Can Cameron Make This His JFK Moment?

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), March 7, 2010 | Go to article overview

Can Cameron Make This His JFK Moment?


Byline: William REES-MOGG

Presidential debates have become a routine part of American presidential elections since the 1960 debate between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon, which helped Kennedy win his narrow victory.

American historians can recall the issue on which the debate turned. That was Kennedy's allegation, subsequently disproved, that the Eisenhower administration had allowed a 'missile gap' to develop between the Soviet Union and the United States.

It is true that this debate was a turning point in the presidential campaign, but that had little to do with the missile gap. It had everything to do with the appearance of the two men. Kennedy was an attractive young man with an Irish sense of humour. Nixon was pasty-faced and looked in need of a shave.

Kennedy spoke in the clipped accents of a proper Bostonian, with upper-class style, though his ancestors had come over from Ireland in the 19th Century. With the television audience, Kennedy won because he had a stronger personal attraction. In the Nineties, Tony Blair was the British equivalent of Kennedy.

Since 1960, America has always had a presidential debate as part of the presidential campaign; now Britain has one and it seems certain that will become a tradition. In this campaign, Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg will submit themselves to debates; each one will last for an hour-and-a-half. National attention may wander.

Between 1960 and 2010, Britain avoided the presidential debate, partly because these are parliamentary, not presidential elections, but mainly because these debates cannot be controlled by campaign managers.

As in 1960, the damage has usually been done to the candidate's image rather than his argument. Voters are much more likely to decide their vote on the basis of their empathy for a candidate than on policy. That was how Kennedy and Blair won their elections.

The ordinary broadcast appeal allows the candidate to emphasise those aspects of his image and of his party's policies that will be to his advantage. It is harder to manipulate a debate. Each of the three candidates in this Election has an image problem. Clegg, who will be speaking first, is the least known to the public.

Britain operates on a two-and-ahalf party system, and Clegg is the leader of the half party. More often than not, the news media simply forgets about the Lib Dems. The real gainers from the decision to hold debates are therefore the Lib Dems, because they are awarded parity of publicity. This is something both larger parties may live to regret.

Brown, on the other hand, has the problem of being overexposed; he has been Chancellor or Prime Minister for 13 years. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Can Cameron Make This His JFK Moment?
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.