EDITORIAL: Style attracts, substance essential
Last night (Oct. 3), all eyes were on the first of three presidential debates in the United States as Democratic President Barack Obama squared off against Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
Obama being far and away a much better speaker, with the ability to transfix viewers in a way Romney cannot hope to equal, the consensus among pundits was that Obama had the most to lose from making a significant mistake, but Romney had the greater challenge in endearing himself to voters — especially the 47 per cent he may have disparaged in May at a small fundraiser.
Whether last night’s debate did anything to move the polling numbers (Obama led entering the debate in Denver) remains to seen.
And, with two more debates and a month before the election, there remains time for the candidates to sway undecided voters.
Meanwhile, in Canada, many eyes have been on Justin Trudeau as he this week announced he will be seeking to lead the Liberal party, which is tied so deeply to his father, Pierre Trudeau.
The name alone is enough to elevate Trudeau’s leadership bid far beyond that of previous aspirants.
But, compared to the brief and utterly woeful tenures of Stéphane Dion and Michael Igantieff, the possibility of a young, handsome and articulate Trudeau reaching down to rescue the once-proud party only adds to the pizazz factor his bid creates.
Yes, politics is much more than style over substance (though some elections have been won via the former, not the latter) and Trudeau’s celebrity will only carry him so far.
Speeches laden with clever lines will need to be augmented with policy beliefs and his vision of where Canada is going in the next decade.
That challenge is also Obama’s.
As fine an orator as he is, voters battered by a dismal economy during the president’s first term know full well pretty words in a splendid speech mean nothing the morning after, when jobs remain scarce and the future looks as bleak as a winter landscape on the Prairies.