During the debate Tuesday night, I kept trying to imagine both Obama and McCain negotiating with other world leaders, over the global economy and the growing consequences of climate change. I recalled the last 8 years, where cowboy and goofball George Bush has been representing us to the rest of the world. I thought about Bush mispronouncing the word "nuclear" for the last 8 years. (Couldn't Laura have told him privately how to say that word?)
During the debate last night, when I imagined Obama representing our country, I felt confident and relieved and proud. He's a scholar - he graduated from Harvard Law School as president of the Harvard Law Review. He's articulate, every sentence reveals his intelligence and his facility with words, and his thorough understanding of the challenges that face our world. More than that, Obama has the social skills of a diplomat. He listens, he affirms, he looks at people he's talking to, he's respectful: he doesn't make personal snipes and condescending grimaces. As a bonus, Obama speaks, moves, and interacts with grace. He's a dynamic and charismatic presence.
McCain on the other hand graduated 5th from the bottom of his class; he's not a scholar and he's not especially articulate. He seemed last night to sort of stalk and lurch around the stage; maybe that's a function of his age, I don't know. He patronizes his opponent with facial expressions and tone, and he's often downright rude, referring to Obama as "that one" while pointing at him, but without ever looking at him again! And what could he have meant when he said "Not you, Tom" to moderator Tom Brokaw? Was that supposed to be a joke? Brokaw, baffled, tried to respond as though it was. McCain has the social skills of an eight-year-old. The world is too fragile politically to take risks with unpredictable gaffes and random social blunders on the part of the president.
I'm quite clear that I agree with Obama on the issues, and the things I'm saying here are secondary to that. But it does feel good to imagine an articulate, intelligent, diplomatic president representing our interests and negotiating on our behalf with other world leaders for the next eight years. That feels really good.
by Sally Kneidel
Click here for an overview of Tuesday night's presidential debate: reviews from the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and a citizen focus group.
Keywords:: Presidential debate who won debate Obama wins Obama is diplomatic McCain social blunders