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Apologies if this diary has already been done--surely with this intelligent community it has already been said or thought many times--but as a general "lurker" I just wanted to throw an idea out there for public consumption that I will bet you my bottom dollar Obama already knows--the key to defeating the "Gish Gallop" is not primarily through rebuttals per se but through mockery.

I'm not going to do a rehash on the "Gallop" as it has been thoroughly covered by several diarists. In short, it means you're quite the lying bastard--and as the king of lying bastards, the Mittster has shown the "Gallop" to be a formidible debating tactic--that, along with his creepy, robotic staring.

Honestly though--and this is probably best left to a seperate entry--the "staredown" is very effective at displaying who's the alpha male to many if not most viewers. I mean, I don't know about you but I believe it would throw me off my game if that creepy asshole was staring a hole through me while I was attempting to gather my thoughts. So I'll give Rombot his props on this because he's even able to pull it off when he speaks and that's no easy feat.

So this is Obama's dilemma. In large part he lost the debate stylistically to Mitt's otherworldly staredowns. And since Obama is not likely to be able to match Rmoney in this respect (or speaking louder or faster), he will need to devise another way to prove who's really the alpha male. And being the master of jiu-jitsu that Obama is, he will do just that. He will win the next debate through guile and smarts...and mockery.

Forget trying to outstare Romney or rebutt each and every lie he spews--a Herculean task that is not achievable, Obama should attempt a form of "jury nullification" by discrediting Romney in general right off the bat. His tactic should be mockery. We should see a smiling, confident president. He should wait for the first big Romney lie--which will happen about 20 secs into the first Q & A--and when he gets his turn, Obama should try something like this:

“You know, I gotta say (smiling), my opponent changes his positions so often I sometimes I feel like I’m debating a shapeshifter. Yes, a Romney administration will certainly create jobs…for factcheckers. He keeps those guys up at night. They’re getting overtime trying to keep up with Governor Romney's positions (smiling). Personally, I believe in creating new green jobs that pay well and can’t be outsourced—but if you want to create a new factchecking industry—(pointing and giggling)—I believe you have your candidate in Governor Romney.”
I believe that's how Obama should start the debate (or shortly therein) and he should get a dig in like that whenever the moment presents itself--like a particularly egregious Romney lie. Oh wait...that means Obama would be doing this in every response...well, you see what I mean. I trust Obama's instincts to use the right amount of mockery needed. I believe this tactic would have the added effect of goading Romney and throwing him off his game as he realizes he is being laughed at.

I'm curious--what do you guys think about this tactic? I'd love to hear some more mockery zingers if you feel compelled.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Wiki on Gish Gallop (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:


    by Bunbun on Sun Oct 07, 2012 at 08:04:29 AM PDT

    •  Thanks for this (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I feel like I missed class the day this term was covered and suddenly it's on everyone's lips:

      The Gish Gallop, named after creationist Duane Gish, is the debating technique of drowning the opponent in such a torrent of half-truths, lies, and straw-man arguments that the opponent cannot possibly answer every falsehood in real time. The term was coined by Eugenie Scott of the National Center for Science Education.
      I think that's an accurate analysis of this technique, but it doesn't absolve the President from his obligation to draw strong contrasts between himself and all Republicans, above all his opponent for re-election. This to me is the consistent failing of Obama's Presidency.

      "The smartest man in the room is not always right." -Richard Holbrooke

      by Demi Moaned on Sun Oct 07, 2012 at 08:10:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  It could work (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TheChocolateChips, palantir

    Really hard to refute each and every lie.  In fact, I think Obama was so busy writing them all down that he looked like he wasn't paying attention.  

    "The real wealth of a nation consists of the contributions of its people and nature." -- Rianne Eisler

    by noofsh on Sun Oct 07, 2012 at 08:06:54 AM PDT

  •  I'd love to see the approach (6+ / 0-)

    But easy on the mockery.  IMHO, President Obama did a great job of heading off the he's arrogant (i.e., he's uppity) chorus.  

    My own thoughts on this approach here.

    Wholly-owned subsidiaries are people, too, my friend.

    by deminva on Sun Oct 07, 2012 at 08:10:26 AM PDT

  •  Great idea. (8+ / 0-)

    I agree with you that the best strategy is to call out the strategy that Romney is using at any time.

    If Romney is using the Gish Gallop, Obama could say, "Gov. Romney is trying to throw out as many falsehoods as he can in the hopes that I won't have time to refute all of them and win the debate that way.  Unfortunately for him, the factcheckers and American people know better."

    Or if Romney tries a phrase like "trickle down government," Obama could say, "I'm sure Gov. Romney has spent many nights thinking up that phrase hoping it'll stick, but the American people want a substantive debate of real issues, not just candidates throwing around nonsensical catchphases."  

    •  thanks for this (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cheerio2, OleHippieChick, palantir, annan

      I must have missed the intervening diaries, but the first one mentioning the GG, frustratingly, didn't suggest a way to attack it. I googled around for the answer and mostly the solution was to not engage (in the context of debating a creationist), but obviously that's not an option. The only other helpful suggestion I saw was to choose a few good lies and debunk them thoroughly and relentlessly, a tactic that a) stops the GG from spewing more lies and b) shows the audience that the GG is lying and is not trustworthy.

      Mockery could be combined with debunking: "... (chuckle) well I haven't seen this many lies since the last time I debated you! For example, you just claimed X, but no fewer than 5 independent factcheckers, and the CBO have concluded the exact opposite. Who are we to believe - the experts, or the guy who changes his claims so fast the you'd get whiplash watching him?"

  •  According to debaters - (7+ / 0-)

    My son, a  team captain debater says you have to destroy the credibility of the person early when they are using this technique. Easy to spot early on and needs to be countered. Not sure if this is Obama's style though.

  •  I'm not sure (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The President's debate performance reminds me of a speech he made that few people saw because it was after his Nobel speech that he had written and rewritten on the journey to Norway.

    Talking to the Nobel Committee and royals and head of state in a fairly small room he told them he was not going to make a long speech because he had exhausted himself writing his
    Nobel lecture.  He was witty, and got a warm response to his little speech, but he looked folded in on himself after giving his all to the BIG speech.

    I am guessing that he was exhausted by something, because he was obviously off his center, or he was not prepared for the Romney who appeared.

    Also, debate is not his strongest suit.  He is a thinker, a writer, a thoughtful, careful speaker.  (Think of his First Press Conference.  I admired it, but he used words with great care.)  I don't think he likes imprecise language or speech.  He will come up with better answers than his opponents, but not always in a formal debate like that one.

    One can't be outstanding at everything.

    OK, so this comment was not much help, or particularly
    responsive to your question.  I'm on his side.  He does not have to win the debate for me to know I trust him.

  •  Hey, you know what I think. (0+ / 0-)

    Read the sig line....

    "Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions." - Thomas Jefferson

    by rfall on Sun Oct 07, 2012 at 11:27:35 AM PDT

  •  how to attack the Gish Gallop (0+ / 0-)

    When I was a debater, a long time ago (early 70s)  when the Gish Gallop was in its formative stages---we used to call it a spread case---the way I'd attack a spread case was to pinpoint the underlying principles of the thousand points being thrown at me. There were usually only 3 or 4.
    Then you hone in on those.
    You basically conflate 20 examples into one instead of trying to disprove them individually.
    Actually Romney himself was doing that in reverse when he talked about the principles behind his thought.
    Hone in on those and let the rest take care of itself.
    Mockery and attacking the credibility of the speaker work also, and in some sense are a similar technique.

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