CNN employs body language expert to dissect McCain’s smirk
Perhaps heading into Bill O’Reilly territory, CNN’s Jeanne Moos asked body language expert Dan Hill to look at the candidates’ debate performances.
According to Moos, there was a “body language bonanza during the first presidential debate. Who needs political pundits when Dan Hill can dissect a smile?”
Hill’s dissection: “You can see Obama’s smile is a true smile. It’s about twice as barring McCain’s. McCain, when he smiles, it’s always really more of a grimace smile. There’s a tension that permeates McCain’s personality.”
“And maybe not enough tension permeating Obama,” Moos responded.
Hill dissected: “What strikes me is how much Obama will look down when he’s talking. He is quote an introvert, I think. He’d probably be one of the most introverted people we’ve ever had as president.”
Fox pundit Bill O’Reilly frequently uses body expert Tonya Reiman to tell his viewers what politicians are “really feeling.”
After Bush’s 2007 State of the Union address, O’Reilly asked Reiman if she agreed that Senator McCain (R-AZ) was then doing a “Rip Van Winkle impression,” after cameras appeared to catch him with his eyes seemingly closed for a spell during Bush’s address.
“Did McCain really fall asleep during that speech?” O’Reilly asked his show’s body expert.
“No,” Reiman insisted, who said that his slight movements and blinking showed that he wasn’t sawing logs in his dreams.
O’Reilly wasn’t so sure. “I look like that when I go to the opera,” he joshed.
“I believe I could have taken his wallet and he wouldn’t have noticed in that posture,” O’Reilly said.
This video is from CNN.com, broadcast September 29, 2008.
Full transcript via CNN:
ROBERTS: It’s all about body language. It’s not what you say, but how you say it. That may be especially true in a debate where a candidate’s body often does a lot of the talking.
Our Jeanne Moos has a closer look at that for us.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Debate note to Sarah Palin, you don’t only have to watch what you say, you have to watch for people watching how you say it. Take that Alaska’s proximity to Russia counts as foreign policy experience answer. It’s been imitated on comedy shows.
TINA FEY, ACTRESS PLAYING GOV. SARAH PALIN ON “SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE”” You’ve got Alaska here and this right here is water and then that up there is Russia.
MOOS: It’s been ridiculed. BILL MAHER, HOST OF “REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER”: But that was the sentence to no where.
MOOS: And now we’ve asked someone call a facial coding expert to analyze.
DAN HILL, FACIAL CODING EXPERT: Her mouth tightened. It was a second level notch of anger or indignation.
MOOS: But that’s nothing compared to the body language bonanza during the first presidential debate.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: — While he’s spewing his nonsense —
MOOS: There was disdain from McCain.
HILL: A really smirking smile from the corner of the mouth.
MOOS: A lack of passion from Obama.
HILL: He’s got talking points but doesn’t have feeling points.
MOOS: Who needs political pundits when Dan Hill can dissect a smile.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, having resolves Iraq, we’ll move to Afghanistan.
HILL: You can see Obama’s smile is a true smile. It’s about twice as barring McCain’s. McCain, when he smiles, it’s always really more of a grimace smile. There’s a tension that permeates McCain’s personality.
MOOS: And maybe not enough tension permeating Obama.
HILL: What strikes me is how much Obama will look down when he’s talking. He is quote an introvert, I think. He’d probably be one of the most introverted people we’ve ever had as president.
MOOS: But then, Hill’s main take away from the debate, what he called McCain’s lack of respect for Obama.
OBAMA: It would strip away those tax breaks that have gone to oil companies.
HILL: McCain was trying to make it look softer there by smiling, but in fact, his eyes were very narrow in what’s a snake eyes expression of anger and there was contempt on his face.
MOOS: But, contempt is in the snake eye of the beholder. It didn’t take a body language expert to notice that McCain didn’t seem to look at Obama. But when asked about it on ABC —
MCCAIN: That’s just foolishness. MOOS: McCain said he was focused on the moderator and viewers. Despite the exchange of good job when the debate ended, McCain’s look didn’t linger. Our expert found a link to his own cuff links.
HILL: McCain really specializes in his indignation. He is not afraid of being the frowning face.
MOOS: An analysis that may make McCain smile or raise an eyebrow.
Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.