But the debates revealed each candidate for who he really is: the good, the bad and the binders. Although the two men armed themselves with practiced soliloquies and prefabricated expressions, there was something about the physical proximity of an opponent that scrubbed off even the thickest varnish.
We saw Obama’s aloofness and distaste for the more superficial aspects of politics. But we also saw his resilience.
The debates enabled Romney, at long last, to show Americans his persuasiveness. But he also exhibited his prickliness —“Candy! Candy!” — when he doesn’t get his way.
I not only reveled in these oddities but returned to them, fishing out the transcripts and rereading bits, like Obama’s let’s-measure-our-pensions put-down. On YouTube I revisited the laugh factory that was Joe Biden, who went through all the existing facial expressions for disbelief and derision and then went on to invent another dozen.
In my head I replayed my favorite post-debate analysis: Al Gore’s wondering if the altitude in Denver had incapacitated Obama; one Republican strategist’s description of that Obama performance and Biden’s subsequent mania as a “sleepy cop/crystal-meth cop” routine. The debates were the mothers of some highly inventive wordplay.
They were also a study in moderation, and I’m not referring to Mitt’s. I’m referring to Jim & Martha & Candy & Bob. I’m considering a come-as-your-favorite-moderator Halloween party, and while I thought Bob Schieffer did well Monday night, I’m leaning toward a Candy costume myself, in tribute to her moxie. Debate overlords intended to muffle the moderator’s role in the town-hall format, and asked her to impersonate a potted plant.
So she did: a Venus flytrap. That’s horticulture you can believe in.