The debate was interestingly uninteresting. All policy (or lack thereof) aside, John McCain's contempt for Barack Obama might as well be tattooed on his forehead. The inability to mask personal disdain and conduct oneself generously and decently in a public forum is the mark of a serious deficiency in self-control. I hardly think it necessary to waste effort on generic and false affability, but a modicum of grace, please? We all have to share conference rooms and offices and rostrums with people we privately despise, but good manners dictate keeping the sneers to yourself and looking the morons in the eye when you shake hands before the meeting. Obama and McCain are colleagues in the same institution. His behavior, along with the sheer volume of shit his campaign's thrown at an apparently unsticky wall, only reinforces the growing notion that this mean old bastard hasn't got the temperament or self-control to run the empire.
On Substance (or lack thereof), I agree with Prof. Crispy that the whole campaign has moved into a diaphanous universe beyond the slow, stolid workings of human understanding:
got to say the whole thing has grown incomprehensible. we'll buy all the bad mortgages. we'll provide massive incentives for alternative energy (that was barack's answer to 'what sacrifice will you ask of the american people?" courageously, he indicated that we will be called upon to accept tax incentives). and we'll...cut taxes, while we drop a trillion on a bailout. etc etc. neither of these people makes any kind of sense at all.It was widely noted at the last vice-presidential debate that Sarah Palin repeatedly contended that "often government is the problem" even as she echoed the bipartisan consensus that we must fill every suitcase in the nation with cash and throw it blindly at whatever business cries Danger! at any given moment. The GOP has long been notably schizophrenic on this point, and dumb as I find The Voters and The American People in general, I think that the greater tonal and thematic coherence of the Democratic line confuses them less, generally--at least in this election season. John McCain was actually worse on these points than Obama, because his response to so many questions about the economy involves cutting discretionary government spending, which people seem to understand as not especially germane to the question of the fortunes of the markets. Of course, even as he promises to take the hatchet to the federal budget, he continues to promise that the federal government will swoop in and monetize mortgage obligations, as if that somehow doesn't constitute expenditure. Me, I can't wait to start carting my paper money around in a wheelbarrow.
On foreign policy, McCain continued to insist that he "knows how to get Osama bin Laden." (McCain foreign policy statements, like fortune cookies, usually benefit from the addition of "in bed", by the way.) This plan appears to consist of figuring out where Osama bin Laden lives and sending people there to capture or kill him, which seems more like the treatment than the screenplay, if you know what I mean. McCain's verbal pugnacity must work on someone, but to me the figure of a slightly hunched old man issuing dire warnings in a reedy, nasal voice while struggling mightily not to look his debate opponent in the eye is merely pathetic. Obama did himself no favors, though, by promising to crush enemy, see him driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of dee vimin. I understand that Democrats must avow blood sacrifice at the altar of Mammon or whatever to prove their Serious Foreign Policy credentials, but for a man whose principle selling point at present is relative sobriety and judiciousness, the shift from statesman to warlord and back again is jarring and embarrassing.
I'm voting for the Pittsburgh Pooping Polar Bear as a write-in: