The second debate, which was placed in a town hall forum that was far too restrained by the ludicrous parameters, was really more of the same old same old. With that in mind, Barack Obama was the winner tonight, John McCain and Tom Brokaw were the clear losers. Let’s address the losers first.
McCain tried hard to be warm and occasionally funny. He failed at both. Those who played the drinking game (take a drink every time he said: “My Friends”) went under the table about an hour in. McCain seemed uncomfortable in his own skin and with his talking points, already grown far too threadbare, didn’t have the punch I think he wanted to. McCain needed to score big, and he forgot the game he was playing. Although he didn’t bring the crap his campaign has been shoveling the last few days, I believe his strategy was that he knew the media would bring up the fact after the debate, that he didn’t do so, and in essence he would score on that account. You can’t count on someone else to score you points for you, Johnny Boy. Either that, or they must not be points worth scoring. But then McCain disemboweled his own strategy of smearing. He criticized Obama for saying that the would diplomatically tell Pakistan that we were coming if we were going to cross the border. McCain’s point is that you don’t telegraph your moves, because it turns public opinion against you. Well, his campaign spent the weekend telegraphing their mud slinging and have largely succeeded in turning public opinion against themselves. McCain also continued to morph into his little old lecherous man visage and the visuals didn’t work in his favor, nor did he do anything to help them.
McCain also tried to score by promising more big government and buying up all the bad mortgages so they could be renegotiated. I’m not sure how that will play with his base (unless they are suffering), but it will probably play well with some. What will be talked about in his performance tomorrow? His use of the phrase “that one” when he referred to Obama.
Brokaw had his nose stuck in the rule book, when he could have led both candidates into a the donnybrook they both seemed to want at times. Brokaw used to command my respect. He’s losing more of it every day and this performance for this debate was just poor. Sad to see that happen.
Obama won by not losing. He kept his cool, scored on a few shots, bumbled on a few points, but overall showed confidence and stature. Obama had several instances where he could have scored. One example: Tom Brokaw gave him a setup with the drunken Wall Street and drunken government spending. All he had to do was say take away the liquor cabinet keys and the point would have been one. Obama did score by saying health care was a right. It is. What will be talked about tomorrow about Obama’s performance? That McCain called him “that one.”
Both candidates are too afraid to look like they don’t know what to do about the financial mess and keep ignoring the great opportunity to say that is too early to tell and they can’t give a straight, honest answer. I think that would go very far with Americans desperate for a little truth about the matter.
This debate will not move the needle.