Saturday, September 27, 2008

McCain Couldn't Look at Obama in Debate

Someone who studies primates observed that McCain acted in deference to Obama by not being to make eye contact, which indicates his sense that Obama is the alpha male. Can't argue with that logic - it's obvious in this video.

Here is Alternet's take on it, which looks more at the pseudo condescension McCain exhibited toward Obama in the video above.

Those of you who have read my posts in the past know that I can be as wonky and policy-oriented as anyone. But what really struck me most about the first presidential debate was this:

John McCain acted like a jerk.

Not once did McCain look Barack Obama in the eye. That's right — John McCain refused to even look at Obama, a man who is making an historic bid to become the next president of the United States. Say what you will about Obama, but I don't think anyone believes that he does not deserve eye contact once in 90 minutes.

McCain was dismissive and derisive. He treated Obama with disdain and condescension. He was smug, arrogant, and patronizing. He simply refused to take Obama seriously. And he repeatedly smirked, giggled, snickered and mocked.

This isn't a fucking joke. It really isn't.

This is about our lives, and the lives of our families, our children, our grandchildren and everyone we love. The lives of billions of people around the world, and literally all life on this planet. But John McCain grins and snickers as if it were Scary Movie 3, not a country and world that seems to get scarier by the day.

Giggling and smirking and not taking important people and issues seriously — remind you of anyone? McCain's behavior did not make him seem presidential. It made him seem like George W. Bush. Only older. Much older. And old enough to know better.

It was disturbing to witness. Remember, the subject of the debate was foreign policy. If this is the way McCain treats a man who may be the next president of the United States, how would he treat foreign leaders whose countries are increasingly interconnected with ours? Would he also refuse to acknowledge their presence when he is standing right next to them? Would he ridicule their values and treat them like children as they share their thoughts on what makes a nation great?

In contrast Barack Obama was polite and respectful — many would say to a fault. When he thought that McCain was right about something or that they agreed on an issue, he was not afraid to admit it. When he disagreed with McCain, he was firm and direct. And when McCain lied about Obama's positions, Obama was sharp and forceful. But he was never a jerk.

Obama recognizes that he and McCain are in the same tough business, and that it takes more than luck to stay in it for as long as McCain has. So, despite their differences and the way the McCain campaign has treated him, Obama treats McCain with respect. And I respect that. But I have little respect for someone like McCain, who appears incapable of even acknowledging a talented, intelligent, formidable upstart even when he is standing a few feet from him.

Once again, look at this through the lens of foreign policy. Obama showed that he is someone who can listen and engage, even when he disagrees. Someone who knows that serious people should be taken seriously and not be snickered at or painted as caricatures, even if you think they are fundamentally wrong. Someone who knows that your opponents deserve respect, and that looking them in the eye and acknowledging their presence shows strength and confidence, not weakness.

One commenter on Digg noted that not only was it Obama who crossed the stage after the debate to shake McCain's hand, but he returned with Michelle Obama when Cindy McCain joined her husband onstage. That's what you would call class.

McCain and the Republicans can pretend they won the debate because McCain kept repeating that Obama "didn't understand" the issues and treated Obama like uneducated, "uppity" hired help. But with the way McCain acted during the debate, it was clear that John McCain clearly doesn't understand how to act like a president. And Barack Obama does.

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