In the second debate why was McCain wandering?

When I watched the debate last week, it struck me that McCain looked confused as he wandered around the stage while Obama answered questions. I rewatched it today and once again this was my reaction. Am I missing something? Was there some ulterior plan that is over my head. Hey, it’s real possible. I’m just Joe Keg. But it didn’t seem a great message to be sending during a debate that he wasn’t sure where he was supposed to be.

If this has been all talked out, I apologize.

  1. His legs were cramping.

  2. He was trying to get a better view down the blouse of that hot brunette in the second row.

  3. He was afraid he left his fly open and felt that standing up would make it harder to notice.

  4. He cannot think while sitting still; he needs the wind in his hair to keep the wheels turning.

  5. His chair made a farting noise every time he sat in it or shifted weight.

  6. He was trying to do an impersonation of Tim Conway’s Old Man.

  7. The squeaking of the floor made him feel more comfortable with the squeaking in his joints.

  8. He was enraged that he was losing the debate (and election); he had to direct his energy downward to his legs lest his head explode.

  9. The remote control that operates his machinery was twitchy.

  10. If he sits still for too long, he falls asleep.

At one point he got up while Obama was talking, passed behind him to signal someone (either someone in the audience or Brokaw), then wandered back to his seat. It got a big laugh with the group I was watching the debate with (and later got made fun of by John Stewart), as he really did look like a lost old man wandering around and not sure where he’s supposed to be.

Not sure what he was actually doing though, my best guess was that he was trying to ask Brokaw about the time left.

Ah, you can see it here at around 9 minutes: (hulu). Complete with John Stewart’s amusing voice over. He definately was signaling something to Brokaw, and then decided wander around the outskirts of the stage for some reason instead of returning to his chair.

He was wandering to upstage Obama. No mystery there.

He was communing with his “fellow prisoners”.

It was probably a strategy to look active and engaged with the people asking the questions. I read somewhere that there was a rule limiting how far from their chairs they were supposed to roam. It was kinda expected that they’d both break the rule, and McCain, being a super-maverick, broke it a lot.

I think for people who already view McCain positively, they’d view him walking around the stage as confident, active, mavericky, whatever. If you already view him negatively, you view it as a symptom of senility.

I guess we’re all just making WAGs her, but my impression was that it was a combination of nervous energy and an attempt to appear active and engaged. I think the signalling might have been an effort to get a laugh by pointing out that Obama’s time had expired, but who knows.

It’s well known that one of the reasons Clinton beat Bush 41 in their town hall debate back in 1992 is that Clinton tended to approach the audience member who asked the question. That simple body language gave the impression that Clinton was really interested in the question and cared about the person asking it.

I thought McCain was trying to emulate Clinton, but it came off very badly because he doesn’t have the same political gifts.


Pretty sure this is it. I only give his performance 6/10. He really needed to get stalled trying to cross a line on the floor to sell the impression.

There is a difference between the Clintonian approaching the audience member and invading the audience member’s personal space and getting in their face. Clinton came off as caring; McCain as agressive.

As to the wandering - it works when he is doing his usual town hall - just him and a receptive crowd - he just didn’t adapt for the circumstance of a shared stage.

Except McCain’s wandering was while Obama was answering questions. They both did the “approach the questioner” thing to look engaged, but McCain would also pace around while waiting for Obama to finish. My earlier link shows the most egregious case.

I don’t think it was part of some strategy, I think it was part him trying to signal to Brokaw, and part just having a lot of nervous energy (as DtC suggests).

Sure, joke all you want, people – has anyone actually gone out and *found *Mr. Puddles?

Some of the comments from audience members at the Ole Miss debate indicated that McCain did a lot of nervous shuffling of feet. I vote for excess nervous energy.

I don’t care why he did it. It was rude as hell that he did. I can see Johnny Mac in kindergarten being told by the teacher, “now we have to sit still and use only our ears as we listen to others, John. Please sit down.”

“I told you to sit down, Johnny.”

“Sit down, now!”

“If you don’t sit down, you will go sit in the principal’s office. That’s better. Now fold your hands nicely and let’s all listen!”

I wanted Brokaw to do something like that, but he was too busy exhibiting major OCD symptoms re the lights and the timing.

Grown up usually can sit and listen to others, even when they don’t like the other person, even when they are competing for the same thing. He failed even in this small matter. Golf game and rocking chair, here he comes.

Isn’t it normal to wander near the Audience, not off in the boonies at the back end of the stage?

I saw the Clip and said “McCain, the Audience is over there!”

He is very convincing as No, 5.

I’m going to assume that he was not comfortable sitting.

The chairs were high; he is short. He is, in fact, physically damaged.

I think this particular thread is a cheap shot.

I think it is an honest question. If it’s uncomfortable for me to sit on a stool because it’s too high, I’m still probably not going to walk around, or even do much more than shift my weight. Granted, I’m far younger than McCain (who isn’t? :P), but the point remains,

Well, O.J. Simpson was supposed to keep an eye out, but he’s got bigger problems these days.