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

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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