"Sen. Barack Obama, one of the two front runners for the Democrat presidential nomination, often seemed to stumble through his answers to Pastor Warren’s questions, continually glancing down to his right, with his head cocked at a 45-degree angle for nearly the entire hour," writes Satirist-in-Chief Scott Ott* of ScrappleFace re last night's Saddleback Civil Forum.
Update: Screenshot from a replay this evening of the civil forum that was.
Most opinionators are giving high marks for style and content to both participants, with John McCain being declared the "winner" for exceeding expectations.
Dogs and Democrat presidential presumptives may cock their heads to suggest engagement, but cats and the Republican presumptive focus straight ahead on the task at hand. Tiny, above, applies the Think System to Tuck's dinner plate, just off camera.
We dozed off between toe curls during the live broadcast but caught most of it in bits and pieces later on in replays. So what's with the mock-earnest cock of the golden boy's head? Googling around the body-language sites of cyberspace, we found at least three possibilities:
1. Submission, according eSSORTMENT's "Reading body language":
In the game of dominance/submission, a long, unblinking stare is associated with aggression and a desire to dominate. You can pick this up in animals by observing two dogs that meet. The dominant dog will stare straight at the other dog, and eventually one will back down by either looking down or “offering his throat” in play to show the other dog he means no challenge. This is done in humans in more subtle ways. The dominant person will hold the gaze and the submissive person will dart their eyes to one side, look down, or cock their head to the side to begin listening (our civilized version of offering the throat). Try watching an angry boss communicate with a hapless employee to see evidence of this domination/submission choreography.
2. Flirtation, according to Positive Thinking Magazine's website:
Here's another gesture that appeals to both women and men. Cock your head to the side while lifting one shoulder slightly. One, this lets the other person know you're interested in them. Two, it looks absolutely adorable. (If you have a dog, you know how effective this is!)
[Who let all these dogs in here? —ed]
3. Feigned interest in questioner, according to Alan Axelrod in Getting Your Way Every Day: Mastering the Lost Art of Pure Persuasion:
What you do with your head contributes in a major way to the impression of relaxed energy … when you are in a Q & A session. The head cocked slightly to one side conveys that you are listening very closely and with great interest. While this is a most desirable gesture, be certain that you vary it. No body language gesture is positive if it is maintained statically.
A well aimed paw thrust is another move from the feline body-language playbook. Here Babe signals his intentions toward the contents of Tuck's plate.
Senator McCain, by contrast "looked up and at the audience or the camera, giving a much more personal feel," as a CNN Political Ticker commenter noted approvingly.
*NOTE: Blogfriend Scott has acquired press credentials for the Republican National Convention and is asking fans to help out financially:
As a result, ScrappleFace readers, and those who follow Scott Ott at Townhall.com, on Twitter and on Facebook will enjoy gavel-to-gavel satirical (and serious) written coverage of the convention … Since this excursion was not included in the ScrappleFace Enterprise Institute’s fiscal 2008 budget, the vast board of directors of ScrappleFace.com has decided to turn to ScrappleFace readers (AKA Scrapplers) to fund this journalistic adventure. Your generous gift is tax-deductible only if you’re the kind of person who cheats on your taxes. However, by hitting PayPal now to sponsor ScrappeFace@RNC 2008, you will have the warm feeling that you’re actually making a difference in the future of our country.
Be sure to check out Scott's latest serious piece at Townhall, "McCain Won My Conservative Vote at Saddleback." It may help those like our blogbuddy Brooklyn of HNAV who are still having serious doubts, to "stop worrying and love John McCain." Or maybe not.
Update: "Mr. Um Uh, Inarticulate, Stutter, Stutter no longer has the lead, writes Susan of Mind of Mog with a link to us — Thanks, doll! — and good news from the mind of pollster John Zogby, who notes “That hairline difference between nuance and what appears to be flip-flopping is hurting [Obama] with liberal voters. Susan explains:
Bout time too, a reversal at the polls. McCain now leads.
McCain leads Obama among likely U.S. voters by 46 percent to 41 percent, wiping out Obama’s solid 7-point advantage in July and taking his first lead in the monthly Reuters/Zogby poll.
Now, if only the talking heads at CNN and fellow travelers would stop mistaking empty rhetoric for — in Bill Schneider's words — "complex, thoughtful, very subtle" discourse.
Update: If it's complex, thoughtful, very subtle discourse you're after, head on over to Dr. Sanity's Carnival of the Insanities.