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October 16, 2008


Uh, are you the only one who thinks McCain doesn't have a temper? Or is it all just an act for McCain? He's looking angry on purpose? The testimonials about his actions are all lies?

You seem to be trying to create a narrative yourself that McCain doesn't have a temper, he's just misunderstood.

Hty -

People are going beyond "anger" and "temper".

Partly it has taken on aspects of a personal/emotional response (McCain is "disrespectful" toward Obama or there is personal animosity). Things are being concluded based on "body language" and "eye contact".

Also it’s being tied to his age and his ability to make sound judgments.

Others question if his POW experiences may have had some sort of impact on his mental stability.

Are these real issues or naive projections or fabrications? Are people being swayed, and reaching a conclusion, because of comments that they read or hear?


To me, it seems too much like the "character" attacks made against Democrats over the past sixteen years (and this year). It reminds me of the "we should be worried about who the real Obama is" talk.

But that's just my view. Many on the Right will defend using "character" to define a politician (even if, in the process, they use false or flimsy evidence to define a specific persons' character).

They will say that "age" is as meaningful an issue as "associating with unrepentant domestic terrorists."


How do you separate the valid from the manipulated or the fabricated?

Should McCain "come clean" and reveal the truth? Should there be outrage that the media isn't investigating this critical concern? Should I take this as evidence of a media bias - that McCain is being protected and shielded from critical assessments?

MartyB - we need your help, please spread the word.

Does it prove that concerns about ageism have convinced people that voting against McCain is evidence of prejudice?

Are the Republicans actually playing the "age card"?

The implications are vast.

To me, the anger (more aptly, seething) is very apparent. The way he practically spits out lines like "You don't telegraph your punches to your enemy" ,with narrowed eyes, is reminiscient of Archie Bunker in an "Awww, Edith" moment. It smacks of condescension and disgust - no mind reading necessary. I shudder to think of this man negotiating with heads of state. It has nothing to do with age, or his POW experience. It's just who he is.

Our culture celebrates youth and denigrates age. But the important dividing line is not between 72-year old John McCain and 47-year old Barack Obama. It's between those who are under 30 and in the flower of their youth and promise, and those 30 and above who are no longer young, beaten down by life, weary, resigned, dyspeptic. Imagine how disconcerting it must be to stand on the threshold, in the glow of youth but haunted by the knowledge that in hours the glow will vanish. Let us all say a prayer for those in that existential limbo and wish them well as they cross over to the Land of the No Longer Young.

In the Nixon Kennedy debates, I thought Nixon whipped Kennedy on content, on demonstating his understanding of the issues, and his all-around ability to immediately carry on the duties of President. Nevertheless, Kennedy won by looking more Presidential. Voters reacted as if they two of them were auditioning to act the role of President in a TV show.

Presidential debaters took that lesson to heart. They strive to appear Presidential, not to demonstrate their expertise. After all, the home audience can see whether they look Presidential. But, most viewers won't know if what they say is insightful or bologna.

Sadly, some in the media have followed in a race to the bottom. They do have the knowledge to evaluate the content of the debates. But, it's easier for them to focus on appearance as well.

That's too bad, because we don't need media experts to tell us how the candidates appeared. We can see that for ourselves. We do need help in geting expert, unbiasied evaluations of the content. Sadly, that's in short supply.

Frankly, I think being, looking and sounding presidential is important.
Evolved though we may be, humans are still pretty animalistic at the core.
Consider this: a person could be astoundingly bright and insightful, with a wall full of degrees and accomplishments...a star in their field of expertise. But, when you meet them and you get a weak, half-hearted handshake...what do you think?

Raleighite, you may be right, but only to a degree. If we choose the President based on looks and speaking skills, then Sarah Palin rates as more qualified than Hillary Clinton.

Raleighite, if candidates are judged simply on looks and speaking skills, then Sarah Palin is more qualified than Hillary Clinton. You have a point that many voters may decide based on appearances. Still, I hate to see the media encourage that kind of shallow decision-making.

But, as noted in my post, "shallow decision-making" "based on appearances" is encountered across the board. Do we tend to "blame the media" selectively?

Omaba was criticized for being a celebrity, as though it proved he was only a celebrity or that he was shallow.

He was portrayed as an "elite", as though the appearance of erudition proved he was out-of-touch.

Didn't McCain himself say last night (more or less) that Palin demonstrated that she was qualified because people liked her?

I guess being popular is only a positive if you say it is. If you want, you can call it a negative.

David, you're misinterpreting my comment, but I probably didn't articulate it well. I'm not talking about being good-looking - I'm talking about appearing presidential. That includes much more than looks. It's about demeanor, comportment, and, yes, TEMPERAMENT. And I'm not saying that should be the only or most important criteria. I'm saying that it shouldn't be underestimated and a factor. Leadership is a total package prospect.
That said, I will agree that the pundits DO overemphasize.

Howard Craft, you are correct that I am blaming the media selectively. The media call themselves the Fourth Estate. They are the interface between candidates and the public. They consider themselves watchdogs for the public. They publish editorials telling us what to think about issues. The media runs the Presidential debates, selecting and framing the questions and sometimes critiquing the answers.

So, I think it's appropriate to expect more from the media than I do from the candidates themselves or from partisans like Karl Rove and James Carville.

I suppose we need to make a better distinction between "the media" and "blogs" and such. Thrown into the mix are the more overtly politically biased media outlets and talk radio personalities.

My comments blur that distinction to some degree (and I'm even throwing in ad campaigns), but so do other critical remarks from other sides.

We also have to make something of a distinction between reporting what someone perceived and what they think it means (or what they think it should mean).

If a candidate appears nervous or makes several slips while speaking it may be noteworthy. But even then you can get into areas of more subjective assessment.

Raleighite, I didn't misunderstand your comment. What I did was to jump to a conclusion (which I failed to state) namely that being good-looking and looking Presidential were not that different.

I do think that being good-looking works for Palin and for Obama. And, many years ago, I recall a friend saying of JFK something to the effect that she wouldn't vote for a candidate who she wouldn't want to sleep with.

Interesting company you keep...

Howard -

I am not sure I understand the point of your first comment in this thread or why you mentioned me "spreading the word". I suspect it was sarcasm, but I'm not sure. You seem like a thinking man, and I appreciate your thoughtful posts, so I take no offense.

Oh well. It's been a long election cycle (and a long week for me). I guess I'm running slow.

Peace, my friend


MartyB –

You are entirely right – that comment was much too vague or indirect in it’s meaning to be defensible. I can see that it might imply several things that were unintended. It was also unnecessary.

I apologize completely for including your name in that post, especially in the way that I did.

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