By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

No sweat

I was listening to WBUR Radio (90.9 FM) this morning when Democratic political consultant Dan Payne popped up to talk about last night’s gubernatorial debate. I had not yet seen it, so I took Payne at face value when he said Deval Patrick had spent the hour sweating like Richard Nixon. Among other things, Payne (a former Patrick adviser) said the oceans of perspiration made Patrick seem “nervous,” and that he ought to fire his makeup artist.

Well, now. I’ve just finished watching a tape of the debate, and I can tell you that Patrick didn’t sweat, period. No gusher. No rivulet. Not even a drop. Patrick was shiny, but it looked to me as though there was a stray light blasting him on the right side of his face. But he was dry, and appeared calm, cool and collected for the entire hour.

This is kind of a big deal. I would imagine that far more people heard Payne this morning than actually watched the debate last night. Indeed, other than the candidates’ mothers, I may be the only person on the planet who taped it. So Payne’s mistaken observation that Patrick sweat nervously is going to stick with a lot of people. WBUR ought to broadcast a correction. This is not a matter of opinion, but a matter of fact, and Payne got it wrong.

Interestingly enough, anchor Bob Oakes didn’t disagree with Payne. Now, I don’t know whether Payne was present at the Kennedy School last night, but I’ll bet he was. And that might be the problem. To Oakes (who was on the panel of questioners) and Payne, it may well have looked like Patrick was sweating. Viewers at home know better.

I’ll agree with Payne on this: Last night we witnessed the political suicide of Tom Reilly. Good grief. More later.

Update: Some folks are telling me I’m wrong — that Patrick really was sweating. One yes-he-was-sweating observer was sitting several feet from the candidates. Sorry, but I’m going to stick with my lying eyes on this. After all, I was several inches from the candidates. I was primed to look for sweat. I walked up to the TV, inspecting Patrick’s face as carefully as I could. He wasn’t sweating.

Update II: Dan Payne writes, “I watched debate at home on TV, not at K School. Maybe it was bad lighting but Deval Patrick looked like he was sweating the whole night. But why sweat the small stuff?” OK, OK. Time for my modified limited hangout. I’ll give WBUR a pass on running a correction — too many people agree with Payne that Patrick was sweating. But they’re all wrong!

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  1. Anonymous

    Okay,I’ll split the difference. Deval looked shiny, and it easily looked like it could have been sweat, although there was no actual running of liquid. To say that viewers at home know better might be a bit of an overstatement.However, whether it was perspiration or bad lighting, Deval did keep his cool and performed fairly well, as did the extremely tall Chris Gabrieli.On the other hand, performing like Nixon would have been a step up for Reilly.

  2. Anonymous

    Dan Payne and Bob Oakes – now there’s a real meeting of the minds. ‘BUR should drop Payne and write Oakes’ questions for him the next time they let him do an interview.

  3. mike_b1

    Gabrielli and Patrick looked calm and in control. Reilly absolutely bombed; he came across just as critics said he would: frustrated that he even had to be there with two guys who haven’t paid their political dues.I was so proud of him for taking on the Catholic Church — if belatedly — over the many child abuse cases. But Reilly is clearly better suited for the AG’s office than to be the facce of the state.

  4. Mitch

    Deval looked to me like he was sweating. But I was only glancing up at the TV occasionally, so it might have been the shininess gambit.Also, Chris Gabrieli looked like he could dunk a basketball.

  5. Anonymous

    I agree with Dan on all but one point; Tom O’Reilly has committed political suicide long, wide, deep and repeatedly, at least since the beginning of his gubernatorial campaign. He’s an inept politician, and despite his protestations, this is not an asset.

  6. Diane

    I wanted Reilly to do well, I really did – but man. That was a disaster. You’d think it would be a real challenge for a guy as nice as Reilly is to come off as a pit bull, but he managed. And not answering that question Janet Wu gave him about his campaign and the public trust? Sheesh. That was a golden opportunity and he just ignored it.

  7. sco

    I watched on TV and didn’t notice any sweat at all. I was at an angle to the television though, so I can’t say. My wife actually mentioned to me afterwards that she thought Gabrieli was sweating.I will say that the room nearly broke into singing that song from West Side Story when Tom Reilly started snapping his fingers.

  8. Anonymous

    How about Oakes’ comment that Reilly “won the headlines” this morning. Just what headlines did he see that indicated Reilly had “won” anything? Or does winning the headlines just mean getting attention? Because Katherine Harris is winning the headlines, too, but that’s not necessarily good news for her.

  9. Rick in Duxbury

    Elephant in the living room is the public employees unions. Patrick and Gabrielli could have taken Reilly to task about Charlie Lincoln, the retired Brockton cop with a $140,000 pension. Reilly claims to be vigorously investigating this guy, who happened to be a Reilly delegate to the Dem convention. Deval and Chris don’t want to alienate politically active people who aspire to a similar pension score. Globe buried it in middle of section B last week. By now, Globe probably thinks following the Reilly story would be kicking a corpse.

  10. Man who's a Gabrielli Fan

    One wonders about the libel aspect here. I mean, comparing a political candidate, running for office in Massachusetts, to Richard Nixon??? That’s a mighty big slap in the face to Patrick.And if it’s not really true, and instead was just someone’s incorrect perception, well, I could see why a libel suit…if only to slap Oakes & Payne on the wrists and teach them a lesson…might be in order.Of course, the political blowback on Patrick should he attempt something like that would, I imagine, be pretty ugly.

  11. Anonymous

    Dan:Thank-you for the post. I watched the debate and I did not see Patrick sweat. I will need to look at it again. What were Oakes and Payne watching that they saw him sweat and it reminded them Nixon during his debate with Kennedy?

  12. Diane

    Oh yeah, for the record – I watched the whole thing on tv and though Patrick looked cool as a cucumber. No visible sweat whatsoever – and he sure didn’t appear nervous.

  13. paul@01852

    I did watch the debate very closely and on top of that I am a strong Deval Patrick supporter, but that said, I have to agree with Dan Payne. Deval was definitely sweating and I had the same thought that he should fire his makeup person. I was too young to remember the Kennedy-Nixon debates so I can’t make any statements re: the resemblance. But I also agree with those above who said that despite the sweat Patrick acted cool, calm and collected. Bottom line if it *was* sweat I suspect it was due to the hot TV lights and not to any stress on Deval’s part.

  14. SD

    Deval was sweating—absolutely no question about that. No, he was not dripping sweat, but he sure was glistening in it. But I agree he was calm, cool and collected despite that. The fact—yes, fact—that he was sweating meant nothing more than it was hot in there.In my opinion, Gabrieli came out the best of all 3, just to be clear. But Patrick should consider a libel suit? Give me a break.

  15. MeTheSheeple

    Maybe it wasn’t sweat but melting snow. Yeah, that’s it.

  16. tony schinella

    My wife happened to be flipping by the debate rebroadcast and “For it all” Deval seems to be sweating and beading up a storm.

  17. Ryan Adams

    It was very clearly and obviously POOR LIGHTING for anyone who bothered to pay closer attention. It may have looked like sweat to the casual observer, but it wasn’t. You could see the same shine in Gabs head at times. Harvard should have had much better lighting or the debate should have been in a studio. Regardless, Deval did great at the debate so I’m confident.

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