Sunday, September 28, 2008

Debate: who's the weirdly angry guy at the podium?

J., Ava and I watched the debate Friday and like many reviewers, felt it was a solid outing for both candidates with Obama having a slight edge, but probably not changing any committed voter minds on either side. Not sure about the uncommitted, although I'm shocked that there are really people who aren't sure at this point. A friend who canvassed locally said many of the uncommitteds she met were still spouting wrong info about Obama: he's Muslim, not really Christian, etc. Refutations to the contrary were met with, "Well how do you know?" Bleah.

Since the candidates were pretty much re-plowing the same rows we've heard before position-wise, I stopped listening as intently to the specifics and started just watching the body language. Throughout the debate, I kept saying, "Why won't he (McCain) look at Obama? What's that about? I mean, he's really doing everything he can to avoid engaging. What's with the frozen smile? He's clearly ticked!" 
Roger Ebert of all people, answered my question perfectly here: Guess who's not coming to dinner? The upshot? McCain's really angry at and contemptuous of Barack Obama. I guess there are myriad reasons why that could be, but isn't it telling that this is the way he interacts with someone with whom he's presumably had a decent working relationship in the Senate?

If he can't even effectively conceal his anger/contempt on stage with millions of people watching, it seems unlikely that he could successfully and effectively negotiate or interact with other world leaders with whom he disagrees. I would not be inclined to find a win-win with someone who acted that way around me. And I suspect that often international diplomacy is about finding the best possible solution to complicated problems with no easy answer for any of the parties involved - parties often with very different philosophical views of the best solution. Sort of like legislative wrangling. I was already sold on Obama/Biden. The last debate simply reaffirmed my decision. 

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