As you look back on past presidential debates, you’ll remember the pundits talking about how the candidates were preparing secret, game changing zingers to unleash upon their opponents.
“Well…there you go again,” said Ronald Reagan.
“Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. And senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy,” said Senator Lloyd Bentsen to VP counterpart Dan Quayle.
“I am not going to exploit for political purposes my opponent’s youth and inexperience,” said Reagan in his re-election debate with Walter Mondale.
Zingers are used to both “unsell” the opponent while “selling” the speaker. Zingers can work. Anytime you say something about the competition to point out their weaknesses or flaws, you’re zinging (unselling) them.
Is there a defense against zingers? Or must all zingers be counter-zinged?
It’s easy to disarm zingers. If your opponent decides to zap you with zingers, gather your wits, stop, and state: “I’ll stop speaking and give you the opportunity to unload all your zingers now. Just let me know when you’ve finished.”
True, you zinged their zinger with your zinger. And you can’t unleash any more of yours. But you’ve saved yourself from the thousand cuts of their zinger barbs.
How wars are won: As General George Patton said, “A tactic perceived is no longer a tactic.”