In the next few days, there will be volumes of very detailed, in-depth comments on the first Presidential debate by knowledgeable, experienced analysts. As an ordinary American, what struck me the most was the dishonorable, condescending, dismissive, contemptuous, patronizing, insulting, bullying verbal and non-verbal attitude (body language) displayed by Senator McCain towards his opponent, and colleague, Senator Obama. During an almost two hour debate, McCain did not look Obama in the eye even once. While I do not know what McCain’s reason was for such disrespectful behavior, I found it to be very offensive.
McCain said several times that he reaches across the aisle in Congress to negotiate with those of differing opinions, but during the debate Obama actually demonstrated that he could. Several times Obama agreed or gave credit to McCain, showing a stark comparison between the two men. At first I thought giving credit to McCain was the wrong thing to do. I knew that before the debate was over that the McCain camp would be releasing an ad showing Obama saying that he agrees with McCain and somehow turn that into a negative stance. Then I realized that Obama was denying McCain his maverick status and, instead, highlighting McCain’s character. Obama showed that he could actually reach across the aisle to work with McCain, the “I was not voted Miss Congeniality” hottest-tempered person in Congress. Obama was showing his leadership, his ability to negotiate, to reach out to those with differing opinions, to find common ground. McCain demonstrated, through his behavior, that he would bring even greater division between right and left political wings than what we have experienced during the past eight years.
Whether McCain’s insolence will have any effect on the polls, is an open question. And, while some of his Republican base may claim that McCain “won” the debate, in my opinion, he absolutely lost it in terms of manners, and civility. Is this how he will act toward the leaders of other countries?
McCain proved himself to be confrontational and unwilling to use diplomacy. This confrontational, warring attitude will not provide us with the excellent presidential leadership America needs.