General thoughts on last night’s debate and the state of the race

Posted by: ST on October 8, 2008 at 7:22 pm

The consensus I have gotten from many other bloggers and emailers is that last night’s debate stunk, and I couldn’t agree more. Unfortunately, over 62 million watched last night, the most since 1992.

After sleeping on it quite frankly I think it was one of the worst debates I’ve ever watched. Both candidates sounded like they were pulling straight from talking points, we didn’t learn anything new, and the interaction sucked (probably because per the debate rules there wasn’t supposed to be much of that). The whole thing sounded scripted, it didn’t come off like normal townhall meetings (unless Tom Brokaw typically asks most of the questions at townhall meetings).

I really hate the whole debate system – period – because it all boils down to how well someone “looks” on stage and if they “sound” intelligent. Seriously, there are people out there who base who the president of the US should be based on “issues” like whether or not they see a candidate sweat (Nixon), sigh (Gore), overtanned (Kerry) or make a big blooper that changes the dynamic of the race. It’s the nature of the beast and I have no recommendations for a solution for it, but I really despise how much of a “show and performance” everything has gotten over the years. It turns into not being about a man’s life, who he is, where he came from, what he’s done, how he’s voted, who he associates with, whether he can learn from his mistakes, etc. but instead about how he “looks on camera” for 90 minutes. For the life of me I cannot understand why those undecideds would base their whole vote on whether or not a candidate “looks and acts” presidential onstage, without looking at any other aspect of who that nominee is. It’s a sad reflection on a certain segment of the population here in the US that style matters over substance, especially in times like these.

A lot of liberals are donning their party hats today because, as was the case last time around, more “undecideds” thought Obama won the debate, but if you look at the fine print, only around 20% of those undecideds said Obama had convinced them to vote for him. That leaves, obviously, 75% – so there is room for McCain to pull this thing out. It’ll be a long shot because Obama looks poised to flip a couple of red states while McCain doesn’t look poised to pick up any blue ones and is fighting to hang on to the other red states that went for Bush in 2004, but it’s not outside the realm of possibility. He and his campaign are just going to have to work their a**es off between now and election day.

It clearly will be an uphill battle, tho. Obama is not only made of teflon, but he’s also got hundreds of thousands of human shields to watch his back, too – otherwise known as the mainstream media. Not only that, but as we continue to see today, Obama surrogates and supporters are still race-baiting and throwing out the race card, which Jonathan Martin goes off on here. No matter what type of attack McCain-Palin launches, someone will inevitably call it, at the very least, “racially tinged.” It never ends. Obama also obviously has a huge money advantage over McCain, as we’ve seen here in NC.

But McCain’s biggest obstacles aren’t just outside forces – he’s got to campaign smarter and wiser and he’s got to hit home hard on the economy issue. Unfortunately, when average Joes start worrying about whether or not they’re going to have enough in their wallets to feed their family, foreign policy concerns sometimes take a backburner. That’s the sad reality of it. In a time when both should be of front and center in the minds of voters, sadly it is not.

The economy issue should be a winning issue for McCain, especially considering the Democrats’ role in the FM/FM meltdown. McCain needs to hammer that point home repeatedly. He also needs to link Obama to Pelosi, Reid, Frank, Schumer, and Dodd and remind voters that that tax-raising, big-spending gang will essentially give Obama a free pass to do whatever he wants to do, and then he should ask: After the last two years of Democrat control of Congress, with the approval ratings of Congress at the lowest levels ever, do we really want a Democrat president along with a Democrat majority when it’s Democrats who played a significant role getting us into this mess in the first place?

Like a lot of conservatives (Andy McCarthy sums it up well), I’m frustrated as hell, but I keep in mind that this was always going to be an uphill battle for whoever the Republican nominee was, because the tide’s been turning against Republicans since 2006. It irritates me to no end, though, that Americans are poised to put in the WH – and possibly more in the Senate and House -not only a man they do not know, but also the party that turned the other cheek when Republicans (including McCain) tried several times for a regulatory overhaul that might have prevented the economic mess that has us all worried, upset, and concerned today! Too bad there’s not a 527 out there with unlimited amounts of money that could run an ad on this from now until election day, saturating the battleground states. To me, this is one of the big stories of the election: the message that somehow just isn’t getting out enough.

Your thoughts?

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8 Responses to “General thoughts on last night’s debate and the state of the race”


  1. Steven W. says:

    Not just a man America doesn’t know but that the Republicans have been unable +/- unwilling to introduce properly … please take a look at the debate transcript and read the Q&A on Israel. IMO this was like Dukakis trying to explain away his opposition to the death penalty by giving up his wife & family. In this case Obama offered NO defense for Israel – and that should (have) played big … but seems everybody slept right through it.

  2. alchemist says:

    For what it’s worth, I also despise the spectacle. Both McCain and Obama know there are questions that look better to avoid than to answer. I think that’s unfortunate, and even though I’m an Obama supporter I was disappointed (but not surprised) that he chose to skip around them.

    I always thought it would be fun to have a voting tally. The debater got a point every time the moderator felt you avoided the question. Then we could tally the points at the end and compare not only your answer, but also the score. Then, I could also bet the spread, the over/under etc. Wouldn’t that make the debate more exciting in the same way fantasy has changed pro-sports? (Ok, I’m kidding, it’s an awful idea, prone to things like accusations of bias, but it sounds exciting… or at least more exciting than last night’s debate)

  3. SpideyTerry says:

    If Obama wins, I’m sure I’ll eventually (if not immediately) be vindicated for voting for McCain. Hey, I voted Republican in 2006, the Democrats won and look what happened. The Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac fiasco is just the most recent instance of life essentially telling me, “Yeah, you were right not to vote Democratic.” I have a feeling that will happen a lot if Obama is elected – not to mention Republican gains in the 2010 elections.

    Obama surrogates and supporters are still race-baiting and throwing out the race card

    Which is really ironic considering this post over at Gateway Pundit. A must read about a certain Senator’s feelings about those with whiter skin than his.

  4. omapian says:

    Health care – a ‘Right’ or ‘Responsibility.’ Rights are protected by lawyers and judges. Responsibilities are met by people with integrity and character. It is the difference between a job and a vocation. There can be a significant difference between a clinic staffed by clock-watching employees and a clinic with dedicated volunteers.
    Should health care professionals provide treatment because the law requires them to or because they really care about a patient?
    Senator Obama sees health care as a right, encouraging individuals in need to demand treatment and creating victims if the level of care is less than promised.
    Senator McCain sees health care as a responsibility, placing a burden upon all of us to be our brother’s keeper.

  5. Don L says:

    Mccain is paying the price for the bad economy (among other things) He has failedd to defect the blame where it belongs on the libs who used and destroyed FNMA etc. to buy votes (cheap mortgages to those who cant afford them) and stonwalled fixing it. Mccain also is paying the price because the party in power at the white house gets the credit and/or blame when things go well or bad. The failure to blame the democrat congress who handles money is just a small sympton of the GOP biggest weakness since reagan left office -communication and education of the masses.
    McCain is the worse ever and after GW Bush that’s about as neaar the bottom as you can get. No wonder Obama/messiah’s elequance breeds comfort and hope to the masses who know little about how the world works.

  6. Plumb Bob says:

    If the parties were reversed, the message would long since have become the central narrative of the election, from thousands of reporters producing chaff for their daily releases: “Senator McCain, can you explain why you refused to regulate Fannie Mae in 2003?” “Senator McCain, why is bombing the Capitol Building acceptable to you?”

    What this election drives home is how badly conservatives in America have become disenfranchised. Our opinion no longer counts; we cannot be heard. It’s time to consider providing “new guards for our future security.”

  7. Lorica says:

    Obama is not only made of teflon

    Nahhhhhh I have seen Barry get upset about things. He ain’t teflon Dear. He just thinks he is. Zogby only shows Barry up by 4 nationwide, that means there is a good possiblility of him losing this election.

    Don L, as far as Barry being eloquent, he is neither persuasive or powerful in his speaking. He stammers like an elephant doing a jig. The reason he stammers so much is because he is trying to project an image of himself that is in no way reality. Basically he is stammering because he is lying to the American People about who he truly is. – Lorica

  8. Going into the debate, the onus was firmly on McCain to set the tone.

    Obama was carrying a huge lead in the polls, and had no incentive to do anything but play it safe. And, although his constant mantra of “blame Bush” was certainly offputting, he did a good job of staying on safe, well-covered ground.

    McCain needed to do more. Instead, he stuck with the tired approach of “I have the experience, my opponent does not”. That hasn’t worked yet, why does he expect it will suddenly find resonance now?

    Where was the bold economic leadership? The detailed, comprehensive plan to raise us out of this malaise? Almost entirely absent, but for a (poorly explored) proposal to spend hundreds of billions and massively increase the intrusiveness of government in peoples’ lives.

    Those who want big government are going to vote for the candidate who has stood for big government as long as he’s been in office. McCain isn’t going to win on that platform.

    He’s also not going to win by simply attacking Obama, whether that be on his Fannie/Freddie record, or on his dealings with people like Ayers and Rezko. McCain has to have a positive, strong message of his own, and Tuesday night he did not.

    BTW, for those interested, here’s my full review of the debate