Kavanaugh v. Ford: The Judge Will Freeze, The Doctor Will Test

September 27, 2018

Thursday’s epic face off between SCOTUS nominee Brett Kavanaugh and his 11th-hour accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, is sure to inspire a bevy of studies on their words and rhetoric. Here’s my analysis of the influence plays that the nominated judge and aggrieved doctor will run on itchy senators and a mesmerized public.

Using the ChopTalk beta tool, an AI-enabled prototype that senses and decodes strategies of influence, I plumbed the depths of the prepared remarks of Kavanaugh and Ford for deeper meanings than measured sentiment and tone. As shown below, what emerges is a posture of apology and comparison from the Supreme Court hopeful and a tentative and probing performance from his detractor, leading to an initial conclusion that neither Kavanaugh nor Ford will go for the rhetorical kill.

Based on eight of 23 featured plays in the Taxonomy of Influence Strategies, ChopTalk produces two very different strategic signatures for the Senate Judiciary Committee guests. Whereas Kavanaugh relies on freezing plays — Concede, the strategy of concession, and Contrast, the strategy of comparison — Ford is far more cautious. Though her prepared remarks are five times longer (2,500 words to Kavanaugh’s 500) her more singular strategy, Test, ensures careful entry into a hostile hearing. Think of it as a trial ballon – a launching of possibilities, theories and potentials that suggest rather than rule on a position or point of view.

What’s your analysis? Let me know @playmakeralana or email me here.

Post by Alan Kelly