I have every single debate thought John McCain did a better job than public opinion polls later support, so I will be restrained in my remarks. Still, I don’t think there’s any doubt that this particular McCain performance was easily his best. What good that does him remains to be seen. I suspect not much. Fine punches landed along the way, but the narrative from this debate is probably going to be very unhelpful, indeed.
And I think that all future candidates to the presidency would be wise to work on their laughs, lest they come out as unendingly creepy as John McCain comes across more often than not in these debates. It’s just weird. More than one talking head has mentioned tone on both PBS and MSNBC (yeah, I’m a leftie). I’m not sure if that’s what they’re talking about, or when he seemed petulant on the Ayers issue. Also, when did Clinton ever mention Ayers by name? I don’t remember that at all, and she pissed me off nightly.
As Michael Beshloss was just commenting on PBS, the Ayers thing did come up and it did hurt McCain. But I don’t think I could have imagined how badly it hurt him. This is where the narrative gets away from McCain. And boy, did it ever. For him to have said that he is “categorically” proud of his supporters at his rallies was just devastatingly bad form. He’s basically saying that everybody – no matter what they say, no matter how many of them the Secret Service has to investigate – is perfectly OK by him. That’s insane.
Moreover, for John McCain to insist that his campaign isn’t negative and that he’s not running negative ads is a problem also. A huge plurality of Americans agree that McCain’s campaign is negative and seem to blame him for the chaos at his rallies. I tend to agree with this assessment, but it’s interesting to see such large majorities of Americans sharing this view. McCain denying all of this is basically telling the majority of Americans that they’re wrong. Not only is it bald-faced lying, but it’s bald-faced lying to people who already know the truth.
So even as I type, my opinion is swinging quite widely towards a resounding Obama win. The only caveat is the abortion discussion. This is an issue that has been fostered as a Republican wedge issue for a reason. There is no way to make this issue work for Democrats, even if a majority of Americans agree with their position. It’s just an unpleasant topic for which there is overwhelming enthusiasm on the Right and very little on the Left. It was a mistake for Barack Obama to have allowed the discussion of Supreme Court Justices to swing so far into this territory.
But once again, we shall have to see what the early voting says. My prediction this time around is another resounding win for Obama.
And let me say again: fuck Joe.