John McCain is not the president this country needs now or ever. He looked like an old has-been, sinister, evil, nasty, out of touch man. He was condescending, arrogant, rude, and hostile. He lied repeatedly, and he tried to paint Obama into a corner as some sort of dangerous, untested, uninformed neophyte who shouldn't even be in the running. His refusal to look at Obama during the entire ninety minutes must have set a new category of insulting behavior in presidential debates.
David Broder, political columnist for the Washington Post disagrees with this assessment of McCain. He said McCain's behavior was quintessential "Alpha male" to the younger Obama's Beta male. He also said that Obama accepted this lower status role when he kept saying "John is right..." about several points made by McCain. Over 700 mostly negative letters were written in response to Broder's claims. A majority said McCain's so-called Alpha male is not the kind of behavior today's voters appreciate. It was Obama's magnanimous gestures toward McCain, for example, when he agreed with him on occasion, that readers appreciated most. This civility of tone and substance won voters for Obama who saw him as one who would be more bi-partisan. The electorate is also tired of the tirades of the so-called aggressive Alpha-male dogs in politics. Women, especially, want collegiality and cooperation instead of lies and insults candidates hul at each other.
McCain was also disrespectful toward Obama as a black man. History is replete with evidence of white men ignoring black men's presence symbolically and real-- as the non-person, as 3/5'ths of a man, and as the slave. I was reminded of the negative stereotypes white men affixed to black men as I watched the debate. Slavery and lynching were institutionalized practices of these very racist attitudes and laws when, during segregation, Southern white men talked about black men in their presence, as though they weren't there. McCain, whose family owned slaves in Mississippi, reminded me of the whites I saw in my Southern childhood--those who called black men "Uncle" and black women "Auntie," when they felt they were being kind, "Nigger" when they were overtly hostile, but never "Mr." or "Mrs." In a case in Arkansas, a black man was arrested for "eyeball rape" because he looked at a white woman. Black men were expected to drop their heads when in the presence of white men, take their hats off, and act in a servile manner.
Fortunately, Barack Obama did not allow McCain's Old South behavior to rattle him. He held steadfast to his long-range strategy of dealing with the facts, being presidential, reassuring nervous voters that he was steady, normal, and by reassuring them that he would act decisively with the best information possible during a crisis. He left the impression that he could be trusted to protect and be fair to Americans.
Obama knows the score. He is the man we need to be the President at this time because he is on the right side of history.