October 5, 2016

"So Pence... used his performance skills, built up over years as a successful television host and politician."

"When Kaine challenged him, Pence smiled and shook his head wanly. Or looked off toward the audience and shrugged his shoulders. Or flatly denied that Trump has said things that he most definitely said. Or recycled an old Ronald Reagan line ('There you go again')."

Says NYT columnist David Leonhardt, urging readers to "Judge Substance, Not Style."

Pence's style is so different from Trump's because Pence, like Kaine and Clinton, is a career politician. Pence defended Trump's style:
Well, look, it’s — look, he’s not a polished politician like you and Hillary Clinton. And so...

KAINE: Well, I would admit that’s not a polished...

(CROSSTALK)

PENCE: You know, things don’t always come out exactly the way he means them.

KAINE: Well, can I say...

PENCE: But I’m telling you what the policy of our administration would be....
So Pence, like Leonhardt, is saying judge substance, not style.

But if you are one of the many people who are admiring Pence's style over Trump's, realize what you are saying: You like the manner of the career politician. That is what you want. A man with a style honed outside of politics will seem too rough, too unfinished, too strange. For all the complaints about politicians — their ungenuineness, their smarminess, their embedment in dishonesty, their guile — a politician is exactly what you want. Admit it!

71 comments:

damikesc said...

What substance did Hillary bring? Seems like an inconsistent demand to value substance over style.

mockturtle said...

It's not what I want. Pence, while easily winning the debate last night, is an establishment Republican and career politician. I'm supporting Trump because he is neither. Last night revealed that neither VP candidate is in sync with his running mate.

Kelly said...

That's easy. I admit it and have never denied it. Trump doesn't act normal in any way I recognize. Not in a politician or anyone I personally know.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

I didn't watch the debate, so I can't speak to Pence's style. But there are more options then just:
-Speak openly, without care for political correctness, or for the truth.
-Speak guardedly, being careful about political correctness, and careful to avoid the truth.

Bob Boyd said...

It could mean that.
Or it could mean many voters look past style to the substance and if they approve of the substance they can accept or even embrace the style in which the substance is presented.

rehajm said...

Judge Substance, Not Style

A high wall will deter dangerous immigrants from the South from entering the United States

BarrySanders20 said...

Kind of like girls going for the bad boy. That's what they want.

But the majority of voters in the R primary did not want the smarmy politician. It's what D's and the never trumpers want.

So figure out what that says about each sides' voters.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

You can tell Pence won by the reaction of the Media -- "this doesn't matter anyway, it won't move votes" and "don't believe how you feel about the actual debate, instead trust us, the Media, to tell you what's important."

The really sad part is that these Media morons keep trying to trade on credibility and authority almost no one (Right nor Left) grants them anymore. "Who are you going to believe, your lyin' eyes or the Media" just doesn't seem to work as well these days, especially when members of the Media like the debate moderator can't even pretend to be impartial or fair, even for just a little while.

It's pathetic.

eric said...

What they want is a Democrat. The rest only matters in the moment.

If, for example, the Democrat has no political experience, or very little, like a one term senator, well, that's Ok.

If the Democrat is for war, war is good. If the Democrat is opposed to war, war is bad. If the Democrat is terrible at policy but has style, then style is what's important. If the Democrat is Hillary, then policy chops are what we should focus on.

Get it? It's easy to know what side of an issue reporters will come out on.

Is the filibuster good or bad? Well, let's first look and see who controls the Senate, then we will tell you.

Achilles said...

I like trumps style. But I am a fan of honesty.

Most people, especially democrats, prefer to be lied to.

Michael K said...

I wish Trump would sand off a few rough edges but his appeal is the non-politician situation.

Pence is OK and looked better last night for the few minutes I watched. Cruz, I think, has destroyed his career by the ego trip at the convention. He could be the one sitting there.

All we can do is hope for the best

Comanche Voter said...

So we want lying weasels who are smooth. Is that what we want? I dunno. Character used to count for something. Doesn't seem to anymore.

Nonapod said...

I'll admit that I generally prefer the typical "style" of a career politician, just not the typical substance of one. While I understand it's appeal, I've never liked Trump's personality.

Michael K said...

If the Democrat is for war, war is good. If the Democrat is opposed to war, war is bad.

We may be in a war situation by January. I wonder if Putin would back off if Trump is elected?

eric said...

Blogger HoodlumDoodlum said...
You can tell Pence won by the reaction of the Media -- "this doesn't matter anyway, it won't move votes" and "don't believe how you feel about the actual debate, instead trust us, the Media, to tell you what's important."


That's funny. I heard this on the radio this morning and that was my exact thought. The Republican must have won if they are saying it doesn't matter.

Pretty sure the Ryan and Biden debate mattered.

EDH said...

For all the complaints about politicians — their ungenuineness, their smarminess, their embedment in dishonesty, their guile — a politician is exactly what you want. Admit it!

Chicks dig bad boys... and politicians?

Bob Boyd said...

Do Hillary's lady parts fall into the category of style or substance?

AJ Lynch said...

It is not so much preferring Pence. Contrasted with the nasty, arrogant, smug, far left lib Kaine, almost anyone is preferable to me.

Kaine showed the true face of the Dem party last night. It is a hateful partisan face and it will employ dirty tricks and use the govt in criminal ways against its political opponents. The Obama admin has shown it can do so without paying a price.

Matthew Sablan said...

I think Pence's style won because, of the four people running, he's the only one who doesn't seem angry.

Nonapod said...

I think people are conflating honesty with rudeness or bluntness or being provocative. I suppose in a weird way being rude is sort of a form of honesty. But being honest doesn't require you to be overbearing or intentionally provocative or insulting.

David Begley said...

The substance of Hillary will be four more years of economic stagnation, lawlessness, terrorism, immigrant invasion and racial strife.

Why would any sane person vote for that? With Trump, at least there is a chance things will get better.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

...their embedment in dishonesty...

Embedment? Is that anything like embiggen?

traditionalguy said...

Yes we do want an honest politician. But you go to governance with the politicians you have.

We can hope a Truman or a Roosevelt slips through the system when no one is there to stop them with tricks. And then there is an Andrew Jackson or Donald Trump who fights his way past the rigged system.

Or we can get an LBJ or a Hillary Clinton psychopath who steals and kills
Their way to power.

Carol said...

Hey I'll admit it, I like politicians. They should be friendly, outgoing and able to talk on their feet. Locally they're some of the nicest people I've ever met. Even our catatonic Senator Baucus would light up when you meet him, as if he actually remembered you. They need your money, they need your vote. As strangers go, that beats those who have no need of you at all.

The problem this year was the highly over-rehearsed and over-focus-grouped presidential candidates. Oh, and so many of them, with the two elite faves from the same state. Yeah that worked out didn't it.

Clayton Hennesey said...

We may be in a war situation by January. I wonder if Putin would back off if Trump is elected?

My belief is that Putin thinks he can ultimately buy/shame/blackmail Hillary into any concession he needs, regardless of Hillary's public honkings, but with Trump, much as Trump seems to sweet talk him, Putin is faced with the uncertainty of a Nixonian crazy-unpredictability that could turn on him at a moment's notice and so will be more inclined to walk on eggs with a Trump presidency.

mockturtle said...

I don't think anyone can imagine a President Kaine after last night.
Pence is definitely a candidate for troubled times, and would be embraced if Donald Trump lays the groundwork in a first term, and then does not decide to run again but to turn over the reins to his VP.

I could see that happening...


I could, too, Mary. And Trump seems to have the skill to pick the right people to lay that groundwork. He doesn't lust after more power. He sees the country as broken and thinks he can fix it. Ego, yes, but not a lust for power. Hillary, OTOH, is all about greed and ambition for power.

William said...

Trump's profession was that of real estate developer, casino operator, and show biz personality. There's some overlap with these professions and that of a career politician, but not in ways we wish to contemplate. The art of the bribe and giving people what they want. As a show biz personality, he said a lot of outrageous things to draw attention to himself and to his shows. Maybe this will come back and bite him in the ass, but I would give him a pass. He wasn't just an aggressive tycoon, he played on one on television. Trump's got performance skills to spare, but they're not the kind of skills that politicians develop. He doesn't come from a different world so much as a different dimension.

mtp said...

I reject the false dichotomy between a paper doll career politician and a braying jackass like Donald Trump. Walk into any civil engineering firm and you will be confronted by the existence of dozens of grownups who deal in a straightforward manner with actual facts. Real, decent, intelligent adults exist. They just do not seek public office or appear on TV.

Hagar said...

Pence did not do as well as I had hoped, but he did show that there are limits to the extent he will compromise his personal beliefs.

Tim Kaine does not seem to have any such personal beliefs, so compromises will not be necessary.

CStanley said...

I fully and proudly admit this. There's nothing wrong with polish, it's what you are polishing that matters.

You can polish fine furniture, silver, marble, etc, or you can put lacquer on a pile of dog excrement. So is the politician polished because he's covering up a shitty record or his/her poor character, or is he/she polished because this is what it means to be a civilized human being?

I don't know what is wrong with people that we've collectively forgotten that distinction, and people are seemingly drawn to Trump because of his coarseness.

Brando said...

The problem isn't the style, it's the substance. If Trump were gaffing and goofing his way around but presented a coherent plan for his presidency that had a prayer of working, I'd have no problem with him. And if Hillary was focus-grouped and overcoached but otherwise had a solid set of policies, I'd have no problem with her. And if either of them could be trusted in the slightest, they'd at least be worth consideration.

But if you want to focus on style, whether you prefer a polished politician or a "regular stumbly guy", then go with that.

Hagar said...

We may be in a war situation by January. I wonder if Putin would back off if Trump is elected?

Putin is stretched very thin and in no position to get into a major war with anybody. Even a small war like he is running in Syria must be controlled lest it spreads to consume more of his sparce resources and some people elsewhere in or around his vast realm decide this would be a good time to revolt or invade as the case might be.

Brando said...

"I don't know what is wrong with people that we've collectively forgotten that distinction, and people are seemingly drawn to Trump because of his coarseness."

I sort of like Trump's lack of polish (though not really his nastiness--there's a cruelty there that's troubling), and if I thought he was trustworthy and demonstrated some capability in governing I'd be all for him.

Though of course in a president, you do have to be careful with your words--not just in avoiding setting off financial panics (look at how closely investors consider Janet Yellin's statements) but in diplomatic affairs as well (see Dean Acheson's statements about our zone of interest that made Stalin and Kim think invading South Korea wouldn't provoke major U.S. involvement). A more "earthy" speaking style, with consideration of the phrasing used, is my ideal.

mockturtle said...

people are seemingly drawn to Trump because of his coarseness.

After dining on quiche night after night, a steak might look good.

Char Char Binks said...

When it comes to a politician, style IS substance, to a large degree. A man's character is shown in the way he handles himself and others, and comports himself in every kind of situation. What I like about Obama is his even-tempered character, his clear presentation of an argument, and his measured responses to challenges. Trump is nothing like that.

MayBee said...

Do you remember when the left was so excited because Obama, in his lame duck hood, was planning on going full Bullworth? They LOVED the idea.
And now we have a Bullworth actually running, and they cannot criticize his speaking style fast enough.

Clyde said...

I want someone who:
1. Is honest
2. Is savvy enough to deal with our adversaries in the world without beclowning him/herself (Clinton's political experience did not give her such help in dealing with the Russian Reset, Benghazi, etc.)
3. Will pursue policies that will benefit the people of our country, rather than enriching him/herself, and will give the American people more freedom rather than less

Hillary Clinton is 0-for-3. This election is a binary choice. Donald Trump might not be good, but Hillary would certainly be very, very bad, probably even worse than Obama. It doesn't come down to whether someone is a polished politician or not. Clinton is more polished, but our adversaries would eat her lunch, just as they have with Obama. Trump? He's used to negotiating and wheeling and dealing.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

a politician is exactly what you want. Admit it!

No. I want someone who will kick butt and upset the apple cart. An Andrew Jackson type, unpolished who says what he means and is willing to take a big stick and beat the crap out of the smug, corruptocrat politicians with his cane.

I want results even if they come in a package that isn't polished, groomed in Armani suits or pleasant to the eyes or ears. RESULTS, not pre packaged speeches. People know what Trump is saying and know what he means. He is saying what WE are saying, finally.

Darrell said...

Hillary/Kaine is a two "No!" ticket.

Brando said...

"No. I want someone who will kick butt and upset the apple cart. An Andrew Jackson type, unpolished who says what he means and is willing to take a big stick and beat the crap out of the smug, corruptocrat politicians with his cane."

That all sounds nice when we think the person is pushing policies we like, but your description applies to William Jennings Bryan, George Wallace and Bernie Sanders as well.

Plus, if you don't have political skills and the know-how to get things done, all you're going to do is bang your head into that apple cart and lay unconscious while all the careerists eat your apples.

damikesc said...

Let the record show: DBQ is pro-dick. Big Dick too.

Aren't most straight women?

EMD said...

"Plus, if you don't have political skills and the know-how to get things done, all you're going to do is bang your head into that apple cart and lay unconscious while all the careerists eat your apples."

Hey, don't let perfect be the enemy of ... okay.

Sebastian said...

"A man with a style honed outside of politics will seem too rough, too unfinished, too strange." Nonsense. Extrapolitical style doesn't have to be rough and strange. Many great American politicians crafted their style outside politics -- Lincoln, Eisenhower, Reagan. Even Romney honed his style in business, though I'm sure he had his eye on future "public service."

EMD said...

"Lincoln"

You have a gauzy veneer of history and legend over your eyes. Lincoln was disparaged routinely for his style of lack thereof.

"In the conversation which occurred before dinner, I was amused to observe the manner in which Mr. Lincoln used the anecdotes for which he is famous. Where men bred in courts, accustomed to the world, or versed in diplomacy, would use some subterfuge, or would make a polite speech, or give a shrug of the shoulders as the means of getting out of an embarrassing position."

bagoh20 said...

Style is how your plumber does his hair.

Brando said...

"Hey, don't let perfect be the enemy of ... okay."

Nobody's perfect of course. But it'd be nice to have an option that could work. It's like your Uber driver showing up riding a dog.

amielalune said...

A politician is what the chattering classes want desperately. And all of those whose livelihoods depend on the status quo, government-wise. And all of the low information voters who believe everything the media tells them. And all of the fainting feminists who don't care what a politician does as long as they sugarcoat it for them and/or lie to cover it up. Most of the rest of us, not so much.

traditionalguy said...

I support the Rooster Cogburn type , and hope Ivanka can keep him focused.

bagoh20 said...

""No. I want someone who will kick butt and upset the apple cart. An Andrew Jackson type, unpolished who says what he means and is willing to take a big stick and beat the crap out of the smug, corruptocrat politicians with his cane."

Of course - who wouldn't want that? But it assumes he will accurately target the corrupt. Ever been to pinata party? Trump seem to swing that stick at anyone in his way, not based on their corruption or ideology, but based on how they treat him, HIM, not us. Even if you want him to win, which I do, you have to admit he is all about Trump first and always. If that results in good governance, it will be by accident. Alternatively, we have Clinton who will produce bad policy entirely on purpose, and she swings her own stick pretty well. I'll take the loose cannon over the one aimed at right me.

Michael K said...

Putin is stretched very thin and in no position to get into a major war with anybody.

I agree but there is a factor of ego and misunderstanding that worries me. World War I should not have happened and I blame the Kaiser for it. He was so unstable that his ministers did not tell him everything.

People talk about Trump being reckless but he has a long career in business, in real estate which is probably as close as you can come to world affairs, and his personal manner has been repeatedly described as kind to underlings.

Hillary, on the other hand, is well known for "Fuck You" in response to "Good morning, Ma'am."

Remember Reagan's "inadvertent" comment "The bombing will begin in ten minutes" which was not inadvertant at all. IT was to shake up the Soviets and it may have worked.

I think Putin would get Trump's bluster but would go after Hillary's creepy mendacity as weakness.

Johnny Sokko said...

Kaine screwed the pooch last night and that is why NY Times columnists are running interference for team grandma and "right hand person".

Yancey Ward said...

Well, you can polish a turd, but it is still a turd.

Pence succeeded last night because of his polish, yes, but that polish and discipline allowed him to mostly ignore the unpresidential attacks being launched his way, and the unpresidential manner in which they were launched. He mostly stayed on message. This is where Trump's lack of polish hurt him the most last week- he didn't ignore the ad hominem attacks Clinton launched- after that first half hour he let himself get distracted from the message he was delivering at the beginning, and he became increasingly unpresidential and rough looking as the night wore on. People make a big deal about defending ones self against ad hominem in these debates- I think that has always been a serious error. The candidate under attack should ignore the personal stuff- and stick to the policy messages. You aren't trying to convince those who are dead set against you- you are trying to woo the truly undecided while firing up your own base- being defensive isn't the way you do that. If you are going to go personal and offensive, tie it directly to the policies for which you are the advocate, or tie it negatively to the policies for which your opponent advocates.

I hope Trump took good notes of Pence's method. It would serve him well in the coming two debates.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

That all sounds nice when we think the person is pushing policies we like, but your description applies to William Jennings Bryan, George Wallace and Bernie Sanders as well.

You know, I've never quite understood why William Jennings Bryan is supposed to be a bad person. Perhaps Brando can explain it to me. I must admit, I don't agree with the position he held in regards to Prohibition. But the policies he advocated for do not, to my eyes, seem to put him beyond the pale.

Michael K said...

WJ Bryan was a pacifist and did not want us to get into WWI. He was probably correct.

Maybe the Germans were intolerable as rulers of Europe but another Franco-Prussian War would not have been as bad as what followed.

In fact, they probably had far less ambition than Hitler.

Bryan was, to me, far preferable to Wilson. Of course Roosevelt gave us Wilson on an ego trip. Like Perot gave us Clinton.

Brando said...

"You know, I've never quite understood why William Jennings Bryan is supposed to be a bad person."

Not a bad person, but he advocated inflationary policies and a heavy government hand in business--by today's standards, we've accepted much of this as normal but he was a precursor to the Wilsonian and FDR policies that produced the modern anti-business state.

"WJ Bryan was a pacifist and did not want us to get into WWI. He was probably correct."

He was correct when it came to foreign policy. We should not have been involved in WWI.

robother said...

Facile people have a certain facility that suits them to democratic politics. But, as everyone since Socrates has noted, their rhetorical smoothness comes at the expense of intellectual rigor and common wisdom. Manipulators who are easily manipulated.

Earnest Prole said...

Trump’s politics would be formidable in the hands of someone who projected emotional stability and adult maturity

Bob Boyd said...

@ Earnest

That's why Kaine wouldn't let Pence get a word in edgewise.

Yancey Ward said...

Earnest Prole,

It makes it very puzzling to me why none of the other Republican candidates could really take those positions. Trump's primary win rested on two pillars- the immigration stance and the critique of the neo-conservatives that run the Republican Party and now seemingly back Clinton. In my opinion, it was Trump's criticisms of the Iraq invasion that drove National Review and The Weekly Standard off the cliff, but it was the one issue that could weld the paleoright (as exemplified by Pat Buchanan) and some voters left of center together in a winning coalition. After San Bernadino, I realized Trump probably had a winning campaign as long as the field didn't narrow immediately down to two candidates after New Hampshire since there was no other Republican candidate trying to draw Trump's voters.

I am beginning to think no other candidate could have taken Trump's positions. He may well have been unique.

Unknown said...

Schizophrenic Republican voters love Pence's style while lusting after Trump's style.

Unknown said...

"I like trumps style. But I am a fan of honesty.

Most people, especially democrats, prefer to be lied to."

Oh mah god, lol. Trump has never ever lied to you folks.

gadfly said...

So now we know that Donald lies, Hillary lies and Pence and Kaine swear to the lies. You folks continue to make my choice for Johnson-Wells to look better and better.

buwaya said...

Yancey,

"I am beginning to think no other candidate could have taken Trump's positions. He may well have been unique."

I was also puzzled exactly as you were. It made no sense for all those professional politicians to fail to do their best to get to the front of the parade, once they saw where it was going. It was not at all like them. People like Luntz were pointing this out last fall, his focus groups were showing where Republican voters wanted their candidates, and these candidates just weren't going there.

I suspect that all the others were constrained by their funders. No other candidate was independent as Trump, and so counldn't follow him. This is evident in what we see today, an obvious middle-upper-class split, a fundamental divergence of interests.

rhhardin said...

Style is the weapon of a woman.

Joe said...

I'll admit that I generally prefer the typical "style" of a career politician,

Interesting. I loathe the typical "style" of a career politician.

buwaya said...

"You folks continue to make my choice for Johnson-Wells to look better and better."

They all lie, if they are trying to win. You can't be all things to all men, or even enough men to win, unless you do. There is such a vast range of divergent interests caught up in an all-encompassing government that there is no way to appeal to them all without finessing contradictions - i.e., lying. This is a basic problem with politics. It can be done with style, it can be done crudely, it can even be done with the connivance of the deceived. But it is all still lies.

If you intend to convince only a small, more or less coherent minority then you can tell the truth as they don't have much in the way of divergent interests.

mikeski said...

"But it assumes [Trump] will accurately target the corrupt."

If you assume Trump will target people completely at random, and replace them with people completely at random (or not replace them at all!), then how good Trump seems to you will be proportional to how corrupt you think D.C. is.

I think he looks pretty darn good under that light.

Writ Small said...

I had a similar thought to Althouse's when I saw VP debate poll results on this blog. Big majorities said Pence won, which was pretty clearly true. However, the same poll clickers said Trump won against Hillary (less than 20% Althousian voters could admit that Hillary won).

There is no objective criteria in the world that would score Pence and Trump having each respectively won their debates. Saying Pence won is admitting Trump lost. Insisting Pence and Trump both won is a public declaration of an absence of objectivity.

Moneyrunner said...

To everyone wondering why the other candidates could not get ahead of Trump when they saw that he had the winning issues … it was not the issues but the style with which the issues were presented. It combined issues that were front and center with a full frontal attack on political correctness.

Everyone has a personality that may be changed, but not on short notice. You can’t turn a bookish nerd into a badass lothario in a few weeks. He’ll look like a bookish nerd playing a role. Rubio tried it and bombed … bit time.

Trump’s style is part of his draw, much as people who are “nose holders” want him to turn into Pence. He can’t and he knows it. He’s going to run as Trump and either bring out a huge group of white men who have not voted in past elections, or lose.

Moneyrunner said...

No matter who wins the upcoming election there will still be a country called America. Whether it’s going to be the place you grew up in or not is up to you. Just be careful what you say or who you say it to.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/grade-point/wp/2016/10/04/afraid-to-speak-up-in-the-era-of-trigger-warnings-a-tenured-professor-stays-silent/?postshare=8661475684224224&tid=ss_fb

Carlo said...

"Dear Lefty (political advocate:

style (as opposed to Substance) IS your friend. trust me"