Hard News by Russell Brown


The Debate and Onwards

To be honest, I thought McCain was the better debater. He was more aggressive, more obviously scored points and occasionally disabled his opponent. On the other hand, Obama was the grown-up in the room -- he engaged with the moderator Jim Lehrer, and with McCain himself. He was self-aware. McCain, whether by design or temperament, made virtually no eye contact with Obama in 90 minutes.

It's fairly clear what the voters snap-polled by CNN and CBS thought -- they very strongly went for Obama. So strongly as to overcome the 11 point advantage on foreign policy that Pew was seeing for McCain before the debate.

What were the voters -- and in particular the independents and uncommitted voters -- seeing? On HuffPo, Michael Shaw, in the magnificently-titled post Reading The Pictures: McCain Would Have Won ... If He Wasn't So Weird, examines the candidates' body language via some quite striking photographs from the debate. The pictures underline the fact that Obama was engaging and McCain wasn't. (Another way of looking at it is that Obama was demonstrating feminine strength, and McCain was alienating women. I'm not the only one who thought that.)

It seems to have worked. Obama's tracking poll lead is stretching.

The comments sections of liberal blogs are full of people wishing that Obama would go just go feral on Grandpa Munster. But as James Fallows points out, the evidence (and not for the first time) is that Obama knows what he's doing.

So, where to from here?

PS: This week's Media7 looks at Fashion Week in the media. You could just about write most of the stories in advance -- it's that much of a set-piece -- but what does it all add up to? Should we be worried about the extent to which "news" on the event is PR-driven? Are there proper stories about Fashion Week that get missed? And what's in those goodie bags? Our panel is Debrorah Pead, Noelle McCarthy and former deputy chief of TVNZ news and current affairs, Trish Carter. It's an afternoon record, so if you can join us at 2pm at The Classic in Queen Street, hit Reply and let me know.

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