The Introvert's Corner

How to live a quiet life in a noisy world

The Presidential Debate Was Introvert vs Extrovert

Is President Obama taking heat for being an introvert?

I’d like to talk about last night’s presidential debate without talking politics.

President Obama is getting spanked by the media and even his supporters for his performance in last night’s debate. He was subdued, looked down a lot, didn’t attack, went kind of wonky.

Governor Romney, on the other hand, was animated and bombastic, full of piss and vinegar. He exuded tremendous energy, talking right over Jim Lehrer to get his points across. He had lots of points, lots of numbers and checklists, lots to say and he said it forcefully. The pundits loved it.

But until the debate was over and I started listening to the talking heads’ analysis, I thought Obama’s performance was fine. Actually, one of the people I watched the debate with said several times that Obama was being crushed, and I disagreed.

Evidently I was wrong.

But gosh--I liked Obama’s low-key energy. I liked the way he seemed to think about stuff, and I liked that his answers tended towards the philosophies behind his decisions rather than focusing on concrete numbers, which are often a lot of hocus-pocus in political banter. I liked his ocassional smiles and jokes. 

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Do you see what I’m getting at here?

Obama behaved like an introvert and he got steamrolled by the extroverted energy of Mitt Romney.

We have talked often here about how many introverts are able to behave as extroverts when we need to. I call it my dog and pony show. And yeah, Obama needed to trot out his dog and pony show last night. Politics is nothing if not a three-ring circus. Chris Matthews, his hair unkempt, his face read, sputtered wildly that Obama needs to watch more cable news, to learn how yell for get attention, I guess.

But that bugs me. Once again, an introvert is being scolded for his quiet demeanor. He’s being told that his way is the wrong way.

Maybe Obama did “lose” the debate and maybe Romney “won.” I’m not exactly sure what that means in this context, but whatever. All I’m saying is that Obama’s demeanor alone does not make him a loser. It makes him an introvert.

Sophia Dembling is a widely published Dallas, Texas-based writer. Her latest book is The Introvert’s Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World.

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