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John McCain responds to the eye contact question

John McCain was asked today about the charge, pressed by some Barack Obama supporters in comments posted to The Ticket and elsewhere, that he intentionally avoided eye contact with his rival during their Friday night debate as a way of expressing his disdain for him.

Here's what he said on ABC's "This Week With George Stephanopoulos": “I was looking at the moderator a great deal of time. I was writing a lot of the time. I in no way know how that in any way would be disdainful."

He also noted that in many of the debates in which he has participated, "I don't look at my opponents because I'm focusing on the people and the American people that I'm talking to.”

He did not mention what others have postulated -- that the severe injuries he suffered as a prisoner of war make a shoulder pivot awkward for him.

Regardless, the vibe between McCain and Obama -- which, as The Ticket previously noted can be key to public reactions to the debates -- will now be even more closely watched Oct.7, when the two next share a stage. It will be a town-hall format for their encounter in Nashville, so there should be lots of body language to analyze.

-- Don Frederick

 
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Baloney. It was just plain rude. 1 1/2 hours you don't look once at the person you are on stage with? Reader, how would YOU feel if that happened to you? Poor Cindy must have been so embarrassed and ashamed to have her husband publicly display such bad bad manners.

Alrighty then......John McCain has gotten lots of mileage from his POW experience and injuries, but now.......you are saying the injuries somehow played a role in his lack of eye contact???? C'mon..... His entire body language throughout the debate wreaked of contention and arrogance! What needs to ring true about this to anyone observing is----If the man can't interact respectfully in a debate, with basic human interaction and politeness...then uh.....can he really sit down with an adversarial world leader and make any headway????

And we want a president who doesn't know how to make basic eye contact? We want someone who is that socially awkward meeting with world leaders? Negotiating? Speaking on our behalf? Representing us to the world? Pulling together allies when we need them? WTF!

The more I watch McCain being interviewed, in the public eye I have notice very interesting body language that is blatantly obvious which in and of itself note a high degree of the particular trait.
Eye contact--indeed disdain, not open potentially unthruthful, embarrasssed
Fidgetting--nervousness--again untruthful, shifty, sneaky
Forced smile--again not trustworthy
I was initially a McCain supporter but the longer this race goes on I am concerned about John's ethically particularly relative to his political stunts, Palin, Ike and now the theatrics prior to the debate.
I am now leaning more towards Obama, as I fear not only will Mccain be everything he says he is not, but he will ultimately make Bush look like a hero.

Mr. McCain showed himself to be who and what he is: ill-humored, ill-prepared, out maneuvered and over matched, and even the Republican over sampling in the polls reflect it. Mr. Rove and his vote caging vote flippers will have to steal a much bigger swath of the electorate than in his previous two successful attempts to install an unelected man into the presidency - and don't think they aren't trying.

McCain doesn't look at Obama because he is lying. It is a typical problem for liars. Can you imagine the rage McCain feels that this upstart Obama can be considered a worthy opponent for him, the war hero? He must therefore do anything and say anything to expose the pretender to the title that he thinks belongs to him. Poor John. Will he never be anointed as the saviour he thinks he is? He knows this is his last chance, But all of the smug looks and self-satisfied smiles, when he thinks he's put one over on Obama, will not save him from himself this time.

I feel it is a physical disability. Look at footage available of him when he is standing or walking or generally moving. Something is not what it seems. Was it his time as a P.O.W. or is something else happening? Either way you don't bet money on a lame horse in a race. He has my deepest sympathy for having to deal with a physically debilitating condition in this world, but that ends where his candidacy begins.

Where's the news about Obama calling McCain "TOM"?

This is a worthy discussion. I think Lois from Wisconsin hit right on the head. The problem is this the kind of man we want in the WH. Dear God-NO. We cannot make another mistake in electing a president like the last one. I fear Rovian tactics will prevail unless we do everything we can to elect Obama, Oregon will swing Democratic, as probably Calif. Wisconsin must be a dem win. Big battleground state. Do whatever you can to help. Blogs, voter registration, yard sign, phones, go door to door. this is so important

John McCain has in many ways shown his disdane for Senator Obama and the people at large. His ads have been over the top aggresive and his demeanor during the first debate was cold. Le't see what the next two debates bring us...MORE OF THE SAME? Heaven help us.

Obama mis-spoke. the reference to someone first name Tom that came up in the next sentence. Review the debate. The reason it is not in the news is because it is not news. Simply. What is Gods green earth could be made of that. I would belive anything. From the right at this point.

Pass the word. McCain had to shut down his blog site. Too many negative comments?

McCain lost the debate for many reasons, including the eye contact issue. What commentators (remarkably) often miss is that the presidential debate is not a sporting contest.

“Why Obama and Paul Newman won the Debate”
http://msa4.wordpress.com/

John McCain was down right rude and an obnoxious. Even when they shook hands John McCain did not even look at him. But of course his neck was broke and he got blinded in the war.

I think McCain's mannerisms have EVERYTHING to do with his POW experience. Freaking scares the hell out of me. You don't know what condition that experience has left his brain in.

McCain is too hawkish both in policy and demeanor. Obama didn’t have to link him to Bush, McCain did that himself.

The answer isn't bomb the hell out of everyone who says nonsense or looks at us cross eyed.

Like it or not, the stability of the middle east will most certain involve Iran's participation. Sorry but we lost our hand and credibility when we decided to invade Iraq for no reason.

>Where's the news about Obama calling McCain "TOM"?

He called John Tom then corrected it because he was making a point with reference to Tom Clyburn.

I guess that means Obama was intentionally rude and naive. How dare he think he should grace the same stage as McCain.

did his war injuries make him smirk too?

I want to defend Senator McCain on this so called "slight of the eyes".

McCain may be shy in personal inclination - He may have difficulty with a shoulder. I don't care if he has disability due to being a POW - It doesn't make him less ideal to be president that he may have some minor physical limitations due to being tortured by America's once enemy - It makes him more so. McCain having served our nation in war may be best suited to be commander in chief.

I listened to the Presidental debates. I felt McCain did a very good job. I also --though I was less impressed --felt that Obama did a good job as well. However, It was Obama's failure to take a stance with protecting Israel no matter what from those who would try to wipe this tiny nation out - that matters a hell of a lot more to me than if McCain decided to look at Obama cross eyed all night.

I want my president to be able to make decisions and to move beyond words to action. I say lets leave pretty boy conduct to Brad Pitt and fashion models. I would encourage everyone to watch the VP debate. It is time for a change - but not just any change- we need to go to a dedicated course to protect America's financial and personal freedoms.

With Obama we seem to get a good "act".
With McCain we just might get good action.

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Why should John McCain eye contact Obama when he continued to call him John or John McCain? McCain probably felt insulted and belittled by that. He always called Obama Senator Obama. Face it, Obama doesn't have what it takes to be president. I wonder how he would address leaders of other countries.

As someone who works a lot in the Middle East and overseas more generally, I have no doubt that Obama will improve the reputation of the U.S. much more easily than McCain. His reputation abroad is already way better than McCain's and he will not be seen as a continuation of Bush policy which is almost universally despised. Whether McCain intends to continue Bush policy (something I think is fairly clear) or not it is virtually certain he will be seen as doing this by most foreign governments and their citizens. It is now seriously dangerous to work in the Middle East as an American and I hope people will vote for Obama so that this danger, so linked to general U.S. security, can be diminished. It is worth noting that our problems with Iran have increased dramatically under Bush and these very problems are now threatening Israeli security. All US presidents will always support Israel because of its nuclear arsenal and the catastrophes that a threatened loss of a conventional war would unleash so only the most naive should try to convince themselves otherwise.

McCain looked annoyed and possibly seething with rage the whole time. Scary.

I thought McCain was condescending in his body language when he purposefully avoided giving Obama eye contact during the debate. I also noticed that immediately after the debate, Senator and Mrs. Obama made the first move to go over and shake hands with the McCains who were cautiously reserved, not friendly, in their response.

I guess Obama was right about McCain... he's not a multitasker.. he can't debate while looking at his opponent.. kinda like chewing gum and rubbing your stomach at the same time !

Whatever John McCain thinks about how or why he looked as and where he did, it came across to this viewer as arrogant. Someone who cannot make eye contact in such a situation -- or who does not want to make eye contact -- does not come across as someone I can trust.

I'm sure that through out the South, folks are calling McCain racism for not reconizing a black man.

It is a fact of that culture

For me it demonstrated the rigidity and disdain that McCain feels for Obama. Additionally, it shows a sort of cowardice and guilt because in his free time McCain joins with his campaign to launch negative campaigns and rehearses them in his apartment. Obama's negativity toward the rival campaign is professional and not personal. Personal attacks are pretty much 75 to 80 percent of what McCain does. It didn't work for Hillary Clinton either.

If most Americans are stupid enough to elect McCain and Palin because they just can't bring themselves to overcome their racist views for their own sake, the world will laugh and say that USA definetely represents the great power of stupidity.

Sure, why not? And the Obama-nation showed lots of respect called McCain, John, or was it Tom? Right-o. You all have a hum dinger there, hmmm, yea, an organizer? Just wait 4 more years says HIllary....

As a mental health professional, I perceive McCain as being rageful that a bright and capable opponent would dare to run against him. In my mind, he is not doing a good job of hiding the rage he fills about this guy he perceives as a young whippersnapper. I also am convinced, as a 72 year-old (caucasian) that he easily loses his focus and that would interfere with his ability to remember the words that were scripted or wired into his brain. Yes, we all have some loss of our thinking acuity as we age.

Perhaps one reason for McCain not looking at Obama more often is that all he would see is Obama smirking, trying to project an image of superiority, and the like.

You know, how the democrats try to project that they know everything about everything.

Just like comparing the many Americans just as trailer trash.

I want my president to be able to make decisions and to move beyond words to action. I say lets leave pretty boy conduct to Brad Pitt and fashion models. I would encourage everyone to watch the VP debate. It is time for a change - but not just any change- we need to go to a dedicated course to protect America's financial and personal freedoms.

With Obama we seem to get a good "act".
With McCain we just might get good action.

Posted by: Desiree in Seattle | September 28, 2008 at 01:26 PM

Desiree,
Mr. Brad Pitt happens to be a great human being, McCain could only wish to have the dignity and grace of Brad Pitt. Do you have any idea how much good Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie do in this world ? From working with the U.N. refugee programs,medical assistance and food for the needy to using millions of their own money in rebuilding New Orleans and around the world to make this world a better place. Brad Pitt is no PRETTY BOY, he's a BEAUTIFUL HUMAN BEING.

Just what kind of action do you want from your President ?

If it's World War Three, then McCain's your man.

If you want a President who'll work on our problems in America and still keep us safe then vote Obama.

After the debate I flipped the channel to MSNBC and all the were talking about for an hour was McCain and the eye contact thing-- not the issues. I thought, "how stupid can people be to think that was such a big deal"? Well I guess I just have to realise that the majority of people will elect to not use their own minds and buy into what someone tells them to think. Left or right wing, it doesn't matter.
Now as for his POW injuries, the man cannot raise his arms more than at a 90deg angle. That effects body language in a big way. Shoulder pivots, waving, putting your hands behind your back, you name it. Think of all the functions your shoulders have and try to not move those joints for a day. Seriously. We all know that Barack's style and salesmanship has gotten him very very far, but I am far more concerned with the substance of a person and not how they flash a smile, thank you.

Eye contact? my foot! Who cares about 'eye contact'! McCain won the debate on issues - foreign policy and economics. He suspended his campaign to support House Republicans in the bailout crisis. He suspended his campaign to get in the midst of the bailout mess. His suspension of the campaign focus everyone, Democrat & Republican on the seriousness of this Democrat enhanced mortgage credit mess. He's not exactly ideologically conservative in Rush Limbaugh league but 'Country First' in heart and soul to discern, this credit mess is or will be soon a major, major crisis. Judgment, wisdom and discernment of priorities McCain has.

For anyone who wants to invent excuses for McCain's disdain, please have a look at how disrespectfully he greets his fellow Senator. It started the moment they stepped on stage.

Just keep believing whatever you want to believe, I guess, and you can somehow convince yourself to vote for four more years of lies, ineptitude, an unsustainable economics of greed, and very badly managed foreign policy.

"I don't look at my opponents because I'm focusing on the people and the American people that I'm talking to.”
McCain don't have to make eye contact with someone who patronizingly call him John each and everytime instead of Senator McCain. His not talking to Obama, his talking to the American people. This is not harvard debating society, my friends. McCain is interviewing with the American people for the biggest job in the world , of which he is qualified and Obama is not.

Hello Desiree in Seattle,

You can't convince those that are so blinded by the media and talk shows to solely base their decisions.

They speak such hateful words and I feel sorry for them.

On a positive note:

"I say time for you and I to sign up more voters. "John McCain :)"

In the last 24 hours, John McCain was ‘projecting’ with the statement, “It was clear that Senator Obama still sees the financial crisis in America as a national problem to be exploited first and solved later.’’

A journalist has as their primary motivation, to keep their job. This motivation is what prevents them from telling it like it is: McCain exibits traits of one with one.... or several personality disorders. Countless sociopaths rise to positions of power in every area of life, as they are often highly charming to the unskilled observer. I'm especially upset on how McCain changed the Eisenhower story to fit or 'defect' attention from his serious error about firing the SEC Chairman. There's no way any student of war history could have got that story confused. Impossible. McCain simply changed a historic event, to bail himself out of another blunder. He is a master of manipulation and he pulled this switcheroo again in Fridays debate.

Sociopaths and antisocial personalities have as routine, a habit of shifting blame to others, on things that they are guilty of doing. It's called "deflection", a diversion of ones attention. It's also highly effective, but rendered ineffective if the person attempting the technique, is cleverly 'called on it' by anyone watching or on the receiving end.

It’s nearly impossible to believe that such behavior is occuring and succeeding, from a US Presidential or Vice Presidential candidate. This precise technique is common among……well, if you want 'straight talk'....it's very commonplace among criminals and ex-cons.

Anyone understanding criminal justice and forensic psychology would know this to be fact. I have years of background in both disciplines. It's unfortunate but understandable that most news editors won’t let their staff go quite this far; to place this label on a candidate. Therefore, McCain/Palin are getting away with their "non factual" statements...that 'Straight Talk' would define as an outright lie. A socipopath or manipulator is a master at deflection and completely derailing conversations. It's a method of control.

John McCain does this in nearly every interview.

Please urge the journalists at the LAT to continue asking these McCain and Palin questions....until they get an answer, not a deflection. If they have no access to them, then the local reporters or editorial board should have the freedom to write the truth of what they see, not write articles that will help them maintain their jobs.

The press drives the narrative and will decide this election. I've read Ohio papers; it's no wonder Republicans always win Ohio.

You saw what happened when Katie Couric persisted until she got an answer!
Resist McCain and he will flee.

To those who are saying that the whole eye contact issue is no big deal: so? It's not like people are disregarding the whole debate and are only focusing on the reason McCain didn't look Obama in the eye.

If you want people to state their opinon on the actual debate, then go to a different topic. This is, after all, a topic regarding a specific issue (which is, you know, the eye contact thing?)

Anyway, I do think that it came across as rude that McCain didn't once look at Obama. Especially because there were many times that Obama addressed McCain directly. If he was taking notes or looking elsewhere, it still shouldn't have been too difficult to look him in the eye.

I hope NObama is elected and he cuts the military as he purposes, take away the existing tools to fight terrorism...

because it will be under his watch, we have a 9/11 greater than 9/1/2001.. (whom if Clinton had balls, would have done something the 8 years in office to kill bin laden) and it can come to be brought upon your idiotic ways for this solialism path we are heading into electing NOBAMA.

You all are CRAZY!! I was APPALLED at how many times Senator Obama called Senator McCain "John" by his first name during the debate!!! That right there is a HUGE sign of disrespect! Not once did Senator McCain called his "Barack". He always called him Senator Obama. I'm still out on this one folks...but if he will disrespect there, he will disrespect all of us!!!

If he can move his feet, and he can, he can turn and look at Obama--at some point in the 90 minute debate. Even when they were face to face, he couldn't look him in the eye. Instead, oddly, McCain somehow managed to look both angry and ashamed. (No wonder he doesn’t want to go face to face with with an enemy. They would walk all over him, behaving as he does like a scared and embittered child.) Only one person displayed Presidential Dignity, Authority, and intelligence: Obama.

> I also am convinced, as a 72 year-old (caucasian) that >he easily loses his focus and that would interfere with >his ability to remember the words that were scripted or >wired into his brain.

Emma,

all NOBAMA can say when not scripted with a teleprompter is:

ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh

SO STFU idiot.

I can't help but notice that the majority of pro-McCain comments here appear to be written by twits.

Obama lovers only see what's bad from their opponent, and ignore their idol's scowling looks and smirking. He's the one who's disrespectful towards the old and wise man.

McCain is know in the Senate and amoung his colleages to have a temper and blows up when things not going his way. Maybe he could not look at Obama so as to avoid the personally problem he has.
McCain looked like an old man on that stage who has not advanced with the times.
How can anyone vote for him and Palin. I am a Republican and I will not vote Republican this year. That ticket is a disaster.

A used car salesperson, and a member of congress can look you square in the eye and lie!

Why the uproar over Obama caliing McCain "John"?

Isn't that his name?

ate mely,
You ain't my friend, and neither is McCain, please stop pandering.

it is hardly news to anyone that ever bothered to take a few minutes and a hard and honest look at all the candidates, that both candidates selected and recruited (not elected) and presented to the american people as the prospective next 'presidential puppet', suffer severe personality disorders, are corrupt and completely unsuitable for the presidential office. there is no constitutional basis for this, the representative 'democratic' process of the republic has been and is being, completely circumvented, undermined and disrespected. the majority of the media have been, and are a crucial part in this scheme. the legitimate and sincere candidates, e.g. RON PAUL, did not and do not receive fair coverage and treatment, as their message is not favorable to the
'establishment', but challenges their social ideology and global agenda. it does not take any special professional skills to detect this.

 
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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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