October 16th, 2008

ozarque figure

Politics; the final debate...

I hadn't intended to watch the debate last night, but I watched the first few minutes and got hooked, and I ended up watching the whole thing. I listened to Rachel Madow saying Obama had won and Patrick Buchanan saying McCain had won, and then I gave up and went to bed. I went to Google first thing this morning to see what the verdict was on who won, and got stuck at site after site watching the little pizza whirling, and gave up on that too. I turned on MSNBC and they had three polls -- two showing Obama clearly the winner, and one showing a tie. And I got to see the actual Joe The Plumber saying that McCain was the winner.

I suspect that what I'm about to say is as predictable as what Madow and Buchanan said was predictable: I have rarely seen body language as bizarre as I perceived John McCain's body language to be last night. All that smirking and sighing and eye-rolling and grimacing and heavy breathing and snorting and smug-faced top-speed note-taking...

It baffles me. Senator McCain has to have been familiar with the effects of that sort of thing. There has been endless analysis of the effects that George W. Bush's smirking and Al Gore's sighing had on their debate audiences. McCain would have had to be under a rock for the past decade not to have been aware of all that. His advisers surely had warned him to maintain a reasonably calm and neutral demeanor. They surely had warned him that it wasn't a good idea to give the impression that he wouldn't be able to remember anything Obama said if he didn't take constant notes.

Maybe it was a deliberate strategy based on his belief that all that frenetic bodyparl would make the audience (and not just Patrick Buchanan) perceive him as passionate? As a Hair-Triggered Fighter? Is that possible?