I wish Obama wouldn't start sentences with "John is right . . ." or some variation thereof. That's going to be a commercial for McCain if it isn't already. Nothing stops Obama from starting his sentences with "where I disagree with Senator McCain is . . ." However, it's certainly better than McCain's repeated and condescending use of "what Obama doesn't understand . . ." My friend Julia points out the interesting hypocrisy in this McCain tactic -- they want to label Obama an intellectual elitist -- but at the same time he doesn't understand foreign policy. Apparently, understanding foreign policy doesn't take a brain it takes gut instinct -- as in when Obama mocked the current President for "looking into the eyes" of Putin and McCain responds with "I have looked into his eyes and I saw three letters -- K-G-B."
It's like Stephen Colbert says: "Do you know you have more nerve endings in your gut than you have in your head? You can look it up. Now, I know some of you are going to say, 'I did look it up, and that's not true.' That's 'cause you looked it up in a book. Next time, look it up in your gut. I did. My gut tells me that's how our nervous system works."
Apparently McCain measures foreign policy like Stephen Colbert pretending to be an idiot. And what is it, exactly, that McCain thinks Obama doesn't understand? George Lakoff talks about how conservatives are drawn to the "strict father" model of the world. It seems McCain thinks we are the world's parent -- he describes Russia as "out of line" and thinks we need to punish countries who don't agree with us like they are petulant children. Unfortunatley, however, we aren't the world's parent and diplomacy, as Obama understands, often requires some nuance. However, I did like one aspect of McCain's proposals and that was the never-before seen "League of Democracies." I imagine, since we already have NATO and the EU, that the League of Democracies differs in that it includes Batman and the Green Lantern.
It was also interesting to see McCain gun for the Jewish vote. I think he dropped the "existential threat to Israel" line about 500 times. It's not surprising to see McCain use this tactict since his unflinching miltarism in support of Israel is also the source of Lieberman's dedication. Hopefully "the Great Schlep" has an effect and Jewish voters -- who like to criticize the right for one issue voting on abortion -- don't do the same thing with Israel.
Just as interesting as the things that were in the debate were the things that weren't. For example, McCain never said "middle class" and Obama is already slamming McCain for this. Seems like a winning tactic to me.
Another big part of every debate is body language -- people blame Gore for walking behind Bush in a debate (trying to show he was taller, I think) and coming off like a loser while Bush chuckled good-naturedly. Well, McCain certainly played the part of the grumpy old man (smirking, scoffing, refusing to look at Obama) -- and its making news. McCain's grumpiness will definitely help Obama. A few months ago an article in Slate talked about how Bugs Bunny (calm, cool politician) beats Daffy Duck (the angry politician). It's an interesting framework that certainly works for the elections that I can remember.
And what else wasn't there? McCain's VP. After the debate, Biden was all over the networks hyping Obama and Palin was nohwere to be found. This follows the recent trend of conservatives becomingly increasingly nervous about Palin's nomination. Kathleen Parker at the National Review writes an article about how bad Palin is, labelling her candidacy the "Palin Problem" and calling for her to step down and George Will, along with other conservatives, is getting sick of the anti-illectual bent of the Republican party. I think it's telling that Tina Fey's impersonation of Palin is so funny and yet she doesn't even have to change Palin's words half the time. There's a fine line between fear and hilarity -- if Palin doesn't get elected the good news is it will go down as the funniest VP pick of all time.