In Wednesday night’s final presidential debate,
John McCain came away leading on points, almost scoring with the best zinger of the night.
“I’m not George Bush. If you’d wanted to run against George Bush, you should have run four years ago.”
Great line. If Obama’s riposte – which I’ll paraphrase as, “If I mistook you for Pres. Bush, it’s only because you vote so much like him, and your plans are so similar…” – weren’t true, it might have given McCain a knockdown. It didn’t.
McCain came out aggressive, and brought the new Republican poster child – Joe the Plumber – into the tag-team fray. He also sought to bring the spectre of Bill Ayres into the debate, though Obama popped that balloon effectively. McCain sent his player off the field, claiming he didn’t care about some “broken down terrorist”. But I bet the Ayres shibboleth won’t go away amongst Republicans, and he’ll be suited up for the Palin-McCain road trips.
Personally, I would have liked Obama to have been more forceful, but on political terms, he was laying back blocking and occasionally counterpunching, in the knowledge that his job was not to score points, but to avoid a KO in the way of a major slip up. In this situation, Obama’s head-oriented approach makes him appear tentative rather than thoughtful.
There was a lot of heat generated in this final debate, but I don’t know that much light was shed. I think the immediate polling afterward – reflecting the audience opinions of McCain as aggressive, mean-spirited – pretty much captured the tone of the evening. It was fascinating watching the real-time “movie preview”-style monitoring of viewer feelings during the segments, displayed in line graph form in a windown – and I was surprised by how relatively stable independent voters were, while Republicans and Democrats see-sawed up and down over the baseline.
Even Republicans veered into negative ratings of McCain’s demeanor and behavior on stage, but it probably didn’t change any Republican minds. In fairness, few Democrats were probably converted either.
It does show, however, that polls be damned, the contest is not over. McCain (Bush III) is still in the game, and the ability to capture independents will either ensure Obama’s victory, or enable McCain to squeeze into a photo finish for the record books.
I’ve seen Democrats snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in the past two elections, when the deck was stacked against the Bush Regime. I doubt that will happen this time.
McCain took his shot and he almost scored. Close, but no banana.
Yet anything can happen in the next two weeks. Just don’t let Obama or Biden near a tank in a goofy hat. And be ready to lawyer up: this election for the White House – with the potential for a Democratic sweep in the Congress and potential Supreme Court nominations in the wings – is too important to lose.
May the Higher Power of your choice give you hope in the midst of the chaos of our days. There is hope.