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Figaro rips the innards out of things people say and reveals the rhetorical tricks and pratfalls. For terms and definitions, click here.
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    Ready for Some Wednesday Night Debateball?

    Good Figarists around the world are getting out their chili recipes, unpacking their foam No. 1 signs, and buying team regalia. It’s Presidential Debate time! The first one’s October 3. Bring your vuvuzela!

    Wait. Only Figaro brings his vuvuzela to debate parties?

    In a tight election, everything makes a difference. In this election, though, the difference the debate will make will be, um, different.

    This election is about turnout, not undecided voters. That’s because the few remaining undecideds (“Stragglers” would be a better name) are among the least news-savvy people. Both campaigns are focusing instead on turnout, with voter-registration campaigns, laws designed to suppress minority votes, and micro-target marketing. And the debates?

    Each candidate will use code language to signal the fringes without turning off moderates. Consultants call this technique dog whistling, because it sends messages in a rhetorical frequency only insiders can understand. Obama will talk about fairness, community, level playing fields, and following the rules. Romney is practicing his scriptural phrases, military jargon, and coded messages about Israel.

    Meanwhile, the campaign’s spinners are trying to lower expectations for their own candidates and flattering their opponents. If Romney does very well, looking decisive and presidential while attacking Obama in jovial, Reaganesque fashion, he can outscore the president. And that will gin up enthusiasm among Republicans.

    Which is the end game for Romney. He rouses his party or he loses.  Be there for the kickoff!

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