Where Intelligence Meets News Analysis.

What Has Changed After The Last Debate?

When I mentioned in a previous article that despite the fact I believe it was inconsequential whatever Sen. McCain did in this last presidential debate, that I expected an effort from him nonetheless; I guess I should have been a little bit clearer.  The effort I envisioned was not the effort I saw splattered all over the millions of TV sets across America.   I seriously want to believe Sen. McCain showed up at this debate with the most serious of intentions, intent on taking it to Obama like his advisers suggested; but after the initial 25 minutes of the debate, decided he’s had enough.  There are only three words that appositely describe the McCain that showed up at last night’s debate—impatient, resentful, and agitated.

If McCain ever wanted to prove me wrong, last night was his opportunity.  He was a sharp contrast from his cool, collected, and confident opponent, Sen. Barack Obama.  McCain made his uneasiness felt for most of the night: it seems for every smile Obama made, McCain countered with a frown and deep heavy sighs, loud enough to be picked up by his microphone for every household in America to hear.  His eyelashes battered repeatedly and rapidly.  Before the hour was over, I was convinced he had lost the debate.  I whispered to a viewer that was in a debate-watch party I was attending, “I’d be mightily surprised if the polls don’t return a landslide victory for Obama tonight.”

McCain for sure did have his moment.  “Senator Obama, I am not President Bush,” he calculatingly said.  “If you want to run against President Bush, you should have run four years ago.”   The room I was in literally exploded upon hearing this, I could not see a nonreactive face in the room—I was immensely impressed by the line.  If you ever wondered what taking it to the house meant, you needed no further lessons—this was it.  But the series of statements that followed after this line, gave the sense that Senator McCain must have forgotten that speaking to a party base alone has never been enough to get any candidate into the presidential office. 

Even if you wanted to forgive his continual hammering of the need not to spread the wealth around to the middle-class during an economic mayhem in the initial minutes of the debate (he must have forgotten the wealthy are only 1% of the electorate), how do you explain his outright refusal to denounce shouts of hate messages at his rallies soon after the aforementioned “line”?  Given a golden chance by Sen. Obama to appeal to the undecided voter watching, McCain instead went into a diatribe of how he’s “proud of the people that come to our rallies…I am not going to stand for people saying that the people that come to my rallies are anything but the most dedicated, patriotic men and women that are in this nation and are great citizens, and I’m not gonna stand for somebody saying because somebody yelled something at a rally.”  What a lousy response?!  Bear in mind this was to Obama’s accusation of unbridled shouts of “Terrorist!”…“Kill Him!”…whenever his name came up at McCain’srallies.  McCain had a chance here to sharply and harshly rebuke these specific horrid statements and thereby improve his lot with the nonpartisan voter at home, but he chose not to.

So once again I ask what has changed after this last debate; definitely not the fact that Sen. McCain will lose this election.  Repeated sheepish interjections into Sen. Obama’s statements during the debate by Sen. McCain not only eluded an aura of impatience, but that of agitation as well—traits that are by no means very presidential in nature.  At least one thing was accomplished, after a casting call that has lasted for centuries; Americans can now put a face to the average Joe.  Joe the Plumber is the winner of the night without any doubt.  I have always wondered what it was like to have your name mentioned in a presidential debate, maybe I’d just have to wait till 2012 when the next election comes up.  What a grueling eternity to wait till then!

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