Saturday, September 27, 2008


After The Debate: Impressions

I'll have to admit that I didn't listen to every word, but I did get two strong impressions that hadn't really caught my ear (so to speak) previously. I'm of the left, if anything, so you shouldn't be surprised that they were negative for McCain; but I was surprised that Obama didn't really grab me. His polls must really put him in the lead, because he was very cautious in his subject matter. Make no mistakes, I guess, "You probably won't win any votes but you can lose some" would have been the advice from the professional advisors.

But McCain did surprise me, and you might easily accuse me of agism. (Of course I'm almost a decade older than McCain so that might not stick.) In the early part of the debate he hardly spoke one sentence that referred to a single idea. He would start a sentence about something and. before that idea was fully expressed, he would jump to another idea, and often a third or forth in the same sentence. It was a mineature version of his itinerary for the week: first one idea and then another, nothing ever completed before he was on to the next thing. And the only thing that was clear was that he was conspiring with the right-wing republican legislators to disrupt, and hopefully torpedo, the negotiations. Their payment for that, supposing that McCain wasn't really in favor of the right-wing agenda, was to try to give McCain a "Hero" role in the bailout negotiations.

So that jumping around made sense in the light of his actions. But several topics in the same sentence without finishing any of them? If he weren't a youngster I'd say he was senile. He was talking like my mother did when she was 99.

But later in the discussion, when he found a topic that really interested him, he was sharp as a tack. I may have disagreed with him but I had to admire the intensity with whch he pursued the subject. Unfortunately the subject was war. Give McCain a chance to think about combat and the fuzzy thinking clears away. His thinking may be wrongheaded from my standpoint, but he was thinking.

That wasn't true of my mother. In the last few years before she died at 99 she would tell me that I just missed seeing my father or grandmother, both of whom had died many years previously. But she was consistent, and the doctors thought it was organic. So I suspect that McCain's incoherence is not senility (he's too young for that, anyway) but simply a lack of interest in anything but war.

So, if anything, while the debate hasn't made me any more passionate for Obama, it has certainly confirmed my sense that he is less likely to involve me in military violence. And that's the only thing that makes much difference these days: I'm certainly not worrying about what I'm going to be doing in 20 years.

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