Morning Joe Sparks the Meme: McCain=Old, Testy Nixon!
by Bob Sackamento, Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 04:09:48 AM EDT
McCain's campaign wanted this election to be about appearances rather than substance. You know what they say--be careful what you wish for...
Morning Joe opened up with Mika and Joe describing McCain in a light that makes Nixon's storied but failed 1960 debate performance look like Baryshnikov dancing. Here's a paraphrase of the transcript:
Scarborough: What was visually strange was the fact that John McCain stood there rigid, staring straight ahead while they were talking.
Mika: He never looked at Obama. It was rude. How do you discuss the fate of the world and not look the person you're talking to in the eye?
Scarborough: Visually, it was awkward. Style matters. Remember Gore's sighs? Turned off a lot of people. These debates are about style not substance.
Mika: It's basic human interaction to look someone in the eye.
Scarborough: It feeds into the belief that this man is either arrogant or angry.
Buzzwords include: "arrogant" (awww yeah; look who's uppity now!), "angry" and, based on Joe and Mika's assessment, antisocial. A few minutes later, Scarborough threw in the characterization he heard from some of his redneck panhandle friends (the elusive "I could never vote for a ######" vote):
Mcain looked angry, like a scolding uncle, even a scolding grandfather
I'm not so sure that kind of language was used to describe Nixon's infamously oily performance against JFK. McCain--exponentially less photogenic last night than Nixon was in 1960--seemed to out-Nixon Nixon. And out-Dole Dole. He was fidgety, testy and downright smarmy.
Regarding style and character, once again Obama looks presidential and McCain looks like someone who graduated at the bottom of his class. On the substance, Obama nailed it. As one political scientist succinctly puts it:
"This debate probably comes closest to the 1960 Kennedy-Nixon debate. ... Kennedy, much like Obama, had to show that he was sufficiently presidential, that he at least had the knowledge base to be commander in chief."
James Bowers, a political science professor at St. John Fisher College
Check and check.(cross-posted elsewhere)