Tonight's Debate: Schieffer, Obama, and McCain's Manhood

I'm glad Bob Schieffer is looking forward to moderating tonight's debate. I like Bob Schieffer. I don't watch Face the Nation, but that's because it is only a half an hour long, and I prefer the hour-long format. When I do see Schieffer in action, I generally like what I see. Schieffer is annoying in the exact same ways that all contemporary political pundits are annoying, but less so.

The first debate was at podiums and the second debate was townhall-style. Tonight's debate will be the sit-down variety, where the moderator and the two candidates share a table. I like the fact that the three debates are done in three different styles because it gives the voter a variety of perspectives by testing the candidates in different ways.

The sit-down style of debate is the most intimate and is generally thought to be the least conducive for personal attacks. There are several psychological reasons, for both the candidates and the viewing audience, why this is thought to be the case. It's much harder to level a personal attack at someone's face than it is when you are directing your remarks to a camera, a studio audience, or the moderator. From the viewer's point-of-view, it is perceived as rude to insult someone with whom you are sharing a table. For these reasons, sit-down debates tend to be both more chatty and more amiable. It won't be possible for McCain to repeat his performance from debate one, where he refused to acknowledge Obama's presence. And if he tries to repeat his stunt from debate two, referring to Obama as 'that one', it will come off very badly, indeed.


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