I was mulling over the debate during my commute home from work, and started to marvel over just how bad things are for John McCain tonight. Just about every major factor is working against him:
- The main topic of the debate, health care, is the Republicans’ #2 worst issue.
- The huge drop in the stock market today ensures that the Republican’s #1 worst issue, the economy, is certain to get a lot of air time too.
- McCain is totally in a box on this Ayers thing. After the second Presidential Debate, Team Obama was practically goading him into bringing it up tonight, saying “we’ve been seeing some pretty over-the-top attacks coming out of the McCain campaign over the last several days, that he wasn’t willing to say it to my face. But I guess we’ve got one last debate.” McCain responded by saying that he most certainly would. But you know Obama has a response all queued up and ready to roll. And the brunt of McCain’s charges regarding Ayers is that Obama “hasn’t been forthcoming about the relationship”–will he still be able to say that after Obama addresses the issue on live TV in McCain company? Of course, if McCain doesn’t mentioned Ayers, Team Obama can double-down: they can again insinuate that he’s a coward and add that he broke his word to boot.
- Worst of all, all of this must frustrate McCain terribly–and that’s likely to be evident. The format of the debate has the two sitting right next to each other at a table, so any signs of hostility from McCain (not making eye contact), are likely to be amplified, as most camera shots will show the men side-by-side and in extremely close proximity.
It’s damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t for John McCain tonight. It’ll be interesting to see how he handles it.
5:53: Pre-debate prediction: knowing that McCain has no choice but to attack, Obama will be all smiles as he comes out, and will be overtly (perhaps even overly) collegial toward his opponent. Then, in his first few statements, he will refer to McCain as a friend and/or make some comment about how this will be an issue-oriented debate. It’s a twofer when McCain then goes negative, because he can then (a) make the “gee whiz my buddy just stabbed me in the back” face and (b) retaliate with negativity, arguing that “he started it.”
6:00: Moderator: “By now we’ve heard all the talking points …” Ha! Nice try, but get ready hear them again.
6:01: McCain turns the conventional wisdom on it’s head, starting every speech with not a joke but a shout-out to someone in the hospital. MAVRICKY!
6:03: McCain is trying so hard to maintain eye-contact that he looks like a besotted kid starting at a love interest sitting near him in the library.
6:05: Joe Biden, Joe Lieberman, and now Joe the Plumber is mixed up in the race? Can we get a moratorium of Joes around here? Update: Oh my God, how could I forget Joe Sixpack?
6:08: McCain is not stringing arguments together very deftly tonight. Also: helllllllo populism.
6:10: I gotta hand it to McCain, he’s got Obama playing defense early.
6:11: These are good questions, for a change.
6:12: This has pretty much just become a race to see who can be first to work their talking points into this “no talking points” debate. Obama takes an early lead, checking “not one dime” and “go through the budget line-by-line” off his master list.
6:16: “Overhead projector” is the new “Spain”.
6:17: McCain is talking about using both a hatchet and a scalpel. This debate on health care is terrifying.
6:20: Why does Obama keep giving McCain “enormous credit” for his “opposition” on torture?
6:23: McCain ends a response to a question about negative campaigning by calling Obama a liar.
6:28: I don’t know if I can stand 4 years of Obama’s “aaaaaaaaand”.
6:31: This response by McCain on his supporters is the most unfocused I’ve seen. He supports everyone who attends his rallies and recognizes that some of them and hateful nutjobs? Also: every time McCain interrupts Obama he loses1000 voters at least.
6:34: Ayers! ACORN! McCain just blew his scandal load in one heaving spurt. He’s gonna be flaccid from here on out.
6:38: Hahaha. While Obama is answering this VP question I bet McCain is all, like, “OhShitOhShitOhShit …”
6:40: At what point did “autism” become the center square on the Political Bingo card?
6:43: Did McCain just advocate “nuclear pants”? I’m reconsidering my vote.
6:47: Obama’s looking a little ragged, can’t seem to decide is he should be talking to the moderator or the camera.
6:48: Wait, McCain is a Free Traitor? Re-reconsidering my vote.
6:50: Obama just promised to “enforce unfair trade agreements.” I’m fully in the swing vote camp, now.
6:52: Are these guys fully incoherent now, or have I just stopped paying close attention?
6:53: Shorter McCain: “I like ice cream, so there’s really no doubt that Senator Obama will raise taxes.”
6:58: Joe the Plumber has just rocketed in the ranks of C-list celebrities. He will be all over the media tomorrow.
7:04: Wait, Obama is wearing a red tie and McCain is wearing blue? Maybe a Freaky Friday body switch prior to the debate?
7:10: Obama appears to have come armed with reformulated responses on an astonishingly wide range of topics.
7:12: And “eloquence” is the new “articulate.”
7:13: Science question! Mention the overhead projector, Obama!
7:14: McCain: Education is the civil rights issue of the 21 century. PAY NO ATTENTION TO THOSE GAYS!!
7:17: Wow, agreement on charter schools. That’s pretty great.
7:20: Obama thinks children are our future. Apparently he has found the greatest love of all.
7:22: Apparently, by virtue of having an autistic son, I and my wife both get 500 votes a piece this election.
7:24: But will McCain mention he’s a POW in his closing statement as he did in the first two debates? Update: No! C-C-C-Combobreaker!
7:27: Obama’s closing statement: Say no to Bush and yes to free ponies!
I could provide some post-debate analysis, but it would be like summarizing a game of Pong. Here, just watch this 30-second video half a dozen times.