September 27, 2008

McCain "needs to make an opponent an enemy in his mind to kind of get up for this. He personalizes conflict..."

That's WaPo's Eugene Robinson, responding to Chris Matthews, who's fulminating about McCain's supposed contempt for Obama:



I was watching the debate on a channel that mainly had a split screen of the 2 men head on, so it was hard for me to discern the level of interaction. But I do think McCain had a strategy of intimidating Obama and making him feel small and inexperienced.

And, frankly, Robinson is right! McCain does personalize conflict. He has such a dramatic and profound personal story, and he's made it the foundation of his rhetoric. He uses it to reinforce his credibility and to add weight to all his opinions. It's not surprising that when he came to face Obama in person that he thought he could make the other man doubt himself. Who am I to stand next to this man?

Or -- whatever he could make Obama think -- at least he could make us see him as the greater man, but he risked the kind of criticism Robinson and Matthews dished out.

Josh Marshall quotes a reader:
As a psychotherapist and someone who treats people with anger management problems, we typically try to educate people that anger is often an emotion that masks other emotions. I think it's significant that McCain didn't make much, if any, eye contact because it suggests one of two things to me; he doesn't want to make eye contact because he is prone to losing control of his emotions if he deals directly with the other person, or, his anger masks fear and the eye contact may increase or substantiate the fear.

I noticed him doing the same thing in the Republican primary debates. The perception observers are likely to have is that he is unwilling to acknowledge the opponent's legitimacy and/or is contemptuous of the opponent.
He also knows his opponent would like to get him to display anger and confirm the theory that he's angry man and he's defending against that tactic.

(Hey, do you know the difference between a tactic and a strategy? "I'm afraid Senator Obama doesn't understand the difference between a tactic and a strategy." If you don't, you're not fit to stand on the stage next to John McCain, who's been through tactics and strategies all over the world over half a century.)

Marshall quotes another reader:
I think people really are missing the point about McCain's failure to look at Obama. McCain was afraid of Obama. It was really clear -- look at how much McCain blinked in the first half hour. I study monkey behavior -- low ranking monkeys don't look at high ranking monkeys. In a physical, instinctive sense, Obama owned McCain tonight and I think the instant polling reflects that.
Dan Drezner says:
Ah, the perceived slights. Josh Marshall highlights McCain’s unwillingness to make eye contact with Obama. I would say that McCain evinced some disregard for Obama — but I’m not buying the “low-ranking monkey” hypothesis (seriously, I can’t believe Josh posted this). McCain was not afraid of Obama — he just doesn’t like him.
Indeed. We are animals, with animal instincts worth noting, but it is a rule of polite discourse that when racial difference is anywhere in the picture, you don't compare human beings to apes or monkeys.

81 comments:

rhhardin said...

The hidden message of psychology is that the truth is hidden. That's how it's a stable concept.

rcocean said...

I agree McCain treated Obama badly. Its almost like McCain thought he was a Republican.

One reason I don't want McCain elected, Presidents need to play well with others and not let their personal feelings rule them.

Paddy O. said...

Eye contact is both a sign of personal engagement and aggression. I always notice eye contact in conversations.

But the key here, and the key that even pissed Lehrer off, is that McCain and Obama weren't talking to each other.

Obama was trying to prove something. He's the younger, less experienced man. He was looking at McCain, cutting into his statements, especially early on, and especially when his own words seemed the most uncertain.

McCain simply doesn't need to prove anything. So his lack of eye contact wasn't about being intimidated by or not liking Obama. It was about McCain not talking to Obama at all. McCain was talking to the audience. He doesn't care about Obama's approval or competition.

McCain, honestly, seemed more dismissive than angry. Because, I honestly think McCain feels, as no doubt a lot of senior Democratic senators do, Obama really hasn't earned the right to step onto that stage. Making McCain more like the professor with a student.

Obama is like the really smart, engaged student, who is trying to beat the professor and point out all the mistakes.

John K. said...

Ann, it didn't even enter my head that maybe monkey = Obama until the last paragraph of your post. Maybe you're a little too sensitive to this kind of thing, creating issues where none exist.

John Burgess said...

While it may not be a rule of polite discourse, it should be: Enough with the Pop Psych.

Marshall's quoted psychotherapist should likely have his license pulled for attempting to diagnose with no actual contact with the 'patient'.

And anyway, I couldn't care less what Eugene Robinson thinks. He has amply demonstrated in his columns for WaPo that he's clueless about most everything in the world.

Meade said...

It's a great tactic McCain uses.

Next time you're with someone who's narcissism is disordered, try this experiment: Don't look at them.

They can't bear not having their precious image reflected because it's all they have. Without mirrors, they don't exist. They go apeshit. They make faces. They roll their eyes.

El Presidente said...

I'm not sure "Obama is a high ranking monkey" is a winning slogan.

MTbomber said...

Unfortunately, Meade, I think with McCain, that's a strategy, not a tactic. And one that played very poorly with the few unedecided voters I know. Repubs thought Mccain won. Dems thought Obama won. And the rest thought Obama not ony won, but that he seemed more Presidential, and that McCain seemed angry and at times belligerent in a very disrespectful way. Which played beautifully to the GOP, who is already won over. And in that sense, Mccain's strategy of belittling Obama and ranting about his lack of understanding was a loser.

John K. said...

Of course, the pop psychology interpretation considered McCain as a monkey also, in fact a low ranking one. Nothing in the interpretation insinuated the racist idea that blacks are closer to monkeys than whites.

bagoh20 said...

paddy o.'s got it right. Obama trying to become the alpha through confrontation, McCain acting the alpha by ignoring the challenger. I would never use the primate comparison, but this is how dogs act.

John K. said...

BTW, I do subscribe to the racist belief that politicians are closer to monkeys than the rest of us. So sue me.

ricpic said...

Obama was trying to prove something.

That's the key. Does a MAN have to prove something?

downtownlad said...

But Obama is the high ranking monkey, so it is ok in this case.

downtownlad said...

I really hope people don't vote based on John McCain's eye contact. That would be absurd.

Palladian said...

"I really hope people don't vote based on John McCain's eye contact. That would be absurd."

Apparently the goal of American elections is to win over absurd people who vote based on such things.

Meade said...

"I would never use the primate comparison, but this is how dogs act."

No it isn't. If it were, there would have been more urinating on each respective lectern.

Harwood said...

Heavy-duty psychologizing. Are we in a time warp back to the 1970s? Ann, how about a podcast of you doing a primal scream.

Palladian said...

"No it isn't. If it were, there would have been more urinating on each respective lectern."

Obama did get awfully pissy there for a while...

Meade said...

You mean pussy, right?

AprilApple said...

and how dare anyone not like Obama.
right?

We are ALL supposed to worship the man.

downtownlad said...

The markets like Obama.

http://iemweb.biz.uiowa.edu/graphs/graph_Pres08_WTA.cfm

PatCA said...

Yes, paddy o. and meade have got it.

As long as we are talking animals, I think Obama is always destined to lose in a debate against McCain based on his own campaign strategy. McCain is certainly the alpha dog, and Obama never challenges him. He cannot even make McCain look at him!

Obama's strategy is that he is nicer than McCain: America doesn't need an alpha dog, it needs a cuddly member of the global pack. Historically, Americans have chosen otherwise.

Meade said...

"The markets like Obama."

The same markets that are jumping around like nervous rabbits?

Bushman of the Kohlrabi said...

There are two possible responses in the world of Mathews.

1. Get all tingly and blubber on about O's "historic" performance (if Barry does ok) or

2. Declare whoever opposes Barry as "mean" when Barry's performance is sub par or his weaknesses are illuminated.

As for Eugene, I've never heard him say anything critical about Obama. No cruel neutrality there. His opinion means nothing.

The fact that they are both focusing on McCain rather than Barry tells you who won the debate.

Brent said...

`

Paddy O - you are completely correct.

McCain did the same thing at Saddleback, directing his answers to the audience, when it was just him and the questioner. McCain has decided to address the audience, a historically-favored device, much as he did in his acceptance speech.

That fact alone puts the lie to any other version of McCain not making eye contact with Obama. And bringing in a psychotherapist? Man, you are reaching!

Marshall and others (Ann?)are despicable for trying to make an issue of something that they would be admiring Obama for if he had done the same thing.


And Eugene Robinson is a reactionary Black grievance hate-monger, and no one respectable gives any thought to his rants or writings.

Shame on you Ann for seeking to legitimize such crap.

chickenlittle said...

McCain looked at Matthews during the debate and it curdled the lemon juice he had running down his leg for Obama.

That's what made Chris so sour.

erniecu73 said...

downtownlad, the markets are closed and were closed during the debate. It is Saturday you know.

Michael said...

Sounds like there re quite a few out there (even conservatives), who lean in the direction of Eugene Robinson...that "reactionary Black grievance hate-monger."

*Immediately after the debate, CBS News interviewed a nationally representative sample of nearly 500 debate watchers assembled by Knowledge Networks who were "uncommitted voters" - voters who are either undecided about who to vote for or who say they could still change their minds.

39% said Obama won the debate.

24% said McCain won the debate.

37% thought it was a tie.

Nearly half of those uncommitted voters who watched the debate said that their image of Obama changed for the better as a result.

Just 8% say their opinion of Obama got worse

32% have improved their image of McCain.
_________________________________

Fox News:

Obama 47.9%

McCain 43.7%
_________________________________

Right Wing News:

51% Obama

McCain 49%
_________________________________

CNN Opinion Poll:

Obama 51%

McCain 38%

erniecu73 said...

The media are trying to make this into the tired "McCain is an angry old man" meme. It does not fit. If people watch it again in its entirety, they will see that McCain was perhaps a bit intense and passionate, but kept his cool. Unlike The Messiah (PBUH) who kept talking over and under McCain like a 5th grader. It was disgraceful to watch. I truly felt embarrassed. Read the live-blogging posts.

Michael said...

You can also bet your ass McCain will make sure he exhibits plenty of "eye contact" in the next debate.

Never looking at Obama was very strange, especially for someone who came across as being quite confident in his beliefs.

Christy said...

We all saw what we wanted to see. As others here noted, the opinions of the previously unengaged are the metric which counts. And, assuming the pollsters truly got the undecided opinion, Obama looks to be the winner. This distresses me to no end. For me, Obama talking about new spending programs when asked about sacrifice suggests that his election is all about bread and circuses.

Psychologists do not recognize the value of anger in mature people. Childish expressions of anger are, indeed, destructive, but the reasonable anger of a mature person can be a powerful instrument of change.

former law student said...

What I noticed last night was McCain's ability to lie with a practically straight face, with only his blinking to give it away. Obama had too much respect for the man to call him a god-damned liar to his face.

Michael said...

erniecu73: Personally I didn't think McCain came across as "angry."

I thought as the debate wore on he became a bit more disjointed in his response, meandering away from the central crux of the question.

During the Pakistan exchange he moved into a story about getting a bracelet which had absolutely noting to do with the question itself.

He also think he spoke down to Obama on a number of occasions, continually telling Obama he just didn't understand or that he just wasn't qualified, and I think that probably effected most people in a negative way.

Overall, Obama came across as Presidential, which is probably all he wanted or needed from this debate. Because of the central topic of the debate, McCain was supposed to walk over Obama, but didn't. (And the first part being suddenly dedicated to the economy didn't help McCain, especially after this past week's silliness from his campaign.)

And I think you'll find that the polling shores up my opinion...at least today's polls.

Michael said...

"...directing his answers to the audience..."

Unfortunately, he wasn't debating the "audience."

Regardless of how you want to spin it, McCain never looking at Obama struck most as being out of sync with the event itself, and downright strange.

I have no idea of how many debates people here have ever taken part in or seen, but I don't remember ever seeing one where one of the two competing parties never look at his or her opponent.

chickenlittle said...

Paddy O nailed it at 9:51

JAL said...

I think meade 9:59 has a point.

Not looking at a narcissist (whether deliberately or inadvertantly) is disconcerting to that person.

Since the pop psycho button has been pushed --

The thing that Obama does that is weird is his touching. Whenever he meets someone (even other world leaders) he touches them. That has some implications also -- like "I am blessing you with my presence, acceptance and good will." I think it's different than Bush's "see, we're buddies" moves.

Tied in with that was Sen. Obama's flipping back and forth between calling Sen. McCain "John" (or Tim or Tom or whatever) and occasionally calling him Senator McCain.

I don't think Sen McCain referred to Sen Obama as Barack at all.

Maybe it's about the a generation difference? A respect thing? I took it as acting in a somewhat over familiar manner.

Donn said...

Shock! On this point I agree with Michael. There is no reason McCain should not, at least occasionally, look at Obama.

chickenlittle said...

McCain does project a certain
I’d rather fight than switch look. On the other hand, Obama could do cigarette commercials themed “I’d rather switch than fight.”

Michael said...

Jal says: "Not looking at a narcissist (whether deliberately or inadvertantly) is disconcerting to that person."

That's a keeper.

Where do you come up with this tripe?

Michael said...

If what many here say is true; that Obama is a narcissist, that McCain was in control, that McCain doesn't have to make eye contact, and that he won the debate...why does damn near every single debate poll contradict that opinion?

*And as for Paddy's comment that: "Eye contact is both a sign of personal engagement and aggression."

I would guess that about 99% of the "eye contact" everybody here has ever experienced in their life had more to do with "engagement" than "aggression."

Jim Hu said...

Isn't looking at the camera and not the opponent standard Pres debate practice, ever since Kennedy-Nixon? I thought that was one of the reasons people thought JFK won the visuals of that debate.

Maybe the dynamics have changed as the screens got bigger or as our TV habits changed?

AllenS said...

We'll have to keep an eye out for Biden, and see if he looks at Palin's breasts. Since looking at the opponent seems to be so important.

Nichevo said...

1) Prof. Althouse, much dismayed by your rejection of primate studies. Their authors might beg to differ.

2) What apparently none of you know, and of course none of the TV commentators know, is that in a proper debate format - e.g., at a high school or college forensics tournament - the debaters do NOT address each other, but only the judge. Anyone who had done this activity will confirm this.

If McCain's crime, like mine, is that he is of the old school and knows how to do this activity in the proper style, let us be guilty.

The point of a debate is to sway the audience, not the opponent. Very few debate rounds end up in Kumbaya though they may have moments during disco flips, counterplans, etc.

The point is, to put it into the vulgate, constructing a seamless SHIT narrative (solvency, harms, inherency, topicality) and disrupting your opponent's counternarrative.

Meanwhile, when I don't look at someone, it is generally out of anger, or perhaps disgust, and a wish to hide the look in your eye when you see him, or not even to look upon him. This could be called fear, if one fears to allow a candid expression on one's face.

I didn't see the Presidential debate, so I am a perfect audience for each side to address in this one. But none of them could I am sure compare to the seniors or the brighter juniors on the policy teams at Bronx Science. They actually study issues, though sometimes only at a functional level.

OTOH life experience actually does help, so I have no doubt McCain pwn3d Obama. The nice thing about debate as a scholastic activity is that it teaches you to understand both side of a question. The classical debate stud is the one who can take both sides of an argument two rounds running and win both of them.

SMGalbraith said...

The absence of a father or father-figure (grandparents don't count) in Obama's life clearly led to his being coddled by his family and engendered an arrogant and superior attitude towards others. Moreover, this rebellious trait manifested itself in his embrace of radicals like Ayers and Wright. Similarly, his involvement in Chicago's corrupt politics indicate his rebellious nature and his inability to restrain his appetites.

This clearly indicates that he will be above the law and lock up all of his political opponents as President.

There, it's fun playing psychobiographer. Just...make...stuff...up.

Michael said...

Here's an ad (it would have to be 60 seconds) I wouldn't be surprised to see from Obama:

Palin's unblinking description of the importance of the bailout:

“That’s why I say I, like every American I’m speaking with, we’re ill about this position that we have been put in … where it is the taxpayers looking to bail out. But ultimately, what the bailout does is help those who are concerned about the healthcare reform that is needed to help shore up our economy. Um, helping, oh – it’s got to be all about job creation too. Shoring up our economy, and putting it back on the right track. So healthcare reform and reducing taxes and reining in spending has got to accompany tax reductions, and tax relief for Americans, and trade, we’ve got to see trade as opportunity, not as a competitive, um, scary thing, but 1 in 5 jobs being created in the trade sector today. We’ve got to look at that as more opportunity. All of those things under the umbrella of job creation. This bailout is a part of that.”

Got that??

Michael said...

SMGalbraith said..."The absence of a father or father-figure (grandparents don't count) in Obama's life clearly led to his being coddled by his family and engendered an arrogant and superior attitude towards others."

What information are you privy to that would make you believe or especially say something like this?

I've never read anything of the sort about Obama, his family of his upbringing.

Do you have some kind of reference to this silly notion?

Michael said...

Nichevo: There are all kinds of debate formats, the most standard being the "Team" format which is generally used in high school and college debates.

But...the "Lincoln-Douglas" format is also popular when only two parties are involved...and they certainly do address one another, (actually making eye contact, too), asking and responding to their own specific questions.

Michael said...

FactCheck.org:

Obama said McCain adviser Henry Kissinger backs talks with Iran “without preconditions,” but McCain disputed that.

In fact, Kissinger did recently call for “high level” talks with Iran starting at the secretary of state level and said, “I do not believe that we can make conditions.”

After the debate the McCain campaign issued a statement quoting Kissinger as saying he didn’t favor presidential talks with Iran.

Michael said...

FactCheck.og:

McCain tripped up on one of his signature issues – special appropriation “earmarks.” He said they had “tripled in the last five years,” when in fact they have decreased sharply.

Michael said...

Amusing moment on CNN last night:

Wolf Blitzer: "We've been getting some emails from views out there wondering why we spent some time interviewing Joe Biden, the Democratic vice presidential nominee and not Sarah Palin, the Republican vice presidential nominee.

We would have loved to interview--we'd still love to interview Sarah Palin. Unfortunately we asked, we didn't get that interview...We're hoping that Sarah Palin will join us at some point down the road."

I'm told that Biden appeared on every major network tonight except ABC (which only turned him down because Palin wasn't available, on an equal-time sort of basis).

It's pretty strange when a candidate can't trust his own running mate to be out there spinning on his behalf.

*Geeee, I wonder why?

JAL said...

smgalbraith writes:

There, it's fun playing psychobiographer. Just...make...stuff...up.

12:20 PM


There Michael.

Helps to read the whole post.

SMGalbraith said...

Do you have some kind of reference to this silly notion?

Um, did you read my entire post? Y'know, the part about playing amateur psychobiographer?

Yes, like the poster cited by Josh Marshall, I just...made...it...all...up.

Michael said...

Jal: What's the point of the comment other than just denigrating Obama and his family?

Oh, now I understand.

holdfast said...

In the second half, Obama came off as a whiny little kid with his stuttering interuptions. Even were I inclined to Obama, that would be a huge turnoff.

However, according to the Lundtz focus group, Obama won because he looked like he "cared more". This make me want to puke - it also makes me worried. Frankly, kids with Downs Syndrome also care a lot, but that doesn't qualify them for high office. Obama also lied about US contancts with Iran and Henry Kissinger's position. He also performed a massive Flip (not a flop until he reverses) on missile defence.

Synova said...

How much movement does McCain have in his neck?

Just wondering.

The psychoanalyzing is a joke, really. And the "anger management" BS... if someone has a problem that needs help with then I hope this guy gives them good advice instead of bad. But generally our society has this "thing" lately that anger and even violence is always wrong and that is a dangerous lie.

blake said...

Ah, I had to get to the bottom, but Synova finally said what I'm thinking.

I haven't spent 5.5 years in a Vietnamese prison and I'm a long way from 70, but my neck and shoulders get stiff from time-to-time, and I'm less inclined to look at people if it involves turning my whole body.

If McCain were in that situation--and I've definitely noticed that situation where he turns his whole body instead of just his neck and head--he'd look a little Frankensteinian trying to look at Obama all the time.

Also, it would probably exaggerate some of the features of his face.

All of which he'd be criticized for just as he's now criticized for not turning to look at Obama.

On the other hand, maybe he just has a crush on the guy.

bjm said...

The MSM furiously spinning for Obama is news?

The "Palin won't do interviews" meme is becoming a little creepy, like demanding an abused women return to the abuser to prove her worth.

vbspurs said...

Ann wrote:

Who am I to stand next to this man?

Yes, I kept thinking silently to myself:

"McCain's treating Obama like Romney"

You know, I think McCain is a tough old coot, but based on a lifetime of sharpened life or death skills, he is an exceptional and quick judge of character.

He just doesn't think the kid measures up.

To pre-empt the trolls, he believes Palin can. Republicans place an enormous emphasis on character, which she has and how, wheras Liberals seem to emphasise personality.

Cheers,
Victoria

former law student said...

Republicans place an enormous emphasis on character, which [Palin] has and how,

Sure, I guess so. But if using the power of one's office to gain vengeance against one's enemies, as Palin tried to do, is a sign of character, Richard Nixon ("I am not a crook") had the most character of any President.

I guess that Nixon was the archetypical Republican candidate.

Beth said...

The "Palin won't do interviews" meme is becoming a little creepy, like demanding an abused women return to the abuser to prove her worth.

That's an absolutely ridiculous analogy. Just sick. And I'm sick of seeing Palin wrapped up in gossamer and protected from the big bad campaign. When we ask "what's up with that? Where's the GOP VP candidate?" we're now abusers of women? Oh fucking hell. The next time I hear how great Palin is for feminism I'll quote this idiot right back.

Nathan said...

My flatmate made the same observation about McCain not looking at Obama. He didn't like it much. Me, I've always been of the opinion that you don't need eyes to listen to someone--in fact, eyes can distract you--so I interpreted it as McCain tuning out distractions and paying close attention to what Obama was saying.

Michael said...

bjm said..."The MSM furiously spinning for Obama is news?"

You must mean Fox News, right?

They're polling also has Obama winning the debate.

In fact, why not show a poll ANYWHERE that shows McCain winning.

Michael said...

nathan: "...so I interpreted it as McCain tuning out distractions and paying close attention to what Obama was saying."

But he didn't look at Obama when HE was talking either.

And can we assume Obama wsn't paying attention to McCain while he made eye contact?

Michael said...

Blake, are you actually saying McCain didn't make eye contact because...he couldn't turn his body???

I've heard some good ones, but that's right at the top.

*I guess, if you want McCain to make eye contact, one must stand directly in front of him at all times?

And how does handle driving a car?

Michael said...

synova asks (as if this is even remotely associated with making eye contact):

"How much movement does McCain have in his neck?"

Absolutely NONE.

You should see the man turn corners in hallways, drive a car, cross the street, play poker with more than one person, etc...and I don't even want to get into his lovemaking with Cinderella.

Donald Douglas said...

Hmmm...

"low ranking monkeys don't look at high ranking monkeys..."

That's sounds supremely politically incorrect to refer to the first black major party nominee as a "high ranking monkey," but hey, it's been a rough year for identity politics.

vbspurs said...

My flatmate made the same observation about McCain not looking at Obama. He didn't like it much. Me, I've always been of the opinion that you don't need eyes to listen to someone--in fact, eyes can distract you--so I interpreted it as McCain tuning out distractions and paying close attention to what Obama was saying.

According to the blue-collar dad of my oldest friend, he noticed the lack of eye-contact. Then he surprised me by saying:

"McCain gave him RESPECT, and Obama just kept calling him John back."

This is why I love talking to normal folks who don't get their talking points or conclusions from blogs.

In all the articles I read today, no one made this stunningly simple connexion between cause-effect.

May not be true. But at least bring it up as an option.

Cheers,
Victoria

ASHTON said...

the no-eye contact thing was obviously a strategy, probably designed to piss obama off and take him off his game. absolutely nothing to do with primate behavior, mccain's anger problems, etc.

you may recall gore got up in w's grill in 2000 during a debate. gore later said that it was planned, and that he thought it would unnerve w. of course, all it did was make gore out to be an ass, and a weird ass at that.

Michael said...

"McCain gave him RESPECT, and Obama just kept calling him John back."

Ridiculous.

These men have know each other for years.

Since when is it disrespectful to call your opponent by their name.

Stretching, spinning like a top.

Every poll has Obama winning and people here are still locked on names and eye contact.

Michael said...

"...the no-eye contact thing was obviously a strategy, probably designed to piss obama off and take him off his game..."

What a strategy.

Check the polls and see how well it all worked out.

Elder Que said...

In all fairness, McCain was a POW for 5 years. That's why he didn't make eye contact.

Michael said...

"On a Saturday conference call with reporters, Obama campaign manager David Plouffe called Gov. Sarah Palin "a terrific debater" who has "performed very, very well" in previous debates with opponents in her state."

And there you have it: Sarah Palin is a master debater.

Michael said...

Elder Que said..."In all fairness, McCain was a POW for 5 years. That's why he didn't make eye contact."

Was he afraid Obama was going to...continue the torture?

Spin on, dude...

Michael said...

Elder Que: I went to your site and love it.

I'm going to try some of your suggestions.

Beth said...

In all fairness, McCain has been in public life for 20-plus years. Someone would have noticed that he was unable to make eye contact due to being POW long before now.

The longer the list gets of things McCain cannot possible be expected to do because he was beaten as a POW, the more I think we need to add "be President" to it. Because that makes as much sense as some of the other lunacy attributed as such.

Beth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Beth said...

And in all fairness, I, too, am totally trying your brisket method. Four hours? Break out the Brinkmann.

John Lynch said...

Obama is McCain's enemy. Only one of them can win. Obama is a person, not a abstract list of principles.

It is personal. We're electing a person. So why is it odd for these two people, Obama and McCain, to personally feel enmity to each other? If they don't, I'd wouldn't vote for them. That's not normal.

Did the last time someone got promoted over you at work make you feel good? Why do we expect a Presidential candidate to stop being human?

Nichevo said...

Quite right, Michael, the NFL has both values/L-D and policy/team debate. I did policy, of course, because I was more interested in facts and logic than in sophistic demagoguery.

That, and the whole team thing is uncomfortable for people whose worlds consist of me, I and myself. But beyond the dreams of a new Lincoln and a new Douglas, I think policy debate's content more accurately reflects what we wish to learn from the Presidential debates.

What is really uncomfortable for me, however, is the constant association of verbal articulateness with intelligence. It is actually a poor test. I would be much happier with some brains reflected exclusive of the tongue. I do like that McCain was a fighter pilot and that Palin has worked with her hands. Not POTUS quals per se, but character building. Can't ignore reality when dealing with things.

MTbomber said...

The history of presidential debates proves that they are not won on points, they are won because of visceral impressions left by the candidates. In this one, Obama left the impression that he is well versed, comfortable on the national stage, not rattled by persistent attacks, forward looking, and temperamentally well suited for the Presidency -- he passed the "test" that all candidates not on the National scene for a long time go through, with flying colors. I have not seen one mainstream GOP affiliated pundit of any repute who did not acknowledge that, including Ed Rollins, Castellano, Brooks, Will, etc.

By contrast, McCain came across as old, more than a little angry, condescending, backward looking, at times seriously unhinged, and, in the end, small and unpresidential. I know his GOP supporters don't like to hear it, but it is true -- it is the enduring impression from the debate, just like Kennedy/Nixon and Reagan/Carter where supporters of the incumbent party candidate wanted their guy to win real bad, and rationalized how that had happened, but after the dust had settled, it was obvious that metrics they were using to measure debate success missed the pint entirely.

People are sick of Karl Rove corrosive politics. Attacks and condescension only work against an somebody who is ignorant, and politically inept. When Obama demonstrated over and over his command of the complexities of international affiars, at times much more informed and masterfully than McCain, the supposed expert, the McCain charge that Obama did "not understand" or that he was naive fell flat. What Obama succeeded in doing was being the adult on the stage, the more generous personality, with every bit as much substance, but not reflexively alienating moderate to conservative voters who are truly fed up with the GOP but don't trust the democrats yet. Obama went a long way -- a very long way -- toward earning their trust. And John McCain reinforced every negative thing one can say about him: temperamentally challenged, belittling, angry, small. Non-Presidential.

It's over. Between Palin, the Bail-out drama queen act, the McCain-Native American gambling fiasco that is now surfacing, this small debate performance, and a 7 year legacy of increasing support for the least popular President in modern times, there is almost no way he can win.

gregq said...

"I'm afraid Senator Obama doesn't understand the difference between a tactic and a strategy." If you don't, you're not fit to stand on the stage next to John McCain, who's been through tactics and strategies all over the world over half a century.)

If you don't, you're not qualified to be President of the United States.

Because there's no bigger screwup than confusing the two, and getting so caught up in the short term battles (tactics) that you forget what it is you're trying to accomplish (strategy).