Without sound, McCain was very scary tonight. There were several times (top image) I thought he was going to throw an embolism.
Rachel Maddow’s first reaction was interesting for the way it fit with “the caffeine theory”. She described how McCain’s initial energy and excitement level was over-the-top, filled with anger and eye rolling. It wasn’t till later he finally calmed down.
It’s not just the fact McCain’s affect is so extreme. When Obama was speaking, McCain’s expressions and reactions consistently showed him aloof and disconnected from what Obama was saying (3, 7). When people latched onto the fact McCain didn’t look at Obama in the first debate, what they were plugging into was something running deeper than just eye contact. In 3, McCain can’t help mocking. In 7, he’s wearing a smile on the outside but the lower jaw is tense. Just ceding the floor seems like a challenge, if not an affront.
Check out number 8. There was a stretch where McCain went on the attack and Obama, rather than getting mad (like he did, in a controlled way, in Tennessee), just couldn’t help but laugh. It wasn’t mocking, however. It was more incredulity. In 4-6, Obama listens, then expresses what looks like a combination of disgust and disappointment in reaction to McCain’s distain, before coming back and answering him. It’s this kind of thick skin and stronger character which has enabled Obama to easily win these contests.
Number 6: McCain does a lot of interrupting.
Like I concluded after the first debate — the one I thought McCain did best in — the man is odd. Also, check out the tweets below which I was firing off as I watched. I never noticed this before, but McCain keeps using language and rhetorical postures evoking terror, torture or victimization. It now causes me to think that the “prisoners” slip the other day really was telling. Beyond his insufferable arrogance, McCain does seem to re-live that POW experience.
The BAG’s tweets, in chronological order….
My one question going into debate: How caffeinated is McCain? I Americans as “victims.” McCain on prisoner theme again? I They’re letting McCain be McCain — and he’s already hanging himself with venom and petty meanness.I Hatchets and scalpels. Revealing analogies for a guy with a hostility problem.I This format — sitting so close together at same table — killing McCain. Accentuates the ill will. I “I’ve got the scars to prove it.” More tortureIprisoner analogies from McCain. I Mac railing about Obama negative campaigning. Ex-POW compulsively plays the victim. He can’t see otherwise. I Really McCain comes to the fore tonight. If he’s going down, he’s going to do it in flames. I The video of this could become a classic– in psychiatry class. Mac either busting at the hinges or shifting his contradictions onto Obama. I Why O wins: McCain has been so edgy and hot that this interlude — with Obama getting boring — is actually a soothing relief. I McCain: “Time a few years ago when Congress was about to blow up.” This guy’s analogies scare me to death. I Obama talks about finding common ground on abortion. McCain’s comeback? Accuses Obama of eloquence.
(Last revision 11:20 pm PST)
(screen grabs: BAGnewsNotes via MSNBC)