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Advertising experts say that awkwardness is a peculiar attribute of the national mood these days. Many television commercials end with a deliberately awkward moment, where the characters make non sequiturs, or say things that make others uncomfortable, or otherwise look like miscast nerds.It wasn't the candidates' fault that the debate seemed so uncomfortable.The public, alas, probably perceived the bad guys as the journalists asking hard questions. Amid all the interruptions and snapbacks, the politicians seemed normal, in an advertising sort of way: Chris Christie does a superb male version of Josephine the Plumber, especially when he looks right at you and tells you how great he is. In terms of the cultural zeitgeist, awkwardness has replaced irony as the default sensibility, argued Elif Batuman in a New Yorker essay titled "The Awkward Age" in September 2014 .The same logic explains the poor showing of the conventional candidates, especially Jeb Bush.Maybe Bush's best hope is that he, too, has an inner awkwardness that surfaces in unscripted encounters.
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