A recap of the second Obama – McCain Debate.
Well, on style, they say Obama won. And on debate points McCain won. I mean, he did answer the questions. Obama did a Palin and ignored the questions and just dropped into the nearest workable paragraph of his stump speech. Smart. It worked for Palin. And Tom Brokaw didn’t hold anyone accountable. But in the end, none of it mattered because McCain’s campaign not only has to beat Obama, it has to beat the looming, specter of George W. Bush, the Jimmy Carter of the Republican Party, and the Bush Depression. McCain must be apoplexic. He got beat by Bush once in 2000 and, darn it, he is getting beat by him again and Bush is not even in the race. This is a corpse that won’t stay buried.
It appears that this election cycle is the first time in modern American history, that the stock market has actually declined for the two years leading up to the vote. Even in 1992, when, if you remember Bill Clinton beat George H. W. Bush, and it was famously about “the economy stupid,” the market was on a 38% climb from the bottom. What a gift Bush the younger has given McCain and the Republican brand. And chances are it will stick for a long time.
There were moments in this debate reminiscent of 1960 where Kennedy acted like he would be tougher on Cuba than Nixon, and Nixon pulled his punches in order to protect an ongoing secret American initiative. This time, Obama was insisting that he would go anywhere to get Bin Laden, even into the sovereign nation of Pakistan, and McCain was lecturing that “you don’t telegraph your punches.” The irony is that both Kennedy and Obama looked tougher even though the opposite was more likely.
McCain actually won some points on making news with his program of buying back mortgages from the people directly but he was so understated and low key about it and the media is so shamelessly infatuated with Obama that no one seemed to notice or care.
Senator Obama turned his darkest moment into a plus when he broke the rules of the debate and offered a rebuttal on Pakistan. Having participated in practice debates and debate prep for a presidential candidate, I can tell you that this was no accident. He was saving this for a dark moment. And what could McCain do? If he complained too loudly, “you’re breaking our rules, you’re cheating, you promised,” it would sound whiny, as if he were afraid of something. So Obama counterpunched and McCain’s greatest moment, effectively accusing Obama of reckless posturing about an invasion of Pakistan, a nuclear power, passed. McCain’s counter rebuttal was not nearly as effective as his original point, which according to the rules should have stood unanswered.
The bottom line is that none of it matters. This election was ruined for the Republican brand from the outset. The fact that McCain has kept it close is a tribute to his political genius of that of his team.
Well, you say, something may still happen. Maybe there will be another terrorist event? Maybe they will find Osama Bin Laden.
Look, something did happen. Haven’t you heard of the famous “October surprise?” A reference to the last minute event that can effect a presidential election? Well, in case you haven’t noticed, it is October and the surprise was the big collapse on Wall Street. Surprise! And it has only deepened the public perceptions and affirmed their direction.