The McCain campaign has been lurching wildly since the Republican Convention trying to find a consistent message or theme. After last night's debate performance, I'd say they finally found one: Anger First.
Forget the ill-conceived "Country First" mantra, McCain's entire campaign has been one long dreary exercise in anger. From the blood-thirsty crowds lapping up McCain and Palin's rants about domestic terrorists to McCain's incessant use of bellicose words to describe his policies "fight," "never surrender" --blah, blah -- this is one angry campaign and one angry candidate.
McCain's trigger-hair temper was on full display during the debate. He was openly contemptuous of his opponent, as he has been in the previous debates, but their close proximity at the interview table made his reactions even more stark. While Obama was calm and unfaltering in his responses, McCain was ready to jump out of his skin. The tight grimace, the rapidly blinking and rolling eyes and the fake laughs left you wondering when McCain was going to pop his cork. It reminded me of McCain's own description of himself as a boy, which he wrote about in his autobiography. McCain said as a child he was angry and combative and used to torture his parents by holding his breath until he passed out. I'm pretty sure his face was turning blue during the entire 90 minute debate.
Just what is McCain so angry about? Perhaps his anger is routed in his belief that he is entitled to the presidency because of his family's history of military service, his status as a POW and the fact he's been in government service for nearly 30 years. Or maybe he knows he's run the worst campaign in presidential history and is looking to blame the other guy to make himself feel better. Who knows - and who cares. The country is in too much trouble to take on the McCain's fragile psyche.