As soon as the candidates took their seats last night, I thought of the infamous Kennedy vs Nixon debate. Note the postures:
A sinuous Obama sat gracefully on his stool, like a male model (if you like him) or the snake in the garden of Eden (if you don’t).
The seating flattered Obama just as it emphasized McCain’s age and physical limitations.
(When I find a decent photo from last night showing this — or someone sends me one — I’ll post it.)
Now, like all other liberal myths, the Mcluhanesque myth of the Kennedy vs. Nixon debates — that those who saw it on TV said Kennedy won, and those who listen on radio gave it to Nixon, because Nixon refused to wear makeup and Kennedy just look ‘cooler’ — is finally being challenged, at least in academe.
But the average person, including journalists, dutifully repeat the myth, and will award last night’s debate to Obama on style alone.
This morning I listened to Hugh Hewitt’s post-debate radio clips. The McCain who looked game yet stiff and frail on television sounded far more impressive on radio, stripped of distractions like his “slightly sinister” smile and, Lord love him, his physical limitations. Many of Hewitt’s callers said the same thing, for what it’s worth.
I’d spent the afternoon listening to talk radio, and Dennis Miller et al were begging McCain to come out swinging and go “hot.” I watched McCain trying to do that, but his “hot” shots just bounced off Obama’s invisible “cool” shield, and made me uncomfortable. I’m probably not alone.
Uncommitted voters say Obama won, because uncommitted voters are a) liars (like Obama) and b) shallow idiots.
Obama has improved — we’ll have to dump the teleprompter jokes. Being Canadian, I watched his super cool, calm, smooth, sophisticated demeanor and thought: Trudeau. And Trudeau was Prime Minister through most of my life. And that was bad, people.
Obama knows that nobody knows who “Herbert Hoover” was. Obama talked about the future and McCain talked about the past. And people are shallow and stupid.
Ed Morrissey has an excellent post mortem here, and gives it to McCain.
Byron York calls it a “snooze fest”.
Last word, though: remember (if you dare) how skin-curdlingly bad Bush was during that debate with Kerry. And he still won.
(CROSSPOSTED to my Examiner.com page, so you can add your thoughts in the comments.)