On Saturday evening here in Madrid, Democrats Abroad and Republicans Abroad jointly participated in a screening of the first presidential debate at Casa de América, a pan-American cultural center. The debate had been broadcast live on four television channels in Spain, but due to time zone differences, it began at 3 a.m. Saturday morning, so only insomniacs and You-Tube addicts got to see it.
A standing-room-only crowd of 550 people came. The Democrats sold $1,046 worth of tee-shirts, buttons, and other paraphernalia; the Republicans sold books about McCain and buttons, and had a life-sized cardboard cut-out of McCain for photos.
Volunteers helped 73 American citizens to register to vote and request absentee ballots.
Obama got applause and cheers when he explained that Spain is an ally of the United States.
The debate was followed by a panel of Democratic and Republican pundits, moderated by Spain's top evening news anchor. The best comment from the panel, in my obviously partisan opinion, was made by Gil Carbajal, who had been a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in August in Denver: "What is a maverick? It's a steer that gets wanders off and gets lost."
I thought the debate was interesting, despite nothing especially new from either candidate, but McCain lost because of his transparent stunt to keep himself in the headlines by holding the debate hostage. He kept us all on the edge of our seats until the last minute, as if he were making up his mind, but he knew all along what he was going to do and never really suspended his campaign. Do we want and need a drama queen for president?