The commentariat are going to love this moment, because it sums up some things that the conventional wisdom has been saying about McCain — cranky, really angry, hotheaded — and surfaces some new memes. Like disrespectful. Like borderline racist. Like, can’t believe he’s losing to this guy.
I livetweeted the debate last night (start, end) and was reminded of a few things in the process. First, writing about anything as it happens means you’re paying much closer attention to what’s said. I got more of a substantive understanding of Biden and Palin’s positions, a closer awareness of both of their stumbles and gaffes, and a much deeper engagement in the process than if I had simply been watching it.
Aside: why did I ever try to do liveblogging before there was Twitter? Even if each post is 140 characters or less, it’s still a superior user experience to a heavyweight blogging CMS.
Now, the downside of liveblogging the debate. I didn’t have my eyes on the TV very much and so missed some of the nuances–I had to see someone else’s tweet to realize that Joe Biden spent much of his time looking at the moderator rather than the camera when he answered his questions, for instance. And I think that there was a downside to paying such close attention to individual exchanges, namely: I came away without a feeling about how the debate had played overall. Oh sure, I thought Joe took it on substance, but as I tweeted late last night, I’m not 100% sure that’s what matters to the American undecided voter. And I can certainly see a scenario (reinforced by the GOP spin from last night) where Palin and McCain get a bounce because her performance wasn’t a miserable failure and because she came across as a folksy, relatively human person.
I kind of hope, though, that we don’t hear any more “maverick” after last night.
Update: Doc has the same concerns about the debate performances that I did. That doesn’t mean, btw, that I think that focusing on personality is right; just that the pragmatic view is to ask how well each debater played in Peoria.