Friday, September 26, 2008

McCain Won It

It was close; both candidates performed better than I expected. But Sen. John McCain won this first debate.

Although Sen. Barack Obama was more succinct than we've seen since Gov. Sarah Palin began giving him nightmares -- Obama didn't utter a single "uh" the whole debate-- Obama actually lost on the issue that he'd tried to hang around McCain's neck: temper. This, from the candidate who'd spent the week having his surrogates and spinmeisters suggest that McCain is "erratic," which is Obama-speak for senile and psychotic. All of the sudden, it was Obama who looked like he needed the time-out chair.

It was Obama who had the pursed lips, not McCain. Who knew that Obama, who boasted about his placid temperament to Diane Sawyer in her run-up to the debate, was the one who had a temper problem.

I'll wait for the the MSM to transcribe the debate to comment on specific answers. In terms of presence, however, Obama had more gravitas than I would have expected, though not as much as McCain. Likewise, though he'd taken more time to prepare, Obama appeared more nervous. It turns out that there is no experience like life experience.

Attire, though indistinguishable at first glance, said much about the two candidates. Obama wore a flag lapel pin -- after having eschewed such pins just months ago. McCain, the decorated war hero, wore no flag lapel. McCain clearly felt no need to wear his patriotism on his lapel, and with good reason. Obama's need to resuscitate the flag pin, in contrast, looked like a boy with big stereo speakers. (Readers who are too young to understand the metaphor, ask your parents; watch them blush.)

And McCain wore a red and white striped tie. It was patriotic (like Obama's solid red tie) but nonetheless made the point that McCain was an Republican of a different stripe. To the extent that Obama's goal was to hang George Bush around McCain's neck, Obama lost.

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