Tuesday, October 07, 2008

OH NO! 0-8!: When A Draw is a Loss...

This evening, Senators John McCain of Arizona and Barack Obama of Illinois debated in the second of three presidential debates. This format was supposed to favor McCain as he had been pushing them for a while. Like Senator Clinton before him, McCain wanted more and more debates, which is what the trailing contender wants. Debates are good and necessary and politicians that refuse to participate are downright wrong.

However, this debate did nothing to change the game for McCain. Since the Palin express crashed and burned along with Lehman Bros. and the Stock Market, John McCain's campaign has been in a state of disarray. It has forced the overall campaign down into a mudslinging match with discussions about former, insufficiently repentent terrorists and financial cretins who bilked the American public. It has forced McCain to suspend his campaign, however theoretically.

It has forced McCain to go on the offensive tonight. However, like the last debate, like the Vice Presidential debate between Sen. Joe Biden and Gov. Sarah Palin, it failed. Post-debate analysis and polls show that McCain did well, but so did Obama. McCain was funny, but not folksy, in fact at times, he was condescending. Obama made an effort at humanization, when discussing his mother's bout with the insurance companies while dying of cancer. Overall, the debate was a draw to the unbiased view in that in changed few minds. This blog believe Obama won the debate per se, but as history could tell you, what matters is what people think about the candidates post-debate.

What McCain did not do was bring up the nasty character stuff in the debate itself. Although he could in debate number three, this format would have been best for it. Moreover, if he went too far, McCain could clean it up in the next debate. If he aims a pie at Obama next week and misses, McCain may find it flinging back his way when he's not looking.

With McCain trailing in key states and in national polls, this election is only destined to get more ugly. Palin is on the attack more than McCain directly. However, Palin comparison to Biden from the debate has hurt her creditability. The frightful answers on the powers of the VICE-presidency, overreaching for even Dick Cheney, and her clearly rehearsed answers have done little to win undecideds over. Pat Buchanan on MSNBC tonight suggested that McCain may be resisting resorting to character assasination, but that the Reverend Wright may be getting more airtime soon courtesy of the Committee to Elect John McCain. If Obama stay cool in the face of the GOP, a much meaner tougher opponent than Sen Clinton was on her worst days, he may enter Nov 4th largely unscathed and exit with 278.

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