I Thought Gore Won His Debate, TooComplications Ensue
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Saturday, September 27, 2008

(Political theater)

Lisa and I had to turn off the American Presidential debate last night because it seemed to us that McCain was making much stronger arguments than Obama. Not arguments we agreed with, mind. Just making them much more convincingly. Obama was not jabbing back. I was thinking of a dozen things I wanted Obama to come back with, and he wouldn't. Obama was reaaaaaal short on specifics.

McCain made a very good point about how Obama's all about how we shouldn't have got into Iraq, which is a question the next president won't have to deal with. The relevant question is how we get out of it.

Silly me. No one was listening to the words! They were watching how McCain didn't look Obama in the eye. They thought he was "antagonistic." (You're not supposed to be antagonistic in a debate?) As the day goes by, it seems more and more like Obama cleaned McCain's clock, just by seeming calm and Presidential, while McCain blew his chance by talking to the audience in the room, instead of to the camera.

I thought Gore won the first debate, too, back in 2000. It turned out he sighed a lot. Apparently that's a no-no, even when your opponent is exasperating.

It just goes to show how much of politics is theater and how little is substance. As far as most people's reactions to the debates goes, they might as well have had the sound off.

Okay, I'm exaggerating. McCain also forgot to mention the middle class, and thinks that Pakistan was a failed state before Musharrraf's dictatorship. And he went on about earmarks too much, and made his "Miss Congeniality" quip twice, which was once too many.

But apparently what he needed to do was to be Miss Congeniality. Instead he was Mr. Why Do I Have to Debate This Whippersnapper.

McCain failed the Beer Test. Most people would rather have a beer with Obama after this, I think.

It's a silly way to elect a president.

But after all, we're only human -- and this is how we're hardwired to choose our leaders.



But what's new about any of that?

Lessons of 1960 -- those who listened called it for Nixon.

How'd that go down in history again?

What did Ronald Reagan say, "there you go again" to from Carter. What spefically? Doesn't matter.

Shame you didn't stick til the end. Obama's best moment was a spontaneous laugh and his closing.

I thought they were about even, actually, in argument and in temperament. I was surprised by the reaction too. But I wasn't surprised about being surprised, if you know what I mean.

By Blogger DMc, at 6:34 PM  

I don't know if I agree. I think a lot of America gets off on aggression. To me it seemed like McCain was flinging attacks without regard to the complexities of any of the issues. That's why I'm surprised that a lot of the polls regarding the debate seem to favor Obama. I thought America wasn't ready for nuance. Maybe the GOP has underestimated the public? Either that or no one in the small towns watch TV.

Anyway... here's my take:


By Blogger Merge Divide, at 6:34 PM  

I'm proud of you. Your comments were dispassionately objective. And I am ashamed at my fellow countrymen that such issues have become ALL theater. Signed, your lurking republican troll :)

P.S. I could only bear to watch snippets of the debate. As an investment banker, I am appalled at the handling of the credit crisis, by all sides. Clearly the problem will have to solve itself.

By Blogger nick, at 7:35 PM  

So why wouldn't McCain look Obama in the eye? Or even acknowledge him? Or even pretend he was listening? For something that was supposed to be 'a debate' between two people, I found it incredibly disconcerting and distracting and ultimately annoying. I guess I just wanted to know if it was a conscious decision by McCain or one of his war injuries acting up (can't look to the left - there's probably a left-right joke in there but I am moving on...)

By Blogger wcdixon, at 9:09 PM  

No offense, but I really think you've swallowed the media narrative hook, line and sinker.

Obama was short on specifics? Are you insane?

How many irrelevant and rambling stories did McCain tell?

If McCain had two minutes to speak, he spent ten seconds answering the question and the rest of the time regurgitating canned stories that had very little to do with the question at hand.

It's also sad that you bought McCain's distraction that what's more important is how we get out of Iraq. No, what's more important is that we have a President who won't get us into another clusterfuck like the last President did.

The last thing McCain wants to talk about is the last 8 years because his judgment has been abysmal.

It's pathetic that you would criticize the public for correctly judging that Obama won the debate when you're not even capable of seeing through McCain's transparent "look over there" talking points.

By Blogger Steve, at 9:35 PM  

God, this is hilarious Alex. Your first five comments (Hey does that mean, in the parlance of the commercials, that we're in your top five?) distilled down to their essence:

1) Media/McLuhan analysis of the thing (yes, me.)
2) I'm suspicious and self loathing of America (see: self hating (fill in ethnic group here)
3) oh shit right winger (seeing the light slightly but still)
4) suspicious canadian
5) democratic partisan.

Seriously, as sociology goes, that's awesome. iF only we could have a dance party now!!!!!

By Blogger DMc, at 3:48 AM  

As far as media narrative, I haven't watched or read a single discussion of Friday's debate, but I had the exact same reaction you did. I was disappointed in Obama's blah-dee-blah about the middle class and surprised by how many times McCain almost made sense (even if I disagreed with him). Was even more surprised by the emotionally negative reaction in the room to everything out of McCain's mouth. (I was at an Obama party.) I kept wanting to say, "Shhh, I want to hear what he's saying!" But no one else wanted to hear what he was saying.

Anyway, just wanted to voice my agreement. It doesn't matter, since I'll be voting for Obama regardless. I just didn't think he wiped the floor with McCain or anything. He's very personable, though, and I'm glad for that because it may get him elected.

By Blogger Laurie Stark, at 10:40 AM  

Hi Alex,
You hit it on the nose. McCain won the rhetorical tone debate hands-down, whether or not the content of his points locked step with reality. Obama came out of the gate forceful, critical, the consummate challenger to the establishment. McCain's response was to be the reassuring father figure, the Fireside Chat voice on the radio. In this role, he cornered the market on hope (somnambulent though it was) and left Obama naked by forcing him to attack. The concept of change lost the element of hope that the change is for the better.

I think this is a continuation of the McCain reboot at the convention as the "imperfect servant". His tone has noticeably softened and humbled, and I have to think it's calculated.

I was also surprised by the post-game reviews. Glad to know I'm not crazy.

By Blogger Jeff, at 1:09 PM  

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:21 AM  

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