by Jonathan Singer, Wed Oct 15, 2008 at 06:36:00 PM EDT
Tonight was John McCain's last best opportunity to change the direction of the race, and as was the case with the previous three debates -- the two featuring McCain and Barack Obama, as well as the Vice Presidential debate -- the Republican just plum came up short.
As I said during the debate, McCain's mudslinging during the campaign was not an effort to raise the profile of his attacks -- whether on Ayers or ACORN or taxes or Joe the plumber -- it was an effort to get Obama on his heels. McCain needed Obama to have a Michael Dukakis/Bernard Shaw/death penalty-like or Gerald Ford/Poland-like moment -- the type of gaffe that sits with the American people through election day, the type of gaffe that raises serious questions about Obama's ability to be President. That didn't happen. Obama remained cool and, perhaps more importantly, didn't lash back at McCain. These might not have been the most comfortable exchanges for Obama, but he won them because he defended himself deftly and refrained from joining McCain in the gutter.
But if there is a historical precedent for tonight's debate, it was the debate between Al Gore and George W. Bush when, at least according to the post-debate meme embraced by the establishment media, Gore sighed and was generally disrespectful of Bush in the background while the Republican was speaking. McCain seemed plain mean. He was huffing and puffing in the background like he was James Gandolfini in the final season of "The Sopranos." He looked angry and disdainful while Obama was speaking. He even rolled his eyes at the recitation of the situation in Colombia, where labor leaders are assassinated. As Paul Begala put it on CNN, "The reaction shots just killed John McCain." Americans might elect a happy warrior... but a an angry one, the thrust of whose campaign appears to echo Jon Lovitz as Dukakis ("I can't believe I'm losing to this guy"). I'm not sure I buy it, and I'm certainly not convinced that the American people will on November 4.
Those are my thoughts... What did you think?
Update [2008-10-15 22:41:17 by Todd Beeton]:Rachel Maddow and Chris Matthews agree: McCain's moment where he appeared to belittle the concept of the health of the mother is "going to kill him." Can't wait til we get that video. I began thinking McCain was winning but in the end Barack has another win. 3 for 3 baby.
Update [2008-10-15 22:45:15 by Todd Beeton]:Uh-oh. McCain's in for a rough night. Just heard Luntz on FoxNews say "this was a good night for Barack Obama" with his focus group behind him but I didn't catch any specifics. More as we get the results.
Update [2008-10-15 23:0:54 by Todd Beeton]:Hillary is on CNN just ripping on McCain for voting 90% of the time with George W. Bush and ripping on Republican policies. "It's going to take a Democratic president" to fix these problems. Again, I love the partisan differentiation that is typical of the Democratic rhetoric. Barack originally wanted a campaign that blurred the parties, hence letting Republicans off the hook for their devastating policies. But he's not getting it.
by Jonathan Singer, Wed Oct 15, 2008 at 06:16:26 PM EDT
Here we go...
- McCain: It's "extreme" to include in statutes regulating abortion exceptions for the health of mothers. Who's the extreme one?
- Again, McCain huffing and puffing in the background. Is it just me, or does he sound a little like James Gandolfini in the final season of "The Sopranos"?
- Obama voted against Breyer? Um, I don't think he was in the Senate in 1994...
- More from Ambinder (sorry to steal, Marc): "A Democrat familiar with the party's internal dials: when McCain brought up Ayers, 'the dials sank lower than any answer that weve seen in any of the now 4 debates.'" More: "Democrats pushing the theme of McCain's anger as being the lingering impression of this debate so far: One Dem: ' McCain facial's expressions tonight may rival Gore sighing.....'"
Previous updates below the fold...
by 2008 Central, Wed Oct 15, 2008 at 04:05:49 PM EDT
I considered posting this in the live blog, but I think this note is worth its own post simply simply to prevent some folks from missing the debate.
The debate is scheduled to begin at 9pm eastern (8pm central time). I live in the central time zone. When I go to Hofstra's debate website, the countdown clock has the wrong time (see screen shot below). Apparently, whoever set up the website didn't account for anyone living outside the eastern time zone to rely on it. Anyway, spread the word in case some may be confused.
For me, the countdown clock should read 1 hour, not 2...
by btchakir, Wed Oct 15, 2008 at 07:36:24 AM EDT
Bob Schieffer of CBS, a journalist I have some respect for (although his Texas-born partiality to W. emerged now and then over the years), is moderator for the third and final debate tonite. Everyone is wondering how McCain will bring his promised "Bill Ayers" attack to the floor.
I saw a T-shirt yesterday that read "Bill Ayers - Who Cares?" Apparently McCain does. However, the debate rules, unless they are violated all around, will probably work against any kind of sustained attack with no follow-up questions, etc. Both sides, but especially the Republicans, worked hard to keep these debates as non-debate-ish as possible, and McCain (and Obama) may regret it afterward.
If Schieffer spends as much time tonite as Brokaw did insisting on the rules, this could be another potentially boring event.
Under The LobsterScope
by jmorton, Tue Oct 14, 2008 at 08:42:57 AM EDT
Last week Pinocchio Politics brought you McLiar Bingo http://chronicle.com/review/brainstorm/b
ousquet/mcliar-bingo - this week, PP has a new version with updated lies and a randomizer that makes it easy to print as many unique boards as you want.
With McCain promising to step it up after last Wednesday's tepid performance, you can expect some king sized whoppers in this last debate, and McLiar bingo is one of the best ways to keep up with his lies as they happen. The board features the McCain-as-Pinocchio and includes 24 of Mac's favorite lies on the economy, energy and national security.
Also, for this economy-themed debate, Pinocchio Politics has created "Fundamentally Strong" Cocktails - a set of cocktail recipes that are the best way to drink to McCain's lies. Drinks include "Old Fashioned Bailouts" and "Wa-Mu Martinis."