Cheaper by the Dozen
After dozens of debate-related posts on dozens of primary and general election debates over the past 20 months, it is hard to believe that this is probably my last one on the topic for this election cycle. Like a lot of other political observers, I thought last night’s performance on Long Island was John McCain’s best of the three general election debates, but I also didn’t hear anything that would fundamentally alter the dynamics of the race. In fairness to McCain, I have already stated that I didn’t think he should try for a single game-changing performance.
McCain gave it his best shot, however, and the conservative base of the Republican Party will certainly be happy with his performance, although my guess is that its members will also say that it was too little too late in this election cycle. Given their pent-up frustration over William Ayers, ACORN, and other questionable Barack Obama associations, they were no doubt relieved to have McCain finally give voice to them in a single contentious debate segment that made for some engrossing television viewing. McCain’s own frustration was also increasingly evident in a variety of reaction shots and a little reminiscent of Al Gore’s famous sighing debate performance from 2000. Obama seemed to get through the exchange largely unscathed, which will no doubt further annoy his opponents on the right.
Having finally aired these issues in a televised debate, McCain now has to decide whether he will continue to use these attacks on the stump, or instead focus more fully on a positive economic message. If McCain continues to let the two approaches divide his attention, as they did last night, I think it will be more difficult for him to make a closing argument with broad electoral appeal.
Posted On: 10-20-2008 09:49:32 by Dominic Brancato
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