Body language.

Yeah, I’m watching the debate.

My impression so far is that Barack Obama is doing much better. He has provided real answers to the moderator’s questions, regardless of what you think of those answers. John McCain, on the other hand, has been vague; when he has provided specific examples, they are almost irrelevant. He has made a couple of good points, but those are commonsense ideas that could have come from either candidate. He has also told multiple provable lies.

However, much more than the content of their speech, one thing in particular has stood out to me. That is the demeanor of the two candidates.

Obama has the appropriate debater’s stance. He appears open and energetic, and he divides his attention between the moderator, the audience, and his opponent. When he speaks to McCain, he looks at him; when McCain is speaking, Obama looks at him.

McCain will not look at Obama. He keeps himself turned away from his opponent. When Obama speaks to him, McCain keeps his head down or turned away. On the few occasions when he has spoken (semi-)directly to Obama, he doesn’t even look at him then. He even has his body turned away from Obama.

That is bizarre. It is either defensive or dismissive. Regardless, it is rude, and displays a lack of respect for his opponent. That violates one of the most basic rules of debating, in which both individuals, no matter their difference of opinion, treat each other with general respect.

McCain is a liar. By this point, his entire campaign is based on lies, which have come almost on a daily basis. It is remarkable that his behavior during the debate is that of a liar: the downcast eyes; the defensive physical posture; the refusal to look at his accuser directly.

So McCain is either displaying the characteristic behavior of someone feeling shame, or he is being intentionally disrespectful of his opponent. Either way, I can’t imagine how that could play well with a general audience, though I’m sure the right-wing racist Christofascist base will love it.

And then there is McCain’s death’s-head smirk.

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