Olson on the Presidential Debates
Dr. Kathryn Olson (Department of Communication and Rhetorical Leadership) was interviewed by the UWM Report on the on-going presidential debates. Olson looks less at what candidates say and more on why candidates say the things they do. She answers questions on what it means to “win” a debate and gives guidance to people who are watching the debates and attempting to make sense of what they hear. Olson is asked if debates are more than political theater and what role the media plays in deciding who wins the presidential debates.
As to what the American public want to see in a leader, Dr. Olson explains: “The American view of democratic leadership is something of a paradox. We want someone who is extraordinary, who’s able to take charge; but we also want someone with whom we can identify, someone who is like us and who reports to us. One challenge for the candidates during the debates is to perform an acceptable combination of humility and superiority.”