Allison Kilkenny: Unreported

Eye Contact Is Un-American

Posted in Barack Obama by allisonkilkenny on September 27, 2008

Poor Jim Lehrer.

All he wanted was some presidential eye-contact last night during the debates. After the months of smears and vicious ads, Jim pleaded for Obama and McCain to man-up and be forthright with one another.

The candidates seem mystified by their disciplinarian’s insistence they they address each other like human beings and not robots regurgitating their programming codes.

LEHRER: Say it directly to him.

OBAMA: I do not think that they are.

LEHRER: Say it directly to him.

OBAMA: Well, the — John, 10 days ago, you said that the fundamentals of the economy are sound. And…

MCCAIN: (to Lehrer) Are you afraid I couldn’t hear him?

LEHRER: I’m just determined to get you all to talk to each other. I’m going to try.

No such luck. What Jim (and the American people) got were two politicians doing what politicians do best — reciting their stump speeches, and for the most part, trying to avoid the blade of a snappy comeback.

McCain got to repeat his snarky lines about hunting down deviant politicians and writing down their names on his revenge list, and Obama spat up his painful go-to line about Main Street versus Wall Street.

Obama didn’t even raise an eyebrow when McCain professed his love for the troops, even though McCain opposed the G.I. bill that would have expanded benefits for veterans.

Obama surrogates love to talk about what a classy gent their boss is, which is why he didn’t want to deliver a “Gotchya” moment at McCain. But if Obama can’t nail McCain on mirroring the behavior of one of the most despised administrations in the history of the country, the Democrats are doomed come November.

The Democrats needed a firm leader, who arrived outraged on behalf of a country gone to hell. What they got was a gentleman with a fine memory, who largely repeated the same message he’s been delivering for half a year.

It makes one long for the presence of Ralph Nader, who at least would have stirred the pot and forced Obama to push his political message left. Nader’s presence may have even put Obama on offense instead of the pathetic, stumbling defense where he muttered “That’s not true,” as McCain blasted him with a mixture of half-truths and lies.

Alas, not even McCain had enough energy to make this debate interesting. It looked like John was using every ounce of his iron-clad will just not to die on his feet. I don’t even think he looked mean like some pundits are claiming. Instead, he also looked pathetically weak and apathetic.

In an election promising to be about “hope” and “change,” we got a lukewarm argument like every other debate come before it.

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