Speak Gruffly and Carry a Blunt Sharpie

John McCain made it clear last night that he’s not President Bush. But McCain is no David Beckham either. So here’s my follow-up question for the candidate: What’s up with the Sharpie, John?

McCain has used a Sharpie as an effective prop before, promising to veto any pork-laden bill that crosses his desk as president.

But last night he also used the iconic permanent marker to take notes—often furiously—while Barack Obama was speaking. McCain also twiddled with the pen continually, making him appear impatient or perturbed. 

Sharpies are great for marking cardboard boxes or giving autographs, as soccer star David Beckham’s commercials attest. But for taking notes, I can’t think of a more clumsy—or anachronistic—writing instrument.

Unfortunately for McCain, the split-screen image of him scribbling away awkwardly last night only reinforced the stereotype that he’s desperately trying to shake—that of a starkly out-of-touch old man.