Monday, September 29, 2008

The Audacity of Confidence

I tend to trust my perceptions of human nature.

I believe that I can read the character of folks better than the average person. That's audacious, even arrogant, I suppose, but reading people has been a hobby and a self-perceived skill of mine for many years. I have irritated the stew out of some of my readers in the past by discussing "comfort in one's own skin" as a factor I look for in candidates.

In watching the debate on Friday, I saw one comfortable candidate and one visibly uncomfortable candidate.

The reason Barack Obama was the victor in that debate (despite the notion of a draw that several of the "pundits" saw) was that he looked, and spoke, and listened, with calm and confidence. He listened with respect to his opponent. He confidently acknowledged areas of agreement with his opponent and went on to explain where and how and why he disagreed. That is a basic skill of a diplomat. McCain, on the other hand refused to look at Obama. He seemed not to listen to him. His body language was disdainful and angry.

To put it succinctly: Of the two, Barack Obama looked and sounded more like a President.

Yesterday the Gallup poll showed an uptick for Obama. I believe Obama's poll numbers will rise a bit more today. It will likely tighten again before Novemeber fourth. There are several weeks to go. There will be more desperate and vicious ads from the McCain campaign and even worse ones from the NRA and other extremists on the right. McCain can still pull it out, having sold his soul already. But today, things look better for the good guys.

On Friday a very big audience that included folks who have given little attention to the race till now saw someone who does not fit the silly image that the McCain campaign has tried to paint of Obama. Even though his former pastor might get carried away with inflamatory rhetoric, even though he happens to have had an acquaintance with a man who was -- 40 years ago -- a certified hothead, Barack Obama is no hotheaded extremist.

If someone seemed hotheaded on Friday, it was not Obama.

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