Wednesday, October 15, 2008


"The Natural"

Throat-clearing caveats...blah, blah, blah...anything can happen, etc...

Sen. Barack Obama will be the next president of the United States.

John McCain had, without a doubt, his best debate performance tonight. Arguably, he won it on "points." He was focused; he was aggressive, particularly on the issue of Obama's tax-raising and wealth-distribution. He made Obama's exchange with "Joe The Plumber" such a recurrent theme that you would have thought that Joe was McCain's, um, No. 2 (heh, heh...). When the issue was trade, he managed to get in a dig on Obama happy to sit down with Venezuelas' Hugo Chavez. In addition to the spending freeze he had mentioned before, McCain identified three specific programs he would eliminate. Obama couldn't name one. On the contrary, he mentioned the need to "invest" or some variation of that word some nine times (KA-CHING!!). To turn a phrase, that's not "change" we can believe in -- that's big-time money.

But, even with all that, Obama's overall debate performance was fine. He was -- pick your favorite sports metaphor -- "playing prevent defense", "sitting on the ball", "four corners offense", whatever. The point was, he had a lead going in and all he had to do was make no "unforced errors" or "turn the ball over."

And, he did that. The big William Ayers moment -- smartly introduced by Bob Schieffer (easily the best of the four debate moderators) by getting the two candidates to identify things made by the other campaign that were inappropriate or unfair (or should be considered fair game). After an exchange about John Lewis' comparing McCain-Palin's tactics to ruthless segregationist Bull Connor, McCain said of Ayers, "We need to know the full extent of that relationship."

In response, Obama just mentioned several other people who were on the same board as he and Ayers -- fully respectable members of the Chicago business and academic community -- and moved on. Either McCain didn't know more on the Obama-Ayers connection or couldn't figure out how to counter Obama's response. By shoehorning ACORN into that question as well, it gave Obama license and ease to get rid of two potentially big headaches/distractions.

For the third debate in a row, Obama proved that he is always aware that he is on television and John McCain seems never to know that. Thus, even as McCain was doing well in the "debate qua debate" sense, when Obama was talking but a split screen showed both candidates, McCain would look either disdainful or pissed off. He seemed irritated when Obama was talking, while Obama looked focused or studious enough to jot down notes when McCain was making a point.

At least since 1960, the television atmospherics in debates matter. Obama isn't just telegenic; he makes an effort to use the camera as an ally -- to look back and forth between it, the moderator and McCain. In doing so, he metaphorically pays respect to the audience at home as well as the people he's sharing the stage with. It's a powerful gift and one he shown in all three debates. He's a natural performer. McCain just can't master that.

Thus, Barack Obama is leading going into the 20-day homestretch and,
barring anything unforeseen, will likely score a rather impressive victory on Nov. 4th.

UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan collects blogger debate reactions.

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Weblog Commenting and Trackback by AddThis Social Bookmark Button
Technorati search
Search Now:
Amazon Logo
  •  RSS
  • Add to My AOL
  • Powered by FeedBurner
  • Add to Google Reader or Homepage
  • Subscribe in Bloglines
  • Share on Facebook