Every once in a while you’ll be watching Judge Judy, and you’ll see that one of the two parties involved in the case just doesn’t get it: the point of Judge Judy is that you listen to Judge Judy, defer to the televised Court, such as it is, and if you don’t, she’ll draw and quarter you before a couch-bound nationwide audience. But every so often a guy or girl will come along who insists on getting angry, mouthy, and who refuses to take a hint that they might best settle down.
Then it’s all over for them: Judge Judy makes them pay bigtime for the sofa they burned, or the car they keyed, and she calls them all kinds of ugly while she does so.
And as the credits roll, the angry defendant will still be huffing and puffing about the unfairness of it all.
In an odd way, that’s what this final debate brought to mind. John McCain has lost each of the last two debates by wide margins; each time the audience response has shown clearly that he’s too hot, too angry, too aggressive, not focused nearly enough on the problems of working people.
For all of his talk about reaching across the aisle, McCain has consistently projected contempt and disrespect. Swing voters have made it amply clear they don’t appreciate it.
And so here we come to the last debate, and if anything McCain is angrier, tetchier. Half the time he looked as though he was going to burst out during Obama’s responses.
Now, after the second debate, VDB faulted McCain’s advisors, for allowing the vast town hall format to be portrayed in the press as McCain’s home turf, when the man clearly has difficulty moving and standing and sitting without appearing slightly awkward. The format highlighted McCain’s age and condition in ways his camp might have turned to his advantage, but didn’t.
Hard to lay it at the feet of the hired men this time, however. Rove-trained or not, any political operative can read a set of polls as clear as those produced after the first two debates; any strategist would have tried to tone his guy down.
The unavoidable conclusion is that McCain cannot be effectively advised. The classic old dog who, like Bob Dole, cannot learn new tricks, and who is comfortable enough in his prerogatives as a Senior United States Senator to believe he shouldn’t have to.
That’s why you don’t run a guy older than dirt, to use McCain’s own phrase. It’s not just that he’s lost a half step since 2000, which he clearly has, but that he actively resents anyone pointing it out, and so he will pointedly ignore advice that suggests as much.
The man simply Does Not Get It, or Can Not Help It.
And CBS News has the snap poll, again, which by this time must sting a hell of a lot more than a tongue lashing from Judge Judy: Obama by 31% (53%/22%).
Sleep tight, Johnny Mac.
Late update, Thursday, 7:45 am:
As in the other two match-ups, CBS merely anticipates the general response via polling: CNN’s focus groups and polling show Obama the winner by a similarly wide margin. The only two categories McCain won:
“Eighty percent of debate watchers polled said McCain spent more time attacking his opponent, with seven percent saying Obama was more on the attack. Fifty-four percent said McCain seemed more like a typical politician during the debate, with 35 percent saying Obama acted more like a typical politician.”
Later Even Update, Thursday, 7:49 am:
ABC News is clearly in the tank for McCain, showing an Obama win by a mere 28%. Have you no shame, sirs?
Latest, Creepiest Update Ever, Thursday, 11:19 am:
Laura writes in that we’ve missed what was actually the most revealing screen capture of the night, and looking at it now, we have to agree. Two men, two potential Presidents, but only one with tongue of lizard, eye of Newt (Gingrich):