I had not intended on watching the Democrats’ debate last night. In fact, I didn’t realize one was going on until I got to the gym in the early evening to do my daily cardio and looked up and saw the two Democratic presidential contenders on the various video monitors.
What struck is me is what struck a lot of people who watched out, how tired Obama looked, lacking the passionate expression and fluidity of movement which characterize most of his public presentations and debate performances. His rival, by contrast, seemed wooden, her hand gestures forced, as if someone told her she needed to use her hands when she spoke.
Later, after having dinner with a friend (and Hillary supporter), he insisted we watch a replay of the debate. I have to say, while her voice seemed harsh (and shrill at times), Hillary came off much better with sound. She offered far more substantive remarks. Obama seemed to stammer a lot and retreat to platitudes while offering evasive responses.
I only caught the last half of the debate. I thought Hillary offered a decent diplomatic response to the question about her promise to use former presidents and how she would use George W. Bush when she took office (in the unlikely case should that unfortunate event takes place).
I thought Obama looked better toward the end, but both candidates seemed to be reciting standard talking points in their concluding remarks. It was the only time Mrs. Clinton smiled readily, but then her expression seemed forced as if she were doing it because a campaign consultant told her to do so. Almost seemed that smile were pasted on.
My final thought is this: I recall reading that those who heard the Kennedy-Nixon debates on the radio in 1960 thought Nixon the winner while those who saw them on television thought Kennedy the winner. As to last night’s debate, I think those who heard it on the radio would easily give Ms. Hillary the win. Those who saw it on TV would also rate her the winner, but by a much narrower margin.
UPDATE: Just realized the expression I was looking for to describe Hillary’s hand gestures. She looked like a marionette with some “expert” campaign consultant pulling her strings when he thought she needed to emphasize a certain point.