October 7, 2008

Obama – McCain 2: The BAG's Pics Of The Night

(click for larger size)

Economy1 Economy2

In the early phase of the debate, there wasn’t a drop of humor in that room. It was as if the audience was channeling the full alienation and anger of the American people over the economic crisis and the Wall Street bailout. As McCain and Obama offered generalities and mostly talked past the audience, these people weren’t even close to buying it.


Watching her throughout, the woman lower left seemed like no Obama fan (in contrast to the woman in blue behind her). But Obama knocked it out of the park with the health care answer, interweaving common sense, specifics and concern.  The expressions are interesting, the audience plugging in almost in spite of itself, half-locked in its initial skepticism.


Well, McCain had no trouble making eye contact with Obama this time — when he was going for the jugular.


Although McCain was on better behavior tonight, there’s just no hiding bad character. That would include: laughing behind the other guy’s back and, of course, that really weird reference to "that one."


Yeah, I’m a major Michelle fan … and I’ve been missing her big time since the DNC. I thought it was classy for BHO to mention her in his last answer. Also, I like the effect here taken off my older TV.


Pakistan-51 Pakistan-52

Sometimes you can actually see a person grow in the course of a few minutes.  Having studied Obama quite closely over the past year-and-a-half, that’s what I witnessed in this foreign policy exchange.

After Obama pressed the option of pursuing al Qaeda in Pakistan (top left), McCain attacked him for being inexperienced and advocating an invasion.  Rather than moving on, however, Obama challenged the debate format, insisting on a follow-up to McCain’s follow-up.  After clarifying that he never called for the invasion of Pakistan, Obama turned his focus on McCain as the rash and intemperate one, citing "bomb, bomb Iran" and McCain’s call for the destruction of North Korea.  The images reflect Obama’s profound confidence, self-possession and poise in holding the floor while taking it to McCain.

You can catch the sequence in part three of CNN’s debate video from the 9:28 through about the 16:00 mark.


I really love this shot, but it bears explanation.  As Brokaw was wrapping up the debate with closing comments, McCain assumed they were finished and stepped in front of the teleprompter so Brokaw couldn’t see his lines. In calling Mac out on it, McCain bolted suddenly to the right.  For me, at least, the moment captured Mac’s impulsivity and, in a literal and spatial way, some of his boundary issues. The blur itself (again, captured off my old TV) is a digital portrait of how hyper and jittery the man is — and how he can never downshift.


Maybe John and Cindy thought the TV cameras were cutting away? Because, as far as I could tell, the Obamas hung around for quite a while chatting with the audience, while the McCains seemed to hightail it out of there.

Post By

Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

The Big Picture

Follow us on Instagram (@readingthepictures) and Twitter (@readingthepix), and


A curated collection of pieces related to our most-popular subject matter.


Comments Powered by Disqus