The Narrative Starts to Settle In

Put aside all the polling about who won last night, despite the fact it all pretty clearly leads towards Obama as the winner. If I was the McCain campaign, there is something else that would worry me. After the debate last night, I noted:

Someone should Lexis-nexis the 2000 post-debate coverage in which they chided Gore for his sighing. I remember a lot of talk about how the debates were a time to let voters decide what candidate they wanted in their house for the next four years and blah blah blah kill me now you inane loudmouths.

If we were to use the Al Gore criteria, John McCain got his ass kicked tonight. He was a cranky old SOB, scowling and ranting “You don’t understand” and generally just a dick. Folks on tv are calling it “vintage McCain.” Loosely translated, that means everyone knows he is a dick, they just can not say it on tv.

I am not sure if you all remember how bad the prevailing narrative was for Gore after the first debate, but it was devastating. An alert reader mailed in some samples:

By the time he got through rolling his eyes, heaving sighs every two minutes and interrupting Jim Lehrer constantly during the first presidential debate, Al Gore probably couldn’t have been elected dogcatcher on the strength of his personal charm. A good argument could be made that the game was lost right there. Among those who have admitted to preparing Gore for that catastrophe was former Clintonista Paul Begala, a man whose dramaturgic wisdom is probably bad enough to make him a future election night commentator.

***

The debate was especially important to Gore. Instant reaction to the first debate in Boston on Oct. 3 declared him the winner. Except that what people remembered wasn’t what he said, but how he exhaled. He tried to put the focus on the size of Bush’s tax cut; what people remembered were the sighs of Gore’s impatience. Round one: Bush by default.

***

But Mr. Bush’s biggest boost among married mothers might have come unwittingly from Mr. Gore. In a focus group of Democrats, Republicans and undecided voters assembled by ABC to watch the debate, the women deemed Mr. Gore obnoxious and arrogant.

All those sighs and eye rolls! Married women know those sighs all too well. They have heard them from their husbands and know they are meant as condescending putdowns.

You can lament that elections should be all about the issues, or you can accept the reality that this sort of stuff killed Gore. Bob Somerby still is furious about it. At any rate, it was sighs and eye-rolling in 2000, but in 2008 it will be anger, contempt, and the refusal to make eye contact. Take it way, Eugene Robinson:

Here’s the politically incorrect way of phrasing one of the central questions about tonight’s presidential debate: Did John McCain come across as too much of a grumpy old man?

That might not be a nice question, but it’s an important one. Americans like to vote for the nice guy, not the grumbling prophet of doom. Throughout the 90-minute debate, McCain seemed contemptuous of Obama. He wouldn’t look at him. He tried to belittle him whenever possible — how many times did he work “Senator Obama just doesn’t understand” into his answers? His body language was closed, defensive, tense. McCain certainly succeeded in proving that he can be aggressive, but the aggression came with a smirk and a sneer.

Your turn, Tom Shales:

John McCain wore the more presidential tie — that much can be said for him — but Barack Obama displayed the more presidential temperament, or the kind of demeanor people presumably would want in a president, when the two candidates met at the University of Mississippi last night for their first debate of the campaign.

Both men seemed well equipped in terms of facts and figures — especially, as one would expect, dollar figures — and neither made an outrageous blunder, although McCain did misidentify the new president of Pakistan. More critically, he came across as condescending and even rude to his opponent, a bit of bad behavior especially evident because Obama may have overdone the fair-minded bit in many of his remarks and answers.

Imperiously enough, McCain — who had threatened not to show up for the debate because of America’s financial crisis — seemed determined to avoid even looking at Obama as the debate went on, although they did shake hands at the beginning and end. Many of McCain’s answers were preceded with belittling references to Obama as if he were talking to a college freshman way out of his depth: “I’m afraid Senator Obama doesn’t understand the difference between a tactic and a strategy,” was one typical remark.

Bring us home, LA Times:

Obama declined to be belittled. Although McCain refused to address him directly — despite encouragement from moderator Jim Lehrer — Obama looked at and spoke to McCain. Obama often credited McCain on issues — a grace that was not reciprocated — but he did not accept the role of junior candidate.

That is just a sample of what is going to come. Look for the appearance of the following words in days to come: cranky, grumpy, crotchety, angry, mean, rude, sneering, snarling, contemptuous, off-putting, snide, boorish, and worst of all, not Presidential. SNL will probably drive the point home in a skit that will become the dominant narrative tonight, and McCain will become boxed in regarding his behavior in the second debate, much as Gore was unable to be as aggressive as he wanted in the second debate (I remember the running joke was that Gore had been medicated for the second debate). And if McCain does not tone down the contempt, it will simply feed the narrative. Or, if we are really lucky, as someone suggested in another thread, McCain will overcompensate and spend the entire time comically and creepily attempting to make eye contact with Obama (think Al Gore walking across the stage to stand next to Bush, and Bush looking at him as if to think “WTF are you doing?”).

This should be terrifying for the McCain campaign for two reasons. First, the base will not understand it. To them, a sneering, contemptuous jerk is a feature, not a bug. When they try to tone down McCain, it will turn off the diehards. Look at the reaction of the base to Palin’s RNC speech- they LOVED that she was, for all intents and purposes, nothing but an asshole the entire speech. They loved the “zingers” that were written for her. The rest of the country recoiled in horror, and Obama raised ten million the next 48 hours.

Second, they have spent the last few months angrily lashing out at the media, and these were the folks who used to love McCain. The campaign no longer allows McCain to talk to the media, and the Straight Talk Express is the “No Talk” Express these days. So for the bobbleheads that will be pushing the new narrative of the mean old McCain, the contrast is real. It wasn’t just the snarling you and I saw on tv. It was the contrast from the nice, friendly, have some BBQ here are your donuts McCain to the new one. They used to know him as their friend, now he is a jerk- the change to them is more dramatic than it is to us, and as such, the mean McCain narrative will be easier for them to adopt and pass along.

This thing is going to spread and will be really bad for Johnny Drama, and I am loving it.

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155 replies
  1. 1
    rob! says:

    i know i’m hopelessly biased, but that was all i could think of last night as i watched it–McCain comes off like a sneering jerk.

    who would want this a*hole in their living room for the next four years?

  2. 2
    Incertus says:

    That was a more presidential tie? I’m not even sure what that means, but I know that I started to feel like I was staring into one of those 1960s hypnotic trance-inducing pinwheels after a minute or two.

  3. 3
    SGEW says:

    Right on, John. Spot on.

    . . . well, I hope. I’m not the best judge (I thought Gore killed Bush in that first debate, and simply couldn’t understand why people thought Bush won).

  4. 4
    riffle says:

    I sure hope you’re right about that narrative and the effects it could have on the campaign.

    I’m not so sure McCain can change his attitude towards Obama though. He’s reflexively and deep-seatedly contemptuous of Obama. I figure, especially if Obama makes progress in the polls, that McCain will come to loathe him even more.

    He’s a jerk to the core: it’s hard to put lipstick on that.

  5. 5
    Bill H says:

    I really like this format, in no small part because it allowed the personalities of the participants to be put on display. And I have a new name for ond cranky: McSnarly. I just hope I’m being original, but there’s probably a couple thousand people beat me to it.

  6. 6
    SDM says:

    “Johnny Drama.” Brilliant. I hope that spreads, too.

  7. 7
    javafascist says:

    But…but…but…POW!

    Spot on analysis John. (Can we fire Begala and Castellanos and get you on instead?) It’s kind of embarrassing that we live in a country that elects an asshole to two terms, even when everybody can see he’s an asshole by his love of dismissive nicknames and frat boy antics, only because he plays a “regular guy” on TV the rest of the time. I guess I should be just glad that McCain seems incapable of faking regular guy.

  8. 8
    cleek says:

    one huge difference between Gore and McCain: McCain is not a Democrat. i’m not sure if he was grumpy enough to negate the boost he gets for just being a Big Daddy Republican.

  9. 9
    rob! says:

    can you imagine what McCain will be like the night he concedes? he’ll be at the podium, spitting up blood, while Tucker Bounds explains to Sarah Palin what the Electoral College is.

  10. 10
    Comrade Scrutinizer says:

    Funny thing, even Castellanos was giving props to Obama last night.

    What I’m looking forward to is the excuse the McCain campaign is going to come out with to cancel the Biden-Palin debate.

  11. 11
    The Moar You Know says:

    Deep Shit Time For McCain: Halperin agrees with you.

    What is McCain gonna do when his go-to guy takes off the kneepads?

  12. 12
    D. Mason says:

    while Tucker Bounds explains to Sarah Palin what the Electoral College is

    Yeah right. She will be lucky to get cab fare to the airport out of the McCain campaign after the election is lost.

  13. 13
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    An alert reader mailed in some samples

    Bob Somerby?

  14. 14
    Laura W says:

    Yes, but, this just in from some congresswoman whose name I did not get, thankfully, to blathering Nora, beating dead horse again today. Why did McCain not look at Obama?:

    When John McCain looks at Senator Obama he looks right through him. (due to lack of experience, lack of substance.)
    So Barack is invisible to McCain. Ghostlike? Dead?
    Was that a racial slur?

  15. 15
    SGEW says:

    So Barack is invisible to McCain.

    Ralph Ellison knew of what he spoke.

  16. 16
    Stephanie says:

    Over at TPM, Josh Marshall wonders the same as Laura and others here – why is McCain so angry and contemptuous? A couple of readers, one a psychotherapist, the other a primate researcher, offer thier analysis. Very interesting:

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/220226.php

    They both essentially claim that anger masks fear. I think McCain is scared sh*^less – his stunt of the week bombed, Palin is turning into a huge liability, he’s down in the polls, and oh crap, he has to talk about the bailout and the economy. He’s ready to implode and that’s just scary.

  17. 17
    KT says:

    This thing is going to spread and will be really bad for Johnny Drama, and I am loving it.

    Of all the McFuddy, McInsane, McThis, McThat jabs, I think “Johnny Drama” is the winner. Perfectly sums up the man.

  18. 18
    kth says:

    Somerby’s head may explode this week. Clearly he has a low opinion of McCain, but Obama is about to benefit from the same emphasis on body language that sank Gore in 2000. So Somerby’s quest to reform the beltway press corps, righteous but almost certainly futile–quixotic, in a word, is handed a big setback as our side benefits from its superficiality for once.

  19. 19
    Leo says:

    I agree that SNL is going to pick up the anger and/or lack of eye contact as a theme. But SNL is pretty cowardly these days, so I expect we’ll get a counternarrative straight from the Republican spin. Something like this:

    McCain: “My opponent doesn’t understand how the world works, he’s naive. If you elect him terrorists will break into your house and steal your children.”

    Obama: “Actually, this is something that John and I agree on.”

    Fortunately, I think the anger/distain narrative is much stronger than this one, but I expect SNL will give us both.

  20. 20
    Comrade Scrutinizer says:

    When John McCain looks at Senator Obama he looks right through him. (due to lack of experience, lack of substance.)

    “What the Klingon says is unimportant, and we do not hear his words.” Kinda like that?

  21. 21
    Rick Taylor says:

    I am not sure if you all remember how bad the prevailing narrative was for Gore after the first debate, but it was devastating.

    Oh believe me I remember. I went to bed after that debate jubilant, the Republican nominee had revealed himself to be not ready for the office of the Presidency for all to see, and the next morning I heard the pundits responding and went what the hell? It was surreal. I would encourage you to watch that debate again to the end and see what you think of it now.

    So on the one hand, it’s stupid that debates are decided on things like this. On the other hand, I’m filled with glee that as unfair as it is, the shoe is on the other foot now.

    What happens next is McCain’s campaign gets flustered, and next time he makes a point of looking at Obama, but it’s entirely unnatural, completely spooky. You remember how Gore was knocked off balance and kept “re-inventing” himself?

  22. 22
  23. 23
    FLILF Hunter says:

    Tucker Bounds explains to Sarah Palin what the Electoral College is.

    Isn’t that where she got her BA in Journalism?

  24. 24

    This thing is going to spread and will be really bad for Johnny Drama, and I am loving it.

    I think you’re right as rain. No way in a thousand hells is Johnny Drama going to come across as anything but what he is, and neither is poor Palin. When all is said and done, “points” don’t mean dipshit. Obama doesn’t get everything right, but holy fuck, he’s the obvious choice. It was STUNNING to see how much better he is, how much more knowledgeable, how much more caring and responsible he’d be as president. And to think he actually wants the job! This is such a gift to the country and the world.

    McCain came across to me like he was pleading to be given what he thinks he deserves. Instead, he’s going to get what he really does…

  25. 25
    scruncher says:

    McCain’s inability to make eye contact = Nixon’s flop sweat. Mark my words.

  26. 26
    Dennis - SGMM says:

    So Barack is invisible to McCain.

    Anyone who doesn’t come from a background of wealth and privilege is invisible to McCain. His visceral dislike of Obama is fueled by what McCain sees as Obama’s presumptuousness in even running for president – let alone handing McCain his ass. McCain’s pick of the utterly clueless Palin to reach out to women and average Americans is emblematic of the contempt in which he holds both.

  27. 27
    J.D. Rhoades says:

    I am not sure if you all remember how bad the prevailing narrative was for Gore after the first debate, but it was devastating.

    I do remember it well. I turned to my wife after the second heavy theatrical sigh and said “that idiot just lost this election.”

    I seem to be one of the few people who didn’t see McCain as angry or contemptuous. I do think McCain failed to slam dunk on Obama on what was supposed to be his strongest subject. It’s all downhill for McCain from here.

  28. 28
    Marshall says:

    The debate was especially important to Gore. Instant reaction to the first debate in Boston on Oct. 3 declared him the winner. Except that what people remembered wasn’t what he said, but how he exhaled

    I saw that debate, and thought that Gore won it hands down. The pundits didn’t like Gore, liked Bush, declared him the winner, facts be damned, and that was all it took. It was surreal.

    In my mind, those pundits demonstrated merely that they were not fit to comment on anything more complicated than whether their parking meter has expired, but back then there were fewer news outlets and people certainly took them seriously, and it certainly made a difference.

  29. 29
    RandyH says:

    After I watched the debate, I was talking to my dad about it. He didn’t watch it but wanted to know what I thought. I said I thought it was a bit boring, didn’t affect my views, but I was interested to see what polls show and what not. But I did remark that what stuck with me the most was how condescending McCain was toward Obama. That, while Obama obviously knew what he was talking about, McCain would demand that Obama was some pathetic amateur and wouldn’t recognize him as qualified to be there. And I hadn’t even noticed yet that McCain never looked at Obama until this morning.

  30. 30
    boonagain says:

    Isn’t that where she got her BA in Journalism?

    That’s one College she didn’t attend and it’s sorta looking like she won’t matriculate this year, either.

  31. 31
    Scott H says:

    McCain would not look a black man in the eye. That’s your narrative.

  32. 32
    liberal says:

    Marshall wrote,

    I saw that debate, and thought that Gore won it hands down. The pundits didn’t like Gore, liked Bush, declared him the winner, facts be damned, and that was all it took. It was surreal.

    That’s my recollection.

    So, in 2000, the media spinners were the ones pushing the “sighing” stuff; the initial citizen reaction was that Gore had one.

    Here, the citizens watching the debate themselves thought McCain’s body language was bad, without needing any brainwashing from the spinners.

  33. 33
    Glenn says:

    I think mcsame was annoyed at having to be there. His seething contempt and boiling anger at Obama and the media was very poorly concealed. He wanted to be debating Biden not Obama. It was also evident that he can hardly believe he’s losing at this pt. to a man he doesn’t respect or even acknowledge. He’s pissed off at the Dems. for putting up a candidate he believes is an insult to him and not worthy to even be on the same stage.

  34. 34
    slip says:

    McCain said: “The point is that throughout history, whether it be Ronald Reagan, who wouldn’t sit down with Brezhnev, Andropov or Chernenko until Gorbachev was ready with glasnost and perestroika.”

    Is he talking about the same Brezhnev that Nixon met in 1972 to mark the signing of the SALT treaty? This Brezhnev, right? Did Nixon get a hall pass? What?

  35. 35
    Comrade Jake says:

    The sighing meme drove me nuts in 2000. But look, what killed Gore was his subsequent over-reaction the other way in the next debate, which was on foreign policy. Bush said any number of idiotic things during that debate, any one of which Gore could’ve fried him on, but he didn’t. He went out of his way to be cordial.

    I would not expect to see any difference in Johnny Drama’s demeanor at the next debate. He’s not wired that way. He’s full speed ahead on asshole.

    One final note: McCain did not even look at Obama when they shook hands. He looked away. The guy is scum.

  36. 36
    Comrade PeterJ says:

    Gallup O+5
    Hotline/Diageo O+5
    Rasmussen O+6
    Res. 2000 O+6

    McCain’s DC stunt = FAIL

  37. 37
    Rick Taylor says:

    I am not sure if you all remember how bad the prevailing narrative was for Gore after the first debate, but it was devastating.

    For me, that was the night the country started going down the rabbit hole.

  38. 38
    Loneaok says:

    My take home lesson from the first debate: If you are going to do a debate drinking game, DO NOT include the rule to drink every time McCain name drops. That fucking killed me.

  39. 39

    Did Steve Schmidt tell McCain to wear earth tones? I demand to know!

  40. 40
    FLILF Hunter says:

    McCain’s obvious contempt for Obama is no mystery. It has a clear point of origin, and I’m frankly surprised it’s slipped under the radar.

    When Obama drove the ethics reform bill in 2006, he completely riled McCain. Ethics reform was McCain’s “baby”. McCain-Feingold pissed off the GOP, and McCain wore that as his badge of Maverickiness.

    The along comes Obama during all of the GOP-Abramoff scandals and “steals” McCain’s pet issue: ethics reform.

    Big kerfuffle. McCain fired off a poison pen letter that made the rounds of the intertubes.

    McCain’s contempt for Obama began in February, 2006. And it was all about this.

    For McCain, this is a grudge match. Pure and simple.

  41. 41
    Elliott says:

    It would be the end of the Gore administration looming if those Idiots had let Nader be on stage with Gore and W.

  42. 42
    JasonF says:

    Senator McCain really seems to have dodged a bullet in that the pundits by and large don’t seem to have picked up on his reaction to Senator Obama’s jibe about meeting with Spain, which was to mutter “horseshit” under his breath (but audibly enough for the mics to pick up).

    Can you imagine what it would have done to Senator McCain’s campaign if people were reporting that “In response to Senator Obama’s comments about Senator McCain’s refusal to meet with the President of Spain, Senator McCain muttered an epithet under his breath that we can’t repeat in this newspaper/on this broadcast.”

  43. 43
    Dennis - SGMM says:

    I’d say that the McCain campaign’s only hope now is to have Palin fake her own kidnapping.

  44. 44
    TR says:

    who would want this a*hole in their living room for the next four years?

    Hate to be crude, but who would think he’ll even live for the next four years?

    The man is 72 years old. Four times he’s come down with a form of cancer that’s known for recurrences. He spent five years in a Vietnamese POW camp where presumably the beatings and malnutrition didn’t add to his life expectancy.

    A vote for McCain is a vote to install President Palin within 1-2 years tops.

  45. 45
    Jimmm says:

    Shales is wrong: I’ve prepped countless authors for media appearances, and the one thing I tell them when they’re about to go on TV is NOT to wear a patterned shirt or tie, because camera lens persistence causes lines to vibrate. Not as much of a problem now, with HD cameras and progressive scan monitors, but to 75%-80% of viewers out there, McCain’s lumpy, misshapen mug seemed to hover above a pulsing, multihued tie.

  46. 46
    Comrade donovong says:

    I could not get over the fact that Grampa McBush could not come to grips with the fact that the fucking 80’s are over! Who the hell cares anymore about Reagan, Schmidt, Gorbachev or – jeebus help us – Henry fucking Kissinger? Has this guy been in suspended animation for the last 20 years?

  47. 47
    TR says:

    I’d say that the McCain campaign’s only hope now is to have Palin fake her own kidnapping.

    Dude, I can get you a toe. No problem.

  48. 48

    For McCain, this is a grudge match. Pure and simple.

    He’ll have to carry around that grudge for a long time, I think. I wonder how long McCain will stay in the Senate after he loses? Will he retire in the next few years, or will they have to carry him out?

  49. 49
    SGEW says:

    Just watched this li’l ol’ clip from ABC (warning: Yahoo pop-up video), wherein Tom Friedman and George Will both excoriate John McCain’s debate performance. Both of them describe some of McCain’s statements as “howlers,” and neither seem to consider him as an acceptable candidate.

    We all know that George Will has completely soured on McCain (whom he basically describes as temperamentally unfit to be president in his recent op-ed), so it’s really interesting to see him trotted out as the conservative pundit, to counter-act the liberal one (not that Friedman is “liberal,” but you know what I mean). Both wind up mocking McCain on tv. w00t!

    So much fail. And we still have five more weeks of this?!

  50. 50
    gbear says:

    “Johnny Drama.” Brilliant. I hope that spreads, too.

    Since Sarah now has the perfect nickname ‘Bible Spice’, how ’bout we just call McCain ‘Old Spice’? After all, he is on the ticket with her.

  51. 51
    vaux-rien says:

    Big kerfuffle. McCain fired off a poison pen letter that made the rounds of the intertubes.

    McCain’s contempt for Obama began in February, 2006. And it was all about this.

    For McCain, this is a grudge match. Pure and simple.

    Good link, I missed that the first time.

    Dear Senator Obama:

    I would like to apologize to you for assuming that your private assurances to me regarding your desire to cooperate in our efforts to negotiate bipartisan lobbying reform legislation were sincere.

    Obnoxious, passive-aggressive asshole.

  52. 52
    Bill Arnold says:

    Why did McCain not look at Obama?
    I concluded that it was more mundane. It seemed to me that McCain was avoiding looking at Obama as a emotion control tactic. That he and his team decided the best way to prevent an angry outburst or even a physical altercation was to avoid looking at his opponent.

  53. 53
  54. 54
    Comrade PeterJ says:

    It would be the end of the Gore administration looming if those Idiots had let Nader be on stage with Gore and W.

    Nader was a guest on last night’s Real Time and I’m no longer sure if my utter dislike for him comes from him running in 2000, him running in 2004 (with the help of republican money), or him running this year.

    I can’t remember how I felt about him during the 2000 election anymore, but I highly doubt him being invited to debates would have been a good idea.

    But one thing is sure, instead of running every 4th year as some sort of wannabe spoiler canidate, perhaps he should use the time between elections to do something useful.

  55. 55
    Laura W says:

    McCain’s lumpy, misshapen mug seemed to hover above a pulsing, multihued tie.

    Word. And it did nothing to help my living room stop spinning, I can promise you that.

  56. 56
    FLILF Hunter says:

    He’ll have to carry around that grudge for a long time, I think. I wonder how long McCain will stay in the Senate after he loses? Will he retire in the next few years, or will they have to carry him out?

    Yeah, I’ve wondered that. I just can’t fathom McCain ever accepting Obama as President. I can see him either clinging to his seat to vex Obama until the bitter end, or given his age, general health, and anger issues, it wouldn’t surprise me if he had a major medical event after the election and dropped out of public life.

  57. 57
    Dennis - SGMM says:

    McCain’s lumpy, misshapen mug…

    What’s with that? His head looks like a bag of doorknobs with eyes.

  58. 58
    Tim (The Other One) says:

    ” Since Sarah now has the perfect nickname ‘Bible Spice’, how ‘bout we just call McCain ‘Old Spice’? After all, he is on the ticket with her. ”

    I am DOWN with this !

  59. 59
    Delia says:

    Shales is wrong: I’ve prepped countless authors for media appearances, and the one thing I tell them when they’re about to go on TV is NOT to wear a patterned shirt or tie, because camera lens persistence causes lines to vibrate. Not as much of a problem now, with HD cameras and progressive scan monitors, but to 75%-80% of viewers out there, McCain’s lumpy, misshapen mug seemed to hover above a pulsing, multihued tie.

    I agree. I posted something about this in the thread last night. The closely spaced lines pulsing were a real distraction. I noticed other striped ties with a broader pattern didn’t have that problem, but I think the the solid ties are the best bet. They don’t distract from the speaker. As it was, the vibrating stripes sort of subconsciously reinforced the seething temper meme.

  60. 60
    FLILF Hunter says:

    Obnoxious, passive-aggressive asshole.

    And last night provided the visual confirmation. In fact, given the punditry’s focus on this aspect of McCain’s performance, I’d say it provided them an opening to discuss what they’ve known about the guy for years, yet dismissed out of deference.

  61. 61
    Joe Lisboa says:

    Dude, I can get you a toe. No problem.

    Win.

  62. 62
    Delia says:

    McCain’s lumpy, misshapen mug…

    What’s with that? His head looks like a bag of doorknobs with eyes.

    I believe he has permanently swollen lymph glands as a result of his cancer treatments.

  63. 63
    Tim (The Other One) says:

    Interesting (well to me at least) is that I was gonna go Nader in 2000 until I watched the debates and realized we couldn’t afford to risk having Bush as President. I threw that third party pipe-dream away.

  64. 64
    Laura W says:

    His head looks like a bag of doorknobs with eyes.

    Owww!
    OK, that gives me permission to post something that WP ate last night, and I’ll beat you to the punch and call myself incredibly shallow, petty, and a very mean girl in advance:

    I want a president who can lift his arms above his shoulders.
    That is very important to me.
    There. I said it.

  65. 65
    gbear says:

    As it was, the vibrating stripes sort of subconsciously reinforced the seething temper meme.

    It was a mood tie. Cindy bought it for him and always tells him how nice he looks in it. She asks him to wear it all the time.

  66. 66
    SGEW says:

    I was gonna go Nader in 2000 until I watched the debates and realized we couldn’t afford to risk having Bush as President.

    Good for you. I was in the same boat (voted for Ralph in ’96, as I couldn’t see how Bob “Looks Like Death” Dole could possibly win (esp. in my very-blue state). In 2000, even though I knew Gore would win NY, I still couldn’t pull the lever for Nader, because I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if Bush won, and I hadn’t voted for Gore.

    A friend of mine voted for Nader in Florida . . . well, an ex-friend now (for other reasons – honest!).

  67. 67
    Dennis - SGMM says:

    I believe he has permanently swollen lymph glands as a result of his cancer treatments.

    He has my sympathy for that. OTOH, I would have though that the state of his health alone would have caused him to make a more thoughtful pick for VP.

  68. 68
    Dennis - SGMM says:

    I want a president who can lift his arms above his shoulders.

    Thanks, Laura W. Now I can post the one that occurred to me a couple of days ago.

    Instead of a lengthy debate, just have the moderator say “Raise your hand if you want to be President.”

  69. 69
    Jimmm says:

    Word. And it did nothing to help my living room stop spinning, I can promise you that.

    You played the McCain debate drinking game, dincha?

  70. 70
    J. Gioia says:

    Though Mark Shields said McCain didn’t have a “senior moment” last night, I felt he did, and that it lasted for 90 minutes.

  71. 71
    mona n says:

    i hope you’re right about SNL’s take on this, i have to wonder if lorne michaels will allow a republican candidate to fall victim to what foiled Gore though.

    I like the nickname “Johnny Drama” for mccain, because he really is utterly ridiculous in a similar way to the Entourage character. my favorite for palin is definitely moosealini, second is caribou barbie.

  72. 72
    Rick James says:

    McCain would not look a black man in the eye. That’s your narrative.

    In all fairness, the black guy was asking him for change.

  73. 73
    L Boom says:

    In honor of the mention of Leonid Brezhnev, I just had to point out one thing he doesn’t get nearly enough credit for:
    The All-Time Greatest Political Eyebrows

  74. 74
    mynameishusseintoo says:

    And what good did it do McShame to be talking about stuff that happened 30,40 years ago…..it only stress one thing: you are an old fuck….

  75. 75
    L Boom says:

    Bah, stupid WordPress double-posts.

  76. 76
    Delia says:

    McCain’s just upset that his brilliant VP masterstroke is seriously self-destructing

    via Sully

  77. 77
    The Moar You Know says:

    FLILF Hunter Says:

    McCain fired off a poison pen letter that made the rounds of the intertubes.

    McCain’s contempt for Obama began in February, 2006. And it was all about this.

    It didn’t make the rounds of my intertubes, and certainly did not get a lot of play. It should have. That’s the shittiest, most passive-aggressive, unprofessional letter I’ve ever read in my life and I’ve got to say, even with what I know about McCain, that I’m truly shocked.

  78. 78
    SamFromUtah says:

    Instead of a lengthy debate, just have the moderator say “Raise your hand if you want to be President.”

    That’s cold, but really goddam funny.

  79. 79

    […] If you’re new here, you may want to subscribe to my RSS feed. Thanks for visiting!Balloon Juice’s John Cole sees the first-debate narrative of 2008 settling in and doing to John McCain what the first-debate narrative of 2000 did to Al Gore. […]

  80. 80
    KT says:

    In all fairness, the black guy was asking him for change.

    LOL! Win!

  81. 81
    Comrade NonyNony says:

    Shales is wrong: I’ve prepped countless authors for media appearances, and the one thing I tell them when they’re about to go on TV is NOT to wear a patterned shirt or tie, because camera lens persistence causes lines to vibrate.

    Hell I’ve never even been on the teevee and even I know that you’re not supposed to wear close stripes or patterns if you can avoid it. It’s a bit of trivia for me, sure, but I’d expect someone who can afford to drop $5K on makeup for every TV appearance he’s in could also afford to hire a media consultant who know as much as a dumbfuck midwesterner who used to watch too much tv for his own good (such as myself).

    I swear – it’s crap like this that makes me think that there’s someone in the McCain campaign that is intentionally trying to throw this away. I want to ascribe this to them just being incompetent, but every week they do something that makes me think “really, they can’t be THAT incompetent, can they?” Weird.

    I’m also thinking that they went for the “American striped tie” instead of a flag pin on his lapel. They should have just put the damn flag pin on his lapel and put him in a solid colored tie. Flag pins are the new accessory for politicians – 2000 years from now politicians will be pinning little flags on their lapels and no one will even remember why they do it.

  82. 82
    hauskpr says:

    From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johnny_Drama:

    “He is a pompous, self-important individual who constantly brings up bit roles he has played over the years …”

    Quick, someone put a youtube together inter-splicing McCain with clips of Johnny Drama going all crazy and smashing up cars and starting bar-fights.

    Drama for President.

  83. 83
    Laura W says:

    Hey, you know what I noticed?
    I don’t recall one nasty thread with infighting here last night, or today (so far). I know I’m new to this bar, but it seems as if there comes a point in most evenings when the verbal brawling begins and hijacks whatever the thread was originally discussing. Probably just before last call.

    Were the trolls all under bridges?
    Or is that why you guys call Obama the MUP? No wonder!
    Or maybe there was some sort of collective catharsis phenomenon whereby McCreep sucked up all the nasty out of the world for 90 minutes, leaving the villagers to co-exist in peace and harmony and buy each other a Coke. Or Ketel One.

  84. 84
    TR says:

    McCain would not look a black man in the eye. That’s your narrative.

    In all fairness, the black guy was asking him for change.

    For the win.

  85. 85
    J.A.F. Rusty Shackleford says:

    Dennis – SGMM Says:

    McCain’s lumpy, misshapen mug…

    What’s with that? His head looks like a bag of doorknobs with eyes.

    September 27th, 2008 at 1:30 pm

    Tom Toles agrees.

  86. 86
    comrade chopper says:

    McCain’s contempt for Obama began in February, 2006. And it was all about this.

    damn, that is some sick shit. mccain can be a real fuckbag.

  87. 87
    JGabriel says:

    Barack Obama:

    And, John, I—you’re absolutely right that presidents have to be prudent in what they say. But, you know, coming from you, who, you know, in the past has threatened extinction for North Korea and, you know, sung songs about bombing Iran, I don’t know, you know, how credible that is.

    That was, I thought, one of Obama’s best lines of the night. It called into question McCain’s credibility.

    I wish Obama had done it a couple more times to just drive the point home.

    .

  88. 88
    JGabriel says:

    Rob!:

    [McCain will] be at the podium, spitting up blood, while Tucker Bounds explains to Sarah Palin what the Electoral College is.

    Palin: You mean, the Electoral College sets it up so that some voters votes are worth more than others? That doesn’t seem fair.

    Bounds: You’re right. It means the an Alaskan voter’s vote is worth 1.5 times that of a New Yorker’s.

    Palin: Oh. (pause) Well, that ok then.

    .

  89. 89
    Rick Taylor says:

    Were the trolls all under bridges?

    If I were a McCain supporter, I’d have a really tough time arguing my case right about now. What are you supposed to say? Ducking out of debates really isn’t cowardly, it’s heroic! Alaska’s proximity to Russia really is a good reason to trust Palin’s foreign policy experience. Usually our spoofers would fill in the gap at this point, but honestly, this is hard material to work with. So the silence is understandable.

  90. 90
    comrade pseudonymous in nc says:

    FILF Hunter is absolutely right. That exchange in 2006 explains everything you need to know about the interactions between the two last night, right down to Obama calling McCain ‘John’ and McCain calling Obama ‘Senator Obama’.

    McCain thinks Obama is a presumptuous newcomer not worthy to shine his shoes. Obama’s tone in response is surprised but still courteous, but you just know that he didn’t like being punked by McCain, and wants to serve up a dish of flash-frozen revenge.

  91. 91
    Krista says:

    Rick James Says:

    McCain would not look a black man in the eye. That’s your narrative.

    In all fairness, the black guy was asking him for change.

    That was beautiful.

  92. 92
    Buck B. says:

    Awesome post. No one rocks it out like you, John.

  93. 93
    SGEW says:

    I don’t recall one nasty thread with infighting here last night, or today (so far).

    Let’s argue about ethanol subsidies! I support John McCain’s position, and see Obama’s position to be nothing more than naked political pandering for midwestern states.

    How’s that?

  94. 94

    […] And now for some of my personal “faves” from the blogspheres (all “must reads” or they wouldn’t be here): Andrew Sullivan of The Daily Dish quite sharply points out the fact we saw a different, more “Alpha male” Obama than we did in his previous Clinton-Obama debates; Check out the fun “debate” debate going on over at Drudge Retort; Michelle Malkin (Right) surprisingly (just kiddin’) gives the win to Señor McCain (and yep — Rush Limbaugh stole the “gag” from me in case you were wondering who was first); John Cole of Balloon Juice says this could be a devastating loss for McCain and goes into great detail to explain why; Marc Ambinder of The Atlantic also has a lively “debate” debate going on; Turkana of The Left Coaster says Señor McCain proved himself a bitter old man who lacks the temperament and decency to lead anyone anywhere (quote); My fellow Alabamian, Dr. Steven Taylor of PoliBlog discusses the eye contact and body language of and between the candidates; The Mahablog (another great roundup over there) says Barry Obama helped shed his “empty suit” label; ALLAHPUNDIT of Hot Air (Right) surprisingly seems to be giving the debate to Obama… […]

  95. 95
    Comrade NonyNony says:

    Were the trolls all under bridges?

    There were some half-hearted tries last night. Maybe even quarter-hearted. They were really, really sad tries though.

    I don’t think anyone bothered to respond to them because they were so obviously pathetic. So the trolls just dried up and went away.

    I wonder if part of the “suspension” of McCains campaign is that he’s no longer giving out “McCain points(tm)” to folks who cut and paste talking points to blog comments. Without those points he might still get the hardcore Palinists trolling for him, but seriously – I’m not worried about getting into an argument with someone who thinks Sarah Palin is an awesome politician. Anyone posting pro-Palin cheerleading talking points these days is going to be comedy gold.

    Could also be that the campaign was so shell-shocked by the post debate spin and insta-polling that they couldn’t get a talking point list out to supporters. Considering that the best ad they could come up with out of the debate is “Obama isn’t fit to lead because he sometimes agrees with John McCain!”, I could believe that too.

  96. 96
    Bill Krapek says:

    Dude. Nothing killed Gore. He won his election.

  97. 97
    JGabriel says:

    Comrade NonyNony:

    I’m not worried about getting into an argument with someone who thinks Sarah Palin is an awesome politician. Anyone posting pro-Palin cheerleading talking points these days is going to be comedy gold.

    You’re just a liberal elitist snob who wants Sarah (hearts) to talk gibberish like a Washington insider.

    Well, I want someone who talks gibberish like a real American! You Commie Stem-Cell Eater!

    (How’s that?)

    .

  98. 98
    The Moar You Know says:

    His head looks like a bag of doorknobs with eyes.

    How dare you. John McCain didn’t have a doorknob for five and a half years. When he was a POW. In Vietnam.

    Did you know John McCain was a POW?

  99. 99

    […] UPDATE: John Cole at Balloon Juice aptly sums up the dilemma facing McCain over the emerging too contemptuous to make eye contact narrative: SNL will probably drive the point home in a skit that will become the dominant narrative tonight, and McCain will become boxed in regarding his behavior in the second debate, much as Gore was unable to be as aggressive as he wanted in the second debate (I remember the running joke was that Gore had been medicated for the second debate). And if McCain does not tone down the contempt, it will simply feed the narrative. Or, if we are really lucky, as someone suggested in another thread, McCain will overcompensate and spend the entire time comically and creepily attempting to make eye contact with Obama (think Al Gore walking across the stage to stand next to Bush, and Bush looking at him as if to think “WTF are you doing?”). […]

  100. 100
    FLILF Hunter says:

    McCain thinks Obama is a presumptuous newcomer not worthy to shine his shoes. Obama’s tone in response is surprised but still courteous, but you just know that he didn’t like being punked by McCain, and wants to serve up a dish of flash-frozen revenge.

    “President Obama” would be sweet revenge.

    I re-read the exchange just now, and one thing I sort of missed before but hit me this time is McCain’s constant references to Lieberman.

    He was so clearly setting the table for a McCain/Lieberman ticket. I have to believe a big component of his current rage is that fact that Rove/Schmidt steamrolled him into grabbing hold of the Palin anvil.

  101. 101
    Rick Taylor says:

    McCain’s ad also does nothing to fight back against this narrative, but reinforces it by attacking Obama for being so polite and amiable; which just makes him look like a bigger jerk. That ad was poorly edited as well; Obama would agree with McCain, and then I could hear the “b” of a but you knew was coming before they quickly panned away. I doubt that will persuade many undecideds, and it might have the opposite effect.

  102. 102
    Green Eagle says:

    I,m not going to give my opinion here, because it is the same as most of the above; I just wanted to say that this is one of the most entertaining bunches of comments I have seen in a long time. I read every one, and I want to thank you all for an amusing interlude in my day.

  103. 103
    NM Ray says:

    If Al Gore lost to George Bush because of a sigh in response to Shrub’s stupid answers, McCain lost big-time due to his completely obnoxious attempt to belittle and ignore a clearly superior intellect.

    Barack Obama is the man that I want to represent my nation for the next four to eight years.

    A white, male, Vietnam vet who is fed up with the lies of the Republican politicians to give America more wars.

  104. 104
    Tattoosydney says:

    Apologies if someone has already linked to Ta-Nehisi Coates

    Liberals have a bully complex. Having gotten chumped repeatedly, we’re confusing strength with arrrogance, toughness with strut. Take it from someone who learned it the hard way. they ain’t the same, son. To paraphrase Carolyn Forche, Obama needs to do exactly would [sic] he did last night–slice McCain to lace. But he needs to do it so quietly, calmly and efficiently, that even those who are paid to opine on such things, don’t even notice the blood all over the floor.

    There has been much discussion about Obama needing to get nasty and hit back…

    If last night (and the entire campaign – primaries and all) proved anything, I think it is that by being the nice one, by taking the high ground, Obama has let his opponents destroy themselves… he is unflappable and he behaves nicely, and that infuriates his opponents so much they end up tripping over their own anger…

  105. 105
    defenestrati says:

    The “no eye contact” thing is really gonna pull in the fence-sitting independent women. Chicks love that stuff!

  106. 106
    defenestrati says:

    The “no eye contact” thing is really gonna pull in the fence-sitting independent women. Chicks love that stuff!

  107. 107
    Rbrta says:

    All of this disgraceful blabbering MIGHT hold some degree of credibility if, number one, it wasn’t just a string of illiterate sounding profanities and if it weren’t also true that the naive and inexperienced Obama and his run for President, IS in fact, presumptuous, not also taking into account that it was he, who was the disrespectful one for calling a National Hero and Senior Statesman (to whom he is far junior), by his FIRST name! THAT’S not only disrespectful, but disdainful and shows that you might dress him up with a fancy Harvard degree, but Obama still lacks the basic honorable core and sense of manners and protocol to ever be considered Presidential. It makes you wonder if that is the kind of decorum that we could expect from him in addressing the ranking Military, Foreign Dignitaries and World Leaders. I think it also gives some insight into why he thought it was alright to undermine our country and gamble with the lives of our troops by trying to negotiate with the leader of Iraq to stall any troop withdrawals until after the elections, just so he could get elected. Not only does the man have no shame, he is also VERY elitist, sloppy and as McCAIN said, DANGEROUS.

  108. 108

    […] I admit to being amused at this remark: Put aside all the polling about who won last night, despite the fact it all pretty clearly leads towards Obama as the winner. If I was the McCain campaign, there is something else that would worry me. After the debate last night, I noted: Someone should Lexis-nexis the 2000 post-debate coverage in which they chided Gore for his sighing. I remember a lot of talk about how the debates were a time to let voters decide what candidate they wanted in their house for the next four years and blah blah blah kill me now you inane loudmouths. […]

  109. 109
    dslak says:

    Props to Rbrta for trying to do his/her best despite having very little to work with.

  110. 110

    Watch McCain closely. It’s not disdain or anger management, I’m convinced he’s decided that Obama has the Evil Eye and doesn’t dare look him in the eye, ever. Watch!

  111. 111
    WoodyD says:

    > the one thing I tell them when they’re about to go on TV is NOT to wear a patterned shirt or tie, because camera lens persistence causes lines to vibrate.

    I worked in TV production for over ten years. It’s called the moire effect, and everyone who has anything to do with TV knows about it and tells the talent not to wear small patterns, particularly small, highly-contrasting stripes. Why the hell wouldn’t McCain or his staff know this? Oh yeah, they thought the tie would look just fine on that new-fangled telegraph thingie. Honestly, this is TV 101. If they can’t get that right . . .

  112. 112

    […] 28 September 2008 by richardgrant Best snippet of post-debate commentary I’ve seen, from John Cole’s Balloon Juice: […]

  113. 113
    SGEW says:

    Points are taken away from Rbrta, however, as there were no spelling errors.

    Additionally, there was far too much restraint in the use of caps lock.

    A workmanlike effort, admirably performed, but lacking in overall authenticity.

    I give it a solid B-

  114. 114
    FLILF Hunter says:

    Rbrta Says: (a bunch of st00pid shit)

    Holy crap. That was all ONE run-on sentence.

  115. 115

    You guys are going to punish Rbrta, even when he managed to wing in the lie about Obama delaying the drawdown? I mean, he should get some credit for that, considering it had nothing to do with the topic at hand yet he found a way to weave it in.

  116. 116
    comrade pseudonymous in nc says:

    He was so clearly setting the table for a McCain/Lieberman ticket.

    That’s an interesting thought: Ned Lamont didn’t declare until March ’06, and while there was rumbling about a primary challenge, the assumption had been that the Dems in the Senate minority would just have to deal with Mr Gang of 14. McCain and Lieberman: both vote with their respective parties 90% of the time, but the 10% is wrapped up in, let’s say, certain issues.

    As for the TIE OF DOOM, let’s not discount the idea that they wanted a migraine-inducing moiré effect to force people not to focus on the screen when McCain spoke. If you hear reports from people who listened rather than watched, à la Nixon-Kennedy, McCain seemed to come out better.

    I still want to know how it looked on high-def.

  117. 117

    Rick James Says:

    McCain would not look a black man in the eye. That’s your narrative.

    In all fairness, the black guy was asking him for change.

    Balloon Juice exchange of the YEAR. You guys are so awesome, I’m getting a little choked up :D

  118. 118
    Grendel72 says:

    To give McCain the benefit of the doubt, I imagine most people would find it hard to look someone in the eyes when you’ve spent the last two months spreading hateful lies about them.

  119. 119
    zuzu's petals says:

    The Moar You Know Says:

    FLILF Hunter Says:

    McCain fired off a poison pen letter that made the rounds of the intertubes.

    McCain’s contempt for Obama began in February, 2006. And it was all about this.

    It didn’t make the rounds of my intertubes, and certainly did not get a lot of play. It should have. That’s the shittiest, most passive-aggressive, unprofessional letter I’ve ever read in my life and I’ve got to say, even with what I know about McCain, that I’m truly shocked.

    You know, Obama really might have been a self-serving jerk at the time. But that letter, oh my lord …

    And the idea that McCain could literally embrace the man who smeared his character and his family so completely in 2000, but carry a grudge like this is just unbelievable.

  120. 120
    Jon H says:

    One thing that jumped out at me during the debate was when McCain said that Pakistan, before Musharraf, was a failed state.

    This was completely wrong. Musharraf seized power from a democratically-elected government in a coup against Nawaz Sharif.

    The AP caught this:

    “There was a failed state in Pakistan when Musharraf came to power,” McCain responded. “Everybody who was around then and had been there and knew about it knew that it was a failed state.”

    Though Pakistan was wrestling with problems like tensions with India and serious poverty when Musharraf took power in an October 1999 coup, it had a democratically elected government and was far from being a “failed state” – a country in social and economic collapse where the government no longer exercises authority.

  121. 121
    Stuck in the Fun House says:

    Rbrta Says:

    All of this disgraceful blabbering MIGHT hold some degree of credibility if, number one, it wasn’t just a string of illiterate sounding profanities and if it weren’t also true that the naive and inexperienced Obama and his run for President, IS in fact, presumptuous

    Someone, who goes by roberta, clearly needs more quality time in the Funhouse, to learn that “illiterate sounding profanities” are actually carefully crafted code words with deeper meaning, such as “Fuck Republicans” or the generic cheaper version of “Fuck Republicans” . It’s all in the brochure.

  122. 122
    Mike says:

    JasonF Says:

    Senator McCain really seems to have dodged a bullet in that the pundits by and large don’t seem to have picked up on his reaction to Senator Obama’s jibe about meeting with Spain, which was to mutter “horseshit” under his breath (but audibly enough for the mics to pick up).
    I don’t know about “Horseshit”, but McCain def. barfed out a laughter at not-funny-if-you-were-him several times during the broadcast.

  123. 123
    Jon H says:

    In all fairness, the black guy was asking him for change.

    To be fair, the black guy was offering McCain change.

    Which is probably worse.

  124. 124
    FLILF Hunter says:

    And the idea that McCain could literally embrace the man who smeared his character and his family so completely in 2000, but carry a grudge like this is just unbelievable.

    There’s really only one way to interpret what he’s doing, and that’s pure, unbridled ambition.

    Although, I sometimes wonder if there isn’t a dose of Stockholm Syndrome going on here.

    Whatever it is, it isn’t rational.

  125. 125
    Jon H says:

    “I still want to know how it looked on high-def.”

    Looked fine to me. They didn’t zoom in very close, which helps.

    The local Boston political commentators, who were on afterward here, looked awful.

  126. 126
    rolo says:

    McCain would not look a black man in the eye. That’s your narrative.

    Imagine the roles reversed. Until Nov. 4 we would hear non-stop, not-so-subtly veiled racist cracks about how Obama didn’t show John McCain “respect.”

    We’re in for some dark days if John McCain is allowed to carry that arrogance into the White House.

  127. 127
    owlathome says:

    Thanks guys! I haven’t enjoyed reading a thread for a long time and this makes up for it.
    PS Regarding McCain’s “bag of doorknobs” appearance — with 13 houses he’s probably got a lot of knobs to take care of.
    Cheers and keep up the good fight.

  128. 128
    ppcli says:

    That letter from McBush to Obama is a must – read. I had heard that McBush is a flaming asshole, but I had no idea just how extreme his assholicalism was. Each line of that letter radiates: “I am a condescending, self-important, vicious jerk.”

  129. 129
    SBG says:

    Q: What is trickle down foreign policy experience?
    A: It’s what you get when Palin rears his head over your airspace. Pass the mooseburgers.

  130. 130

    […] There’s a great blog entry from McCain’s point of view from John Cole: […]

  131. 131
    Delia says:

    Rbrta Says:

    All of this disgraceful blabbering . . . .[etc]

    Larry and SusanUnPC, is that you? How’s the search for the whitey tape going? Good luck with getting Miss Sarah in shape for next week’s debate. I hear she’s having a few issues — or perhaps a lack thereof.

  132. 132
    nikolai says:

    BTW, this isn’t a guy you can sit down and have a beer with! It’d be an overpriced martini in a stuffy country club most average joes wouldn’t be allowed anywhere near!

  133. 133
    The Other Steve says:

    All of this disgraceful blabbering MIGHT hold some degree of credibility if, number one, it wasn’t just a string of illiterate sounding profanities and if it weren’t also true that the naive and inexperienced Obama and his run for President, IS in fact, presumptuous, not also taking into account that it was he, who was the disrespectful one for calling a National Hero and Senior Statesman (to whom he is far junior), by his FIRST name!

    You are incredibly naive, and clearly do not understand.

  134. 134
    Krista says:

    That letter from McBush to Obama is a must – read. I had heard that McBush is a flaming asshole, but I had no idea just how extreme his assholicalism was. Each line of that letter radiates: “I am a condescending, self-important, vicious jerk.”

    Doesn’t it, though? It’s like a letter that some snotty sophomore would write to an ex-boyfriend.

  135. 135
    Jess says:

    To give McCain the benefit of the doubt, I imagine most people would find it hard to look someone in the eyes when you’ve spent the last two months spreading hateful lies about them.

    You would think so, but the behavior of Bush posse should make you think again. Maybe McCain is actually a wee bit better than them and still has a tiny shred of conscience. Maybe.

  136. 136
    zuzu's petals says:

    McCain’s temper problem? Ya think?

    ^*&%(^%& !

  137. 137

    … it was he, [Sen. Obama] who was the disrespectful one for calling a National Hero and Senior Statesman (to whom he is far junior), by his FIRST name!

    This has gotta be parody, right? We don’t have the sort of class-stratified society in which it can be a criminal offense for one to use the improper title when addressing royalty. The USA is a country where children address their PARENTS by their first names, and their friends’ parents by their first names.

    How long have you been trapped in that overstarched shirt?

    Heck, them what’s got a Invisible Friend named “Jesus” addresses He by Him first name.

    But … John McCain requires such obeisance? Verbal prostration before the mighty heroism of his aerial incompetence?

    Try this:

    We fought a revolution to rid ourselves of such phony airs. Article I. Section 9 of the Constitution states:

    “No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States”

    But, in the name of reductio ad absurdam, let’s grant that you are Oll Keerect, Miss Manners. What, then, is the proper form of address for our five-aircraft crasher hero? Our Fiery Forrestal Flyer?

    So, royalist scum, by what title should McTheuselah have been addressed: “Your Creepiness”? “Most Puissant Pissant”? “Your Exalted Senescence”? “Your Most Geriatric Crabbiness”?

    Or, perhaps the more informal, “Your Fabulous Super-Heroic Dishiness”? (Infrequently used now by the stewardess and lobbyist class, although it once was much more popular.)

    If you’re so bent out of shape, don’t just be negative!

    Give us your constructive* suggestions for addressing such an exalted walking disaster as McNasty. er, I mean “His Testiness.”

  138. 138
    nicethugbert says:

    And if McCain does not tone down the contempt, it will simply feed the narrative. Or, if we are really lucky, as someone suggested in another thread, McCain will overcompensate and spend the entire time comically and creepily attempting to make eye contact with Obama (think Al Gore walking across the stage to stand next to Bush, and Bush looking at him as if to think “WTF are you doing?”).

    This should be terrifying for the McCain campaign for two reasons. First, the base will not understand it. To them, a sneering, contemptuous jerk is a feature, not a bug. When they try to tone down McCain, it will turn off the diehards. Look at the reaction of the base to Palin’s RNC speech- they LOVED that she was, for all intents and purposes, nothing but an asshole the entire speech. They loved the “zingers” that were written for her. The rest of the country recoiled in horror, and Obama raised ten million the next 48 hours.

    Spot on, Cole.

    But, that video missed the best anger moment of them all. It’s the one where McCain turns his back on Obama, grits his teeth, and hides his hands like he’s slowly mashing crayons.

  139. 139
    Delia says:

    This has gotta be parody, right? We don’t have the sort of class-stratified society in which it can be a criminal offense for one to use the improper title when addressing royalty. The USA is a country where children address their PARENTS by their first names, and their friends’ parents by their first names.

    Well, we didn’t USED to have a class-stratified society. But you should mosey on by No Quarter if you want to see where the nutcakes who don’t think Obama treats McCranky with enough respect hang out.

  140. 140
    Martin in Saint Paul says:

    Let’s see what the next few weeks look like. McCain is not an idiot, despite some of his recent actions. I expect that Obama still has some work to do to win the election.

    What would all of you say Obama’s weakest moments were in the debate? Those might be points where he could improve.

  141. 141
    DonnaInMichigan says:

    John McCain is a man full of AMBITION.
    Barak Obama is a man ON a MISSION.

  142. 142
    Burr Deming says:

    John McCain suffered unimaginably in service to the rest of us. When his sacrifices are denigrated or ignored by those who never endured such treatment, his anger is understandable. I think this instance is more revealing than the debate.

  143. 143
    Catsy says:

    I am taking a moment of silence to honor the legendary smackdown that Hart Williams just deployed.

    Epic fucking win. Have a prize, good sir.

  144. 144
    Catsy says:

    But, that video missed the best anger moment of them all. It’s the one where McCain turns his back on Obama, grits his teeth, and hides his hands like he’s slowly mashing crayons.

    Seriously? Video. Link.

  145. 145
    LJR says:

    “Tucker Bounds explains to Sarah Palin what the Electoral College is.

    Isn’t that where she got her BA in Journalism?”

    No. That was the Pectoral College.

  146. 146
    LJR says:

    The Other Steve Says:

    All of this disgraceful blabbering MIGHT hold some degree of credibility if, number one, it wasn’t just a string of illiterate sounding profanities and if it weren’t also true that the naive and inexperienced Obama and his run for President, IS in fact, presumptuous, not also taking into account that it was he, who was the disrespectful one for calling a National Hero and Senior Statesman (to whom he is far junior), by his FIRST name!

    Right on! Can’t have dem uppity darkies doin’ dat.

    Now go back to the Drudge Report where you belong, please. You’ve made your point and revealed your persona. We know you exist. We would prefer you didn’t.

  147. 147
    Mike G says:

    We fought a revolution to rid ourselves of such phony airs.

    If the revolution were being refought today, the large majority of Repigs would be loyalist Tories. Lickspittle authoritarianism and obedience to authority, regardless of how wrong and incompetent, seems to be their defining feature.

  148. 148
    jimbo says:

    So I’m sitting at work the other day and I hear someone going on about liberals and then he says how Michelle Obama just looks mean. Oh, I think we got a Mr. Talking Points blowhard here today. So I had to walk over and say, I just know what you mean, she looks kind of uppity dosen’t she? We get a big yuck out of that.

    Then I say, Hey I’ve got one for you. You know the movie Men in Black where the alien crash lands and kills the dumb farmer and puts on his skin, and its all crooked and its bunched up under his neck, thats John McCain! Yup, thats him alright, he’s angry and his skin doesn’t fit. I give it a big ha, ha, ha. For some reason Mr. Talking Points didn’t think it was funny. I think the righties are all going to be pretty cranky in the future.

  149. 149
    misfit says:

    This Obama dissing McCain by calling him “John” —

    Just had a Repub sitting on my porch an hour ago spouting this talking point — must have been issued at the noontime Two Minute Hate — The world actually spun for a moment as I wondered if my entire view of the universe could possibly be insanely, tragically wrong. How could this belief exist in any kind of rational world? He seemed so calm and certain, you see, with his uber-patriot talking points, channelling Hannity-Limbaugh-O’Reilly on my porch. Not a stupid man, just insanely, tragically wrong…

    “In all fairness, the black guy was asking for change.”

    Rick James, my hero. Can I put it on a t shirt?

  150. 150
    ralphbarman says:

    It’s very amusing to see the responses to the troll. (The fact that there’s only one is kinda sad.) I’ve noticed the change myself recently. They’re all like, “Oh yeah? Well, Obama’s a communist/socialist/Marxist who’s gonna raise your taxes and ruin the great economy. Lousy LIBS!!! Right guys? Guys? (chirp, chirp)” I almost feel sorry for them. But then I think of what jerks they’d be if the fortunes were reversed, and then I don’t. Feel sorry for them.

  151. 151
  152. 152
    Dickie Moe says:

    I hear that O-bummer has a bracelet too. From someone. Is that true, or just another one of those, “I agree with you John” tactics?

  153. 153
    Mrs. Polly says:

    Oh Dickie Moe, you and His Lord High Surliness seem to have forgotten that if you had not started this unnecessary war, those soldiers would be alive, sipping coffee at their Moms’ kitchen tables.

  154. 154
    Grendel72 says:

    But then I think of what jerks they’d be if the fortunes were reversed, and then I don’t. Feel sorry for them.
    I wonder if the McCain campaign is still giving them points for trolling, now that they’re floundering so horribly.
    Of course, even the most idiotic rightwing troll doesn’t sound any stupider than Palin does, and is just as honest.

  155. 155
    Laertes says:

    It’s a very silly talking point. Of course you may address your equals by their first names. McCain’s just putting on rich-white-guy airs if he thinks different.

    Even though it was perfectly appropriate, I’m sure Obama knew that it would piss McCain off. McCain’s got a famously short and nasty temper. Any opponent who doesn’t target that weakness is a fool. There’s no telling what goodies will fall from that tree but you might as well give it a good hard shake and see what happens.

    McCain clearly hates Obama’s guts, is losing badly to him, and had a famously short and nasty temper to begin with. That’s an explosive combination and we’re almost certain to see it ignite at least once in public before election day. I don’t imagine he’ll come so unhinged that he trots out words like “uppity” or “boy,” but I bet he’ll be driven into stuttering red-faced incoherence at the very least.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] There’s a great blog entry from McCain’s point of view from John Cole: […]

  2. […] 28 September 2008 by richardgrant Best snippet of post-debate commentary I’ve seen, from John Cole’s Balloon Juice: […]

  3. […] I admit to being amused at this remark: Put aside all the polling about who won last night, despite the fact it all pretty clearly leads towards Obama as the winner. If I was the McCain campaign, there is something else that would worry me. After the debate last night, I noted: Someone should Lexis-nexis the 2000 post-debate coverage in which they chided Gore for his sighing. I remember a lot of talk about how the debates were a time to let voters decide what candidate they wanted in their house for the next four years and blah blah blah kill me now you inane loudmouths. […]

  4. […] UPDATE: John Cole at Balloon Juice aptly sums up the dilemma facing McCain over the emerging too contemptuous to make eye contact narrative: SNL will probably drive the point home in a skit that will become the dominant narrative tonight, and McCain will become boxed in regarding his behavior in the second debate, much as Gore was unable to be as aggressive as he wanted in the second debate (I remember the running joke was that Gore had been medicated for the second debate). And if McCain does not tone down the contempt, it will simply feed the narrative. Or, if we are really lucky, as someone suggested in another thread, McCain will overcompensate and spend the entire time comically and creepily attempting to make eye contact with Obama (think Al Gore walking across the stage to stand next to Bush, and Bush looking at him as if to think “WTF are you doing?”). […]

  5. […] And now for some of my personal “faves” from the blogspheres (all “must reads” or they wouldn’t be here): Andrew Sullivan of The Daily Dish quite sharply points out the fact we saw a different, more “Alpha male” Obama than we did in his previous Clinton-Obama debates; Check out the fun “debate” debate going on over at Drudge Retort; Michelle Malkin (Right) surprisingly (just kiddin’) gives the win to Señor McCain (and yep — Rush Limbaugh stole the “gag” from me in case you were wondering who was first); John Cole of Balloon Juice says this could be a devastating loss for McCain and goes into great detail to explain why; Marc Ambinder of The Atlantic also has a lively “debate” debate going on; Turkana of The Left Coaster says Señor McCain proved himself a bitter old man who lacks the temperament and decency to lead anyone anywhere (quote); My fellow Alabamian, Dr. Steven Taylor of PoliBlog discusses the eye contact and body language of and between the candidates; The Mahablog (another great roundup over there) says Barry Obama helped shed his “empty suit” label; ALLAHPUNDIT of Hot Air (Right) surprisingly seems to be giving the debate to Obama… […]

  6. […] If you’re new here, you may want to subscribe to my RSS feed. Thanks for visiting!Balloon Juice’s John Cole sees the first-debate narrative of 2008 settling in and doing to John McCain what the first-debate narrative of 2000 did to Al Gore. […]

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