Udall on Meet the Press, it was a pyrrhic victory. As the combatant trailing in the polls, and the person with by far the most difficult case to make, he had to come out swinging, and he did. But even as he landed blow after blow, he emerged as so unlikable a jerk that he probably caused undecided voters to run away from his campaign in terror.
Not that Udall came across much better -- and he didn't just fall short in terms of the ineffectual way he attempted to parry Schaffer's thrusts. (He seemed so helpless that moderator Tom Brokaw felt obligated to knock Schaffer's spin off course a time or two.) He exuded weakness visually as well as verbally.
Udall is smaller physically than Schaffer, but his terrible posture accentuated the disparity. He spent most of the debate slouching, which made it appear as if he was cowering before the mean man looming over him, rather than standing up to the assault. Moreover, he looked notably unkempt. His tie was loosely knotted and extended beyond the lapels of his jacket and his hair was disheveled, as if he'd raced to the set at the last minute and was still catching his breath.
Superficial stuff? Sure. But as any performer knows (and politicians are performers, too), body language is absolutely vital to making a positive impression -- and in Udall's case, he sent a visual message every bit as lacking in confidence as was his aural presentation. Of course, Schaffer was so extraordinarily overbearing that many voters may not have fully registered Udall's lack of gravitas -- and if so, he's mighty fortunate. After all, he didn't display proper posture in more ways than one. -- Michael Roberts
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.