One of the dominant themes of the post-debate discussion on cable news is McCain’s odd, angry behavior during the debate. During our live-blogging, I mentioned the Bush-like sneer that McCain kept exhibiting. Josh Marshall noticed it, too:
I said above that McCain didn’t have any freak-out moments. But he did have that sneer and there did seem to be this thing where he was so contemptuous and angry at Obama that he couldn’t get himself to make eye contact. I think we’ll hear more about that.
Angry, angry, angry. Part of the key here is that McCain is clearly miffed that he even has to debate or run again Obama. He thinks it’s an insult.
And, yeah, it was really weird and immature that McCain never looked at Obama. Eugene Robinson also picked up on McCain’s bad attitude:
Here’s the politically incorrect way of phrasing one of the central questions about tonight’s presidential debate: Did John McCain come across as too much of a grumpy old man?
That might not be a nice question, but it’s an important one. Americans like to vote for the nice guy, not the grumbling prophet of doom. Throughout the 90-minute debate, McCain seemed contemptuous of Obama. He wouldn’t look at him. He tried to belittle him whenever possible — how many times did he work “Senator Obama just doesn’t understand” into his answers? His body language was closed, defensive, tense. McCain certainly succeeded in proving that he can be aggressive, but the aggression came with a smirk and a sneer.
Throughout the night, McCain seemed angry and showed his contempt for Obama. That really doesn’t play well. McCain couldn’t control that ugly aspect of his personality at one of the most important events in the campaign. I think that’s scary.