Watching the debate tonight, I was shaking my head wondering why the last chance people have to hear from the presidential candidates was consumed by Ayers and ACORN and nasty attack ads against John McCain. Barack Obama seemed quite willing to engage in this tit for tat bullshit, and content to extend it as long as McCain would argue with him. Jeebus, I thought, people are going to turn this crap off. Why is Obama indulging in this?
Well, duh. Because Obama wanted McCain to talk about Ayers and ACORN -- he dared him to, in fact. McCain hurt himself badly by going negative about these ephemera, and tonight wasted precious time he needed to turn his floundering campaign around. Tonight was McCain's last chance to make a difference in this race. Instead he happily whined about being the victim of negative campaigning, and argued about stupid issues no one cares about. When he went into issues territory, McCain started stumbling over words and made little sense. Obama just laughed at him. Worst of all, McCain got so angry talking about this BS that he totally forgot to look in the camera, at the voters, and didn't for the rest of the night.
On the issues, Obama clearly was more articulate and thoughtful, and the CNN idiot lines pegged at the top again and again: on reducing abortions, on education, on energy. McCain appeared to outpoint him early in the debate on the tax issue, mainly among men. This showed, I think, that the Republican "tax cuts for everyone!" snake oil still has some juice in it, but it's clearly not enough.
Barack Obama would have been happy to play for a draw tonight. He's ahead by four touchdowns in the fourth quarter, and didn't worry about McCain outpointing him by a field goal. He was happy for McCain to waste his last chance talking about Ayers. He smiled at McCain acting once again as the angry old man. In the meta-debate, Obama kicked ass. McCain booted away his last chance, and didn't even appear to realize it. Obama, again, looked like the president, and McCain was the cranky old geezer on the porch in his bathrobe.
What's your perspective on tonight's fisticuffs? BTW, what was up with Schieffer giving McCain the last word every time?