Saturday, September 27, 2008

The first presidential debate

I watched the first presidential debate this year between Obama and Mccain.

You can read the reactions and spin on these in several places, and here are my observations. These aren't criticisms, but observations of the training these guys went through, and what I noticed as they were clearly trying to do, or were clearly unable to do. It is unclear until plenty of people have analyzed it and have done polls, how much these will matter in the final outcome.

1. I noticed that Obama consciously, very consciously, looked away from the host and faced the camera directly when making a point about his readiness or his abilities. In contrast, Mccain did not do that even once in the entire session. While at times it felt as though it was unnatural, it was effective for Obama. Each of those times, it connected him to the people watching.

2. Obama, whenever addressing Mccain, would look at him straight and talk to him. Mccain on the other hand, seem to not want to look at Obama. That seemed a bit rude and robotic -- don't you always look at the people around you, especially when you are speaking to them, or referring to them?

3. Obama, not once in the entire debate, gave one sound bite that others would want to repeat. It was very plain, very labored speech. In contrast, Mccain, whether or not he was saying anything meaningful, had it down much better. Calling Obama naive, repeating specific numbers (930M, 18B, etc), claiming "Obama doesn't understand" -- all these he repeated and ensured would be picked up and repeated by a lot of people the next day. Obama needs to loosen up, get less embroiled in the correctness of details, and give his people sound bites to repeat after him.

4. The debates need some fact checkers. Mccain could stand there and lie through his teeth, and it would be on Obama to point them out as lies -- but how many would he be able to? Maybe candidates need better strategies to point out the lies, and tell their own lies with more conviction.

5. Mccain's lies put Obama on the defensive. Obama wasn't taking the war to Mccain. Even strong points were put really mildly. Take an example: Mccain took his time to drive home his point that "Incredibly, INCREDIBLY, Obama has not gone to Afghanistan" -- and he repeated it twice. Now, when Mccain said he wouldn't publicly state making offensive strikes against Pakistan and just do them, Obama should have really taken Mccain to task. Here is a presidential candidate openly saying he has double standards. On top of that, this is the same president who sang a song to "Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iran." These double standards, these reckless speeches, these reckless mindsets are the cause of the economic mess this country is in. This is the same recklessness earlier president had, this is the same recklessness Mccain champions. BUT, no, all Obama could muster was that given Mccain's bomb iran video, this comment from Mccain was not very credible. C'mon now -- you've at least got to walk through doors that open!

The debates coming up later should be more interesting. So far the candidates were sparring, and hopefully there would be fire from Obama we would see in the future.

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