I watched the debate at a bar in Pasadena. By the end, people in the bar, including the bartender, were laughing anytime anyone mentioned Joe The Plumber.
As usual, Obama seemed very calm, while McCain seemed ready to explode. I'm thinking of McCain in contrast to Reagan. I couldn't stand Reagan when he was in office, but I will admit that he was always very calm and likable. Even when he seemed confused and befuddled, he was a nice guy. McCain is just pissed off at Obama. It's easy to see why his rallies are filled with people yelling and screaming; he can barely keep himself from letting it rip. He clearly had to make an effort to keep his anger inside himself. And at least once he got very sarcastic, I think about vouchers in the DC schools. McCain seriously looks like he is about to lose it. I remember feeling like that - when I was about 17. He really looks like an immature teenager. Which I don't think I would say about almost any other Republican.
Andrew Sullivan thinks that Obama was, a couple of times, boring. But that's a compliment this time around, particularly in comparison to Bush. This brings up something most people forget: politics at a time like this is fascinating, but politics is ultimately about governing, and the vast, vast majority of government is really, really dull. The mechanics of government are about laws and numbers. So I suppose we should be thankful that politics, as opposed to government, is occasionally so damn dramatic.
I've already seen a couple of YouTubes up cataloguing McCain's eye-rolling, his smirks, etc. Here's one:
McCain looks like he's incredibly frustrated, and he can't handle being frustrated. Which is just not a quality I want in a president.
Some substance: spending freeze? How about we get specific? A spending freeze would mean no increases for the FBI, for medical research, for consumer product safety. Remember that mess we had with passports, when the State Department couldn't process all the requests and had to hire more people? We would be out of luck on that one. NASA, you want to fix the Hubble? Sorry, not in the budget.
Obama keeps bringing it back to the issues. Good move.
On the question of the tone of the campaign, Obama very gently explains that he thot John Lewis's comment was inappropriate. That's exactly the right response. When someone gets a little excited, you say something very diplomatic, and you say it calmly, and then everyone forgets about it. I don't John McCain has done anything remotely like that for months.
Just want to remind everyone of Hemingway's definition of courage: Courage is grace under pressure. Obama sure was graceful under pressure.
One of Obama's best qualities in a situation like this is his ability to laugh off challenges, to be genuinely amused when something comes up that is supposed to bother him. He just smiles at some of McCain's attacks, and then calmly refutes them. Strong contrast to McCain's twitching.
That's it for now.