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I'll admit that initially I thought Obama's performance was a touch lackluster on Friday night, but upon reflection and synthesis he did just fine.  The areas in which he stumbled a bit can be honed and refined.  He didn't give anything big away, or have any You Tube moments.  Neither did McCain... or at least, not exactly.

When comparing McCain to George W. Bush, one of the ironies is that McCain is far more eloquent and able to articulate a point than Bush II ever was.  Now, I haven't seen McCain debate in awhile, but there's an element of his personality that really hit home with me on Friday:  McCain is not someone you would want to have a beer with.

Granted, it's absurd that "have a beer with" is even a litmus test for political candidates, but it's there, and we have to deal with it.  That said, McCain is a nasty curmudgeon.  While there may have been a consensus that Bush II wasn't the sharpest knife in the drawer, he was a likable, affable fellow, and his contrived "folksy" ways were easier to see as byproducts of his "silver spoon jingo-jango" personality.  

In McCain vs. Obama it's all about contrast, not just in policy but in affect and the physical.  Obama stands tall, looks McCain in the eye (or tries to), and speaks with intelligence, eloquence, and respect.  McCain on the other hand is cramped up behind that podium, refuses to look at his opponent, and exudes an air of contempt for even having to be in that room, as if it's self-evident that he should be given the Presidency and it's an insult that he should have to make the case to the American people.

In short, McCain comes off as an asshole.    

I'm sure his handlers will be working hard on getting him to change his demeanor, but the problem is it's not like his nastiness is a nervous tic.  It's not something unintentional, like Obama's occasional stuttering problem (which is a sign that someone's thinking as they talk, which I fully endorse).  McCain's nastiness is part of who he is, and any attempt to try and reign that in will likely come off as stilted and awkward in execution.

At the end of the day, McCain is on the defensive now more than he ever has been, and his conflicting advisers and his own instincts keep handing him ever-increasing lengths of rope.

Originally posted to Bolgard on Sun Sep 28, 2008 at 01:17 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  He's already said he's not Ms. Congeniality, so (4+ / 0-)

    I think he's stuck with being an asshole. If he tries being nice, he'll look ridiculous. Remember the scene from "The Crying Game" when the croc eats the frog? And he says it's in may nature? Same thing applies here I think.

    I love the smell of impeachment in the morning!

    by gabbardd on Sun Sep 28, 2008 at 01:24:11 PM PDT

  •  Grumpy old man is not a Presidential archetype (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    miss SPED, Otteray Scribe
  •  Have a beer with is (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sherri in TX, BDsTrinity

    deeper. I think every candidate has to pass a decency test in the mind of voters. If you're a Dem, Obama passed it long ago, but if you're still undecided---and can you imagine how far an undecided is from you and me, to look at McCain and Obama, now, and still think I'm not sure. They both seem fine."

    Anyway, for Obama as a black man, the decency bar is 100x higher than it is for a white candidate. Out and out racists are voting GOP. but there's a diary about a guy whose father would said he'd never vote for a black guy, but is this time. In other words, there are people who aren't exactly racists but who, well, are scared of black people or nervous. So 'have a beer with' means that those types of undecideds are reassured that Obama is not really, the night he moves into the White house, going to reveal himself as Flavor Flave...

    In this debate, Obama did introduce himself to those people in a way us Dems can only barely understand.

    But, not to worry

    •  Having a beer with Obama (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TheGreatLeapForward, houyhnhnm

      I never thought Obama would be a great person to have a beer with.  You'd be thrilled to see him show up.  He'd be charming and engaged for about 10 minutes, then he'd have to move on to something else.  He'd have work to do, a wife and kids to go home to, meetings, calls, etc.  If he sat down at all he'd be on the edge of his seat, tapping his foot.

      Obama just seems like the sort of person that thinks sitting around having a beer is fundamentally frivolous and that he has better things to do.  And perhaps he has.  I'm thrilled for this kind of focus.  It's the sort of focus that gets things done and zippers in place.  But I'd always be afraid that inviting Obama to have a beer was an imposition--just another on a very long to-do list.  Let him be president--we can find other less focused people with whom to drink beer.

    •  The thing about Obama is that (4+ / 0-)

      he doesn't see himself as a "black" man, he sees himself as a man.  A man of the world.  His wife is beautiful and intelligent and I'm sure that's why he looks at her the way he does.  Like Colbert he doesn't see color.  I don't think he is trying to tamp down any anger or resentment.  I just think he does not have any.  He has seen the world, lived among other cultures, raised primarily by his white grandparents.  I'm sure when he looks in the mirror he sees darker skin but it doesn't define him.  It's not who he is.  He is not boxed into a particular demographic. All those people who are concerned about his coming across as the angry black man should rest easy.  That's not his style.  And those who are beseeching him to strike out and hit below the belt should lay off because that is not his style either.  He is who he is, a wise patient leader.  If McCains wins he won't lose, we will.

  •  This morning when George S. asked him about (4+ / 0-)

    not looking at Barack Johnny McBush, of course, lied and said he had. When pushed, he then said he was looking at the moderator, his notes, and the American people(!).

    McCain is clearly an asshole, but is somewhat blessed in that he doesn't appear to know it.

  •  Obama was fine cause he did what he needed... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tuckerm

    to show that he is knowledgeable enough and confident enough to stand on the same stage as McCain.

    McCain needed a game changing knockout, which he didn't get.

    This is why Obama won

    Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happy Hour

    by PerryX on Sun Sep 28, 2008 at 01:28:09 PM PDT

  •  I liked (11+ / 0-)

    Ta-Nehisi Coates' piece:

    Hillary was plenty angry. How'd that work out? Liberals have a bully complex. Having gotten chumped repeatedly, we're confusing strength with arrrogance, toughness with strut. Take it from someone who learned it the hard way. they ain't the same, son. To paraphrase Carolyn Forche, Obama needs to do exactly would he did last night—slice McCain to lace. But he needs to do it so quietly, calmly and efficiently, that even those who are paid to opine on such things, don't even notice the blood all over the floor.

    http://ta-nehisicoates.theatlantic.c...

  •  my favorite response to the debates, so far (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    darthstar, Agatha X

    "Democracy works when people claim it as their own." -Bill Moyers

    by mamalovesobama on Sun Sep 28, 2008 at 01:29:31 PM PDT

  •  To use a football analogy... (4+ / 0-)

    I felt like Obama was the quarterback of my team and was playing well enough, but not spotting the wide-open receivers waving their arms for a touchdown pass.

    That said, I wasn't distressed because I felt the most important thing for him to do was stand up and look like a president--and he did fine in that regard.

    As far as McCain was concerned, I kept hoping for the major gaffe--but it wasn't to be. Once I resigned myself to that I got to looking at his demeanor. I tried hard to be objective, in spite of my obvious leanings. I concluded that he looked and acted like a peevish, smug prick.

    I initally dismissed it, thinking it was just me. But I'm delighted to see that apparently a big swath of America apparently agreed.

  •  His handlers will have him rested and sedated... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bronx59

    I expect McCain to show less physical tension in the next debates because he'll be drugged...and will have some down/ sleep time beforehand.  The problem is that when he is on meds (hot bottled water to babies), he fumbles and has the wrong affect, like ghoulishly smiling at the wrong times.  

    •  Meds may be a major part of George W's drastic... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cas2

      variations in coherence and demeanor from appearance to appearance.

      The Repugs likely have skills in this area.  

      •  You're probably right about W; McCain is .... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Bronx59

        different.  Frankly, I wouldn't criticize Bush or any world leader from judiciously using pharmaceuticals to keep up with job demands and Bush clearly looked sedated at times...or possibly drunk. Certainly something was altering his moods.  The thing about McCain, tho:  If he is using drugs, it's to fool people into perceiving that he is more mentally and physically agile than he is and the media keep pretending that he's this old war horse you can't keep down.  I think he's a man who has aged poorly, is in worse health than we know, and shows signs of cognitive decline.  I'm not saying his decline is pathological, altho it may be... but that it's past time for McCain to retire.  

  •  Next debate is "Town Hall" style (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sherri in TX

    No podiums. McCain will be more comfortable in that setting, will walk around a bit, look more natural. It's his preferred format.

    So . . . expectations will be "exceeded."

    That said, his answers will not sound as knowledgeable as will Barack's and if McCain is McNasty in that setting it will be the end for him.

    The premier political debate coverage site: DebateScoop

    by demondeac on Sun Sep 28, 2008 at 01:35:10 PM PDT

  •  Irony - contrived folksiness (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bronx59

    in reality, Bush is one mean prick. He has revealed himself to be one in unscripted moments caught on camera. Rove did a real job on crafting his image to the public.

  •  Needs more death rictus grin. (0+ / 0-)

    What the Crypt Keeper does best.

    St. Ronnie was an asshole.

    by manwithnoname on Sun Sep 28, 2008 at 01:38:55 PM PDT

  •  It's the visuals (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    llywrch

    On substance, I'd have to come very close to saying it was a draw, but it's not about substance, it's about TV. Many of the older generation HATE it when someone doesn't look you in the eye; it's one of their litmus tests for honesty and he failed miserably. He looked like what the bottom line of his bio actually says he is; a coddled, peevish, self-involved and vindictive little man. Much as it has proven to be with Mr. Bush, he's not going to suddenly come out with a big S on his chest because you put him in the oval office.

    Lincoln IS big, it's the party that got small.

    by Cottonwood on Sun Sep 28, 2008 at 01:47:14 PM PDT

  •  I often use "festooned" over a beer!! nt (0+ / 0-)

    "If BS were currency, Palin could bail out Wall Street herself"

    by CaptainTight on Sun Sep 28, 2008 at 01:59:33 PM PDT

  •  Reality (0+ / 0-)

    What is an undecided at this point?

    It is someone who thinks both candidates have qualities/platform details they like/dislike.  

    When we hire someone new into our organization, we interview them as a team.  Sometimes there is someone who is clearly superior.  But often there are 2 or 3 who are absolutely qualified in our minds to do the job.

    Where do you go from there?  You talk about how they will fit into the team.  What other qualities they could bring to the team.  AND, often enough, you start campaigning to hire the one you are most comfortable with, the one you personally like the best.  

    I think that is what the 'who I would like to have a beer with' represents to me.  

    We are all Droogie....f*ck the AP

    by crazyshirley2100 on Sun Sep 28, 2008 at 02:14:28 PM PDT

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