McCain’s weird day yesterday should be remembered for posterity. McCain just made voting for Obama a lot easier for a lot of on-the-fence people1. There is a definite contrast in styles between the two men, Obama has the Presidential demeanor2 in a way that John McCain could only wish he had.
Anyway, Henrik Hertzberg had this to say:
What a contrast yesterday. First, out comes McCain, looking drawn, jittery, and (to my admittedly jaundiced eye) guilty, with his announcement that he doesn’t want to debate on Friday because the financial crisis is too awful for a thing like politics to occur. He reads his statement and exits quickly. A couple of hours later, Obama appears. He looks and sounds like a President of the United States. He is preternaturally calm. He explains the chronology of the day: he called McCain at 8:30, the call was returned at 2:30, they discussed the idea of putting out a joint statement about the crisis. He says not a word about postponing the debate.
Then, unlike McCain, Obama takes questions. It becomes a full-fledged press conference. He eventually mentions the postponement. He says that during their phone call McCain had said it was something that ought to be looked at, and he had replied that they should get their joint statement out first. He makes it clear, in an offhand way, that McCain had blindsided him, but he does it without rancor. Perhaps there was a miscommunication, he suggests generously. He stresses his agreement with McCain that the crisis is neither Republican nor Democratic but American. He outlines some conditions he would like to see attached to the bailout bill but adds that both parties should refrain from loading it up with extraneous desiderata. He mentions a couple of specific examples of Democratic pet causes, including bankruptcy protection, that he doesn’t think should be in the bill. His manner with respect to the crisis is grave and businesslike, but he treats McCain’s debate-postponement demand as a minor matter that need not be taken too seriously. He notes dryly that both candidates have big airplanes with their names emblazoned and can easily travel to Oxford, Mississippi. He suggests that a potential President ought to be able to cope with more than one problem at a time.
There’s more in that vein, if you’re interested, including an observation that Obama handled McCain’s cheap gambit with aplomb, by ignoring it.Footnotes: