Belleza presidencial norteamericana

NUEVA YORK – ¿Cuál es el objetivo de un debate presidencial? En el contexto de las elecciones presidenciales norteamericanas, "debate" es un término poco apropiado. Cuando el ex presidente francés Nicolas Sarkozy enfrentó a su oponente socialista, François Hollande, ese fue un debate -allí se abordaron cuestiones sustanciales y duró más de dos horas-. Por el contrario, los debates presidenciales en Estados Unidos son más bien representaciones montadas, donde las respuestas a cada posible interrogante se han ensayado infinitamente con equipos de entrenadores y asesores.

Los candidatos en los debates estadounidenses hablan con periodistas cuidadosamente  seleccionados que rara vez hacen repreguntas. Y las actuaciones de los candidatos son escudriñadas no tanto por la sustancia de sus argumentos como por su presentación, lenguaje corporal, tics faciales, suspiros descuidados, sonrisas, comentarios despectivos y ojos que se ponen en blanco involuntariamente. ¿El candidato da la impresión de ser un esnob o un tipo amigable en quien uno puede confiar? ¿Las sonrisas parecen reales o falsas?

Estas "ópticas" pueden ser de gran importancia. Después de todo, se dice que la carrera de Richard Nixon contra John Kennedy en 1960 se perdió en la televisión: Kennedy parecía sereno y apuesto, a la vez que Nixon miraba la cámara con el ceño fruncido, mientras le corría el sudor por el rostro con barba de un día. En sus debates con Ronald Reagan en 1980, Jimmy Carter dio la impresión de ser una persona petulante y sin humor, mientras que a Reagan se lo vio como un viejo tío amigable. Carter perdió.

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