The Friday night thrilla gave undecided Americans plenty of opportunity to take the measure of the men who would be president. And one looked Presidential. Calm, reassuring, knowledgeable, sure of his facts.
The other looked like a petulant reverser into second childhood. Boastful, shrill, histrionic, petulant, just plain mean.
I'll be honest, for a while I really wanted Obama to zap McCain with a zinger retort back at McCain's bullying, taunting, provocative tactics. But Obama didn't.
Instead, he spoke directly to all of us who watched. He tried to engage McCain, but McCain wouldn't--couldn't?--look him in the eye.
And I thought of a child taught to have respect for his elders, not to pile on when they are in the process of humiliating themselves.
A child who went thru a troubled youth, but the fundamentals of his upbringing by his mom and grandparents kept him grounded and he worked through that time. Just as he worked to excel in his studies, all the way through his college and law school degrees.
And how he's been working all his adult life to bring along those kinds of qualities of character and help others find them in themselves, rejecting the easy path, the greedy path.
Last night we saw the petulant old tiger, snarling, clawing, lurching for his footing.
And we saw the new lion, past young, rising in his prime to lead through the turbulence and challenges that lie ahead.
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"The price of freedom is eternal vigilance."