. . . Saturday October 9, 2004

You Cannot Be Serious

When I write my post-debate analysis, my goal is to offer my takes on where each candidate scored, where they each missed opportunities and what might be the strategies (and the focus of the public’s attention) moving forward.

Looking at political moments through this lens, I often find myself trying to understand this election from the perspectives of both sides. I force myself to ignore the fact that the feeling I have watching the President speak on the issues is much the same as the feeling I had when I watched John McEnroe, nose-cream spread across his face, headband distored under unruly hair, as he screamed to anyone within earshot or a television broadcast of that fateful Australian Open, “You cannot be serious?!”

Of course, McEnroe was a tennis pro and and entertainer (and come on, the ball was clearly out). This guy is our president.

Now, I still plan to try to be fairly evenhanded in my judgments moving forward. It seems to me that this is the best way to provide useful analysis (although emotional outbursts would probably make for more pageviews).

The utter disbelief I often feel as I watch these debates unfold is really neither here nor there.

But as Michael Corleone did for his wife, I am going to let you ask me about my business this one time (I’ll even answer truthfully).

Last night, my immediate reaction to the debate was one I have often had over the past four years. I always take notes as I am watching. Here is the first line I wrote down as the President started to answer a question:

This guy cannot be our president…

Mathew Gross offers a take on his reaction to W that largely mirrors my own.

It just seems impossible to me that millions of Americans respond to this President. And I find it equally impossible to believe that thinking people across this country and on our television screens don’t sort of feel the same way. There are a variety of reasons why, when the camera pans to them, these relatively intelligent people aren’t covered in sweaty nose-cream as they scream that we cannot seriously be considering this guy for office again.

To come full circle, it’s interesting to note that an older, wiser John McEnroe now spends much of his time discussing the fact that he can’t believe that guy who behaves like W could be our president.

Again, I’m not sure this gut reaction offers much to the discussion. People do respond to W. Half of Americans think he is the right man for the job. So it’s probably more interesting to analyze the race within the strange confines of that reality.

But I thought I’d let you ask me about my business just this once. You have your glimpse at my notes, my first draft reaction to last night’s debate. Don’t ask again, or you’ll find yourself on a fishing boat with Fredo.

And now, back to the analysis at hand. Every time I try to get out, you keep pulling me back in

Concentration is important!