A column of Dr. Dineen
The feeling man's president
The 'War in Iraq' may once have been aimed at winning over the 'hearts and minds' of the Iraqi people. But when it comes to winning the votes of the American people, President George W Bush seems to have set his sights much lower. A trust-my-gut conservative himself, Bush once declared: 'I don't spend a lot of time taking polls to tell me what I think is the right way to act; I just got to know how I feel.'
This focus on the gut may turn out to be the deciding factor in the upcoming presidential election. While Democrat John Kerry conveys big-city intellect, Bush radiates down-home confidence. Kerry's dress is the executive's white shirt and tie, with the sleeves only occasionally rolled up to portray a ready-for-work attitude, but it's Bush whose favourite outfit is the blue denim shirt of the common man. Kerry, despite serious efforts during the campaign to appear folksy, still tends to lecture the faithful in long, convoluted sentences peppered with commas and semi-colons, while Bush talks to his followers in his own naturally relaxed manner, using simple, crisp sentences that rarely require even a period.
Some argue that this discrepancy in style is evidence of a difference in intelligence, and well it may be. But the question that needs to be asked is: what kind of intelligence?
Almost a decade
ago, an American science journalist, Daniel Goleman, borrowed and popularised
the term 'Emotional Intelligence'. Claiming to 'redefine what it means
to be smart', he promised to reveal why emotional
And that's where
Kerry and Bush differ. Not on values, patriotism or even policy, but
on EQ. Kerry may be highly intelligent, but he is starchy, stiff and
emotionally not as skilled. Bush, on the other hand, may not be
So different yardsticks
measure the two men. It was these different yardsticks, for example,
that determined the effectiveness of the advertisements about Vietnam
put out by the infamous '527' groups. Kerry,
According to Samuel
Popkin, a political scientist at the University of California at San
Diego, voters filter small bits of information and then use their instincts
to guide their decision - which he calls 'gut
Deepak Chopra, the guru of Eastern philosophy and medicine, supports the importance of gut instinct, going so far as to say that the mind doesn't reside only in the brain but permeates the body. 'The cells in your gut', he states, 'make the same peptides that your brain makes when it has ideas'.
Whether we take Chopra's theory seriously or treat 'gut' as a metaphor, it's clear that gut instinct is an important variable in this upcoming US election.
While Mario Cuomo,
former governor of New York, may lament that '[Americans] are not well-informed,
and a lot of that is our fault', I'm not sure it really matters. Perhaps
the voters just don't much care about all of the
With two candidates
showing such apparent differences in IQ and EQ, this election may boil
down to whether aiming at the gut pays off. Are emotions really, as
Goleman claims, 'more powerful (and important) than intellect'? The
Republicans hope so; the Democrats hope not.
|Link to Spiked OnLine||
Oct. 27, 2004
by Dr. Tana Dineen,