Count this one among those who, at first, winced as Obama spoke during the debate about McCain's running mate, Sarah Palin. Obama did not dwell on Palin's glaring shortcomings that have so captivated the media, her stark lack of experience for one, her shortcomings in the area of foreign policy in particular.
Obama was, in fact, beyond nice.
But in truth this graciousness was clearly a calculated tactic -- or, okay, John, a calculated strategy -- on Obama's part, knowing that he did not want to come across as angry or bitter, especially gives the stereotypes many Americans hold about young African-American men.
Throughout the evening in fact Obama was a remarkable, even stunning, example of calmness under extraordinary pressure, parsing phrases and even thoughts with the skill of a seasoned debater, prompting McCain a couple of times to remark upon Obama's "eloquence," although, of course, McCain said it with clenched teeth.
We would dare say that while Obama showed clear calculation in his approach to the evening, it was not a stance that could be called sangfroid, in the root "cold blood" sense of the phrase.
Obama's performance, like his character as reflected in his autobiography, "Dreams From My Father," was extraordinary, in so many ways. He gunned even as he held back, while McCain often appeared on the verge of losing it all to the anger seething within him.
McCain's was a anxious discomfort that caused him to walk the wrong way towards the end of the debate at Hofstra, prompting the tongue dropping reaction captured by a Reuters photographer. [See accompanying photo.]