Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Debate analysis you won't see on TV

• Apropos of nothing, here's a picture of me and the Bronze Fonz statue in Milwaukee. Now, onto the debate analysis.

• I was surprised to see McCain’s a lefty when it comes to handwriting. I’m sure some obscure expert’s done an analysis saying some of our best/worst presidents have been lefthanders. That won’t factor into whether or not I’ll vote for him, but I just hope he’s never sits down to my right if we ever wind up together in the same cafeteria.

• Commentators immediately began focusing on the candidates’ body language. Not me. I was drawn to the body language of the captive audience. They sat mostly immobile for the first 30 minutes, but there was a monumental amount of background fidgeting during the home stretch. There were toe tappers, knee bouncers, thumb twiddlers and an entire corp of nap-jerking yawn stiflers throughout. I’d wagered with my wife that bald guy with the blue shirt in the back row was going to fall asleep. I lost.

• I believe if the country could survive eight years of the idiot Bush, it can survive anything. I’m all in for Obama, but last night left me feeling a surge of optimism knowing that one way or the other we’re going to have a president who at least knows how to pronounce simple words like “nuclear.”

• It was annoying how often grumpy Tom Brokaw kept reminding everyone that the participants had gone seconds over their agreed upon time. Neither seemed that long winded to me, and he kept cutting them off just as true debate seemed about to emerge. I’ve been to parties with nagging clock watchers like him. It’s no fun.

• I understand the rules that say the audience shouldn’t applaud, but I think it would add to the debates if they were all instructed to yell and holler any time either of the candidates said a secret word like say, “bailout,” “Main Street” or “Petraeus.” They always had secret words on Pee Wee’s Playhouse and it was always riotous good fun. Try it around your own house someday.

• Do you think people in the audience had to raise their hands and get the go ahead nod from Brokaw if they had to go to the bathroom?

• I like it when candidates -- and both of them did this -- pronounce the names “Pock-e-stan” and “Tolly-bon” instead of “Packistan” or “Toweliban.” It makes the evil doers seem less intimidating, like they are populated by Oompa Loompas, albeit ones with murderous dispositions.

• I give huge credit to the audience members for being able to stand up and ask either of the candidates a question knowing that there were maybe 60 million people watching and that many of them were like me and my wife. We didn’t listen to a word they said, but made disparaging remarks about their hair, their eyeglass frames or the way they were dressed. I wish I wasn’t like that.

• In this day of microscopic spy gizmos, did the microphones really need to be so big and clunky? They looked the amplifier anchor Roger Daltry swung around during The Who’s 1969 performance at Woodstock.

• If either of the candidates had dropped their microphone, it’s all we would have remembered. I was hoping one of them would.

• I respect John McCain’s service and think he’d have made a dandy president in 2000 when George Bush dirty tricked it out of him. But he’s starting to remind me of Grandpa Simpson.

• I was glad to see neither of them had suspicious bulges between their shoulder blades the way Bush did against John Kerry in 2004 (simply Google “Bush, bulge, debate”). To me, it’s one of the great underreported stories of the Bush era. Well, that and the reasons for going to war in Iraq.

• One of the greatest lines in debate history came when Lloyd Bensen left Dan Quayle sputtering after he’d blasted him with his great line, “Senator, I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. You’re no Jack Kennedy.” When I was doing a golf book about hole in ones, Quayle was one of the few politicians or celebrities to call me back for a chat about their ace history. We talked about golf and luck for 30 casual minutes. He was cool to me. I wonder if Jack Kennedy would have been. Who knows? When it comes to golf chat, maybe Jack Kennedy was no Dan Quayle.

• They say that 10 percent or so of the electorate is still undecided. Who are these marshmallow heads? I say we nullify their votes and get all the partisans who are stubbornly Obama together with the people who are stubbornly McCain and just let them duke it out.

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