I am no psychologist or psychiatrist and I did not stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night, but I believe I know the reason John McCain wouldn't make eye contact with Barack Obama last night. The reason is that he is embarrassed by his own campaign and what it has done to him. More after the jump...
There will be many people putting forth many answers to the question "Why wouldn't John McCain look at Barack Obama during the debate?" My answer to that question is that John McCain at his core is embarrassed by his campaign and what it has turned him in to.
A little history to give you an idea of my thought process. In 2000 when McCain was running for the Republican nomination I paid a lot of attention to him. I found his story very compelling for various reasons. First my maternal Grandfather was a Colonel in the United States Air Force and had died when I was young. I thought John McCain embodied what I thought my Grandfather would be like. At the time every print reporter was enamored of him calling him a true maverick and that he bucked the system and did what he wanted regardless of what his party thought. At that time I had never heard of Keating or his first marriage, that was all glossed over if mentioned at all. The POW story hit me hard it was something that made him stand out from the others. I was not old enough to vote in 1996 but I was old enough to understand the choices and I was behind Bill Clinton all the way. I was and still am fairly liberal but John McCain really caught my eye and I was upset when Geaorge W. Bush ended up beating him out for the nomination. I never stopped paying attention to John McCain after that, thinking that surely he would be a thorn in Bush's side especially because of the way Bush conducted his campaign.
Cut to eight miserable years later and needless to say my opinion of John McCain is not the same as it once was. The only thing in my opinion that remains of that John McCain is his obsession with becoming President. Yes in my opinion it is an obsession and one that he will do anything to have happen. In the eight years that have passed I think John McCain has allowed his advisers and his friends to change him. They have told him that the only way to win an election is to use the Rove play book. This of course includes nasty attack ads, lies and deceptions. McCain bought it hook line and sinker. He has followed Bush's lead trying to appeal to the base of the party. He allowed the far right wing to dump Sarah Palin on him as his running mate when he (by all accounts) wanted Joe Lieberman. His adds have been deceptive at best and downright lies at their worst. He has basically sold his soul to attempt to win this election, and the thing is... it's NOT working.
I think over the past eight years John McCain has told himself that all he needs to do is get there. He will use any and all means necessary to get into the Oval Office thinking that once he is there he can go back to being the John McCain of 2000. With that in mind I think he both envies and despises Barack Obama. I think he sees that Barack Obama is a good man, an intelligent man and a worthy competitor. I think he sees Barack Obama being the type of candidate that he wanted to be in 2000. A reform candidate, someone that wants to change the establishment and change the way politics in this country work from the top down. Which is precisely why he despises Barack Obama. Barack is doing everything he wanted to do but never got the chance to. He wishes he could run the campaign that Barack is running but to win the Republican nomination and to attract the base of the party he simply cannot do this. To this Republican party that would be weak, hell they have adds already touting that Obama isn't fit to lead because there he stated in the debate that there are points on which he agrees with John McCain. Imagine that! This to me is the core reason that he cannot look Barack Obama in the eyes during the debate. He knows he is running a dirty campaign, he knows that the adds have been malicious, he knows that Barack is running the sort of campaign he wishes he could run and it kills him inside. He's embarrassed and it shows when he cannot even look at him during the debate.
Some may say that this campaign has simply brought out John McCain's true colors, and maybe this is true. His past is not as rosy as it was portrayed before this year. My opinion however is that the John McCain of 2000 was the real John McCain, and now he is simply a shell of his former self. The shell however is still obsessed with becoming President and will stop at nothing to get there.