What viewers see is as important as what they hear in debates. So what did pundits see?
- "The expressions on John McCain's face, and the irritation in his voice, said it all," writes the San Francisco Chronicle. McCain “was a portrait of frustration,” while Obama looked like the proverbial “cool hand at the tiller”—just what McCain said the country needs.
- In a disappointingly scripted debate, writes Mark Silva in the Chicago Tribune, "What had the most unrehearsed feel of the evening was McCain's palpable dislike for his rival." Silva found McCain nervous, even edgy, "chuckling and at one point almost snorting a laugh at his opponent," while Obama stayed cool.
- Michael Sherer found McCain’s disdain for Obama especially apparent when he referred to him as “that one.” Obama, meanwhile, treated McCain “like a disruptive student in his law school class,” writes Sherer in Time."The teacher acknowledged the dissenter, explained why he was wrong, and moved on."
- Like Bob Dole in 1996, McCain's body looked stiff, writes John Pickney of the National Review. In a just world, viewers would remember his Vietnam torture and think “war hero,” but “in the real world, many probably thought ‘elderly man.’”