Tuesday, October 07, 2008

the second debate

I thought McCain was better than the first debate, clearly more in his element, but I wasn't sure it would help him much. The proposal for relief to homeowners was intriguing but not pursued nearly enough. Obama was supercilious at times but retained his cool, counterpunched well, he probably won't lose much which at this point is winning.

Overall I found the debate and especially the format disappointing. The idea of town halls is to address voters directly and get back to democratic roots. But I thought both McCain and Obama condescended to the questioners, frequently beginning their answers with verbal tropes like "Look" (Obama) or "My friends" McCain and then switching to more or less canned answers. This was especially apparent with the gentleman, a youngish black male, who asked the entirely reasonable question what in the world will the bailout do for me? Neither candidate really answered him, instead reiterating we had to help Wall Street first and ordinary people second, which was probably pretty much the guy's point.

My son, who is much more technically savvy than I am, noted an interesting feature regarding the audience "trend lines" displayed by CNN under the screen. In many cases, he noted, the lines began to move immediately when the candidates began speaking, i.e., before they had said anything of substance (or nonsubstance) that viewers could possibly respond to. In other words, the viewers were responding to the fact of their preferred candidate speaking, rather than anything that they said. That being the case, what exactly was the point of the trend lines, or the "audience reaction" polls that were presumably based upon them?


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