Over the years, there have been some great examples of what happens in political debates when candidates stray from their scripts or stump speeches.
Sometimes, in a moment of anger and spontaneity, they say something astoundingly and revealingly dumb. Other times, they get lost in the moment and reveal a personal characteristic that all of their advisers had hoped would stay hidden. And finally, sometimes history is made when a debater thinks of precisely the right retort or putdown at precisely the right moment.
It’s funny, but I don’t ever remember someone losing it to the point of uttering mongo expletives, but some of you may have an example.
Remember this one? Perhaps the most legendary debate putdown in American history.
More to come.
I laughed along with the rest of my compatriot Democrats when Bentsen hung Quayle by his own petard, but in retrospect, I think the comment ultimately hurt the Dukakis/Bentsen campaign by seeming to be cruel and bullying – like poking fun at a retarded child.
Bingo! Every time you think you have successfully zinged someone, humiliated them, you almost certainly have guaranteed some backlash. “Mean” might be a good short term debating strategy, but while you might win a point, you can win the battle and lose the war.
Having said that, I love these moments of high drama in debates. A media professor’s version of WWF!