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    Which Meme Won the Debates?

    Since last night’s debate was boring and pretty much meaningless (“I think we all love teachers,” said exasperated moderator Bob Schieffer in a discussion purportedly about foreign policy), the only takeaway is the meme. 

    What makes a great meme? Four elements:

    • Excellent visuals. (Binders. Women. Archaic weaponry.)
    • Rhythm (BIND-ers FULL of WOM-en.)
    • The horse’s mouth. (“Binders full of women.”)
    • The essence of an ethos. (“Let them eat cake!”)

    So let’s see which meme won:

    VISUALS: We love horses and women. (Um, we mean that in a good way.) TIE

    RHYTHM: “Horses and bayonets” aren’t as hip-hop rhythmical as “Binders full of women.” BINDERS

    HORSE’S MOUTH: A meme works better when it plays off something the victim said, or allegedly said. Romney came up with “Binders full of women.” Obama came prepared with his bayonets. Therefore: BINDERS

    ETHOS: A great meme captures the negative personality the opponent wants to create. Democrates portray Romney as being a cluelessly sexist plutocrat, the kind of guy who sees women in binders. On the other hand, it’s harder to believe that Romney is hopelessly clueless about military affairs. Again, BINDERS.

    So who won the last two debates? Binders full of women, 3-0.

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    Reader Comments (6)

    It's a sad commentary that the winner of the debate might be a meme.
    October 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRobert Johnston
    Didn't you miss a key factor, Fig? How about the humor of absurdity? In which case, isn't the horses-and-bayonets theme funnier?

    Or are women in binders more absurd?

    October 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPaige Smith
    Robert, the good news is that policy wonks now know what memes are. Yay for rhetoric!

    Paige, humor is really hard to suss out, as you seem to have discovered. Maybe the secret is in the visuals: women spilling out of binders, man with a suit and perfect hair on a horse. With a bayonet.
    October 23, 2012 | Registered CommenterFigaro
    It's also interesting that memes lean to the left. I mean, couldn't the horses-and-bayonets line have been used against Obama? He's the one who said it!

    Look at it this way. What if Romney had used horses and bayonets as a comeback against Obama? You'd be seeing Romney on a horse with bayonets! The poor man can't win, meme-wise.
    October 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLisa Canton
    Excellent point! We imagine that the GOP is setting up a Meme Room even as we type.
    October 23, 2012 | Registered CommenterFigaro
    I would add that a great meme taps into an audience's anger. Women are angry about the Republicans' policies toward women's issues. No one group is that upset over the number of ships we have.
    October 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDeborah Hampstead

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