The DAR ladies will be downstairs shortly for a meeting. I figure I should hide up here in my office or they'll eat me. This turns out to be a good thing since it gives me a chance to write and, just as important, they usually leave good snacks after they're done.
With McCain having decided that it might be a good idea after all for the president to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time, the first debate of the election season is now in the record books. Everybody's offering post-debate analysis, so here's mine.
First, as with so many debates in recent years, the first thing we seem to obsess over is, "who won?" I've never understood that. It's political punditry for people with MTV attention spans, focusing on some imaginary number of points scored while forgetting all about the details of everything that was said.
Last night's debate was a good one for both candidates, though I doubt anything said changed anyone's mind. Obama and McCain were both solid, and the points, counter-points and fact-twisting seemed evenly divided. Both candidates pointed out they were wearing bracelets in honor of a fallen soldier, proving the line between compassion and demagoguery can be a thin one indeed. Kudos to Jim Lehrer for repeating questions when they weren't answered the first time, something most political reporters seem unwilling to do.
Thursday's vice-presidential debate should be as cynically entertaining as it will be informative. It will be the longest Gov. Palin has been exposed to those pesky questions without her script. After her less-than-impressive (a nicer phrase than "occasionally insipid") performance in her interview with Katie Couric, it should be interesting to see how she manages against the formidable debating skills of Sen. Biden. (My son's recent comment on the previous post said it better than I could ever hope to. I'd written at first about Palin that only time would tell if she would stand up under closer scrutiny. His elegantly concise response: "Time told. :-(" )If nothing else, we can keep ourselves amused by counting how many times she says you can see Russia from Alaska while claiming to have opposed the "Bridge to Nowhere." At first I had thought her candidacy would, if nothing else, give credibility to wearing glasses, the way Ronald Reagan once made it fashionable to wear brown suits in the business environment. Now that we're getting to know more about her, even that's not working out.
A final thought as we prepare to watch the remaining debates. Around this time of the election season, we frequently hear how most people who watched the 1960 Kennedy-Nixon debates on television said that Kennedy won, and that most who listened to it on the radio said that Nixon won. I wasn't there, or at least wasn't listening at the tender age of 1, but I can accept it as probably true. What I don't accept is the point people usually are trying to make when they bring it up, that Kennedy's "win" was due primarily to his good looks. I don't know about you, but when I'm hiring someone for an important job, I don't just want to hear what he's saying. I think it's just as important to see his eyes when he's saying it. Think of serving on a jury and only hearing what a witness is saying. Now think of how much more you have to work with if you get to see him saying it. I don't expect this will put that Kennedy-Nixon thing to rest because people seem to like it too much. It's just something we may want to consider as we make an important decision we're going to have to live with for a long time.