Fear of Clowns

"Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable."
- H. L. Mencken
gozz@gozz.com

Friday, September 26, 2008

My reaction to the first debate 

I was excited that unlike 2004's format, this season's format allowed the candidates to directly engage in conversation with one another. Neither initially did, after encouragement from Leherer, Obama began to attempt back and forth dialogue but I didn't notice McCain even turn towards Obama once. He uttered a variation of "Obama doesn't understand ..." at least half a dozen times, yet didn't say it to Obama's face. I don't think he was afraid of engaging Obama - after all, it's the campaigns that set the rules - I think he was afraid of losing composure if he did get into a direct back and forth. I could also believe that it was a planned tactic to make McCain appear so dominant over Obama that he was above having to even talk to him. The net effect, I think, was making McCain appear haughtily condescending and petulant and making Obama seem engaged.

Both candidates sidestepped a few questions - the last, "What are the chances of being another 9/11?" was completely sidestepped by both, both to a lesser extent sidestepped what spending they may have to cut as a result of the $700 billion bailout.

Obama repeated the observation that McCain is a Bush Republican and intends to continue Bush policies; a strong point, but one that has been already made - although that reminder doesn't hurt Obama I don't think it will sink in with anyone who didn't already understand it.

McCain repeated a few of his stump speech and advertisement lies, but again, I believe most people already knew this, given the wide coverage of the dishonest nature of McCain's campaign. A lot of independents don't start paying attention to the campaigns until the debates, but the impact of follow-up coverage of the the facts and untruths presented will not affect them nearly as much as how the candidates presented themselves.

I do believe Obama's demeanor was much more presidential than McCain's - which wasn't presidential at all, but ornery. Add to that the fact that McCain leads Obama significantly in polls on national security and is basing the larger part of his campaign on that he his the clear choice for Commander in Chief, a draw on substance and a win for Obama in presentation will bring a noticeable shift towards Obama among undecideds and independents over the next few days.

Biden's evaluation, as to be expected goes beyond my prediction of a noticeable bump in polling for Obama: The debate was "fatal for McCain,

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