Read a Pacific Northwest, liberal perspective on world, national, and local politics. From majestic Redmond, Washington - the Northwest Progressive Institute Advocate.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Well, he ain't Miss Congeniality

Ever the beauty pageant fan, John McCain is now adopting its lingo as he repeatedly reminded us at tonight's presidential debate that he is "no Miss Congeniality." I guess it's time to give "maverick" and "former prisoner of war" a rest, both of which were used sparingly tonight. Good restraint, Grumpy.

At the debate, both Obama and McCain seemed rather teed off at one another, and while you had to look hard at Obama to see it, McCain seemed to be literally seething with irritation at some points and then trying to cover it up with a somewhat maniacal grin. The point goes to Obama for emotional control.

To the busy person on the street, just tuning in to this race for the first time, Obama's grasp on the issues and calm confidence might have come as a surprise, considering how his opponents' campaigns have painted him as being inexperienced. McCain's kooky expressions and edginess on top of his Thursday debate cancellation stunt may have reinforced their doubts of his mental stability.

If you're like some, and wanting to have a beer with a candidate is your main voting criteria, then the McCain at tonight's debate is the guy hunched over your local bar morosely nursing a scotch, that you try to avoid catching the eye of as you talk to the bartender. Sour, angry.

As for Obama, I was disappointed that he missed some areas where he could have called McCain out: McCain's mostly imaginary support for veterans and his sell-out on one of his signatures issues, torture.

But there were many important things that he did right: He put the focus on the middle class and their needs, like health care, college tuition and safe roads and bridges. He clarified his tax cuts. He identified America's two biggest threats abroad: instability in Afghanistan and nuclear terrorism.

Lastly, he described his vision for an America that is once again admired and dreamed of by people all over the world.

While McCain tossed in lots of congressional jargon and rehashed jokes (K.G.B.), Obama avoided wonkiness and was clear and specific. I look forward to seeing more improvements from him in debate number two.

Judging by the public response to the debate, it looks like McCain and his beauty queens might not be taking home the golden crown this year.

They would make a great first runner up.


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