Today’s Senate debate could not have been a bigger contrast in styles. On the one hand, you had the sober, policy-minded intellectual with a handle on the problems and solutions for each, even if those solutions weren’t delivered with the greatest degree of passion. On the other hand, you had the rampaging demagogue, impassioned but devoid of substance, raging about how “unfair” and “pessimistic” the other person was for having money and acknowledging reality. If you put David Cameron up against Ed Schultz, I doubt you’d have a clearer contrast than Rob Portman vs. Lee Fisher.
Portman blew Fisher away on the substance of the debate, mangling Fisher’s anecdotal evidence and folksy nothings with continual statistics, facts, figures and a sense of (despite Fisher’s attack) tempered optimism about the future. However, Portman came off as extremely stiff, and only really had one good line (talking about how when Fisher first ran for office, “disco was still cool”). Fisher, meanwhile, had multiple applause and laugh lines, and knew how to connect with the audience even though he had absolutely nothing whatsoever to say. For those who vote with their heads, Portman wins the debate by a knockout. For those who vote with their groins, Fisher wins by the same margin.