"That one?"

Has McCain lost it?

By Joan Walsh
Published October 9, 2008 1:54AM (EDT)

I knew Sarah Palin lost the VP debate when she failed to acknowledge Joe Biden's pain over losing his fanily. John McCain's gaffe just now wasn't so awful or inhuman, but it was equally tin-eared. He called Obama "that one." Really. Asking if the audience knew who voted for the Bush-Cheney energy bill (an Obama mistake, by the way), he pointed at Obama: "That one."

My first reaction was that it was a little racist – depersonalizing African Americans has a long rhetorical history. But I think it was more like something a cranky babysitter would say, Angry Uncle Joe, or, yes, Mr. Wilson: "You know who broke the coffee table? That one."

Awful. He can't hide his contempt for Obama.

Two thirds through the debate, Obama's cleaning up. More later.

Joan Walsh

Joan Walsh is the author of "What's the Matter With White People: Finding Our Way in the Next America."

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2008 Elections