Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Debate Thoughts

I was driving home from class, so I caught most of last night's debate on the radio. I managed to view some of the choicer videos off the Steven's Tube today. And I can't help but be struck by the contrast.

On the radio, with nothing other than voice, inflection, and the steady drone of the pavement rolling by underneath me to go by I felt like I was listening to something like a bad Vaudeville act. The anything but classic antics of Cranky Pants MaGee and Somberilicus's Old Timey Finger Pointing Jamboree. A lot of back and forth, a lot of accusation and counterclaim as the candidates bickered over who passed what and which one was telling the bigger lies.

But, having seen the debate if not live then at least as good as memorex, it was more like watching Redd Foxx and Lamont. It was kind of eerie watching old man McCain shuffle around the stage. Obama, though, really had a presence. An aura that I'd call, well, presidential.

I predicted that McCain was going to go for broke and roll the dice with another big, splashy move and I thought we had it with the unexpected announcement from the anti-pork barrel crusader that he'd be instructing his government to buy up all failed mortgages. It sounded just insane enough to be from the desperation move school of policy but, then, I looking into it and it seemed that it wasn't such a crazy new move after all. But, instead, a part of the already passed bailout. But, today, I heard more about it and it turns out it is, in fact, bat shit insane after all.

Good to know. I was worried that McCain might actually be trying for good policy and sound governance instead of media friendly stunts for a minute there.

Although it wasn't accompanied with the fanfare that I expected (Indeed, it seem McCain Maverick-rolled his own campaign with his proclamation as it caught many of his surrogates off guard.) but it does fit the bill. It sounds good and reassuring, the kind of thing that plays well in a soundbite form. It promises help and understanding. While actually delivering nothing like. It's kind of like his health care plan, that way. But explaining why requires getting so deep into the weeds of the specific that the public's eyes would be glazing over and all they'd take away is that McCain was fighting for them with some kind of clammy hand on some kind of steering device.

Still, I don't think that even promising to drive the federal government even further into debt to buy up even more shitty assets while assuring the lenders and marketers who created this mess in the first place a tidy profit is going to save McCain.

At the very least, last night was a wash. It might even have been slightly better but I hesitate Obama the clear-cut victor because, you know, I'm in the tank for him and, somehow, I don't think that arguing we should be gutting Medicare or respecting the sovereignty of Pakistan while bombing the fuck out of Iran are good positions to take. So, I'm horribly biased. But, from what I saw and what I heard, at the very least, McCain didn't score a clear win. Even in the townhall format he was so desperate to engage Obama in (After all, wasn't he throwing the kitchen sink at Obama because he refused to engage in a series of whistle-stop town hall debates over the summer or something? Maybe it was because they couldn't agree on a time to meet up at the soda fountain for a malted... McCain's old. That's what I'm saying here. Yeah. Old.). Even with the rules slanted so there would be no follow-ups and no real debate. McCain didn't win. And, at this point in the race, a tie is as good as a win for Obama.

The days are running out on McCain and he's behind in the polls. He needs to make up the distance some way. At this point, he's reduced to playing the long odds and hoping that things turn his way. But last night, he couldn't change a thing.

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