A Beleza Presidencial Americana

NOVA IORQUE – Qual é o objectivo de um debate presidencial? No contexto das eleições presidenciais americanas, a utilização do termo "debate" é pouco adequada. O debate frente-a-frente entre o anterior presidente francês, Nicolas Sarkozy e o seu adversário socialista, François Hollande, foi realmente um debate - no qual foram abordadas questões de fundo durante mais de duas horas. Pelo contrário, nos Estados Unidos os debates presidenciais assemelham-se mais a encenações, nas quais as respostas a todas as perguntas possíveis foram repetidamente ensaiadas com equipas de instrutores e conselheiros.

Nos EUA, os candidatos presentes num debate dirigem-se a um público de jornalistas cuidadosamente seleccionados, que raramente exigem o aprofundamento de uma questão. E o desempenho dos candidatos é analisado bem menos em termos do conteúdo dos seus argumentos do que em relação à sua aparência, linguagem corporal, tiques faciais, suspiros, sorrisos e escárnios mal controlados, ou ainda a um inadvertido olhar de incredulidade. O candidato tem um ar snobe, ou aparenta ser o “tipo porreiro” em quem se pode confiar? Os seus sorrisos parecem sinceros ou falsos?

Estes "elementos visuais" podem ser extremamente importantes. Afinal, diz-se que Richard Nixon perdeu as eleições contra John Kennedy em 1960, na sequência de um debate entre ambos transmitido pela televisão: Kennedy surgiu com aspecto descontraído e bem-parecido, enquanto Nixon surgia diante das câmaras com um ar carrancudo, com a barba por fazer e a limpar o suor do rosto. Nos debates frente a frente com Ronald Reagan, em 1980, Jimmy Carter passou uma imagem de presunção e de falta de sentido de humor e Reagan surgiu como o velho tio simpático e amistoso. Carter perdeu.

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