Wednesday, October 08, 2008

last night's debate

To put it as simply as possible, the messages I got from last night's debate were:
  • Obama: Vote for me because I have plans for how to get the country back on the right track, and I care about the middle and working classes — a message that clearly resonates with me.

  • McCain: Vote for me because I've been doing this for a long time, and I deserve it.

  • One man struck me as patient, but ready to fight back when attacked while the other struck me as someone who simply cannot believe that he is not winning—after all he's done.

  • Though the debate has been declared dull by many pundits and bloggers, I think the subtler psychodrama was fascinating.

  • Tom Brokaw did a wretched job as moderator.

  • McCain mentioned Ronald Reagan and Joe Lieberman more times than he mentioned Palin. Which is to say he didn't say her name a single time.

  • Mostly, I was struck by how much this matchup exemplified a generational break. McCain relied on anachronistic references and jokes and, from an obsession with oil and nuclear power to a Cold War mentality, displayed a frame of reference buried in the last half of the twentieth century. Meanwhile, Obama displayed a desire to look at the world as it is now and find solutions that make sense for future generations.

That said, the most remarkable and telling part of the debate didn't even occur in the debate itself. Instead, the post-debate period illustrated clearly the differences between the candidates and their approaches. Picked up from Wonkette, the video below shows 11 minutes out of more than half an hour filmed by CSPAN after the debate. Sure, you can see the infamous dis when McCain sidesteps shaking Obama's hand. More importantly, you can watch the McCains leave as quickly as possible while the Obamas stayed around to talk to people. There is no audio, so you need to be able to read lips if you want to know what they're saying. It is remarkable, however, to watch them both carry on conversations with many of the people in the hall, and to watch the excitement as these "undecided" voters ask to have their pictures taken with the Obamas.

So I put it out there... who would you rather have as a leader: someone who leaves as quickly as possible or someone who makes an effort to connect with and listen to everyone?