So Angry


McCain’s unwillingness to make eye contact with Obama through the debate seems to be getting picked up by a lot of observers. Here’s an interesting exchange on the subject between Chris Matthews and the Post’s Eugene Robinson …

Here’s one comment we got from TPM Reader EO

As a psychotherapist and someone who treats people with anger management problems, we typically try to educate people that anger is often an emotion that masks other emotions. I think it’s significant that McCain didn’t make much, if any, eye contact because it suggests one of two things to me; he doesn’t want to make eye contact because he is prone to losing control of his emotions if he deals directly with the other person, or, his anger masks fear and the eye contact may increase or substantiate the fear.

I noticed him doing the same thing in the Republican primary debates. The perception observers are likely to have is that he is unwilling to acknowledge the opponent’s legitimacy and/or is contemptuous of the opponent.

And here’s another note from TPM Reader TB. I guess I’m really not sure quite how to characterize it …

I think people really are missing the point about McCain’s failure to look at Obama. McCain was afraid of Obama. It was really clear–look at how much McCain blinked in the first half hour. I study monkey behavior–low ranking monkeys don’t look at high ranking monkeys. In a physical, instinctive sense, Obama owned McCain tonight and I think the instant polling reflects that.

So McCain may have given away his status as a low-ranking monkey. I’d never even considered monkey rank.

Late Monkey Science Update: In case anyone’s wondering, I looked up TPM Reader TB’s page at the University he teaches at. And no doubt about it, he appears to be a genuine monkey scientist, or to be more specific a researcher on social cognition and behavior in primates. I’d link to his page. But readers remain anonymous, save for their initials, until they tell us otherwise.