Tonight I decided to see how the opposing camps viewed the debate tonight between Barack Obama and John McCain. Normally it would be difficult to survey live the differing impressions of Republicans and Democrats. But via the wonders of Second Life (and two laptops) I was able to attend debate viewing parties of both Obama and McCain supporters at the same time. Meanwhile, I had CNN streaming live the debate.
It was interesting getting both perspectives, with both sides claiming victory and painting the opposing candidate at being totally pwned. I captured the chat log from both events -- some of the best quotes I have copied below...
The McCain viewing party was held in a beachside setting at the "Straight Talk Cafe" build (click here to teleport). It was a festive event, with avatars dancing, sipping beverages, and lounging on beach chairs as they watched the debate from their TVs and laptops at home. About 25 avatars were in attendance.
Some people conjectured about the supposed liberal media bias toward Obama, even hinting that Obama was being given an unfair advantage:
Ravik Defiant: Obama may already know what the questions are....
Fairtax Freenote: I know
Noelle McMahon: It wouldn't surprise me
Noelle McMahon: The media will kiss Obama's ass.
Jeffrey Essex: the left wing media is just going to say obama won
Dino Diener: the mainstream press will say obama was golden
There, people were clearly seeing their candidate as wiping the floor with Obama:
Summer Seale: wow mccain is handing obama's butt on a platter
Bowie Exonar: that was afantastic display of foriegn policy prowess
Obama they saw as losing his temper and cutting off McCain:
Noelle McMahon: Obama looks pissed.
Srooc Skytower: obama is not prepped for this..... and it shows
Summer Seale: wow he totally blew obama away
Athena Ellison: I think Obama is drunk
Athena Ellison: I can't believe Obama is burning up on national TV
Persephone Zimer: haha, obama is beet red, and mccain is cool as a cucumber
On the economy, they saw McCain as driving home the points about cutting taxes:
Ravik Defiant: Go McCain!! Stand for your Tax Cut!!!
Euclidean Surface: Obama hasn't named anything he's cut or is willing to cut, though.
Fairtax Freenote: I"m sick of him [Obama] saying that 95% of us will get a tax cut. it's just not true
On foreign relations, several supported McCain's assertion that are strategy in Iraq was the right one:
Gwen Kilby: iRAQ is a success and I'm not sorry for it
Ravik Defiant: we invade other countries to stop genocide, prevent murders and try to protect the basic rights of the people...
Euclidean Surface: Game, set, match, McCain on Iraq.
Ravik Defiant: Good, I'm voting for McCain, because war is the ONLY way to defend our freedom...
Several observed how often Obama said "John is right":
Catz Jewell: lol, he keeps saying McCain is right
jill Serpente: thats one true thing that obama said all night"mccain is right"
Summer Seale: mccain should say: hey, obama is agreeing with me 90% of the time!
Amidst the slamming of Obama was at least one note of appreciation for both candidates:
Maria Hocho: they really do look at things from different perspectives, so no one is an idiot, they all have different upbringings, and deal with different people, so they look at things differently... come on lets be adults here
The Obama camp's debate watching party took place at "Obama/Biden Lounge at Hope Beach (click here to teleport.) About 30-some avatars were in attendance. Their impressions were nearly opposite those of the McCain camp.
Obama in general seemed more ready and calm, in their impression:
Marqi Magic: I think that Barack is very poised, and is taking on all of the points that McCain is making like a champ and reflecting them at him like a tremendous beam of light. I hope that everyone got their friends and family members to watch this. This shows alot..and hte points show, you can see how the debate is going.
Napanickg Halderman: this is total pwnage
While McCain seemed very old and cranky to them:
Fern Runningbear: I def think he's medicated
Genevieve Bloch: liars tend to blink a lot
Fern Runningbear: it's a "tell"
Prettykitty Gumbo: McCain is dancing around subjects. He hasn't answered one question
Liam Schuyler: seriously...it's like listening to my old uncle ramble on
Shai King: he needs a nap
Fern Runningbear: he is cutting off obama and that is pissing me off
Fern Runningbear: mccain was rude and obnoxious
Some wondered if Obama was being too nice and complimentary of McCain:
Earthy Ling: I wonder if Obama should try to get under his skin more - provoke an extreme outburst
Elphaba Blackburn: i think obama could've been stronger, but i think he still did better than grampie
Liam Schuyler: Obama shouldn't have said "McCain is right" as much
Obama on the economy:
Pooky Amsterdam: stop the war 10 bilion a month
Elphaba Blackburn: oooo orgy of spending!
crazyman Karu: 1 good way for our goverment to save billions is to end the WAR
Obama on the US reputation around the world:
Marqi Magic: I am an American, and as a supporter of Senator Obama, I know that there is hope...and I am sad about how the American citizens are viewed globally based on the past regime that is about to come to an end
Earthy Ling: Since when did dipomacy become a dirty word?
At least one person at the Obama party admitted that McCain did well:
Fangorn Dengaku: hate to say it, but McCain won. he made his case about experience better'n Obama
One area that both the McCain and Obama camps agreed on was that the bracelet discussion (talking about parents of soldiers in Iraq who had given bracelets to both candidates) was silly politicking:
Kallisto Ihnen: We all have bracelets... can we move on?
Fern Runningbear: I know this bracelet thing is stupid
Euclidean Surface: Great, now we're comparing bracelets.
Jace Georgia: he don't know who he wear on his bracelet! he had to get one because John has one!!!
So what's my take-away from this somewhat schizophrenic experience?
Obviously this was a very small subset of both candidates' supporters. What I observed was a lot of preaching to the choir and one-sided views of their candidates. There was no real dialogue across the aisle, nor was there intended to be. (If I wanted that, I could have gone to the more bi-partisan Capitol Hill sim, which also sponsored a debate viewing party.) I think it's a useful reminder that no matter the political figure, one person's angel is another person's demon.
Regarding the debate themselves, I think that John McCain and Barack Obama tonight -- in contrast to some of their supporters -- were able to rise above politics as usual and engage in a largely respectful and considered discussion of the issues without resorting to name-calling, fear mongering or other emotional appeals. I would hope that Americans would follow their lead and engage in the same kind of discourse over the next months -- whether it be within Second Life, in the blogosphere, on twitter, or in the office lunch room.