All the talking heads on TV and online have analyzed the debate in all its myriad aspects by now, so what of earth-shttering importance can be added by a tired materfamilias who had to miss bits of the debate here and there because she wasn’t watching it through the DVR because the only way to watch it at all was to let the girls watch an insipid Barbie movie on the DVR?
But when you have a blog, and you blog about politics, you can’t just not blog about the debate, can you? So here goes, my very brief take on the first oratorical combat between the Maverick and the Lightworker.
The title of this post refers, of course, to the fact that throughout the debate McCain referred to Obama as “Senator Obama” while Obama occasionally said “Senator McCain” but referred to his opponent simply as “John” far more often. And why not? Surely they’ve been calling each other “John” and “Barack” for as long as they’ve served in the Senate together. But in the setting of a presidential debate, “Senator McCain” and “Senator Obama” seem the more natural forms of address. At least they seemed so to McCain, who as his ciritics are quick to point out (Did you know he’s, like, really, really old?) is from a generation that actually uses titles and surnames regularly. I say this, btw, as a person from Obama’s generation who prefers the antiquated mores of McCain’s. And I don’t intend it as an attack on Obama, but rather as a simple comment on one of the many ways our (his and my) generation differs from McCain’s.
Senator Obama was, as usual, eloquent. He has a wonderful speaking voice, deep and resonant, and his rhetorical style is impressive. Apart from the occasional unfortunate choice of words (“above my pay grade” springs to mind), he has a real gift for expressing himself. Senator McCain is not particularly eloquent. His oratorical endeavors aren’t fertile comedy fodder like those of poor old W, but he does not have Obama’s rhetorical gifts. This worried me going into the debate, but it needn’t have. McCain isn’t an orator, but he comes across as sincere, earnest and genuine. Moreover, he was unflappable. Though known for having a fiery temper, McCain betrayed no trace of irritation at anything Obama said about him, whereas quite a few of McCain’s remarks clearly upset Obama, who glowered, grimaced, smirked, signalled the moderator, and interrupted McCain to mutter, “That’s not true.”
Conservatives will probably think McCain won the debate, liberals will think Obama did, and most of the undecided swing voters will probably not be swung one way or the other. Neither candidate made a dreadful gaffe, nor did either score a pithy sound byte sure to be replayed ad nauseam tomorrow. Both will return to cross rhetorical swords another day, and may the best man win.