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!