[cross posted at E Pluribus Unum]
I can only remember a couple of other moments in debate history that sent a similar spike of electricity slicing through the humdrum monotony that these debates usually devolve into. George H.W. Bush looking impatiently at his watch in 1992 and Lloyd Bentsen slicing Dan Quayle's head off (bobbing adam's apple and all) in 1988 both come to mind. And, last night, John McCain pointing to Obama and calling him "that one" is right up there. It had the same aural quality as the sound you hear when you suddenly drag the tone arm of a record player across a vinyl record. It kind of reminded me of the time Ross Perot gave a speech to the national NAACP convention and referred to the assembled audience as "you people." Ouch.
Other than that, the debate was pretty routine.
- Both candidates were at, or near, the top of their game. Unfortunately for McCain, his best just wasn't good enough to stop Obama's momentum and reverse the trend that threatens to destroy McCain's chances at getting elected.
- Brokaw, frankly, was like a fussy old lady (and, remember, he's almost as old as McCain) scolding the candidates if they went over on their time. C'mon, Tom! We're trying to elect The Leader of the Free World here! Would it kill you to give them each an extra minute to finish their thought?
- Too much has been made of McCain not shaking Obama's hand, instead directing him to Cindy McCain. Fact is, they had already shook hands immediately after the debate. What I found more revealing was that the McCains peeled out of the hall moments after the debate. They literally couldn 't get out of there fast enough. Oh, to be a fly inside the limo as they drove off.
- And, speaking of wives, Michelle -- darlin! -- do something about the zipper on the back of your dress.
- What's up with all the bald guys in the audience? Miss Julie said the profusion of follicly challenged individuals made the set looked like a billiard table. I guess the undecided voters they gathered didn't include any young people, most of whom were, I guess, already decided (presumably for Obama?).
- Obama did that thing again where he agrees with McCain -- but this time with a wicked twist:
Well, you know, Sen. McCain, in the last debate and today, again, suggested that
I don't understand. It's true. There are some things I don't understand. I don't
understand how we ended up invading a country that had nothing to do with 9/11,
while Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda are setting up base camps and safe havens to
train terrorists to attack us. That was Sen. McCain's judgment and it was the
- As for the issues that got batted around (and endlessly "fact-checked" by the pundits) -- it was kind of beside the point. For example, did McCain get it wrong or right when he said Obama would raise taxes on 50% of the revenue from small business? That's one of those statistics that only an economist could untangle. Obama responded by saying the majority of small business owners don't make enough money to cross the tax-increase threshhold he is proposing. Pretty sly, but not responsive to McCain's charge. No matter -- Obama's demeanor won the point.
- Speaking of demeanor, that's pretty much what people take away from these things. You've heard me say it a million times: issues don't move voters, emotions do. And what people felt watching this debate (and the one before it) was confidence -- confidence in Obama as the next President of the United States. It showed in the snap polls and focus group recaps. And I think it will be what people remember about this debate in years to come.
Enough about what I thought: what did you think?