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Debate Thoughts

My brief take: Senator Obama won, because he didn't lose. Senator McCain had many, many missed opportunities to hammer him and show him for the fraud that he is.

I also think that Senator Obama did as well as he possibly could have, given his temperament, past actions and positions. But Senator McCain could (and should) have done much better, and if he had, it could have been a knockout, or at least a major blow. I'm glad that there are two more.


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Jim Harris wrote:

My brief take: Senator Obama won, because he didn't lose.

You're right about that.

It should be bye-bye to the certitude that Obama is "lost without his teleprompter".

On the bright side, this week Sarah Barracuda will slaughter the Garrulous Gaffe Geek. Unless that too does not go as expected.

Mike Puckett wrote:

It's all academic anyway. Come one month from now, no one will be talking about BO debate performance, they will be talking about his choice of mates and her choice of subjects for a speech at events including Louis Farrakhan's wife.

TBinSTL wrote:

McCain was tentative because the Obama campaign had their "McCain is unstable" and "McCain is a mean old white man" ads already in the can. Hopefully, the next one will be more like the later part of this one. I also have to wonder if McCain was a little blindsided with the first part being all economy oriented when the theme was billed as "foreign policy".
You can call me cynical, but I seriously doubt Obama's team had any trouble getting all the details in advance.

Carl Pham wrote:

Well, Rand, a couple of points here:

First, it was supposed to be a foreign policy debate. McCain hadn't prepped for a debate on the world of finance and taxes, so everything had to be off the cuff.

Now, that was true of Obama, too, but Obama has an amazing advantage: he can just bullshit, throw stuff out there that is totally false, and it will get no exposure. Indeed, he did quite a lot of that, and, as you've noticed, there has been zero coverage of it. Everyone said afterward, gee, Obama had all these zinging counterpoints. No one said, yeah, but 40% of it was totally made-up bullshit.

If McCain throws stuff out there that isn't absolutely airtight, that he hasn't had his team go over with a fine-toothed comb to make sure that, no matter how it's parsed and edited and taken out of context and spun, it can't possible be turned into a "lie" by a vicious partisan media, he's screwed.

Because of the vicious media atmospherics, McCain cannot afford to make a mistake. That severely limits how off-the-cuff he can be. Obama doesn't have the same problem, because he has four TV networks and an army of unpaid professional story-spinners who will cover for him.

Honestly, I think McCain did as best as a mortal man could, under the circumstances. Had he been more aggressive, it would have been more satisfying to people who believe in him -- Go on, give that cocky bullshitter a thump! -- but it would not get him any closer to winning the election.

Remember, McCain doesn't need to waste any time at all getting you (or in general any aerospace engineers) to vote for him. He needs some squishy 45-year-old married female school librarian who wants someone nice to be President, who's voted Democratic all her life, because dad was a steelworker and mom a schoolteacher, but who is vaguely troubled by the way that Obama always talks down to people.

Carl Pham wrote:

One other thought: McCain is 72 years old. He is who he is, and I think he's pretty comfortable with that. If he doesn't win the election, he's still a US Senator with a long history of accomplishment, which he himself regards as honorable. He's got a good family, and he's made some really startling and interesting changes to the election -- including basically forcing Barack Obama to remake himself as a clone -- and, of course, introducing Sarah Palin to the Republican national scene.

That's a pretty full list. I think he can lose the election with some equanimity, provided he's done his best, and I think he has. So I think McCain's attitude is probably that he'd like to win the election, but not if it means compromising who he is and what he represents. He's not an attack dog, never has been. He really does "reach across the aisles," and that means he doesn't like to make enemies, even of his opponents. He really does think earmark reform is a big deal. He has his differences with George Bush, but he doesn't think Bush is Hitler come back. And so on.

Obama, on the other hand, quite clearly wants to win at any cost whatsoever. He'll say anything, remake himself any way necessary, bullshit, twist arms, pay anyone anything. I can understand this, actually. If he loses this year, where does he go next? Who is he, if he doesn't become President? More or less a nobody, someone whose 15 minute of fame has gone by. Hillary may well be back in four years -- but not Obama, not if he loses, not if the bubble pops.

In short, to Obama (and many of his supporters) the future in which he loses is some horrifying black pit, uncontemplatable, while to McCain it's not the best world, but it will do just fine.

One thing about this, however, is that I think Obama's minions are going to be bitterly disillusioned -- and his opponents relieved -- at what actually happens in an Obama Presidency. It's beginning to look like he can only win the election by being a moderate. The mistake the Obamabots make is in thinking that once he wins the election, he's free to return to his roots. Nope. Remember, he needs Congress, and he needs re-election, and even a "legacy," given that outsize ego. He won't win with more than a razor-thin plurality, so he will not be able to afford to betray the moderate coalition that gets him to the White House.

So, a prediction: Obama wins, and puts together a moderate, more or less caretaking centrist Democratic Presidency, stuffed with Clinton retreads. The netroots' collective head explodes as he fails to pay them off in any particular whatsoever. If it goes to his head, or Hillary's people get too much influence, and he tries to do something grand -- national health care -- and it trashes the economy, as it will, Congress goes violently Republican in 2010 and neuters him for the rest of his term. Otherwise, it's the Clinton White House, take 3. Criminally wasteful in many regards, but without seriously shifting the priorities or finances of the Republic.

Leland wrote:

I saw the debate. Obama did handle himself ok, but he's given deference because people expected McCain to wipe the floor. Of course, people expected a debate on Foreign Policy and National Defense, and got a 45 minute debate on economics.

What I found interesting was the post debate ads. McCain got his out quickly, and it was good humor for people who already supported him. Otherwise, think it lacked the same level of punch that McCain's retorts did during the debate.

Obama's ad should be ravaged by Republicans. Why in the world should any US President classify people? This isn't India, we don't have a caste system. I'm glad McCain didn't mention the middle class, and wonder why Obama thinks having three classes of citizens in the US is a good thing. Further, why should only one class get preferential treatment? Here's an idea, treat each US citizen as equal and don't support laws that do otherwise.

Carl Pham wrote:

Why in the world should any US President classify people?

Leland, remember Obama's Marxists roots, in the academies (all of them), on the South side of Chicago, and perhaps from his Julius Nyerere Afrosocialist dad. According to the Marxists, the only important measure of a man is his social class, and any attempt to judge people as individuals is just typical divide-and-conquer ruling-class oppression, abetted by naive bourgeois faith in some mythic Jeffersonian meritocracy.

"Middle class" is just the 21st century Stalinist's updated version of "proletariat."

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This page contains a single entry by Rand Simberg published on September 28, 2008 11:45 AM.

More Cost-Plus Contracting Thoughts was the previous entry in this blog.

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