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The Debate: The All-Important Grumpiness Factor

Here’s the politically incorrect way of phrasing one of the central questions about tonight’s presidential debate: Did John McCain come across as too much of a grumpy old man?

That might not be a nice question, but it’s an important one. Americans like to vote for the nice guy, not the grumbling prophet of doom. Throughout the 90-minute debate, McCain seemed contemptuous of Obama. He wouldn’t look at him. He tried to belittle him whenever possible -- how many times did he work “Senator Obama just doesn’t understand” into his answers? His body language was closed, defensive, tense. McCain certainly succeeded in proving that he can be aggressive, but the aggression came with a smirk and a sneer.

In terms of substance, there were no knockout blows. (I hate using the prizefight metaphor, which is the oldest cliché in the world, but unfortunately it’s the only metaphor approved for journalistic use in connection with a presidential debate. I don’t write the rules.) Both candidates got in numerous good lines and a couple of real zingers. McCain managed to cross the dangerous terrain of economic policy without suffering grievous harm, and Obama managed to surmount the foreign-policy toughness threshold. Voters who were leaning toward one or the other but wanted reassurance probably found it.

But we in the commentariat tend to forget that the electorate always, and I mean always, sees a presidential debate very differently from the way we see it. If you read the papers in the fall of 2000, for example, you learned that Al Gore wiped the floor with George Bush in their encounters -- but voters thought otherwise. Demeanor and body language have been important in every debate I can think of, so I can’t imagine why they wouldn’t be important in this one. The candidate who projects affability and optimism is usually seen to have bettered the candidate who projects resentment and gloom. If that is the case with tonight’s debate, Obama won and McCain lost.

By Eugene Robinson  | September 26, 2008; 11:25 PM ET
Categories:  Robinson  | Tags:  Eugene Robinson  
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Next: The Debate: The Prime Minister and the President


You're the man, Gene. Up with a cogent post and on TV at the same time. Cool.

Obama won. McCain needs to check his dripping contempt which is very unstatesmanlike. Obama was strong and yet magnanimous to his opponent. He was very statesmanlike.

Even Mark Halperin (!) says Obama won. He gave Obama an A- and McCain a B-.

Posted by: MadAsHell3 | September 26, 2008 11:40 PM | Report abuse

I had the impression of a disapproving, somewhat pious, older man in McCain, defensive and very stiff in not looking at Obama at all. Seemed really petulant. Very harumphing. Younger people don't need to hear about McCain's Vietnam experience, especially if he uses it to say "We have to win in Iraq." Too much of the past. No definition of what "win" means in Iraq. It's seems so personal with him. Too emotional. Not enough "I'll be everyone's president, and I'll move into the 21st century."

Posted by: cturtle1 | September 26, 2008 11:46 PM | Report abuse

I'm so glad affability ranks so high for you. Maybe that's a precondition for candidates for you. Or is it a pretext?

Posted by: ThePatriot79 | September 26, 2008 11:47 PM | Report abuse

McCain's sneering and rabbit-bite snort-chuckle illustrated how disrespectful he is.

He talks bipartisanship, then contradicts himself with his sneering, condescending tone.

I'm not sure he even got the talcum-powder, mothball smell generation vote.

Posted by: somerseten | September 26, 2008 11:54 PM | Report abuse

I thought Obama was clear and decisive. In addition, we found ourselves quite aware of McCain's facial regard and his deliberate avoidance of Sen. Obama. We found this attitude quite disrespectful toward Obama. McCain conspicuously avoided facing Obama or making any eye contact with Obama. Instead, he steadfastly directed his gaze and all comments to Jim Lehrer. In contrast, Sen. Obama faced Sen. McCain and gave him the courtesy of direct and personal conversation. McCain's body posture and facial regard indicated disdain and disrespect. Our family found this attitude notably discourteous.

Posted by: CMAmmirati | September 26, 2008 11:58 PM | Report abuse

i think they both showed disdain towards the other, but obama was the one who came off worse: he seemed really irritable and annoyed. he was an exasperated, smug know-it-all, and he certainly didn't seem like someone who would transform partisan politics etc. people who love him seem to think everyone else can't help but love him too, and that's classic blindness. i got annoyed just seeing how visibly annoyed obama was the entire time.

Posted by: amazedfaith | September 27, 2008 12:06 AM | Report abuse

It did seem like McCain went into the debate with a script of lines that he wanted to use. And how many anecdotes does the man have? I expected violins to strike up at several points -- he's good at telling stories, but he seemed more interested in discussing what Obama 'doesn't understand' (and I never saw a point during the debate where Obama didn't understand something -- he just differed from McCain on a topic) than what his actual policies would be.

Obama was on top of it. He looked at McCain when he spoke and when McCain spoke - McCain seemed determined to keep his eyes on his notes - he called McCain by his first name, and actually addressed points that McCain made.

McCain just wanted to name drop and tell somewhat irrelevant stories to skirt the issues. If he's so versed in foreign and military policy, I'd like to hear him prove it.

Posted by: ceeveg | September 27, 2008 12:12 AM | Report abuse

I didn't think McCain seemed tough; I thought he seemed brittle. Barack Obama was gentlemanly, but with steel in his smile.

I heard some commentators talking about the way the Republicans plan to spin Obama saying repeatedly, "I agree with John." But it's harder to spin an event that people saw for themselves. John McCain seemed old and kind of grumpy. Barack Obama looked like the next president of the United States. So, Republicans, run your ads and remind everyone how one candidate was civil and reasonable and the other wouldn't even look him in the eye.
Some spin.

Posted by: martymar123 | September 27, 2008 12:13 AM | Report abuse

I thought that ignoring Obama with body language was a purposeful strategy for McCain, and I think it worked.

With a quiet crowd and not the slightest reaction from McCain, I think eventually this tilted the responsive and intuitive Obama off balance.

McCain's lack of reaction to Obama's skillful efforts to get a reaction- takes away from the erratic, angry, impulsive, temperment box the left has been trying to put around him (he's given them good reason).

Overall, I think McCain won. The ending is generally much more important then the begining and McCain ended impressively. Obama began wonderfully but by the end he looked like his nerves were frayed.

It is interesting that so much of our perspective is a personal, gut response to these candidates. I also think that disagreeing with a candidates ideology lends a negative gut reaction to what they say.

I'm an independent moderate who supported Hillary and will vote for McCain. Please do not attack me, thank you.

Posted by: JeninReno | September 27, 2008 12:21 AM | Report abuse

Obama won all four undecided polls I've seen. He won the CBS undecided poll 40-22. Many said it was largely about body language and eye contact.

Posted by: Nissl | September 27, 2008 12:30 AM | Report abuse

Grumpy? You're too nice, Eugene! McCain came across as a nasty old man at best and worse, displays an arrogant disrespectful demeanor toward Senator Obama. God help our image in the world if this looney gets elected!

Posted by: crenza | September 27, 2008 12:36 AM | Report abuse

What we noticed (my hub and I) was that McCain actually had a shaky voice in the first half hour of the debate. He seemed oddly and surprisingly nervous.

Posted by: DogBitez | September 27, 2008 12:38 AM | Report abuse

I appreciated that Obama connected foreign policy to our problems at home. McCain doesn’t appear to grasp the importance of our connection to other world leaders and our place in the world.

Obama was fair, respectful, cool and level headed -- all the more admirable considering McCain kept using up valuable time slamming him instead of answering the questions put before him.

I would dare to say Obama conducted himself in a manner befitting a President.

Posted by: averagejane2 | September 27, 2008 12:45 AM | Report abuse

JeninReno, I would never attack you for being a Hillary supporter who has already decided for McCain, but your reasons seem flimsy, as if you're really one of those who just want revenge. Both my sister and I respect and admire Hillary, so it seems bizarre to us, as strong women, that women who liked Hillary would now vote for someone who would do the opposite of what Hillary stood for. The opposite! Palin alone would set women's causes back by decades. She is no Hillary! Did you see the interviews? Seriously. McCain himself does not support equal pay for equal work. So, I'm not attacking you, but I will question your complete reversal.

Posted by: cturtle1 | September 27, 2008 12:46 AM | Report abuse

What I saw and heard in last night's debate were the words of an old man trying to convince America that his past entitled him to be president. As someone who is only 8 years younger than old man McCain, I find that he continually strikes me as an individual who is very out of touch with what is happening today.

I don't expect that Senator Obama will be a miracle worker, but I have confidence that he will not be a second Herbert Hoover. I fear McCain will be overwhelmed with our country's problems and he will be paralyzed into inaction. That is something we do not need.

Poor old man McCain. Last night he showed why he is long past his time to be president.

Posted by: NewEra | September 27, 2008 12:48 AM | Report abuse

Not good for America when mccain channels Lieberman and his Pnac designs. Rather nasty and terrifying.

Posted by: tabita | September 27, 2008 12:54 AM | Report abuse

What I saw in the debate tonight was Obama acting like a statesman. It disturbed me that McCain treated a person who earned the nomination of his party with apparent contempt. I want a president who will make thoughtful, informed decisions and deal with both allies and enemies as a statesman. I don't want another 4 years of cowboy politics, we've already had 8 and look where that's gotten us.

Posted by: judy7 | September 27, 2008 12:58 AM | Report abuse

Also if McCain's obvious contempt and treating a fellow Senator and candidate as if he's some sort of personal enemy is "effective" then we've been brainwashed by either Nixon with his "enemies' list" or by Bush and Cheney. Most of us would like a return to common civility. McCain was too personally defensive. As Chris Matthews said, McCain's advisors need to tell him "enough" with the contempt. Barack Obama has as much right to be there as he does. His "superiority" stance looks like defensiveness and petulance. And it's just plain rude. Obama won points for continuing to try to connect.

Posted by: cturtle1 | September 27, 2008 12:58 AM | Report abuse

Did anyone else hear McCain snickering in the background while Obama was speaking?
Is this what we can expect during a meeting with heads of state?

McCain needs to grow up!

Posted by: Veritasamus | September 27, 2008 1:00 AM | Report abuse

Just LOOK around YOU !

Piss-Poor State-Craft...
A Bungled Economy...

Is this the America you remember growing up?
So where does the Buck Stop NOW ?

Why would America REWARD complete Republican failure ?

We wont.

Posted by: PulSamsara | September 27, 2008 1:02 AM | Report abuse

I thought Obama came off as the grumpy, inpatient, smug one. McCain always referred to Obama respectfully as "Senator Obama" - while Obama sought to elevate himself and lower McCain but referring to McCain as "John" rather than Senator. Obama kept looking off to his left with hateful, inpatient glares on his face, and hand signaling while McCains was speaking. I though McCain was sharp and on point. He saw right thru Obama's smoke screen of using many words to try to conceal the fact he hasn't the slightest idea how to handle security issues. Obama, when he spoke second on issues, HAD to state, "I agree with John." First he was trying to sound congenial, but primarily it saved him from tryhing to articulate on areas in which he is clueless. McCain kept his cool, smiled a lot and was lovable. Obama looked pouty and glared. Not attractive at all. Obama lost.

Posted by: pawprints18 | September 27, 2008 1:02 AM | Report abuse

Does anyone reading you column take you seriously? You were the same guys who praised Sen Benson's massive paternity in his debate. Does anyone reading you column really belief that your analysis based on age discrimination isn't just a cover for lack of understanding the issues? I am calling you out as a hater of older people. Using phrases like grumpy old man. Next reply from you will be I have a lot of older friend I am not like that. That is a stereo-type that my heroes in the civil right movement would not have endorsed. If you made that comment in a work enviroment I would hope that your company wrote you up for disrespecting your fellow employee. It is sad to me that people let you get away with it. Dismissing someone by age discrimination.

Posted by: paladintr2 | September 27, 2008 1:11 AM | Report abuse

Surprised McCain did as well as he did.

Was a time he was very sharp indeed, but over the last 8 years he's become cognitively pretzelized...

Posted by: T-Prop | September 27, 2008 1:11 AM | Report abuse

Obama totally won with his calm, cool and collected demeanor! McSame [having un-suspended his publicity stunt] came across as desperate, calling himself "Maverick" [as if James Garner didn't already have that name cornereed] and looked like he was going to blink himself into a coma!

Posted by: braultrl | September 27, 2008 1:15 AM | Report abuse

The snickering when Obama talked was ridiculous. I thought it took an amazing amount of self control for Obama not to ask McCain to knock it off. Snickering and repeatedly saying Senator Obama does not understand coarsen the discourse, make the debate seem unimportant and shows tremendous disrespect to the political process.

Also if experience is so important as McCain repeatedly mentioned, why oh why, is Palin his running mate?

Posted by: ChesapeakeBeach | September 27, 2008 1:17 AM | Report abuse


I was extremely disappointed by your cowardice tonight during MSNBC's post debate analysis. Of course I don't expect you to give Senator Obama credit simply because you share the same skin color, but I do expect you stand up to fairness when teh rest of your ALL WHITE panel are unfairly attacking or criticizing him.

Posted by: NMP1 | September 27, 2008 1:18 AM | Report abuse

They both lost, belching typical party line fluff and spin that had a whole lot to do about nothing important to the average Joe. They spent lots of time splitting pubic hairs about who said what when.

McCain s "pre-condition" logic was pathetic & confused, besides that he looked like a crotchety old geezer, Oblahblah droned on and on trying to make every response perfect like a slick used car sale salesmen. McCains many attempts to play from the pity/emotion/nationalism deck were transparent and weak... like the mention of dead Marines would obfuscate his addled brain responses.

I'm flipping both 2 party dullards the bird & voting Nader.

Posted by: govtflu | September 27, 2008 1:21 AM | Report abuse

Gene: As always, a sensible and very nicely written column.

Posted by: PaulG2 | September 27, 2008 1:29 AM | Report abuse


I mostly agree with your comments, but I am tired of commentators making sports analogies in assessing a candidate's "performance" in a presidential debate. I also object to the obsession many people have in pontificating about "who won a debate," as if to suggest this is the most important quality in how we should choose a president. This is not the Ms. America or Ms. World contest.

I thought Barack clearly seemed to offer better ideas about domestic issues. He held his own pretty well in the "discussions" about certain foreign policy issues. However, Barack often came across as being too polite and occasionally not sufficiently assertive, which some, not I, may consider to be weakness.

As a registered Democrat, but independent, I was offended by Al Gore's frequent sighs in his first debate with George W. Bush. John McCain though was far more rude and condescending with his obviously pre- planned derisive comments about Barack not understanding various issues. McCain did not seem presidential, undermined his contention he would offer bipartisan leadership and came across as self-righteous, as well as juvenile.

Posted by: Aprogressiveindependent | September 27, 2008 1:39 AM | Report abuse

THIS was the debate McCain was supposed to WIN? Not only win, but WIN BIG?

Not so fast, my friends.
Obama stood toe to toe with the supposed foreign policy expert in this campaign.

Obama displayed just as much knowledge about the issues as McCain. Not a big win for Obama, but, as far as expectations go, a tie is a win for Obama here.

It would be like taking the Detroit Lions and making them play the All Time Steelers team, and it ended in a 21-21 tie.

On the economy, as expected, Obama won big.

Of course, on style, class, and temperment, Obama won real big.

Another bad night for McCain.

Posted by: jgarrisn | September 27, 2008 1:40 AM | Report abuse

Obama got served. As an Obama supporter I was thoroughly disappointed in his performance. McCain came off as a man with deep experience and understanding of foreign affairs, while Obama came off as a stuttering rookie. This doesn't mean McCain is right, it just means he was far more effective at getting his points across and chipping away at Obama. On the question of "judgement" for example, why the hell didn't Obama say something like, "There wouldn't BE Al Queda in Iraq if you [McCain] had exercised sound judgment and not invaded under false pretenses in the first place. There wouldn't be a resurgent Al Queda in Afghanistan if you had exercised sound judgement and finished the job there. We wouldn't be another trillion in the whole, with thousands of American casualties had you exercised sound judgment...' you get the idea. "Took our eye off the ball" was pretty weak. Correct? Yes. But weak. He better get his act together before the next debate.

Posted by: swingforthefence | September 27, 2008 1:43 AM | Report abuse

Yes, John McCain came across as a grumpy old man who was not able to look his opponent in the eye. He also came across as a man who lives in the past and one who has no new ideas on how to address the very complex issues facing the world in the 21st century.

The continual sneering by John McCain also showed that he is not the man to represent the USA on the world stage.

It is important to also remember that not only did Al Gore win the Presidential debate, he also won the election. This nation has suffered tremendously because of the inexperienced and unqualified George W. Bush being in the White House even though the majority of people voted AGAINST him in the 2000 election. The USA would have been far better served with an intelligent man like Al Gore in the White House than the dumb cowboy that we got. This is has been a sad lesson for the American voter but it is a mistake that they will not make again in 2008. Barack Obama will be the next President of the United States and John McCain will soon retire to a nice nursing home in Arizona.

Posted by: lavinsr | September 27, 2008 1:52 AM | Report abuse

Wasn't it strange that even when Obama was talking directly to McCain, McCain steadfastly refused to look at Obama?

This reminds me a lot of McCain vs. Romney. McCain can't seem to compete or disagree without despising his opponent.

Posted by: Groundhogday1 | September 27, 2008 1:57 AM | Report abuse

Regarding McCain's contempt for Obama: this is nothing new. McCain considers Obama ill qualified to be a first term U.S. Senator, let alone President. He considers him a pure opportunist, rapidly pursuing personal advancement without putting in the grunt work. I tend to agree, so I don't find his contempt for the man offensive. Those of you who support Obama would. I live in Chicago, and I didn't vote for him. I surely won't be voting for him in November, both due to his utter lack of demonstrable leadership experience, let alone an ideology I could never support. We may not have a cursus honorum in the United States, but we damn well should. Hillary Clinton is respectable, serving out one full term in the Senate, doing the job she was elected to do, before fulfilling her ambition to run for the Presidency. Obama hasn't even completed one term of national office, hasn't run anything, has never been a governor, has never served in the military, has no record of leadership, and yet is salivated over by the left. It reminds me of the cartoon where George the First presents an innocent David Souter to the media, extolling his complete lack of a record, and daring them to Bork him. The idea of Obama being considered at parity with McCain as a candidate for the U.S. Presidency would be laughable, were it not actually happening. I suppose one cannot blame Obama for going for the brass ring given the extraordinary opportunity presented this election cycle. One can also certainly understand McCain's contempt. Perhaps McCain is not terribly political correct in his expression of his feelings, but then, that has never been McCain's strong suit.

Posted by: itmeanswhatitsays | September 27, 2008 2:14 AM | Report abuse

I registered as a Republican in 1972 at the University of Alabama. There were only about 50 of us on campus at the time. At the time the Democratic party was too far left and the Republicans were closer to the center.

I served over 20 years in the military and was stationed in AZ when McCain first ran for office. I voted for him every time he ran while I was stationed in AZ.

But I will not vote for him now. His choice of Sarah Palin did not put our country first. His flip flop on the ridiculous Bush tax cuts did not put our country first. His grandstanding on the current economic crisis did not put our country first.

He has much to be proud of and has many times served the country well. But his time has passed. In fact most of the Republican agenda has become obsolete.

It's time for a change and the Republican party currently represents the past.

In 1972 the Democratic party had swung too far left. Now the Republicans have swung too far right. Time to start the pendulum swing back to the center.

Posted by: in2data | September 27, 2008 2:27 AM | Report abuse

I agree with almost all of what you said, and am an Obama supporter. Yet I have to say, everyone should cut out the chatter about McCain's body language - that's out of line. In your position you must be aware that he has remaining injuries from torture, that affect his posture, range of motion, and his facial stiffness. That's all old news from decades back, and moreover it's McCain's personal business. I can't imagine Barack Obama being rude enough to allude to it; neither should any of the rest of us. Let's follow Obama's example.

Posted by: maria11 | September 27, 2008 2:31 AM | Report abuse

Yes, Grampy McSame was very angry tonite. Does he have the temperment for the highest most honorable office in the land?

From "Fact Of The Matter"



Tonites debate was interesting, very interesting. It was to say the least a TRAVESTY AND THE MOST EGREGIOUS demonstration of childishness,disrespect of the American populace, Senator Obama, and Mr. Lehr the moderator by John McShame It speaks to the fact that Senator McCain is living with UNTREATED POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER. All this bad behaviour coming from an Angry condescending FULL OF HIMSELF, prideful, unabashed, SHAMELESS LIAR and Warmonger who is 72 years old..

This is the reason that the so-called 'victory in Iraq' Senator McCain has taken on, an continues to support this occupation, no matter the cost of American Forces or Coalition members lives, no matter what the condition of our home front or our economy is. He is the one who is willing to destroy our existence and future in order to "CONTINUE A WAR' to victory. A war that exist only in his mind. He is a classic case of untreated PTSD. In McCain's trauma riddled mind the war in Iraq is the war in Vietnam. A war, that in reality has been ended for over 30 years. Iraq is McCain's Vietnam. I came to an understanding tonite that when McCain appears to humbly recount the desire for victory as he injects in conversations he has had with the troops, the adage "LET US WIN", He isn't speaking of the troops, he is speaking of himself. Senator McCain believes we failed in Vietnam by pulling out, when we did. He believes in his mind that if we'd only had a WAR CONTINUUM, we may have won.

A WAR CONTINUUM.....As McCain spoke about foreign policy it became a LECTURE and a small view into his true desired policy of A WAR CONTINUUM. He first leaked out bits and pieces in the past with statements like: Thursday, April 19, 2007

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- At a town hall meeting in South Carolina Wednesday, Arizona Sen. John McCain was asked if there is a plan to attack Iran. McCain began his answer by changing the words to a classic Beach Boys' song.

"You know that old Beach Boys song, Bomb Iran?" the Republican presidential candidate said. Then, he sang. "Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran." and the infamous statement: During a town hall meeting in Derry, New Hampshire last night, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) told a crowd of roughly two hundred people that it “would be fine with” him if the U.S. military stayed in Iraq for “a hundred years“:

Q: President Bush has talked about our staying in Iraq for 50 years — (cut off by McCain)

McCAIN: Make it a hundred.

Q: Is that … (cut off)

McCAIN: We’ve been in South Korea … we’ve been in Japan for 60 years. We’ve been in South Korea 50 years or so. That would be fine with me. As long as Americans …

You see Senator McCain really isn't concerned about the the SAFETY, PROTECTION, WELFARE nor PROSPERITY of our Nation. John McCain didn't mention the MIDDLE-CLASS once tonite. Not once. Why, We are not his concern. Economic concerns are not his, balancing our budget isn't his concern, diplomacy is not on his agenda, this is why he supports The Bush administrations FAILED POLICIES OF THE LAST EIGHT YEARS. Senator McCain isn't concerned about change or changing anything. No, Senator McCain is concerned solely with winning the war and crushing the shame of the defeat he felt and still feels about our strategy and failed war in Vietnam. I believe he lives this in his mind day in and day out. We can not AFFORD a president with such a Mental illness as this.

When McCain spoke tonite about war he linked nation after nation together, which we'd had war with or involvement. He mentioned failed American attempts at Colonizing, and all the many wars we've been involved in and then to add insult to injury, a look of PURE JOY crested his face. His desire is many more wars where we can use what he called "this new winning strategy", "THE SURGE". He mentioned using this strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan. McCain when asked the question about our American standing in the world, in other words how our allies and even enemies see us, said, he'd skip that and went back on the his TIRADE about winning wars.

What constituency is he speaking too? What Ghost of soldiers from wars passed is he trying to sell this too?

I was offended, unimpressed, but not surprised. I was angered by his Blatant REBUSHAGAIN PARTY LIES. The Republican Party does not want to participate in the REAL conversation the American populace is engaged in. Senator Obama Pointedly and tactfully ripped the web of deception around the Iraq war and 'the surge" right out from underneathe the feet of the lying CHARLA TON extension of the RNC/GOP THE PUPPETTED MOUTHPIECE John McCain. When Obama stated "John You act like this war started in 2007 and not 2003.

For those of you who do not know it, the Iraq war (2nd Iraq war) started as this Wikipedia article states:

This article is about the war that began in 2003. For other uses, see Iraq war (disambiguation).
Iraq War
The Iraq War, also known as the Second Gulf War, the Occupation of Iraq,[32] or the War in Iraq, is an ongoing military campaign which began on March 20, 2003 with the 2003 invasion of Iraq by a multinational coalition composed of United States and United Kingdom troops supported by smaller contingents from Australia, Denmark, Poland and other nations.[33]

Prior to the war, U.S. officials asserted that Iraq's possession and pursuit of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) posed a serious and imminent threat to U.S. national security.[34][35] This assessment was supported by the U.K. intelligence services, but not by other countries such as France, Russia and Germany.[36][37][38] United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission weapon inspectors found no evidence of WMD, giving support to earlier criticism of poor intelligence on Iraqi WMDs.[39] After the invasion, the U.S.-led Iraq Survey Group concluded that Iraq had ended its WMD programs in 1991 and had no active programs at the time of the invasion, but that they intended to resume production if the Iraq sanctions were lifted.[40] Although some degraded remnants of misplaced or abandoned chemical and biological weapons from before 1991 were found, they were not the weapons for which the coalition invaded.[41] The failure to find WMD in Iraq caused controversy, particularly in the United States.[42] Some U.S. officials also accused Saddam Hussein of harboring and supporting Al-Qaeda,[43] but no evidence of any collaborative relationship was found.[44][45] Other reasons for the invasion stated by U.S. officials included Iraq's alleged financial support for the families of Palestinian suicide bombers,[46] Iraqi government human rights abuses,[47] spreading democracy,[48] and Iraq's oil reserves,[49][50][51][52] although the latter was denied by other officials

Those are the facts. The surge was not the beginning of the War and Occupation of Iraq. Let no Republican Facist fool you.

ON THE ECONOMY JOHN MCCAIN AN THE RNC WERE NO MATCH FOR OBAMA, JUST DIRTY TRICKSMcCain adjudicated for the same failed policies of the last 8 years and that's no CHANGE, that's not even pocket change. McCain waxed weakly, deceptively, often using lies from his propaganda ad campaign as distractions and diversions from the dealings of the fact that he is one of the main components in the dereuglation mess.

McCain’s comment on Monday that the “fundamentals of the economy are strong” was a gift for Democrats. Throughout the week, the Obama campaign has been able to seize on McCain’s foible by painting the Republican nominee as “simply out of touch” with the brick-and-mortar economy on Main Street. And this is not McCain’s only weakness at the moment on the economic front.

We are now learning that McCain has a long and distinguished track record in Congress as a staunch advocate of deregulation which will likely further damage his credibility with voters. Given his well documented history as a pro-deregulation lawmaker, it is hard to see how McCain will be able to convince blue-collar voters in Ohio, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania that he is the right person to address the current financial crisis on Wall Street. Below is a summary of citations documenting his long history as a pro-deregulation lawmaker in the Senate.

John McCain: The Deregulator

I don’t think anyone who wants to increase the burden of government regulation and higher taxes has any real understanding of economics and the economy and what is needed in order to ensure the future of this country.”
– John McCain [McCain Town Hall in Inez, Kentucky, 4/23/08]

McCain Is An Avid Supporter Of Lax Rules For Financial Institutions
McCain Supported A Banking Bill Because It Eliminated “The Tremendous Regulatory Burden Imposed On Financial Institutions.” While speaking in favor of bank deregulation on the floor of the senate, John McCain said, “This legislation takes a small but important step toward eliminating the tremendous regulatory burden imposed on financial institutions… One principal reason banks are unable to make loans is the bewildering array of statutory and regulatory restrictions and paperwork requirements imposed by Congress and the regulatory agencies. While a case can certainly be made that every law and regulation is intended to serve a laudable purpose, the aggregate effect of the rapidly increasing regulatory burden imposed on banks is to cause them to devote substantial time, energy and money to compliance rather than meeting the credit needs of the community.” [Congressional Record, 11/19/93; emphasis added]

McCain Supported A Bill To “Takes A Small Step Forward Toward Eliminating Unnecessary Regulatory Burdens Imposed On Banks.” While speaking in favor of bank deregulation on the floor of the senate, John McCain said, “While a case can certainly be made that every law and regulation is intended to serve a laudable purpose, the aggregate effect of the rapidly increasing regulatory burden imposed on banks is to cause them to devote substantial time, energy and money to compliance rather than meeting the credit needs of the community … This bill recognizes this fact, and takes a small step forward toward eliminating unnecessary regulatory burdens imposed on banks.” [Congressional Record, 11/19/93; emphasis added]

McCain Said The Best Thing Government Can Do For Business Is “Stay Out Of Its Way.” While speaking about the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act on the floor on the Senate in 2000, John McCain said, “I am convinced that the best thing government can often do to advance the fortunes of the private sector is to stay out of its way. I support this bill because it makes progress toward that end, by improving companies’ flexibility to hire the talent they need, while providing for the regulatory framework and new educational opportunities to protect and promote American workers.” [Congressional Record, 10/3/00; emphasis added]

In 1999, McCain Supported Phil Gramm’s Banking Deregulation Bill. In 1999, John McCain voted for passage of the Senate version of a bill that would eliminate current barriers erected by the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act and other laws that impede affiliations between banking, securities, insurance and other firms. The bill also would exempt small, non-urban banks from the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), revise the Federal Home Loan Bank system and require that owners of automated teller machines (ATMs) provide notice on the ATM and on-screen of any charges imposed for the use of the terminal. The bill passed 54-44. [S. 900, Vote #105, 5/6/99]

McCain Missed The Vote For Final Passage Because He Was Campaigning In New Hampshire. John McCain missed the final vote on Phil Gramm’s banking deregulation bill because he was campaigning in New Hampshire. [NPR, “Morning Edition,” 11/5/99; S. 900, Vote #354, 11/4/99]

McCain Has Based His 2008 Campaign On Promoting Less Regulation
McCain: “I Don’t Think Anyone Who Wants To Increase The Burden Of Government Regulation And Higher Taxes Has Any Real Understanding Of Economics.” During a McCain Town Hall in Inez, Kentucky, John McCain said, “When we come out of this recession and we will because I believe that the fundamentals of our economy are good … Sen. Clinton wants the government to make the decisions for you on your health care, I want the families to make the decisions on their health care. I don’t think anyone who wants to increase the burden of government regulation and higher taxes has any real understanding of economics and the economy and what is needed in order to ensure the future of this country.” [McCain Town Hall in Inez, Kentucky, 4/23/08; emphasis added]

McCain: “I Understand Why The AFL-CIO And Maybe Other Unions May Oppose My Free Market, Less Regulation, Right To Work.” During an appearance on Fox’s “Special Report with Brit Hume,” John McCain said, “I understand why the AFL-CIO and maybe other unions may oppose my free market less regulation right to work. I think we have honest differences of opinion. I respect those labor unions, but I’m sure that those differences are very intense and very real.” [Fox News,” Special Report with Brit Hume,” 3/12/08]

McCain: “Let’s Reduce Regulation.” While speaking about the economy in St. Louis, Missouri, John McCain said, “I’m asked all the time are we in a recession or not in a recession. And I don’t know the answer to that because it’s kind of a technical term… I do not believe we should raise your taxes. I think it would be the worst thing we could do. And that means to me I think the tax cuts need to be made permanent. When you’ve got a bad economy, the worst thing you can do is increase people’s tax burden. Let’s reduce it. Let’s reduce regulation.” [CNN, “Ballot Bowl, 3/15/08]

McCain: “We Need To Return To The Reagan Years… We Need Less Regulation.” As shown on PBS’s “Washington Week,” John McCain said, “We need to return to the Reagan years. We need to have fiscal conservatism. We need less government. We need less regulation. We need to end of spending spree which has eroded our base of Republican support.” [PBS, “Washington Week,” 1/25/08]

McCain Promised To “Give Them Lower Taxes, Less Regulation, Less Government In Their Lives.” As shown on CNN’s “CNN Newsroom,” John McCain said, “We’ve got to do the other things necessary to encourage business and give them lower taxes, less regulation, less government in their lives, and that means a simpler, fairer — tax code. The tax code in America is broken and it needs to be fixed.” [CNN, “CNN Newsroom,” 2/14/08]

To Fix the Economy, McCain Would “We’ve Got To Take Specific Actions, Keep Their Taxes Low, Less Regulation.” As shown on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” John McCain said, “That our economy is in terrible shape, that we’ve got to take specific actions, keep their taxes low, less regulation, get - start exploring and exploiting offshore oil deposits.” [ABC, “Good Morning America,” 7/2/08]

McCain Said The Difference Between Obama & Himself Would Be “More Regulation Or Less Regulation.” During a media availability in Phoenix, Arizona, John McCain said, “I think the important thing is that there will be stark differences between either Senator [Clinton] or Senator Obama and me because they are liberal Democrats and I’m a conservative Republican… whether we pursue the present strategy in Iraq or whether we — or whether we set a date for withdrawal, which will mean Al Qaida wins; whether we have more regulation or less regulation.” [McCain Media Availability via CQ Transcriptions, 3/3/08; emphasis added]

McCain: “Less Government, Lower Taxes, Less Regulation, Safer America Is What I Can Give America.” During an appearance on CBS’s “60 Minutes,” John McCain said, “I can make a case that a less government, lower taxes, less regulation, safer America is what I can give America. But I don’t underestimate the size of the challenge.” [CBS, “60 Minutes,” 3/9/08]

McCain Is Long-Time Supporter Of Deregulation
McCain: “I Am A Deregulator. I Believe In Deregulation.” While speaking about the cable and satellite television during an appearance on CNN’s “On the Money,” John McCain said, “I am a deregulator. I believe in deregulation.” [CNN, “In the Money,” 7/13/03]


So now that we've gotten a small peek into the LYING MIND OF POLITICAL MANIPULATOR, once again we must remember the conversation the nation is engaing the candidates in today is definately not the republicans foretay. Our economy is suffering from the last 8 years of borrowing from China in the trillions, borrowing from Japan in the untold billions, waging a War and Occupation based on a mistake. Speaking of which John McCain is determined to keep your children and their childrens children, in debt and 'COMMITTED TO A MISTAKE". We AK no bones about it here at "Fact of the Matter".

Don't believe the pun dents, don't believe the Republican owned CORPORATE MEDIAS talking points, even if the press as they will probably deceitfully try, and give this debate to McCain. MCCAIN WAS NEVER REALLY EVEN IN THE REAL CONVERSATION THAT WAS THE DEBATE....HE WAS AUDITIONING FOR A DECEPTIVE PROPAGANDA AD. Not with us, the Nation, not even on the same page.

As far as the conversation of the debate was about The Economy, The war and Occupation in Iraq, (Our ultimate, to date, mistake),The middle-class, and money of the tune of 10 billion dollars a month we shell out to that mistake, and of course FOREIGN POLICY, John McCain is completely OUT OF TOUCH...HE IS LIVING IN HIS untreated PTSD SICKENED MIND THE ASSUMPTION OF THE UTTER DEFEAT AND LOST OF a war that ended over 30 years ago.


Yet, he dishonored himself yet, again as he stood for a LIE and tried to deceive the American populace with his MENTAL DELUSIONS


Posted by: need4trth | September 27, 2008 2:50 AM | Report abuse

grumpy of man... yes that is a good description. I was not impressed with McCain's inaccurate fact sprewing. It was embarrasing the number of times Obama had to correct him by saying "that is not true", basically calling him a liar. Either he was deliberately throwing out untruths or his fact checkers are duds.

Posted by: hisgrace03 | September 27, 2008 3:00 AM | Report abuse

Well I thought Obama had plenty of opportunities to put McCain away but didn't. Sure, Obama came across as strong and knowledgeable an obviously passed the foreign policy threshold test, but I wish he could have pressed McCain more on that snub of Zapatero for example, I mean, ask McCain exactly what was he thinking when he gave that interview with the Spanish press. And then if McCain stonewalled, ask him again to clarify - and badger him until he got an answer.

But then, Obama is too much of a gentleman for that, which is probably a good thing.

In any case, Obama came out of the debate the clear winner. McCain looked tired, and much too, well, just plain OLD.

Posted by: mjo1 | September 27, 2008 3:08 AM | Report abuse

was that John MC CAIN out there on the podium or GRANDPA SIMPSON....

Grumpy old man all right and how many flashbacks did he have every 2 minutes... "Oh Grqandpa tell me what you did in the4 war again zzzzzzz"

Posted by: colinemery | September 27, 2008 3:33 AM | Report abuse

Am I the only one who thought it was strange that we didn't see Governor Palin give the Republican response for the debates? Senator Biden said about what I expected the vice presidential candidate to say on the Democratic party side. Why didn't Governor Palin do the same for the Republicans?

Posted by: jwamsley3 | September 27, 2008 3:36 AM | Report abuse

Oh and why didnt Obama get into him when he justified the 10 billion a year to Pakistan andonly yesterday they were shooting at your troops and choppers....The Pakistan military which is run by fundamentalists are laughing at you guys as they cover for their mates Taliban - they backed them against Russia when it was a super power and are again - Russia threw money to Pakistan as well - maybe Bush and Mc Cain are getting senile and forget how stupid it was for the USSR and how stupid it is for you guys know....

Oh and maybe the media and the Neocons (and slaves at FOX - the modern day Goebells machine) have forgotten the electorate and the people are sick and tired of grumpy old men and attack tactics - maybe have a look at what happened to the Bush sycophant over here in Australia - John Howard -as we say over here - played the man not the ball and lost the game .

Goal for Obama - people want dignity and truth not a Jerry Springer show candidate...

Posted by: colinemery | September 27, 2008 3:42 AM | Report abuse

You nailed it. Being stuffy and condescending is what did Al Gore in, even though he was obviously the more qualified candidate. (obvious in hindsight anyway)

In this case Harvard Law Obama came off as the guy most people would rather have a beer with.

Posted by: rwolf01 | September 27, 2008 3:46 AM | Report abuse

>> Am I the only one who thought it was strange that we didn't see Governor Palin give the Republican response for the debates?

It was strange, but she kind of imploded on Thursday. (part of me thinks McCain's I'm-suspending-the-campaign stunt was a desperate attempt to bury that story)

Now Kathleen Parker, a conservative nationally syndicated columnist, has called for her to drop out of the race.

It was a Washington Post headline, but they buried it pretty fast.

For now you can still read the column at (or google "Kathleen Parker Palin Problem")

It's pretty damning. Everyone who thinks our leaders should actually be qualified for office should read it.

Posted by: rwolf01 | September 27, 2008 4:12 AM | Report abuse

Grumpy old man. If he can't look Obama in the eye, how will he negotiate with Putin and hard core nasties? This was an example of how childishly proud he is, which is totally self destructive.
Okay, he was wounded in the Vietnam war, but nobody questions if it was only physical? I think he's a basket case.

Posted by: santory | September 27, 2008 4:38 AM | Report abuse

i don't watch tv.

thus, i was not manipulated by the imagery. however, i could hear the snorts chortles and bungled wording from mcccccpalin, and was ever so maddened by his repetitive attempts to belittle obama:

"you don't understand."

"my record blah blah."

why anyone would prefer mccain's abrasive, condescending, inarticulate patter is beyond me. but of course, when he is allowed this nonsense about opposing pork-spending, it seems the democrats would rather play nice than trot out the facts, some of them inconveniently pointing to their own aid in the destruction of america's economy and future.

vote green party: cynthia mckinney.

Posted by: forestbloggod | September 27, 2008 4:56 AM | Report abuse

As there is no one grumpier than the BIASED so called writer I will defer to his calling the WINNER in tonights debate a grumpy old man for IT TAKES ONE TO KNOW ONE PLUS HE IS A D--- RACIST LIKE OTHERS OF HIS ILK! I WILL TAKE GRUMPY OVER A D--- UNQUALIFIED MARXIST ANYTIME!

Posted by: sumn | September 27, 2008 5:05 AM | Report abuse

was that JOHN MC CAIN or GRANDPA SIMPSON debating - "tell us hwat you did in the old days and the war Grandpa?" - "Hey you kids get of my lawn!!!!!"

I love his "I looked Putin in the eye and saw KGB" and then minutes later after saying he would take thhem on goes "But we wouldnt want a cold war situation"...from a man who see's cold war and charlie everywhere...

Posted by: colinemery | September 27, 2008 5:05 AM | Report abuse

We've got to change Washington. McCain seemed to focus on the candidates difference and said that Obama 'didn't understand' way too often. We don't need another leader who thinks he has all the answers and doesn't listen to anyone else!

Posted by: DGSPAMMAIL | September 27, 2008 5:10 AM | Report abuse

was that JOHN MC CAIN or GRANDPA SIMPSON debating - "tell us hwat you did in the old days and the war Grandpa?" - "Hey you kids get of my lawn!!!!!"

I love his "I looked Putin in the eye and saw KGB" and then minutes later after saying he would take thhem on goes "But we wouldnt want a cold war situation"...from a man who see's cold war and charlie everywhere...

Posted by: colinemery | September 27, 2008 5:13 AM | Report abuse

Robinson: "Americans like to vote for the nice guy, not the grumbling prophet of doom."

Who told you such a nonsense? You obviously never had a well education, otherwise, you would show more respect for the elderly. Perhaps you should listen to what pastor Manning has to say. Then, you will understand why Barack Obama isn't it worth to look at. And if you do not like pastor Manning, then listen to what Bob Parks and other great Americans have to say. Rest assured that they are worth to look at, but not Barack Obama.

Posted by: loan4ever | September 27, 2008 5:27 AM | Report abuse

Hmm, of course the fact that Souter has turned out to be a pretty decent Supreme Court justice sort of ruins your point. Doesn't it.

Let's reiterate, creationists are morons and a lot of them are posting here.

Posted by: bhuang2 | September 27, 2008 5:31 AM | Report abuse

Head of State

Saturday, September 27, 2008
Obama Wins

CNN Poll of Debate Watchers:

Who won:

Obama: 51%

McCain: 38%

Head of State

Posted by: caraprado1 | September 27, 2008 5:41 AM | Report abuse

Let's face it. Robinson has not written one positive column about McCain or so much as an even-handed one.

It's a waste of my time to read his column b/c he just keeps up the same refrain.

Posted by: Ruffles1 | September 27, 2008 6:25 AM | Report abuse

The answer to the question, "Did John McCain come across as too much of a grumpy old man?" Is a resounding, YES!!!!!

McCain is so arrogant, he thinks that just because he's been around for so long that he's entitled to be President.

No, it's time for a change.

Posted by: laSerenissima2003 | September 27, 2008 6:25 AM | Report abuse

We are not electing Miss Congeniality.
I agree with you about electorate taking
away very different ideas from these debates. I truly believe that Kerry won all his debates and Gore won at least two.
One more thing, quit picking on grumpy old men, you are well on your way to being there yourself Buster!

Posted by: menopausequeen | September 27, 2008 6:40 AM | Report abuse

McCain seemed to be unhappy and pessimistic. I didn't like his deflections much at all. I also thought he came across as rude, and I didn't like that much.

McCain's recent record didn't come across so hot in view of the Bush record. I don't think he came across as the candidate of change. I kept thinking 'more of the same'.

Obama did seem different in his approach to problems though, and he also came across as more honest about the issues. I got the impression he was more engaged than just 'on message'.

Posted by: timscanlon | September 27, 2008 6:48 AM | Report abuse

You have become the most shameless apologist for an empty suit at WaPo, and so your irrelevance grows by the day. Is it a racial pride thing? Or is is it simply a far leftist desire to see an Obama/Pelosi/Reid judggernaut in place? Whatever, our country will hardly be in good shape come January if your misplaced aspirations come to fruition. Hopefully, your very public forum, combined with your intense one-sided views will cause independents to see the holes in your arguments and the tone as ever increasing rants.

Posted by: jayjay9 | September 27, 2008 6:48 AM | Report abuse

More Negritude from Robinson.
Surprise Surprise Surprise!
If McCain was a Grumpy Old Man then the ObaDroids Messiah is just another Too Slick By Half Black Street Hustler straight out of a 70's Blackploitation film. A lot of empty braying and swagger backed up by exactly nothing.
All Jive A*s Obsama needs now are his pimp wheels... he's already got his Shaniqua.

Posted by: jthandbook | September 27, 2008 6:48 AM | Report abuse

I thought McCain was effective in giving Obama the cold shoulder.

If America valued dominance or arrogance in political rivalries, McCain would have carried the day. But America seems to value jovial slams with some basis in fact.

It's true that Obama grimaced. But I think that helped show he was sincerely engaged, and didn't carry him off to Al Gore style sighing.

Polling seems to show the uncommitteds broke Obama's way a bit more.

McCain likely did himself no favors with his off-on deal. This took place on a Friday night, folks wanted to make their plans, and he was yanking them around.

So his snickers, snideness, and 'you don't understand' comments may have played into some viewer frustration he'd cultivated prior. And worked against him the more because of it.

Posted by: tdn0024 | September 27, 2008 6:55 AM | Report abuse

Grumpy?? Aren't your being a bit kind to McCain? McCain not only showed his thinly veiled contempt for Obama in no uncertain terms, he also seemed to genuinely resent that the populace is not interested in McCain's sense of entitlement (think, "I was a 'Nam POW, therefore I deserve to be president). Obama, on the other hand, seemed cool, conducted himself every inch a statesman, refused to allow himself to be bullied by McCain and spoke his convictions with steely passion. Obama looked crisp and ready, McCain looked worn and haggard (probably due to his running to rescue the bailout plan like some movie cowboy with white hat and his horse). Obama clearly showed the nexus between economics and national security; McCain told too many irrelevant stories in trying to make a point.

Can't wait for the veepstakes debate (Biden, kick Palin's arse. Let' see the pitbull with lipstick for what she really is -- a Stepford chihuahua who has not a clue!)

Posted by: meldupree | September 27, 2008 6:56 AM | Report abuse

McCain will always lose the congeniality contest. He also lied again throughout this debate -- or purposely misunderstood Obama's positions and answers. If he continues to do this in the next debates, as surely he will, Obama will have plenty of opportunity to come back at him with, "What McCain doesn't understand..."

Posted by: cicada99 | September 27, 2008 6:58 AM | Report abuse

What actual experience of leadership does McCain have and as he sneers and belittles the good and intelligent professor from Illionois what experience does the dopey Palin have?

McCain lost this debate when he played tootsie with the public and the media over will I or won't I go.

He is quite contemptible from the perspective of an outsider who lives 12,000 miles away.

I really believe he is senile, anyone want to find out what medication he is on before he karks it and the dreaded Sarah takes over?

Posted by: shepherdmarilyn | September 27, 2008 7:21 AM | Report abuse

McCain came across as old, and, yes, grumpy too. Much is being made of Obama saying, "John is right," five times. Well, McCain just rushed to Washington to, from what he said, was to solve the economic crisis in a bi-lateral, non-partisan way. McCain several times stressed that he could work across the aisle, which implies that he doesn’t think the Democrats are wrong all the time. However, he didn't walk the walk; Obama did. Obama proved he can work across the aisle, but McCain didn’t: he couldn't break out of the same business attitude that you can never give your opponent credit for anything. In the debate, Obama showed McCain respect; McCain was surly and ill tempered, to no purpose. A strong leader can give credit where credit is due, even to an opponent. Always having to be right is the sign of insecurity. What is most telling, however, is that he seemed old and tired. He rambled. He strayed from the question at hand. He went over and over experience that he failed to relate to today's problems and issues and was often contradictory: he was for involvement in Bosnia, against involvement in Somalia, wants to talk tough to Iran, but is afraid of upsetting Pakistan. He seemed to be talking to himself most of the time. Old and grumpy, to be sure.

Posted by: csintala79 | September 27, 2008 7:35 AM | Report abuse

With all due respect, Gene, didn't the "nice guy" get us in trouble the last time?
Vote for Obama because he's nice. What contempt you must have for your fellow citizens.
Vote for Obama because he's better. That would make sense and isn't nearly as condescending. Try it in your next piece.

Posted by: rmpatera | September 27, 2008 7:41 AM | Report abuse

Obama is PATHETIC. He is a concept - a symbol with no substance. The man has spent half his political career running for office. You called McCain a grumpy old man. Yeah, maybe. But just like the grumpy old doctor, I'll take him over that tinhorn Obama any day. At at least he kows what he's talking about.

Obama supports an 800 billion dollar bailout AND his 800 billion budget. What a MORON. He will crush this economy and be detested for his massive experiment in socialism.

Posted by: jchenn | September 27, 2008 7:45 AM | Report abuse

There are two lurking issues in this campaign - Obama's race and McCain's age. For 90 minutes, Obama looked Presidential and his race was irrelevant. McCain's age was apparent - in terms of appearance (especially that over-the-shoulder camera angle), tone, and his historical references. (Eisenhower's letter on D-Day and Alexander the Great?!) I think Obama's performance will reassure waivering white voters; McCain's performance harm him with younger voters.

Posted by: tomrein | September 27, 2008 7:55 AM | Report abuse

Remember, Gene, McCain was born before MLK. I am sure, he is still wondering. How did this guy get here.

Posted by: fchan2 | September 27, 2008 8:04 AM | Report abuse

Eugene, caught the debate on MSNBC and to be fair i thought that Obama was better with the answers to his questions than Mcain. The Republican Senator did score points however, but i suspect (not least from the tone of the responses to this colum)that he did so at a cost. He did appear rude and tried (unsucessfully) to personally belittle Obama when he really should have spent more time giving succinct and cogent answers to the questions posed by the moderator. Overall i thought that Mcain ended up appearing petulant.. something which is the antithesis of presidential. Barack needs to help himself in the subsequent debates however by not being so "nice"...Forget Dukakis at your peril Barak!

Posted by: SheldonDavid | September 27, 2008 8:05 AM | Report abuse

The old senator seemed like a block of ice in his blue suit, frozen, rigid, his negative punches and refusal to look at his opponent. McCain lied about Sarah Palin - she is a hopelessly mixed up hockey-mom, not excellent, as depicted her.

Obama was generous to McCain (of course, John is correct in saying... and so on. This phrase came many times, generous recognition), his incredibly smile and his constant attempt to meet McCain's eyes. He walked over to the McCains at debate's end. Obama is the gentleman, the scholar & will make an excellent president.

Posted by: hchiba | September 27, 2008 8:12 AM | Report abuse

Obama clearly won. He looked and sounded like a true presidential statesman, while McCain looked old, flustered and sounded belligerent. Not once did he give Obama the respect of looking at him directly while he was being spoken to, and I believe this disrespect speaks volumes about how McCain will conduct his foreign and domestic policies: The same disrespect Bush has shown the world and the American people for the last 8 years.

Posted by: dotmafia | September 27, 2008 8:16 AM | Report abuse

There was one point where McCain got a really, really strange look on his face that reminded me of Jack Nicholson in The Shining. I'd agree that McCain held his own pretty well, but came off as not just contemptuous but a bit unhinged, which matches his campaign behavior (a stunt a day) lately. Picking Palin, that's deranged, too. She's going to do very, very badly in her own debate. She just can't summon up the script they've fed her fast enough, can't customize her robotic lines fast enough.

Posted by: Plutonium57 | September 27, 2008 8:17 AM | Report abuse

They both offered a clear contrast to the other. McCain with his, halt all spending except military and veterans, suggested his administration would be more of the same. Obama, with his, we need a scalpel not an ax; and, there are programs that actually need funding--showed his support for the middle class and "main-street" Americans. I thought it interesting that Most moving story about Geo. Marshall (ill-advised to tell WWII stories) and his two letters, proved to be untrue. He's told that story how many times and he still doesn't know it's false?

Posted by: davemarks | September 27, 2008 8:18 AM | Report abuse

Hi -- Waking up this morning, I found myself thinking about the racial dynamics of the debate. Obama seemed much more comfortable being in a discussion with a white man than McCain did with black man. Is there anything to that feeling? I seem to remember that the Navy historically was the most segregated of the military services, and stayed segregated longer. Anything to these intuitions?

John Foster.

Posted by: jbfoster45 | September 27, 2008 8:19 AM | Report abuse

Head of State

Saturday, September 27, 2008
What A Debate Reveals: Anger, Entitlement and Contempt

What I found shocking reflecting on last night's debate was how angry and entitled McCain was, in a very open way.

McCain's manner was one of that who believed he should not even be on the same stage with this person. This indicates a person of extreme rights and extreme wrongs, not a statesmanlike persona, but an angry and impulsive one.

McCain carries strong ideas of what a liberal is, ideas that very little from his cherished ideas of who betrayed the nation during the Vietnam war. A stock character, driven and created by his own rage, carried, as it has been since the '70s, with a virtual ideological blindness--blinded by a contemptuous rage--that there are others who cannot understand the world the way he can. This is not judgment, but angry certainty. This is not readiness, but a just-contained rage that he should be confronted by such ideas.

You can see it in his constricted "can you believe it" rage at one who disagrees with him. This kind of contemptuous, angry dismissal of others ideas leads easily into the impulsive decisions of the last few months--generated with barely contained contemptuous rejection of those who would reject his ideas--only the most recent forms of those essential constructs--a contemptible media, easily fed with false notions and panaceas, as he believes they were earlier in his life; intellectuals, whose reason and deliberation is contrasted with the sharp, impulsive action that for his life has constituted a certain knowledge, and an angry, certain need to sweep away those who would stand in the path of righteous certainty.

What is beautifully ironic is how McCain maintains this contempt even as he switches from one position to another in the opportunistic second--this is when the look of contempt and entitlement turns, for a moment, to anxiety and panic.

Soon, however, the gaze is back. No matter what the new position is--impulsively determined, desperately grasped--if only "they" knew better. If only "they" knew the truth.

This kind of ideological rigidity and certainty (note how Obama could not contain himself from smiling when McCain attempted to compare him to Bush in that regard) combined with impulsive decision making, from the "gut" of sure knowledge, is what has created the outcomes of the past 8 years.

It was--in a setting where one would not expect it to be, where one would expect McCain to contain it--glaring apparent last night.

This is an amplification of the last 8 years rather than a change.

We do not need to experience this type of decision making again.

Head of State

Posted by: caraprado1 | September 27, 2008 8:20 AM | Report abuse

In point of fact, the public DID see the 2000 debate differently from the mainstream reporters and punditry. The public correctly thought Gore had kicked Bush's posterior until the mainstream media people with some irrational hatred for Gore and grudge against him told the public otherwise.

Posted by: ejs2 | September 27, 2008 8:22 AM | Report abuse

Wow, the more I watch these two it is becoming very clear what kind of President each of them would be. McCain is talking 'vetoing EVERY spending bill that comes across his desk' and a 'spending freeze, exception of the military and veterans' is anyone really listening? can you say USA = Impoverished Military State under McCain? McCain would be utter disaster for the USA, disaster. You think there is growing poverty and joblessness now under Bush, McCain would bury the USA for good. Obama is the clear choice now, he offers intelligent, desperately needed progress and investment in the American people and workers. He offers solutions to education, health care, the housing and economic crisis, getting out of the money pit that is Iraq, investments in US manufacturing and green energy jobs and so much more to revive our dying country. These are the kinds of solutions America sorely needs, anything less would be suicide for America. No way, no how, no McCain.

Posted by: Hillary08 | September 27, 2008 8:37 AM | Report abuse

It's interesting that McCain gets all of this respect for his record. Let's look at his record: Finished bottom of his class at Annapolis. From graduation to POW status, nine years, he crashed five navy jets. Leaves wife for rich socialite. As member of Keating Five, is censored by Senate for "poor judgement." Admits he didn't understand the connection between gifts and the bills he was pushing that favored Charles Keating. Most recently praised the strength of our economy. Said last night: Halt all spending except military and veterans. On the other hand, he does have white hair, and he's old and white....

Posted by: davemarks | September 27, 2008 8:50 AM | Report abuse

Right on, Gene! My husband was watching the debate with me and even he, a mild-mannered man, said, with annoyance : "When is that f***ker going to look at Obama?" It was an unbelievable display of contempt and seething anger on McCain's part.

Posted by: LABC | September 27, 2008 8:53 AM | Report abuse

Much has been said about McCain's odd persona; one that is shaped by the harsh contrast of appearance and behavior, like the serial killer dressed as a smiling clown. Some view this as merely focused yet restrained energy, where others see borderline psychosis. Whatever the reality, it appears that the "contemptuous" John McCain has yet to be tempered, for it was front and center at the debate. This was also evident during the early debates among the Presidential candidates themselves. During an eloquent statement from Ron Paul regarding the debasement of our Constitution and a succinct warning about central banking deficiencies (now proven), McCain was shown smiling and sneering as the camera panned. It was a moment of sheer disdain for the truth. That alone resolves my choice for President, although I have no illusions about the efficacy of an Obama presidency. Our country has been usurped by a financial banking elite bent on world domination, clearly revealed by our current financial 'crisis.' Our fate was determined by the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 which transferred our monetary system to a private bank (Federal Reserve) in violation of the Constitution. If the WAPO (the fourth estate) and our Presidential candidates like to visit tough issues, that would be a good place to begin. Anything else makes a Presidential election nothing more than an exercise in programmed entertainment.

Posted by: billoright1776 | September 27, 2008 8:55 AM | Report abuse

My biggest impression of the night, without discussing particular moments or debate points, was that Obama was gentlemanly and deferential to McCain whereas McCain was angry and contemptuous of Obama.

Obama multiple times said, "I agree with John on this, but....", which is a very polite and effective way of debating someone without triggering an emotional backlash.

McCain multiple times said, "You don't understand!", which is condescending and rude. It showed that McCain had no respect for Obama and his refusal to even look at him reinforced that bitterness. Obama then blunted his attack by responding with a calm, thoughtful answer that showed that he DID understand, even if you disagreed with him.

McCain is not going to win by calling Obama "stupid". Not only is it rude, it's clearly false. If Biden tried this tactic against Palin, he would be blasted as "sexist".

The only time Obama tried a direct attack on McCain personally was his "You were wrong on Iraq". This was the newsreel clip moment of the night, and was effective because 80% of voters think that Iraq was a mistake, even if they think the war is going better today. That attack works because McCain is running a message in stark disagreement with the voters.

All in all, McCain needs to acknowledge Obama's expertise. If McCain thinks he can win by belittling Obama, Obama's obvious poise and intelligence makes a mockery of that strategy.

Posted by: AxelDC | September 27, 2008 9:01 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Robinson, you expressed my thoughts almost exactly - "Throughout the 90-minute debate, McCain seemed contemptuous of Obama. He wouldn’t look at him. He tried to belittle him whenever possible -- how many times did he work “Senator Obama just doesn’t understand” into his answers? His body language was closed, defensive, tense. McCain certainly succeeded in proving that he can be aggressive, but the aggression came with a smirk and a sneer."

McCain spent too much time trying to sneer at and belittle Obama, instead of giving us positive reasons to want him (McCain) to be our next president. Such immaturity in an old man is especially unpleasant to listen to.

Also - McCain repeatedly mentioned his many years of experience in foreign affairs, meeting top military and political leaders, traveling to foreign countries, while saying that Obama "just does not understand" these things - well, if all that is so important, why did he choose such a VERY inexperienced running mate?

Posted by: DESS1 | September 27, 2008 9:16 AM | Report abuse

It is interesting that McCain thinks that meeting with leaders such as Iran's President Ahmadinejad would legitimate his outrageous statements and positions regarding wiping another nation off the map. I wonder, does he also think that the willingness of other respected nations to meet with him (should he become our next President) would legitimate his equally outrageous comments regarding nuking Iran and causing North Korea to become extinct? You can't have it both ways.

Posted by: Afewquestions | September 27, 2008 9:31 AM | Report abuse

Why wouldn’t John McCain be contemptuous of Barack Obama and why wouldn’t he be unable to control his “smirks and Sneers?” Throughout the campaign is has been obvious that McCain dislikes Obama. His dislike is even more intense than it was for his opponents in the primaries. My sense is that McCain develops a dislike for anyone whom he sees as an opponent and doesn’t have the self-control to contain it. I’m sure the good old boys network, of which McCain is a willing participant, spends a lot of time behind closed doors bashing the “uppity” Obama. Bet on it. McCain’s worldview derives from this cronyism and the intensity of his personal life experience. He doesn’t relate to today and today’s issues. He is locked in his own limited past and doesn’t even realize how out of step he is when behaves the way he did last night. This is a man with deep problems who is a disaster waiting to happen if he reaches the oval office.

Posted by: EastPaEd | September 27, 2008 9:34 AM | Report abuse

An insignificant significant moment in the debate occurred when McCain was doing his "human interest" story about parents and their children not dying in vain in Iraq. Obama replied that he had a bracelet too and it was from a parent who said make sure no more parents have to go through what I have had to go through with the loss of a child for an unnecessary war.

Posted by: ernieson | September 27, 2008 9:40 AM | Report abuse

Wow. You must have watched another debate than I did. Mr. Obama looked so sour he must have eaten some bad food before the debate. Mr. McCain was, is, and will always be the more positive one about this country. Mr. Obama dwells, as always, on how terrible this country is.

You see, that's Mr. Obama's tough role to play. He sorely lacks experience, so he has to convince us that things are terrible and we need this unspecified "change."

Which is a losing strategy. As "bad" as he would convince us things are here, we voters are smart enough to love this country and know there is nothing better anywhere else.

You could not be more wrong about this issue. You must be well received at the Washington Post, though, which has the most interestingly biased coverage on this election that I have seen in eons.

You can do better than this. Really.

Posted by: VoterMom | September 27, 2008 9:47 AM | Report abuse

I have a different take on McCain's inability to look his opponent in the eye: He's lied about Obama and he knows it.

Think about McCain confronting Bush at the end of the 2000 primary when Bush refused to look McCain in the eye.

I really believe McCain would like to think of himself as being "honorable", yet he's discarded his values to try to win at all costs. He's trying to justify his actions to himself, but his conscience is showing the opposite.

Obama, on the other hand, used strong points against McCain- wrong to get us into Iraq, wrong to give huge tax cuts to the wealthy and ignoring the real economy of the middle class, wrong about deregulation, wrong to joke about bombing other countries- yet Obama was so secure in his positions that he could look McCain in the eye and tell him he was wrong.

I heard McCain saying that he would get us into another war like the one in Iraq, despite everything that has proven going into Iraq has actually made us weaker in the world.

Posted by: ladyvet | September 27, 2008 9:50 AM | Report abuse



67% 179,009

31% 81,313

2% 6,141

Total Votes: 266,463

Looks to me like McCain won the debate two to one over Obama. Man, you libtards just can't see the forest for the trees.

Posted by: charlietuna666 | September 27, 2008 9:52 AM | Report abuse

It looks like a little grumpiness going on in Mr. Robinson's neighborhood. What about Obama's censorship brigade asking Missouri officials to prosecute anti-Obama ads on TV?

Does this portend that if Obama makes it to the White House our first amendment rights will disappear? Say goodbye to freedom of speech.

Posted by: alance | September 27, 2008 9:57 AM | Report abuse

To CharlieTuna666:

If you think that a Drudge Report click-in poll is an indication of the opinion of the American population, then surely you have lost your marbles.

Posted by: aakalan | September 27, 2008 10:08 AM | Report abuse

The elephant in the room that noone is talking about is McCain's amazingly erratic and bizarre behavior in the days and hours leading up to the debate. Had Obama and Lehrer not been so polite, one or both of them might have asked at least one quite legitimate question of McCain's stunts of: (1) saying that he was "suspending his campaign" until he had solved America's financial crisis (even though that campaign in fact continued unabated); and (2) saying that he would not attend the debate unless or until the crisis was solved (as if he can only do one thing at a time) and then -- after parachuting in and helping blow up a carefully-crafted, bi-partisan solution to that crisis -- participating in the debate anyway. These are the actions of a man who is unstable, erratic, lacking in judgment and temperament, and is clearly unfit to serve as our President.

Posted by: TruthTeller41 | September 27, 2008 10:11 AM | Report abuse

I thought Sen McCain did a good job and won the important parts of the debate. With his injuries it is diffficult for him to turn his head, as you might recall from the Republican debates he had to swivel in his chair to talk to Gov. Romney.

I also feel that Sen Obama was very disrespectful calling McCain "John" or "Tom" when every time Sen McCain addressed him it was with "Sen Obama" at the beggining.

Finally when your opponent agrees with your stances 10-11 times he must not be doing very good on his own points and if your opponent doesn't agree with you once, that's not good.

Posted by: candiceterry | September 27, 2008 10:15 AM | Report abuse

Be honest people. One of Obama's MAJOR platforms is, to paraphrase, " we've got people around the world to 'like us' again... What phooie! He would fold like a house of cards in a MINUTE like Kennedy did when meeting with Kruchev. He his a bright guy who has achieved a great deal already. He is the defacto leader of the ultra left-apologist-socialist Democrat party.

I guess everyone writing here didn't notice the numerous chortles, snickers, and interruptions Obama put forth last night. Face it folks, the Dems nominated the wrong candidate.

Enjoy yourselves the next thirty or so days......

Posted by: scollins | September 27, 2008 10:19 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Robinson, no matter what happened in the debate you would have pronounced Obama the winner.

Posted by: brewstercounty | September 27, 2008 10:31 AM | Report abuse

This enforced to me why McCain lost my vote in 2000 and didnt get it back this year. What kind of leader doesn't look his opponent nor the camera in the eye? You could see the nasty McCain wanted to come out but didnt. That is what scares me, he can fly off the hook at any moment. Also i dont understand how all the talking heads say McCain won on the foreign policy part when he basically said he was going to continue the route Dubya has been on the last 8 years, we see how well that all worked out. I dont care how many countries he has visited. If i remember correctly JFK never visited Cuba nor the Soviet Union and he held his own against them. I have been to many countries but that doesnt mean i should be an ambassador to any of them...........

Posted by: rharring | September 27, 2008 10:40 AM | Report abuse

Oxford, Mississippi: moving forward toward a better future. Obama: trying to be respectful and thoughtful, focusing upon the future problems that the US will face. McCain: stuck in the past, wallowing in his demons. War is his only answer, contempt for everyone who doesn't bow and scrape to him his means of dealing with the world. Do I want him dealing with the problems of the world and with the many different heads of state? I don't think contempt for everyone from his wife to Obama is an adequate coping device. And, lies............lies may cut it when running a campaign (see: George W. Bush), but lies don't work in the White House.

Last, I wish to suggest that perhaps his contempt (and fear) of Obama may be rooted in who Obama is. And, does he understand, that most of the leaders of the world look like Obama? How will he behave with them?

Posted by: rusty3 | September 27, 2008 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Has McSame unsuspended his campaign yet?

I haven't heard any news about it and I can't find any official unsuspending of his campaign online anywhere.

Do you think he forgot?

Oh well, this little stunt of his is more proof that McSame is just not presidential material.

Posted by: kevinschmidt | September 27, 2008 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Paternalism is alive and well in the Republican party.

Puh-LEESE. No more "Obama doesn't really understand," in that patient, life-weary voice. Got the message, and guess what.

Obama does understand.

Posted by: student41 | September 27, 2008 10:48 AM | Report abuse

McCain can't feel, or show, or even fake, respect or concern for a black person, ever. Simple as that. Especially not when that black person is his rival whom he has wronged on purpose.

I saw the "debate" (a misnomer, on McCain's part it was only a recitation of the usual talking points) early in the morning here in London, and I was shocked at the contempt McCain chose to project, the eagerness to put one over on his rival, who is both friendlier and more intelligent than McCain. I suppose when you are half black and half white, your own nature precludes polarised-black-and-white, us-and-them, "we are-the-good-guys, and whoever we designate are the bad guys" thinking. Given the state the US is in, bankrupt financially and morally precisely because of that polarised thinking and endless self-congratulation regardless of the facts on the ground - Obama is the grownup who has integrated black and white, and McCain the petulant and endlessly "entitled" toddler or teenager. He does seem to have suffered from untreated PTSD ever since Vietnam, and only feels attracted by similarly extreme and erratic personalities including Bush and Palin. His choice of Palin for his own redemption has already backfired badly because Palin is incapable of reasoning, just of spewing random soundbites. And he knows it, so he "had to" patronise Obama both overtly and covertly. And Obama saw right through him. So did many other people worldwide.

Posted by: jochebed | September 27, 2008 10:50 AM | Report abuse

I don't know how others feel, but it really bothered me that McCain has to take an enemy approach where he wouldn't even look at Obama. What would he be like with leaders of foreign countries he doesn't like? On the other hand, I liked how Obama would agree with McCain on what he could agree on and then state where he disagrees. His openness and willingness to agree with a good idea no matter what side of the isle you are on showed him to be more bi-partisan and maybe the change agent we need to unite this country.

Posted by: KKKH1 | September 27, 2008 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Grumpy old man: why is eugenics always market testing titles for his autobiography?

Posted by: EliPeyton | September 27, 2008 10:58 AM | Report abuse

McCain was just like one of those crotchety, bossy, know-it-all, b*ll-scratching coots you'll find at your local VFW. With their pin-bedecked caps bouncing on their heads, they turn red in the face jammering on about how the U.S. of A. should kick this or that other country's butt. Back in their day, no banana republic gave us no lip, we'd nuke ya as soon as look as ya, men were men, and sheep were scared, blah, blah, blah. Bless them for their service, but for God's sake, don't let one of their number make foreign-policy decisions for our nation....

Posted by: greener_pastures | September 27, 2008 11:07 AM | Report abuse

First, let me say that I'm an Obama supporter. I think he did a better job last night.

But I also think that prefacing your remark "he was a grumpy old man" with "I'm going to be politically incorrect" would be no better than someone saying "I'm going to be politically incorrect" and then going on to say "Obama came across like a shuck-and-jive Uncle Tom."

There are plenty of reasons to dislike and criticize McCain. He's got a sore temper, he's scattered, he's got bad policies. Let's stick to that.

Posted by: andrewmcmichael | September 27, 2008 11:30 AM | Report abuse

JeninReno: You don't deserve to be attacked and everyone gets to vote their own vote. But McCain managing to mostly suck-in his erratic behavior for 90 minutes doesn't cancel out the craziness he's displayed for months now. Rushing off to Georgia to bluster about evil Russia and then sending in Cindy (for heaven's sake), cancelling his convention so he could rush down to be photo'd for the first hurricane, then ignoring the second one; cancelling the debate to swoop in to Washington then offering nothing but distraction once he got there. This isn't a man we need at the helm of the country. And while he went the extra mile at the debate to sell the idea that the Presidency absolutely requires his 30 years of military/congressional experience, he picks a VP unqualified both in terms of experience and basic capability. What's there to vote for?

And what's up with his running ads saying he won the debate, not only before the debate happened but even while he was still pretending he might not even go to it. We need a President with some capacity for truthfulness -- especially after the last eight years of lies.

Posted by: noGOP4me | September 27, 2008 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Gene, you're one of my favorites! McCain made me so angry last night I wanted to spit. He was nasty and so unstatesmanlike (Lord help us if he wins). He was genuinely unpleasant and extraordinarily rude. Also, let's stop using McCain's POW status as both his best qualification and his excuse, for among other things, why he can't even look at Obama. Surely, he can turn to face Obama and give him the respect he's certainly due as a candidate for President.

Posted by: wonnellkm | September 27, 2008 11:34 AM | Report abuse

"In terms of substance, there were no knockout blows. (I hate using the prizefight metaphor, which is the oldest cliché in the world, but unfortunately it’s the only metaphor approved for journalistic use in connection with a presidential debate. I don’t write the rules.)"

I never heard of such a rule in journalism. So perhaps you do write the cliché rules, at least for yourself? Or are you resigned to following the journalistic crowd by stenographing the rules like the rest of them?

Although, other commentators aren't using the cliché "prizefight" metaphor. Perhaps they don't know about the "knockout" rule?

Perhaps you are just at a loss of words. Better bone up on your cliché metaphors!

Posted by: kevinschmidt | September 27, 2008 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Mc Cain sounded like Captain Queeg in "The Caine Mutiny" when he was talking about earmarks. Like Captain Queeg obsessing about someone stealing strawberries while turning his ship upside down, Mc Cain obsesses about 18 billion in earmarks while we're spending 10 billion a month in Iraq and wants to give away 300 billion a year to the rich.

As for how he came off, to me he sounded like grampa with his old war stories and "young whippersnapper" riffs. We all love grampa, but we tune out when he tells us the same old war story for the 1000th time, or starts lecturing us about Those Evil People Who Will Get Us If We Dont Wake Up. Also, we're a little worried about grampa driving these days.

We sure as h*ll wouldn't want grampa to be president.

Posted by: renegade1 | September 27, 2008 11:51 AM | Report abuse

It is all very simple. McCain is the candidate of the past and Obama is the candidate of the future.
Funny, how I did not hear McCain even mention the middle class once in the debate.
I also loved when McCain questioned what Obama's definition of rich was - I seem to remember it was over $5 million for McCain.
Does anyone really believe that we need a dinosaur in the executive branch who believes that there is a Pakistani - Iraq border?

Posted by: lasker1895 | September 27, 2008 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Given the extraordinary mess created over the last eight years, the next president is not only going to have to lead, but has to inspire us as well. Could you really say that McCain has an inspirational plan for the U.S? More war and less taxes? Really?

Posted by: zoppie | September 27, 2008 12:17 PM | Report abuse

We are lucky Obama wants to be our President. He is brilliant and could be doing other things than putting himself in a position for us to judge him. This is a once in a lifetime chance and it may not happen again. Vote your conscience, don't look at his skin (sorry, we all know that is still there in about 9-10%?)....He will bring people together, just look at how he did last night (I thought he was way too respectful of the old man). It will take a long time to reverse what McBush and company have done to this country, but better late than never.

Posted by: jalehw | September 27, 2008 12:17 PM | Report abuse

McCain lacks diplomacy skills. He was nasty for no reason. Because McCain can't handle a debate with a fellow American without acting like a juvenile, he can't be trusted to deal with the likes of Putin, Chavez, etc.

Posted by: Plugged-in | September 27, 2008 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Q.: Who do you think was the target audience last night among the 60 million viewers? White men or white women?

If we are deemed to decide our vote on body language, style and demeanor, (forget the brain, the philosophical differences, or world opinion) then men savor the aggressor.

They want brawn, a brawl, a car wreck, a shoot'em out or a shout'em down; they liked McCain who did his level best to personally demean and cower his upstart enemy just a few feet away at the OK coral…ahem podium - vintage cowboy stuff.

I, for one, am sick and tired of cowboys. They're dangerous, hair-triggered and they give me a stomach ache.

Posted by: sillygirl1 | September 27, 2008 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Gene, maybe you're resorting to cliches about McCain because you don't want to think about how Obama performed. Obama's stated misunderstanding of Kissinger's position on diplomatic preconditions was the most important moment of the night. For someone who's supposed to be smart, Obama says a lot of unintelligent things.

Posted by: ThisIsReality | September 27, 2008 12:34 PM | Report abuse

McCain looked like a grumpy, old, prune-faced, midget who was totally unstatesman-like, sarcastic, condescending, and so arrogant and demeaning that he would not even look his opponent in the eye. Obama was a much better debater and showed that he has considerable foreign policy knowledge, an area that was supposed to be McCain’s strong suit. What would McCain do as president? Bring back the cold war with Russia? Start a war with Iran, keep troops in Iraq for 100 years? I am registered as an independent but after this debate I know that I am going to vote for Obama. McCain is too old now and too far out of touch with ordinary people since most people don’t have 11 houses and 13 cars. Still, too bad the Republicans did not choose him back in 2000 when he was in his element. He would have made a much better president than the dimwitted Dubya.

Posted by: russ_broadway | September 27, 2008 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Obama proved that he has the ability to represent the United States in a gracious manner, while McCain displayed a rude, grouchy inability to even look at his opponent. We NEED Obama to bring us back into the community of nations-- McCain's sneers showed that he would be an even worse diplomat than Bush. We cannot afford four more years of a contemptous, disdainful attitude toward those who might not agree with us on everything.

Posted by: july3 | September 27, 2008 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Let me guess. Eugene thinks Barack won the debate. I guarantee he also thinks Obama won the won the next debate, and the next.

I'd stay and actually read his column, but now I have to check and see who Rush Limbaugh believes came out on top.

Posted by: jd5024 | September 27, 2008 12:43 PM | Report abuse

This mindless stumping for Obama by the author is pathetic.

Posted by: Hawaiian_Gecko | September 27, 2008 12:44 PM | Report abuse

I was very put off by the condescension of John McCain. His lack of respect for Obama, almost treating like he was non-existent, spoke volumes about how he would treat anyone in the world theater who disagrees with his views. Haven't we had enough of the "you're either with us or against us" "cowboy" mindset in our country? How many more people in the world do we need to tick off with this attitude? I thought that Obama was a class act and more professional in demeanor. Neither candidate could be declared a hugely decisive winner in this debate, but for me I'll take professionalism and diplomacy any day of the week over just plain RUDENESS.

Posted by: ellen12 | September 27, 2008 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Your analysis of this debate hits the mark Mr. Robinson. I am a Democrat and I support Obama. That said, I do respect McCain's record of reaching across the aisle to get things done in an era of ridiculous partisan gridlock. I think it was McCain's icy, smirking demeanor that bothered me the most. These subjects are serious and the old senator seemed to have no respect at all for the candidate across this election aisle. Obama, on the other hand, annoyed me by saying McCain is right about too many things. At this time is it not apparent that the Iraq War should end and attention should be paid to matters at home with some urgency? Neither of them seemed to get that or they were playing it down to give Congress time to work it out.

Posted by: darby124 | September 27, 2008 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Well, we had our Debate Watch Party last night. Five of us watched together, and what we saw was pretty odd. At first I couldn't figure what it was--but here's the key. McCain is running by rote. He had memorized certain sarcastic lines--"Barack just doesn't understand, " etc. The trouble is that only works when there is some grain of truth in it. When a comment like that is followed up by an extremely cogent answer from Obama, it plain does't work.

Running by rote means he can't be distracted by even looking at his opponent. When Chris Matthews took audience reaction, asking why McCain never once looked at Obama, a young girl said she thought he was scared--frightened he would lose his temper. Many thought he was arrogant. One commentator thought he needed to make his opponent into an enemy in order to get psyched up. He refused to acknowledge that he was on stage for a debate with a person who had earned the right to be there.

Running by rote means McCain never explained his catch phrases. Reform? What reforms? Earmarks, as Obama pointed out, are not the major source of the problem. They are only a symptom of it. McCain threw out canned lines with no explanation or even a step two in terms of action. Obama has always thought his ideas through. He recognizes logical consequences. We have lots of "step twos" from Obama.

Running by rote means McCain sheds crocodile tears about how he loves the veterans and will take care of them, but conveniently ignores his terrible record on veterans affairs. His strong opposition to the GI Bill and the fact that he avoided the vote are strong indications that he just plain doesn't mind lying. Tell a mother that you will keep up a war so her son would not have died in vain. That sounds dramatic, but it means you would never end a war. It's a fallacy. As Chris Matthews pointed out, the Korean War was settled. Does that mean all those who died sacrificed in vain? No. As Barack Obama pointed out (and this should have received much more notice by the pundits), NO American soldier dies in vain. He or she has given their life generously and willingly for all of us. If McCain gave what he was saying one second's thought he would realize the size of the sacrifice is not dependent on the success of the mission.

Having a candidate who runs by rote is pretty dangerous. It means that whenever circumstances change domestically or in the world arena, he won't recognize it. He'll just keep on whatver track is in his mindm with no concept of realit.That explains his running around like a chicken with his head cut off during the recent financial crisis. His stock phrases didn't work. They haven't worked. Getting people to lie for you and say you were effective during the White Meeting won't cut it. People know that isn't true.

We CANNOT be let by a robot. Maybe it won't destroy us, but we'll be awfully lucky if it doesn't. I just don't feel that lucky, myself.

Posted by: Raconteuse | September 27, 2008 1:06 PM | Report abuse

John McCain clearly won the debate last night.

Baracky Hussein Obama seemed to be extremely nervous.

Democrats for John McCain and Sarah Palin in 2008.

Posted by: hclark1 | September 27, 2008 1:09 PM | Report abuse

I watched the entire debate. Obama came across as the grownup, and McCain (even though he is actually a quarter of a century older) came across at times as childish. Both did fairly well on substance, but McCain had far more 'filler' words in his reactions. Obama can get an astonishing number of intelligent points compressed into two minutes. Giving credit to your opponent when you agree, as Obama did, is a sign of strength and not weakness.

Posted by: cwh2 | September 27, 2008 1:10 PM | Report abuse

John McCain was what his base needed him to be last night...sneering, dismissive and contemptuous. Republicans need enemies, know how to go to war and know how to maintain an utter disregard, as we saw last night, for their enemy.

What Republicans lack is empathy. Ironically that is what General Petraeus (who McCain coopted) recognized was needed to "to win" in Iraq, though he doesn't like to use the term. Empathy is what I thought I saw Obama stand up for. He was willing to accept points that MCcain made. (I accepted them as well) He did a good job of enduring McCain's attacks while at the same time not being a pushover.

I think the country has to decide whether or not they want another leader that will take us to war (on an impulse I fear) or one that will truly seek to understand and avoid war whereever and whenever possible.

Posted by: stephenvvv | September 27, 2008 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Where was V.P. candidate Sarah after the debate? Biden was on every network which is typical for a running mate to do. Sarah's handlers must be keeping her stunning intellect under wraps, lest she seem 'elitist.' Sarah must be cramming hard somewhere to get ready for those tricky questions like, "What is an economy?" She looked like a babbling idiot with Katie Couric on CBS. Scary, a person so out of their depth just a heartbeat away from the presidency behind an old man with one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel. Scary.
McCain / Palin
Unstable / Unable.

Just ask George Will and Laura Bush, they agree.

Posted by: darby124 | September 27, 2008 1:28 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Robinson this is the best you have? Yes McCain is old. Where is your negative comment about youth? As a typical democrat you interpret a grumpy person as someone who speaks the truth. You guys didn't your candidate being called out on the carpet. If no one agrees with you its negative. You are all for the message but Lord knows (oops that's right you guys dont't believe in God) just in Obama the next coming of Karl Marx. Plain and simple McCain cooked your man. Even up you can never win. You always need manipulate the truth and spin everything in the next Chris's favor. Oh I didn't say that. Yes he did. Oh, I didn't mean that. Yes he did. Hope you enjoy your new taxes because democrats are not going to be immune. Enjoy the health care when you deal with someone who has the compasion of someone from the Motor Vehcile Administration. I genuinly feel sorry for all of you cool aid drinkers.

Posted by: mommyshakes | September 27, 2008 1:30 PM | Report abuse

The debate had no knockout punches, but I think that Senator McCain attitude in the debate was I'll do all the talking, stop wasting my time, shut up and listen to my life back in time, plus I don't care to listen to your opinion. As a 50plus voter, seniors need to recognize when it is time to sit back in the rocker and let the young fresh minds take over. John McCain message last night was I am entitle to be President because I have been around longer than you OBAMA.
Also enough about the POW stories, McCain, we feel your pain, we respect your service and we applaud you for coming through that period. However, this is the 21st century, majority of the voters pain is their pocketbook and you and your republican government has short change us all including your comrads...IT's time to retire to Alaska McCain and take Palin with you.

Posted by: ClintonVoter4Obama | September 27, 2008 1:34 PM | Report abuse

As usual Robinson shows his claptrap bias and racism. He should be happy that idiots like Chris Mathews and Keith Olberman all were'nt asking the questions. From his skewed comments, I don't believe Robinson even watched the debate and had his column maqde jup in advance.

Posted by: nmg3rln | September 27, 2008 1:37 PM | Report abuse

McCain came out as somebody who was afraid to look Obama in the eyes. Not only that the threatrics he put forth in the past week weakened him as a fighter. For one he mentioned that he was not going to debate until a bill was passed. He had to eat his words. He was basically thrown out of town by his peers in the seanate and the house. His presence in Washington on Friday morning made one senator comment, "somebody please ask John McCain to leave town". Overall McCain has really no marbles left in his pocket to play. He wants to run back to Washington only because he does not want to walk around town with Sarah Palin beside him after her flop in the CBS interview. It is going to be very interesting to watch the McPhony/Palin duo hit the streets next week.

Posted by: JohnMcCormick | September 27, 2008 1:38 PM | Report abuse

My impression of Obama is that he started weakly, but gained strength as time went on. It is clear that Obama has enormous amounts of information in his head and sometimes struggles to sort what fact he needs to present.
McCain was never strong, and bit of a toddy. McCain to relies more on assertions and stories, rather than cogent arguments. I have seem McCain do much better in the past.
Obama was strongest when he discussed and defended his methods of negotiation with foreign leaders. This exchange produced a strong finish for Obama. Overall, Obama gets B and McCain gets a D.
My wife felt that McCain evidenced health problems such as uncontrolled nervousness.
I predict that Obama will gain about two percentage points in the polls from this debate. We'll see.

Posted by: peterroach | September 27, 2008 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Eugene Robinson has done it again. A wonderfully written column. It was a delight to hear him on MSNBC last night after the debate.

McCain cannot look Obama in the eye. Does this mean that he is not telling the truth. Remember when your mother said, "Look me in the eye and say that"? Yes, McCain has ego and confidence problems. Obama clearly is presidential. He is the man we need to forge ahead in the 21st century. We need more friends in the world and fewer "grumpy old men."

Posted by: EarlC | September 27, 2008 2:01 PM | Report abuse

The debate shows McCain's true temperment hasty, angry and impulsive. At one point I thought he might start banging the rostrum, emphasizing, incorrectly, how Obama would sit down, without preconditions, across from Ahmadinejad. He wanted desperately to portray Obama what he was not. Just simply lied. But Obama was there and he kept throwing it back into McCain's face. McCain does not like Obama and the fact that some freshman is senator is taking him to the cleaners. It was glaringly obvious that McCain was like some schoolkid pouting and not looking at Obama.
Obama slipped up a few times and should have taken McCain to task when McCain said we need a spending freeze or McCain talking about earmarks of 3 million. The biggest and most glaring waste of tax moneys is the waste in Iraq. And if Obama said to McCain you want a spending freeze in this country and yet you are willing to dole out to Iraq billions, give the American break, will you.

Posted by: MikeQ2 | September 27, 2008 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Sen. McCain's behavior last night was classic McCain. He's terrible in a debate and failed to bring anything to a debate other than innuendo and snide comments. I would have liked to see Sen. Obama give him a knock out punch especially after McCain's reference to earmark spending. The bears in Montana? What about the crabs in Alaska? The bridge and road to nowhere? No mention of those earmarks debacles and I wonder why? Sen. McCain is really not that smart. He showed his true self last night more as a brawler than a person who is thoughtful or contemplative. I image John McCain great in a bar fight or passing beer around at a beech party, but as President…? Oh God No! We’ve had that guy for eight years, it’s time for some Chardonnay and Caviar!

Posted by: Ahsay | September 27, 2008 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Yes, folks, Eugene Robinson likes "affability."

In 2000, Robinson supported George W. Bush and ridiculed Al Gore, because Bush was more "affable."

So much for Robinson's "judgement," eh?

Posted by: auntmo9990 | September 27, 2008 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Nice post, Gene. Maybe your cronies across the hall at the Editorial page should learn something about fair play, ethics and decency. Hiatt and his merry band of neocon-zionist propaganda meisters thought McCain was just dandy and clobbered Obama with his snide, arrogant, conceited, evasive, derision ridden and snotty attitude. I guess that's even more politically incorrect than merely calling him "grumpy", which is far too kind.

Posted by: LucyLou1 | September 27, 2008 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Calling McCain Grumpy is putting it mildly. This time the Commentariat had it right - McCain came across as mean, disrespectful, dismissive and condescending and he now wants us to believe that he is best suited to reaching across party lines. No wonder Thad Cochran, an ultra conservative didn't want McCain to have his finger on the red button!

Posted by: vmadhavan1 | September 27, 2008 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Was I the only who noted that when McCain started listing the countries where he, maverick that he is, broke with the fold in order to prevent "genocide" - and actually said "in Europe."

Unfortunately, Obama, even if he picked up on that geographically specific note, is constrained by his "blackness" and can't allow the word "Africa" to flow from his lips. If so, perhaps he could have asked Maverick John how hard he fought to save lives in Rwanda. "in Africa"

Posted by: eclecticelder | September 27, 2008 2:48 PM | Report abuse

The only thing that can be said about the debate is that MCain came out with the aura of a looser.

Posted by: walker1 | September 27, 2008 2:53 PM | Report abuse

I concede that McCain has knowledge and experience. However, the President of the United States must negotiate with Congress, allies and enemies. McCain refused to look Obama in the eyes and was contemptuous. This is not presidential, it is not diplomatic and it is not leadership.

One thing this week proved is that McCain is not a leader even within his own party. He went to Washington to unite his party and, so far, has shown no ability to do so. He alienates rather than unites and has throughout his career.

John McCain doesn't have the temperament to lead this country and that would be true even if he weren't old.

Can you imagine how the Republicans would act if Joe Biden treated Sarah Palin in this same manner? It was a disgrace.

Posted by: feebee | September 27, 2008 2:57 PM | Report abuse

senator mccain's demeanor shows of one not being able to be trusted.his demeanor is of one being an idiot.he will run the country the same way as george bush is managing it.

Posted by: ronaldtennillegeorgia1 | September 27, 2008 3:10 PM | Report abuse

I don't care what McCain thinks of Obama. A decent human being would treat the nominee of the other party, an elected senator like himself, with basic civility.

In any other setting, Obama would have been within his rights to say "Senator, I don't care what you think of me, but I have every right to be here, and if you can't look at me when I am talking to you, you are no gentleman and have no business being president. You can criticize my lack of experience as compared with yours, but if you keep acting like it's beneath you to share a stage with me, there won't be two more debates."

Posted by: JoeT1 | September 27, 2008 3:21 PM | Report abuse

McCain's disdain for Obama that he showed last night at the debate is a proof of his racism, pure and simple. Does anyone really think McCain would dare to be that dismissive and contemptuous towards any white candidates? Absolutely not.

Posted by: motherforobama | September 27, 2008 3:38 PM | Report abuse

So, being a nice guy is a precondition for being the President of the United States?

1. I don't want a "nice guy" as President.
2. I don't want a "regular guy" as President.

Jimmy Carter was both. How did that work out?

Why do the analysts believe that being a regular American is the impression that the candidates should try to give us, while they simultaneously write columns that mock and dismiss regular Americans as simple and out of touch? (check out the analysis of Sarah Palin) I am pretty smart, and I want both of them to be orders of magnitude smarter than that.

(and for a bonus that will never happen)

3. I really want Mr. Robinson to write just one op-ed based in
something other than his irrational distain for all things
Republican. It insults the readers to believe we can't see his
writing for what it is: bitter, partisan, and condescending.

Posted by: caruso838 | September 27, 2008 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Robinson is now an expert in body language and affability. You actually get paid for this drivel?

Posted by: hoimacoach | September 27, 2008 3:45 PM | Report abuse

I don't think that the debate will tilt any decided voters to the other side.

However, I do think that John McCain's presence, defensive body language and condescending disrespect will turn alot of the undecided voters off. It is just too reminescent of the devisiveness that has plagued Capital Hill for the last 8 years. It did not cast even a hint of "change" or "bipartisanship".

Posted by: concernedaboutdc | September 27, 2008 3:47 PM | Report abuse

My summary of the debate and the campaign:

“Senator McCain just doesn’t understand” that the American people are not as stupid as he would like them to be!

Posted by: DrSeuss1 | September 27, 2008 3:50 PM | Report abuse

It never ceases to amaze me that the party which clearly represents the "haves" against the "have-nots" uses resentment as its main emotional motivator. And that, I suppose, explains why they might not regard "grumpiness" as a drawback in a candidate.

Posted by: officermancuso | September 27, 2008 4:13 PM | Report abuse

At my age I should no longer expect miracles. When both candidates touted "change" and "reaching across the aisle", I almost believed that this election would be different.
The first debate strongly showed that only one candidate is willing to work nicely with others for the good of all. Sen. Obama's compliments to Sen. McCain were a gracious gesture. McCain's obvious distain for anything Obama is the height of rudeness. That is the most UN-Christian act I have ever witnessed...not to even acknowledge the other's presence during the entire debate. He's dangerous!

Posted by: sagalin | September 27, 2008 5:01 PM | Report abuse

I've never in my life seen an individual actually shake someone's hand without looking at that person. I did last night. There are pictures all over the Web showing McSame looking everywhere but at Senator Obama. How rude. Evidently, his Mother never taught him manners.

I for one would like to see him explain his "bomb, bomb, bomb Iran" song.

This country is doomed if McCain/Palin are voted in.

Posted by: capone1 | September 27, 2008 5:03 PM | Report abuse

What scares me more than "more of the same from McCain" is, what if somethig should happen to him and the bumbling idiot he chose as a VEEP in order to try to get me, a Hillary supporter - which isn't ever going to happen, has to take office?. My gosh, she can't even put coherent sentences together to make sense! As a woman, I would like to see a woman in the White House but not this woman. If she thinks her foreign policy experience is due to her proximity to Russia and a border with Canada we are all in trouble if this ticket wins. Maybe she should just resign and state that she needs to spend more time with her infant and pregnant teenage daughter, no one would fault her for that, she may even get some credit. I REALLY am looking forward to VP debates. Funny thing, I hear all kinds of Republicans moaning and groaning about how she is out of her league. Go back to your 80% favorable rating in Alaksa and leave the national scene alone!

Posted by: KKKH1 | September 27, 2008 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Senator McCain was noticably nerveous, shakey and sounded and looked desperate most of the time too. He miserably failed to draw a contrast and offer solid policies of his own as best solutions or approach when he accused senator Obama that HE DOES NOT UNDERSTAND,. Senator McCain was disrespectful to say the least.

Faramarz Fathi

Posted by: frft5 | September 27, 2008 5:13 PM | Report abuse

Yes he did and he looked desperate too. If people think his displayed strength, I think it showed weakness, the same thing we have today. Too stubborn to listen.

Posted by: KKKH1 | September 27, 2008 5:19 PM | Report abuse

All of this disgraceful anti-McCain blabbering MIGHT hold some degree of credibility for a reader if, number one, it weren't just a string of illiterate and angry slander and if it weren't also true that the naive and inexperienced Obama and his run for President, IS in fact, presumptuous, not also taking into account that it was he, who was the disrespectful one for calling a National Hero and Senior Statesman (to whom he is far junior), by his FIRST name! THAT'S not only disrespectful, but disdainful and shows that you might dress him up with a fancy Harvard degree, but Obama still lacks the basic honorable core and sense of manners and protocol to ever be considered Presidential. It makes you wonder if that is the kind of decorum that we could expect from him in addressing the ranking Military, Foreign Dignitaries and World Leaders. I think it also gives some insight into why he thought it was alright to undermine our country and gamble with the lives of our troops by trying to negotiate with the leader of Iraq to stall any troop withdrawals until after the elections, just so he could get elected. Not only does the man have no shame, he is also VERY elitist, sloppy and as McCAIN said, DANGEROUS.

Posted by: rbrtah | September 27, 2008 5:23 PM | Report abuse

how IS McCain supposed to take obama seriously? mccain was standing opposite a man who thinks that sounding polished in a debate us what it means to be president.

Posted by: dummypants | September 27, 2008 5:23 PM | Report abuse

Mr Robinson, does it make you grumpy to be a tired old party hack.

Posted by: noelpautsky | September 27, 2008 5:24 PM | Report abuse

the other important body language point: seeing obama's face sullen as a convict in a mugshot when mccain was exposing him on national security and his extreme liberal record.

i've never seen obama's face like that. he is usually really good at starting off into the distance and seeming above it all. but at those crucial points when mccain was carving him up, it really seemed like mccain's attacks were weighing on obama.

Posted by: dummypants | September 27, 2008 5:29 PM | Report abuse

John McCain states he is for veterans? Look at his voting record. John McCain skipped close to a dozen votes on Iraq, and on at least another 10 occasions, he voted against arming and equipping the troops, providing adequate rest for the troops between deployments and for health care or other benefits for veterans.

In mid 2007, Senator Reid noted that McCain missed 10 of the past 14 votes on Iraq. However, here is a summary of a dozen votes (two that he missed and ten that he voted against) with respect to Iraq, funding for veterans or for troops, including equipment and armor.

September 2007: McCain voted against the Webb amendment calling for adequate troop rest between deployments. At the time, nearly 65% of people polled in a CNN poll indicted that "things are going either moderately badly or very badly in Iraq.

July 2007: McCain voted against a plan to drawdown troop levels in Iraq. At the time, an ABC poll found that 63% thought the invasion was not worth it, and a CBS News poll found that 72% of respondents wanted troops out within 2 years.

March 2007: McCain was too busy to vote on a bill that would require the start of a drawdown in troop levels within 120 days with a goal of withdrawing nearly all combat troops within one year. Around this time, an NBC News poll found that 55% of respondents indicated that the US goal of achieving victory in Iraq is not possible. This number has not moved significantly since then.

February 2007: For such a strong supporter of the escalation, McCain didn’t even bother to show up and vote against a resolution condemning it. However, at the time a CNN poll found that only 16% of respondents wanted to send more troops to Iraq (that number has since declined to around 10%), while 60% said that some or all should be withdrawn. This number has since gone up to around 70%.

June 2006: McCain voted against a resolution that Bush start withdrawing troops but with no timeline to do so.

May 2006: McCain voted against an amendment that would provide $20 million to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for health care facilities.

April 2006: McCain was one of only 13 Senators to vote against $430,000,000 for the Department of Veteran Affairs for Medical Services for outpatient care and treatment for veterans.

March 2006: McCain voted against increasing Veterans medical services funding by $1.5 billion in FY 2007 to be paid for by closing corporate tax loopholes.

March 2004: McCain once again voted for abusive tax loopholes over veterans when he voted against creating a reserve fund to allow for an increase in Veterans' medical care by $1.8 billion by eliminating abusive tax loopholes. Jeez, McCain really loves those tax loopholes for corporations, since he voted for them over our veterans' needs.

October 2003: McCain voted to table an amendment by Senator Dodd that called for an additional $322,000,000 for safety equipment for United States forces in Iraq and to reduce the amount provided for reconstruction in Iraq by $322,000,000.

April 2003: McCain urged other Senate members to table a vote (which never passed) to provide more than $1 billion for National Guard and Reserve equipment in Iraq related to a shortage of helmets, tents, bullet-proof inserts, and tactical vests.

August 2001: McCain voted against increasing the amount available for medical care for veterans by $650,000,000. To his credit, he also voted against the 2001 Bush tax cuts, which he now supports making permanent, despite the dire financial condition this country is in, and despite the fact that he indicated in 2001 that these tax cuts unfairly benefited the very wealthy at the expense of the middle class.

Posted by: KKKH1 | September 27, 2008 5:39 PM | Report abuse

As an Obama partisan (by default, a couple of preferences ago) I still turned off the TV last night thinking Obama had blown it. Instead of getting in McCain's face when he kept willfully misinterpreting his stands, Obama just kept looking at the moderator to step in and correct the lies. (Please, Obama, stand on your own two feet.) Frankly, I was disappointed in Obama's lack of gumption. (However, at 67 I take gumption as a right, along with grumpiness. Someone in his early 40's might not.)

As for McCain's condesention, disdeign, or whatever: I'm a white guy but, to me, McCain's inability to acknowledge Obama directly was pure classism and racism. As in, Obama wasn't even worthy of his direct attention because Obama was an it, not a person. Obama was "one of them." "One of those whom I've never had to mix with at the club. One of those whom I've damn-well never had to convince of anything: They just better damn-well accept that I'm right. They should do and think what I say, since they're incapable of figuring it out for themselves. They are so beneath me. My friends, can't you see that? What in hell is he doing up here with me? Me!"

Of course, that's how we humans tend to treat our enemies. And that's how McCain (a la Bush/Cheyey) will approach foreign policy.

Obama may have fumbled this debate (in my estimation), but we can't afford to have McCain fumbling our foreign relations. Whoever won last night, I hope Obama wins in November.

Posted by: GalapagoLarry | September 27, 2008 5:44 PM | Report abuse

Where did the Democrats dredge up this candidate? He has to be the most ill-prepared,naive, inexperienced candidate to be foisted upon the American electorate.He is second to Chris Dodd on the list of Senators who received contributions from Freddie and Fannie. Surely he will return the money now that they are defunct. His mentor Franklin Raines made off with 94,000,000 in severance pay.He can bring change? Ludicrous!

Posted by: tsapp77 | September 27, 2008 5:46 PM | Report abuse

With all due respect, we didn't dig him up anywhere, he was LEGALLY voted to the top. I guess the party of McCain can't say the same. NOT ONCE - NOT ONCE ever did John McCain talk address people like me, the middle class - or that's where I was before Bush came into office. McCain's attitude doesn't carry well here in the Heartland - we are NICE people.

Posted by: KKKH1 | September 27, 2008 5:55 PM | Report abuse

Where did the Democrats dredge up this candidate? He has to be the most ill-prepared,naive, inexperienced candidate to be foisted upon the American electorate.He is second to Chris Dodd on the list of Senators who received contributions from Freddie and Fannie. Surely he will return the money now that they are defunct. His mentor Franklin Raines made off with 94,000,000 in severance pay.He can bring change? Ludicrous!

Posted by: tsapp77 | September 27, 2008 5:58 PM | Report abuse

Since you found you had to post it twice, Obama is MUCH MORE experienced thanSarah Palin, she can't put a coherent sentence forwad. Now, that you should scare you.

Posted by: KKKH1 | September 27, 2008 6:06 PM | Report abuse

Since you found you had to post it twice, Obama is MUCH MORE experienced than Sarah Palin, she can't put a coherent sentence forwad. Now, that you should scare you should something happen to the oldest man that has ever run for the office.

Posted by: KKKH1 | September 27, 2008 6:06 PM | Report abuse

mccain was a grumpy old pitt bull in lipstick with a horrible attitude not at all presidential in any way whatsoever.

Posted by: smorrow | September 27, 2008 6:14 PM | Report abuse

How can the McCain campaign put out commecercials DURING the debate that he won, how arrogant is that? There was no win in my opinon, each man did what they had to do for their base. But I implore them both for the next debate, quit pandering to votes you already have and go for the gusto - the ones you don't.

Posted by: KKKH1 | September 27, 2008 6:14 PM | Report abuse

John McCain displayed palpable contempt for Barack Obama. Mere survival (even political) does not confer any great skill, one could do it in a closet. McCain reminds me of so many other elderly folks who think they are brilliant sages just because they continue to breathe.

Posted by: merrill1 | September 27, 2008 6:14 PM | Report abuse

You are right. I apologize for the choice of words in the first sentence. However, I do stand by my assertion about Obama's lack of experience and preparation and his taking of large contributions from the mortgage lenders.

I too am from middle American, and we too are nice people. Please accept my apology.

Posted by: tsapp77 | September 27, 2008 6:18 PM | Report abuse

Oh dear, in this debate Obama looked like whimpering little kid, standing there going "that's not true" "that's not true" . interrupting John McCain constantly - calm down little boy, you do get your chance to defend yourself! He looked foolish to say the least, John McCain is old, and he was nervous, and he was passionate, knowledgeable, and most importantly RIGHT. and yes, he did look tired - he has been working on fixing our economy - which he is doing today as well, while obama is giving his empty speeches criticizing mccain for working for people not for himself. please, obama is going down rapidly, and your fake poll numbers, in which you're using 800 people and 20 % of them are republican - are not gonna change who's gonna take the white house -MCCAIN/PALIN ALL THE WAY

Posted by: maria32 | September 27, 2008 6:19 PM | Report abuse

maria32, my dear, you're delusional.

Posted by: codysea | September 27, 2008 6:28 PM | Report abuse

McCain still believes he is a military man. Since Obama is not a military man I suspect McCain treated him with disrespect. I was once a military man who worked around active military men. These men seemed to be uncomfortable and do not treat you as one of them. However, I served in the military as a draftee and moved on to be an auditor who worked for the military, but my military past was not known to them. McCain graduated at the bottom of his class in military academy. Obama was a 4.0 student at Columbia and Harvard. For me, Obama has the edge. McCain is just a grumpy old man who will not be in the White House.

Posted by: truth1 | September 27, 2008 6:46 PM | Report abuse

I felt McCain's contempt, and it made me feel contempt - for McCain.
I already feel this way about his president and his party, as much as I feel for congress.

I'm tired of contempt, I'm tired of feeling it and I'm tired of the politicians in my country who feel nothing but contempt for us.

There was only the slimmest chance I could vote for McCain after his choice of Palin for VP, now there is no chance.

Obama didn't change my mind about anything, good or bad. I still don't know that I can vote for someone so liberal in his policies, and he didn't convince me that I should.

I will vote for Obama only as a last-ditch effort to do my part to keep McCain and the republicans out of power ... if I can see the he will win without my vote, I'm going to vote third party. Obama didn't make the sale with me.

Posted by: barferio | September 27, 2008 6:46 PM | Report abuse

Thank you tsapp77, I was just trying to get people to understand the truth of the debates. Look for substance first, personality second. I don't think John McCain looks at me or people like me inthe same light as those who can create jobs. But let me say this, its great to create jobs if you have people to work them. And I am not talking about outsourcing or illegal immigrants, I am taling about Americans for these jobs. I am so tired of calling customer service for several companies I am associated with and getting someone from India or the Phillippines. We have more than enough qualified Americans, such as myself, to fulfill these jobs. I tell many of them, I don't understand you its not you - its me, I am American. I keep calling until I can finally get through to someone I can understand.

Posted by: KKKH1 | September 27, 2008 6:52 PM | Report abuse

There is a long list of conservatives that I as a whiteman do not consider racist. Even the political bigot Hannity does not seem racist. He does't care if you are a black conservative or white conservative, AS LONG AS YOU AGREE WITH HIS LIMITED POLITICAL VISION. In fact I think very few white conservatives are racist. Even though the serial adulterer VC propagandist has a Bangla Deshi daughter, I believe for some reason that McCain does not like AAs. This might account for his opposing the Martin Luther King holiday. Of course I am not sure about it and I do not like to throw around the term "racist" loosely. His multimillionaire wife decided on the Dakha daughter unilaterally- the story goes she decided without asking him.
But its more that it is AAs I think he dislikes. It is very old fashioned of course but our non-conforming maverick is from another era. JUST BECAUSE IT IS WRONG TO SAY ANYONE WHO ATTACKS Barack is racist, does not mean nobody is racist to Barack. Clearly just commonsense indicates that some (not all of course) opposition to Obama is racist. Of course some people are even if they are a minority. (Incidentally some call Barack racist with impunity and that is supposed to be OK)

I happen to think that the rude hostility of the old womaniser towards family-man Barack is indeed rooted in out of date maverick ethnocentricity. The old stick-in-the-mud looked like he resented sharing the stage with Obama. He is from another era. Of course not all GOP people are racist. Of course not all Obama critics are racist. Of course not. But to say none of them are is just as irrational as saying all of them are.
I happen to think old Mr Creepy wife deserter is in fact racist. It accounts for the flagrant rudeness.

Posted by: BobGuthrie | September 27, 2008 6:55 PM | Report abuse

I honestly dont' think McCain is a racist, I just think he is out of touch with America.What worked in the 70's just doesn't cut it today. Thankfully, most of our children are not racists. But we do have to acknowledge that their still are some out there. Its the ISSUES we should be concerned with and the fact that McCain was so cold and to treat an American as the enemy totally turns me off.

Posted by: KKKH1 | September 27, 2008 7:01 PM | Report abuse

You know, my personal opinion of the bailout should be this: give the money to the American people to pay their bills. Once that happens everyone is fine again, banks/mortgage companies get paid, people stay in their homes and the econpmy goes on. To think that the goverment should buy defaulted loans is so stupid. Wall Street prospers when Main Street spends money. Give us the money to spend and dig our way out of debt!

Posted by: KKKH1 | September 27, 2008 7:12 PM | Report abuse

What struck me that despite John being 894th at he Naval Academy, that he looked like a cerebral academic as compared to Sarah who is palin' into insignificance... the bounce has gone from the deflated hockey ball (I realise they are not inflatable).

By the way does John's much touted experience include any experiences in Saigon's red light district? I mean he is a self-confessed womaniser. Are we meant to assume he was, as a womaniser, a chaste goody goody when thousands of others were not? I reckon that he might well have been as creepy then as his smile is now.

Posted by: BobGuthrie | September 27, 2008 7:15 PM | Report abuse

She is just totally incompentent.What else has to be said?

Posted by: KKKH1 | September 27, 2008 7:22 PM | Report abuse

If you're going to blast McCain or Obama and end your post with whichever candidate you already supported, can you keep that to yourself today?

McCain has the die-hard republicans, Obama has the die-hard democrats .. for the most part this is true for both candidates.

What are the independents thinking today?

Posted by: barferio | September 27, 2008 7:32 PM | Report abuse

i too heard sen. mccain snickering during sen. obama's responses. i found it very childish and disrespectful. also, the fact that mccain refused to look at obama even as he was being addressed by a colleague was disappointing. the look on mccain's face throughout the debate was that he did not believe that obama was even qualified to be on the same stage with him. to me, that was an attempt to belittle or make obama seem insignificant. kind of like the very wealthy (budweiser anyone?)who avert their eyes when they accidentally come in close proximity to their household staff. can you say ELITIST?

Posted by: smartchick1 | September 27, 2008 7:32 PM | Report abuse

you spelled Philippines wrong. but lets face it: we used the Filipinos when we had the archipelago as a colony. Since they are very loyal to us, do you begrudge our pro-American brothers a few jobs? ITS RULED BY MARKET FORCES. Are we not a free market economy or only when it suits us?

Nagpapasalamat ako'y tungkol sa Pilipinas.

Have you bothered to learn one word of our ex-colony's language? Well they learned our language well enough to get those jobs.

Posted by: BobGuthrie | September 27, 2008 7:34 PM | Report abuse

No, my mother was born there and left when the Japs took hold of their house. Excuse me for a misspelling, still doesn't change the facts.

Posted by: KKKH1 | September 27, 2008 7:40 PM | Report abuse

AND we have had enough Americans kidnapped under their rule so "my heart pumps pee for them" They haven't protected any American on their soil for years. My grandfather had to fight for his rights with the US Military for his support of the US. I have seen all the correspondence between them and believe you me, that did not make that process easy.

Posted by: KKKH1 | September 27, 2008 7:45 PM | Report abuse

C'mon, McCain! It's common human decency to look at someone when you talk to them!
My grandfather is old, wise and in many ways very stubborn.
I disagree with a lot of what he says, but in all the years I've known him, he always looked people in the eye when talking to them, AND he would likely cuff me if I had the disrespect to keep turned away while addressing him!

Posted by: middler | September 27, 2008 7:47 PM | Report abuse

Walk into anywhere USA tomorrow morning and start every conversation your involved with by NOT looking at the people you talk to, see what kind of response you get. Take notes, because that's what we'll be dealing with if we chose this arrogant, spiteful man for our next President.

Posted by: middler | September 27, 2008 7:54 PM | Report abuse

Why should we begrudge them jobs? These are US based companies, if they have to outsource then there is something fundamentally wrong. WE HAVE people losing their homes due to job loss, how can we responsible give jobs away to foreign countries, even if they are allies? We should be about AMERICA FIRST!

Posted by: KKKH1 | September 27, 2008 7:54 PM | Report abuse

John Mc Cain looked and sounded like GRANDPA SIMPSON on that podium

"Hey kid want me to tell you aboiut the war - and my old mate Henry? that you Charlie....????"

Posted by: colinemery | September 27, 2008 7:59 PM | Report abuse

Mc Cain says he is a maverick and for change - he then adopts a strategy like the last 8 years neo cons of agression and then spouts of war stuff and cites Kissenger as a example of his foreign policy direction - Call that change...yes vote for the geriatrics and the bimbo and go back in time....Granpa Simpson meets Dr Strangelove..Or is it Grandpa SDimpson meets Rachel Welch in 1,000,000 BC...that will solve all the crap the previous clowns created a spun dry new version of the old..

Posted by: colinemery | September 27, 2008 8:05 PM | Report abuse

John McCain, which I used to respect has lost me as an independent when he chose the bimbo - token VP, how insulting to educated women.

Posted by: KKKH1 | September 27, 2008 8:08 PM | Report abuse

KKKK I think John mC Cain and Palin as a choice for leadership is not just a insult to educated women ..but tooo all Americans and the world....after the last 8 years to have this team and to have Mc Cain caarying on like he is at the debate and at the white house bailout sessions (his comments re the world - Putin KGB eyes etc) is targeting a IQ lower than my puppy and chuildren..."Heal boy Heal - Kids get off the grass and come into the house"...

Posted by: colinemery | September 27, 2008 8:15 PM | Report abuse

No country for grumpy old men. Vote Obama, he's a ten!

Posted by: sunrise2 | September 27, 2008 8:18 PM | Report abuse

I think, based on the number of times he had the final word, and based on how long he has been a friend of Kissinger, McCain won. The question is: How does that help him? It was an expensive win: he had to patronize Obama several times and produced that Heath Ledger grin on his face several times after winning dumb arguments, like who has travelled Minor Asia the most often (of course you travelled most poppy)? McCain can revel in his victory. But for those people who were not sure he is the best person to run our country in times of (mostly) peace, he did not help himself.

Posted by: RegisUrgel | September 27, 2008 8:19 PM | Report abuse

I like your posts buddy
but Americans have exploited their women for a very long time and the Foreign Forces law wherein GI s can do as they wish without being under Filipino law is a disgrace. As part-Filipino why are you less on their side than me a white aMERICAN? i don't get it.
Heaps of Filipinos died for us in ww2 or don't you know Philippine history. If you can't speak any of your mother's language (which I have bothered to learn), it is nothing to boast about.

Anyway we agree on whats going down here so keep it friendly kaibigan ko. But really the Phils is more or less another state of the USA IN SPIRIT. hI joe.

Another point is that Barack's foreign experience of being partly raised in 3rd world Indonesia is experience that silver spoon johnny could never get.

Posted by: BobGuthrie | September 27, 2008 8:34 PM | Report abuse

What is so sacred about being a maverick anyway? Its like a sacred cow. It actually means someone who doesn't listen to other people because HE is always right. Do you know anyone who thinks he is right all the time... and do you like him... no?... then why would you elect him? ? Debate on debate off debate maybe debate probably, debate possibly, debate almost certain.
OK I, Mr creepy Smile the primadonna, has now decided that we are having the debate now... because I say so. SCREW WHAT EVERYONE ELSE THINKS. Only the unpredictable maverick matters... everyone else can wait for the drama queen to make his self centred decision. it wasn't country first at all, it was "PULEEESE VOTE FOR ME, I will pull any stunt to make it happen"

We don't need a maverick. we need a measured considered thoughtful approach. right now we only have one candidate like that... and its clearly barack obama

Posted by: BobGuthrie | September 27, 2008 8:48 PM | Report abuse

I was troubled by the debate, and saw little unexpected. Obama made an attempt to connect with average voters, but I still felt he was reserved and calculated. McCain seemed shrill to me. Obama came off better on economics, McCain seemed more comfortable with foreign affairs. Nothing unexpected. Neither one inspires me.

Posted by: stillundecided08 | September 27, 2008 9:09 PM | Report abuse

My black male friend (age 76) thought McCain's constant "Senator Obama doesn't understand" was code for the demeaning "boy" reference that black men in my friend's generation heard so many times when others tried to disregard them and their opinions.

Posted by: GrandmaK | September 27, 2008 9:28 PM | Report abuse

Great article as usual. Really nails the emotional impact of the debate. Any Washingtonians who like to keep up with the gaffes of the McCain/Palin campaign, please join my BlastGroup -

Posted by: topodesigns | September 27, 2008 9:51 PM | Report abuse

Thanks BobGuthrie I am not about disresecting Fiilino's my biological DNA is made up with their history. I guess I was just talking to the fact that America outsources jobs and many of them go there. I resnet that because I think I am going to lose my home. My husband lost his job and therefore we have to try to survive on a take home pay of $2034 when we owe more than that montly. I just can't take it anymore.

Posted by: KKKH1 | September 27, 2008 9:52 PM | Report abuse

The three aspects of the debate which came across the strongest to me were:

1) Barack clearly was in command in the debate about domestic issues and McCain semed largely clueless about the economy.

2) McCain was very self-righteous, condescending, and rude in his verbal comments about Barack not understanding very foreign policy issues. This is indisputable and far more important than his disrespectful body language.

3) Except for Barack on the issue of Iraq, neither candidate seems to offer any significant change from Bush-Cheney foreign policies.

Only Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul during the primaries strongly dissented from neo-conservative orthodoxy about Pax Americana, where military intervention is justified, for any rationale, nearly anywhere in the world. Barack seems just as likely as McCain to bring back the cold war against Russia.

Our three great presidents, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt wanted the United States to be respected by other countries as a democratic example to the world, not to seek global domination. Barack seems aware of this ideal, unlike McCain, but his proposed foreign policies do not seem to adequately reflect his awareness.

Posted by: Aprogressiveindependent | September 27, 2008 9:52 PM | Report abuse

Someone give Robinson a shake....he's stuck on the same old song.

Posted by: logan303 | September 27, 2008 9:57 PM | Report abuse

As someone who supported Ron Paul I see Obama as someone with the intellect to solve the country's problems. Obama mentioned how Main Street feel's about the economy and how he would tackle healthcare, McCain scoffed at his healthcare with no plans to do anything about healthcare. The people sitting at home wondering how they are going to survive and what to do if they get sick and lose their job worry about healthcare and with Obama talking directly to Main Street I think healthcare and the economy gave Obama the win. The people don't like spending billions to keep McCain's surge in Iraq going while they worry about their own family. Everytime Obama mentioned healthcare and Main Street it was another body blow to McCain. Had to throw in the prizefight metaphor for you.

Posted by: info4 | September 27, 2008 10:08 PM | Report abuse

Someone give you a shake, you just don't get (or care about the middle class or care what we are all about) before Bush taxed us to death. He taxed the middle and lower income brackets to suppoet his tax benifits for the wealthy, which Warren Buffet said thanks but no thanks - we don't need it. And we have to pay for a war that most of us didn't want.

Posted by: KKKH1 | September 27, 2008 10:10 PM | Report abuse

Last night, McCain looked like the brownie Thimbletack in the movie Spiderwick who turns into a puffy faced bogart when he gets angry.

Posted by: coloradodog | September 27, 2008 10:31 PM | Report abuse

McCain looked like a disturbed knit-picker in debate one. Obama has the self confidence to recognize when his and John McCain's views are similar - McCain lacks the courage and confidence to do likewise. Obama shows respect - a quality that earns him as much. McCain showed contempt - a quality that has earned him as much.

Posted by: tigman_2 | September 27, 2008 10:33 PM | Report abuse

That might not be a nice question, but it’s an important one. Americans like to vote for the nice guy,


Eugene, Many, many of us know Obama is not "the nice guy".

What he is is "passive aggressive". You know like the guy who "flipped off" Hillary in front of HIS crowd after his disastrous PA debate.

Or the guy who called Palin a "pig". Oh..but of course that wasn't what he meant. It was just a saying "lipstick on a pig". Just has he didn't flip off Hillary with the well known, often used "f aux face touch" .

Get a clue Eugene....haven't you embarrassed yourself enough?

Posted by: celested9 | September 27, 2008 10:46 PM | Report abuse

I turned the sound off during part of the debate and only checked out the body language. Obama's was surprisingly stable. McCain's suggested emotional instability.
It fits into the patern of emotional problems McCain has shown even before going to the Naval Academy. On top of that, no one can spend 5 years in a communist prison without emotional problems. Why did the Navy only give him one minor command, a training squadron? Why was he passed over and edged out if the Navy? McCain must make his Naval and health records available so that experts can review any psychiatric problems

Posted by: marketeck | September 27, 2008 10:49 PM | Report abuse

i am so tired of people refering to sen mccains age he is several years younger than sen kennedy the senator from west virginia sen byrd is 90 there are probably a majority in both the senate and congress over 70 what about the supreme court justices they aren t told they can t do their job because of it

Posted by: grhtravel | September 27, 2008 10:50 PM | Report abuse

How on earth can McCain bring Americans of all political persuasions together to put pressure on Congress to deal with health care, the deficit, Social Security, education, the war, etc.?

He is so uninspiring and so divisive. Heaven help our country if he becomes our leader. He will not inspire our better natures; he will once again appeal to our lower instincts and keep us all divided.

As Obama said in his convention speech, there are plenty of things that we as Americans can agree on. Let's get to work on those and stop the petty nonsense.

Posted by: trace1 | September 27, 2008 10:53 PM | Report abuse

Eugenics: Always market testing titles for his autobiography.

Posted by: EliPeyton | September 27, 2008 11:08 PM | Report abuse

I think McCain was letting his annoyance with a sucky newsweek show. As for his craven attitude towards Obama - what's up with that?!

Posted by: Adastra8 | September 27, 2008 11:11 PM | Report abuse

It is unsurprising for Robinson a black to abuse McCain as an "old" "decrepit" man in his fanatical support to another fellow black, Obama. America is experiencing zero population growth among its white Caucasian population, who to the despair of Robinson still form 72% of the US population! And if you add Latinos who consider themselves white, the white proportion rises to 83%.

If Robinson thinks by abusing McCain for his age he is helping Obama he is totally wrong. White middle class working people will resent these denigrating comments against McCain and will vote for him so they can put Obama in his place!

It was Obama who took liberties with McCain caling him repeatedly John in unwarranted familiarity. McCain always addressed Obama as Senator Obama. This showed McCain's class and sent another message to whites - here was an uppity black who did not even have the decency to address his senior with the same respect that the OLD man conferred on him! How do you think whites are going to react to this effrontery?

Posted by: padmanabhan40 | September 27, 2008 11:20 PM | Report abuse

John McCain didnt understand that Pakistan was not a failed state when Musharraf overthrew the democratically elected Government in 1999.

Im just a secretary and I knew that....

Posted by: Beka13 | September 27, 2008 11:58 PM | Report abuse

McCain always addressed Obama as Senator Obama. This showed McCain's class and sent another message to whites - here was an uppity black who did not even have the decency to address his senior with the same respect that the OLD man conferred on him! How do you think whites are going to react to this effrontery?

Posted by: padmanabhan40 | September 27, 2008 11:20 PM

Um in the debate that the rest of the country watched...John McCain never said Barack Obama's disgusting racist pig.

Posted by: Beka13 | September 28, 2008 12:00 AM | Report abuse

Since Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau are both dead, John McCain would be perfect in the next film installment of "Grumpy Old Men," paired with say a suitable sidekick like Willford Brimley after he loses the election.

Posted by: cfeher | September 28, 2008 12:02 AM | Report abuse

Do not discount the SNL factor in this election.
Saturday Night Live has a knack for calling out politicians on their BS, in a silly, but effective manner.

Tonight, SNL just made Palin look like even more of a joke than she really is (not a small feat).

I really thought there was NO WAY someone else could make Palin look more comical and ridiculous than she does herself, but it's hilarious seeing another person so perfectly capture Palin's utter ignorance of basic issues!

Then they lampooned McCain for his string of political gimmicks designed to distract Americans from the real issues. Accurately portraying McCain as a grumpy old man with no new ideas in the debate.

Thank you, SNL. Let's hope the media follows your lead!

Posted by: jgarrisn | September 28, 2008 12:06 AM | Report abuse

First of all ild like to congratulate Obama on this debate i know he won but i have got to add in why is everyone so harsh on mc cain yeah hes an old man and he couldnt look obama in the eye but his points were clear its the 21st century who cares about body language this election is about who would lead america to a new dawn and out of this mess considering the fact this mc cain was a POW a couple decades ago america considered him a hero now hes the grumpy old man give him a break even though his fate doesnt seem now to winning this presidential election at least let him lose the election with a Good thing to tell his grandchildren not this humiliation because he couldnt look obama in the eye give him a break however knowing americas situation Economically sympathy for Mc cain simply wouldnt cut it but i strongly support him trying to run for president just not against Obama he should have considered running maybe 2 decades ago ...............Vote Obama i do believe he brings Change........

Posted by: kinggerald | September 28, 2008 12:24 AM | Report abuse

By the way bad choice for running mate Mc cain that woman is just george bush in a skirt and penelope's glasses i strongly accept mc cains choice for a female running mate its new and a good thing for women but shes not a match to hillary whoever that brought that idea up shes the total opposite!! its time for something new republicans you've had your fun its time for the all race party(DEMOCRATS) and i mean that literally why is it every republican convention 85% are all white its just a party thats to involved in the past get some minorities in its not just about whites or Race anymore and about the iraq war has anyone actually considered sitting down and talking things out with this al-queda you never know until someone trys lives have been lost on both sides of the war its time to stop it i know its against everything american to negotiate with terrorist but please can someone tell me how thats helping the situation...

Posted by: kinggerald | September 28, 2008 12:34 AM | Report abuse

This disgraceful anti-Obama blabbering MIGHT hold some degree of credibility for a reader if, you bothered to check your facts. The story you quote about discussions with the leader of Iraq has been catagorically denied by a Republicam Senator who was AT THE MEETING. If you didn't know this then I'm pleased to pass it on, if you are deliberatly distributing rubbish you know to be false then I apologize for bothering you.

Posted by: epken | September 28, 2008 1:47 AM | Report abuse

John Mc Cain looked and sounded like GRANDPA SIMPSON - yes a dangerous grumpy old man..

"Hey kids you wanna here about the war...hey I knbew Henry Kissinger"... this is a man who says he is for change and he goes on about Kissenger - rememebr him - the guy who had a policy of bombing the daylights oiut of vietnam loas and cambodia and want to rpeat history - 8 years and 30-35 years..go for the geriatrics

Posted by: colinemery | September 28, 2008 6:29 AM | Report abuse

Sorry, but Obama could have destroyed McCain, but he was much too cerebral and intellectual. He should be repeating "Phil Gramm" in every speech- that McCain's economic "genius" advisor is directly responsible for this economic catastrophy- it is the silver bullet against McCain. When McCain slammed his judgment at the end, Obama should have nailed McCain on his foolish support for the start of the Iraq War, his deregulation fervor, his recklessness in picking Sarah Palin, and frankly his most insane decision- to stay in a NV hellhole prison for 4 years because he was ashamed of facing his 4 star admiral father after doing a video under torture saying US was wrong in Vietnam.

Posted by: hammerschlag | September 28, 2008 8:46 AM | Report abuse

I am not a fan of either. I don't know who I will vote for yet. But you talk about McCain's disdain for Obama, I was disgusted by the smug, disdainful smile on Obama's face everytime McCain spoke. Granted, McCain was like a snapping small dog, but I didn't see disdain from him only toward him. He didn't look at Obama much, but I read that as focus on the camera and moderator, not disdain. The disdain was clearly evident in Obama. I am wondering how a man who so obviously is unable to hide his disdain for someone who thinks differently from him, can have a unifying effect on a bi-partisan congress, or in the global community.

The leader of the free world should to exemplify dignity, not disdain.

Posted by: slinkywoman | September 28, 2008 10:37 AM | Report abuse

On the subject of the debate foreign policy, I saw a slight edge to McCain without Obama's attacking back as hard as he could. Fallon's and Shinseki's resignations have to do with positions in opposition to McCain as well as the joint chiefs on the surge. McCain's body language, not facing Obama, attacking sometimes instead of answering the question, interrupting first and more than Obama who retaliated back, John was right looked more like crossing the aisle, and Obama's calm demeanor and grasp of facts, gave McCain's He does not understand attack no juice to independents. On the economy, 18 billion in earmars is no contest against 300 billion in tax cuts. Obama qualified himself in the debate, which was his aim. McCain's interruptions of Obama's rebuttals hurt him more than the rebuttals would with independents. Obama's short interruptions were also rude, but far less frequent. His calling Sen. McCain John may be attacked, but it looked congenial whereas McCain attacked at every turn. John was right looked like crossing the aisle, regardless of Obama's voting record which should have been a major emphasis of McCain's attack, not what he used and was rebutted in.

Posted by: jameschirico | September 28, 2008 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Negritude? Elite? How about "Uppity N****r" or Kentucky's quaint "That boy should not have his finger on the button." As a union brother that has fought discrimination in the workplace, I find disgraceful not judging a person on their character and ability. Go live in Sudan where the government backs hate, you are not wanted here.

Posted by: jameschirico | September 28, 2008 11:01 AM | Report abuse

The biggest reason McCain didn't look at Obama is because of the debate between Hillary, Obama , and Edwards. McCain would have lost his temper easily if he had look at Obama. Obama should press McCain to look at him. And then you will see the real McCain.

Posted by: MILLER123 | September 28, 2008 2:48 PM | Report abuse

The media is slow again. They are on McCain's time as usual. Palin in Pa yesterday, agree with Obama about the pursuit of the enemey into Pakistan. McCain couldn't defend her position when asked on ABC even though it goes against his position. Also on ABC, when asked about tying Obama to Fannie Mae and Tim raines in commercial McCain stood by his the ad. However, when confronted by the relationship his point man Rick Davis being on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac paid lobbyist list up until 2 months ago, McCain still denied it. I have reposted the article below, but also notice what was happening in 2005.


"...The disclosure undercuts a remark by Mr. McCain on Sunday night that the campaign manager, Rick Davis, had had no involvement with the company for the last several years...

"....As president of the Homeownership Alliance, Mr. Davis received $30,000 to $35,000 a month. He, along with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, have characterized the alliance as a coalition of many housing industry and consumer groups to promote homeownership, but numerous current and former officials at both companies say the companies created and bankrolled the operation to combat efforts by competitors to rein in their business. The companies dissolved the group at the end of 2005 as part of cost-cutting in the wake of accounting scandals and, at Freddie Mac, a lobbying scandal that forced out its top Republican lobbyist....

On Monday, the McCain campaign attacked The Times for its account of those payments to Mr. Davis, saying the paper was “150 percent in the tank” for Mr. Obama. Mr. Davis said that he had worked not for the two companies but for the advocacy group, which included other organizations as well and, he said, was focused only on promoting homeownership....

..After the Homeownership Alliance was dissolved, Mr. Davis asked to stay on a retainer, the people familiar with the deal said. Hollis McLoughlin, who was chief of staff to Richard F. Syron, Freddie Mac’s chief executive, arranged for a new contract with Davis Manafort at the reduced rate of $15,000 a month, they said..."

To quote George F. Will "McCain has lost his head"

Posted by: MILLER123 | September 28, 2008 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Please stop using McCain's war injuries as a rationale for:

1) not using a computer - ever hear of voice recognition software? A colleague was born with arms that end above her elbows, yet she communicates regularly by email, and uses the internet daily.

2) not facing his opponent during a debate. That's just good communication practice.

Sounds like Sen. McCain struggles with communication all around.

President John F. Kennedy had debilitating back injuries also - from World War II.
Other than a special rocking chair he preferred, his comfort played a lesser role than the safety and security of the nation he led.
(Of course, he was almost a generation younger than Senator McCain, but the age argument has already been stated.)

Posted by: 4akinderworld | September 28, 2008 6:39 PM | Report abuse

Remember what I said. It is true and part of a misinformation plan is to make the truth look paranoid. Just look around and see the media and DNC parroting the party line. The Christian Religion is evil. Homosexual is normal. Patriotism evil. Rebellion and changing the Constitution normal. Disarm the citizens normal. NRA and hunters evil. The Military and heroes evil. Anti military and ridicule heroes normal. Success and hard work evil. The government owes me normal. Shocking this is right out of the handbook of communist and Islamic terrorism guides to revolution and over throwing a country.. Schools teach the government is evil and socialism utopia normal. Divide the races through agitators and media. Destroy marriage and the families. The state is the parent. Call evil good and smear and destroy good. Look at the Hollywood crowd. McCarthy was right and history has proven it. They flock around dictators and tyrants Chavez, Castro, Iranian, and Syrians. Wake up and vote for McCain if you want freedom. After 40 years of Intelligence service I can just say look and watch. Look at Obama’s friend’s Islamic terror operatives. Rev. Wright preacher of Racist William Ayers radical terrorist. Farakhan. Research the hidden years at Columbia University. Also the overseas trips. Victor Marchenco, Ivan Scholos, Gory Machlinsos. Fhaad Hussan these are a few of the KGB friends who financed and open doors here through contacts.

Posted by: DrRevere | September 28, 2008 9:00 PM | Report abuse

So how much is Obama paying you? McCain was the better man in the debate if you read most objective commentators, of which you are not. You've been in the tank with Obama for months, but then again, you've been pro Palestinian and have hated Israel for years and years so it's no surprise you are for the terrorist loving, not proud of my country, Obama. You're just like him, which is not a good thing. Obama was snide, rude and frustrated by McCain most of the debate. McCain is clearly the better person in this campaign which is why it's still relatively close in the polls when it's suppose to be a Democratic year.

Posted by: BettyM47 | September 28, 2008 11:17 PM | Report abuse

Obama is a bully which he showed in the debate Friday night. He showed it also when he pressed Joe Lieberman against the wall in Congress. McCain is stiff because of his war wounds, but in character he's heads above Obama. I find it interesting that Obama quotes Dr. King all the time. He says to judge people by their character, yet he calls Palin a pig and McCain old. If I had to judge Obama's character, I would say it's very immature, just like you, who is in the tank for Obama. He's not ready for prime time or to be President.

Posted by: BettyM47 | September 28, 2008 11:24 PM | Report abuse

Obama loves to quote Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, a man my family knew well, and marched with at Selma and in DC. Of course, we all know Dr. King's famous words to judge one by the content of their character. Obama encourages his supporters to say that John McCain is old. Is that judging someone by their character? We were suppose to end discrimination decades ago, but Obama is encouraging age discrimination. He has ads running about McCain's age and has John Kerry going on national TV telling people McCain is confused, code for old. But for all this ranting and raving by Obama's supporters that McCain is old, it's McCain who has released four hundred pages of his medical file, and it is Obama who has released just one page. Discrimination of any type is inexcusable, and the fact that Democrats are letting Obama get away with this so that they can win, is deplorable. Attack McCain on other things, but do not discriminate on the basis of age. If Americans judge Obama by his race, of course, he will not win.

Posted by: BettyM47 | September 28, 2008 11:38 PM | Report abuse

Of course, Mr. Robinson's use of the term grumpy is code language for Mr. McCain being too old. If we discriminated against Obama because of his race, Mr. Robinson would cry foul, but he himself must think it's okay to engage in age discrimination if his favorite candidate can win. It's deplorable, and you should be deeply ashamed as a professional journalist of what you have stooped to, Mr. Robinson. If Dr. King were alive today, he would frown upon your tactics.

Posted by: BettyM47 | September 28, 2008 11:44 PM | Report abuse

Hey Eugene!

You're the greatest!

Top of the list at my fantasy pol and pundit bbq! Best smile on television!

And good article today. I have heard anecdotes of many independents and even some Republicans, seniors and women, especially, who were turned off by what they saw as McCain's condescension.

I thought it had to do with race, but I could be wrong. Another post has it that he's simply told too many fibs about him to look him in the eye. Could be. He seemed afraid to me, more than simply dismissive.

I thought it was a good debate and that their positions on many issues were fairly clear, including the bailout. It was cathartic for me to hear Obama tell McCain he had been wrong on the war in Iraq. It's been a long time coming.

Posted by: papakila | September 29, 2008 1:30 AM | Report abuse

Here are a couple of lines I'd liked to have seen Sen. Obama deliver to punch back at John McCain's snarky insults:

"I may be, in your opinion, a new convert to denying earmarks, but you Sen. McCain are a new convert to supporting the Bush Tax Cuts. You previously said, "tax cuts for the wealthy during a time of war are immoral..." I'd like to know why, when middle class Americans can barely make it and our economy is tanking, why you now support the Bush tax cuts?"

"It's not that I don't 'understand', I simply disagree with you."

"The surge is not the only reason why Iraq is more stable. You do not give credit to the Iraqis who have joined with Americans to provide better intelligence after the insurgents were so violent toward Iraqis that they turned on them."

"Even General Patraeus has recently said that 'Victory is not a word I would use to describe Iraq occupation." Are you saying that General Patraeus is unpatriotic for refusing to use the word "Victory" in Iraq?

"Sen. McCain, please define what you mean as 'Victory' in Iraq? Just what would it take for you to bring our troops home? Even the Bush administration is moving toward a timeline. You seem to be more far right that Bush/Cheney at this point on Iraq and Iran."

"Even the Bush administration has moved toward diplomacy with Iran, N. Korea, realizing that their stance of non-negotion didn't work, and hurt. You seem to be standing alone in your contempt for diplomacy."

I appreciated Sen. Obama's grace under fire and calm, but would like to see him hit on the theme of "the 2000 John McCain said this, the 2008 John McCain says that -explain yourself..."

Posted by: bethechange1 | September 29, 2008 10:04 AM | Report abuse

Whether we realize it or not, body language plays a large role in how we are perceived. McCain appeared quite agitated at times. The smirking, laughing, snide comments and lack of eye contact spoke volumes of how McCain will conduct himself in future adversarial situations. This was to be McCain's best night, considering the topic at hand. However, I do not believe we can give this one to McCain. The polls gave the night to Obama in many cases. This was McCain's chance to recapture voters he lost due to the type of campaign he has been running (not to mention his choice in running mate). I do not believe he was successful.

Posted by: armyspouse | September 29, 2008 6:57 PM | Report abuse

Real Brother here.

Betty my best friend marched with Dr. King as well and he'd be the first to tell you McCain is OLD(as hell). You can't confuse Racist stereotypes with the FACTUAL admission that McCain is an OLD WHITE FOOL and if he were Black he wouldn't even be being considered(nor would that Idiot Sarah Palin).

Stop confusing Racism with the truth.


Posted by: Realbrother0003 | September 29, 2008 11:09 PM | Report abuse

Excellent comment Gene, you are consistently over these many long months, a sane and thoughtful in the most honorable ways, columnist.
The comments are great too.
I would give Mr. McCain an F- for 101% of the time for being a total surreally arrogant,, totally confabulating and reptetive self-promoting and unstatesmanlike bully.
McCain is truly a nightmare to look at and listen to and Obama ... well, he just lives in his own world and doesn't even recognize how personally he is being insulted. He SHOULD have said to the insulting McCain, everytime he said "you don't understand", "au contraire, NOT my friend", but I do understand perfectly and I'll sue you for slander if you don't stop the gratuitous insults upon my character.
If McCain had conducted himself two hundred years ago as he does now, the little weasel would have been challenged to a duel.

Posted by: strohblumen | September 30, 2008 9:26 AM | Report abuse

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