Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Polls Apart?

Steve H. is right to say that today’s polls don’t seem so bad for McCain. He’s still within the margin of error more than not. The CNN poll on the debate show, I think, that Mac may well have been right not to have been tougher on Obama than he was. Even his tentative forays caused him to be judged less likeable than before, but not more of a leader. McCain has to go the authentic, honorable, character route, which is somewhat incompatible with even perfectly legitimate negative camapaigning. McCain is doing as well as he can do in the debates, and Obama, unfortunately, has mastered his new unthreatening, centrist demeanor. Mac is the candidate we have, although not the best imaginable one in our situation, and at least he’s unlikely to tank completely. That means there’s more than enough uncertainty not to declare the election over. Other good news, two of the weakest R senate candidates, Dole of NC and Stevens of Alaska, are now both up 1.

Discussions - 1 Comment

I think I tend to agree more with Joe K. than with Peter L. about McCain’s relative "toughness" at this point. (Though I am happy to take whatever bits of good news Peter wants to throw in my direction.) But I did watch the debate and I have to say that I was disappointed in it. McCain had a few moments where he shined. But when he went on the attack, as he had to do, it looked forced and stilted. What is worse, it needn’t have been so. There were, as Joe says, opportunities to hammer away. But it appeared that McCain was so worried about getting hit by the debris flying off of his chisel that he just couldn’t use the tool to good effect. What is worse is that it was unclear to me whether McCain actually understood where to attack. Too many of Obama’s absurd claimed were left unanswered.

On the other hand, I don’t think Obama did so well as many are claiming. I think he looked smug and punkish during McCain’s responses (though I freely admit that I’m not an unbiased observer). My bias thus discounted, I really do think that there was a marked difference between the expressions and demeanor of, say, Joe Biden in the debate with Palin and Obama in this debate with McCain. He was not exactly Al Gore sighing . . . but I thought he came close enough. I think a lot of people who tend to favor Democrats but are not exactly committed are probably asking themselves why Biden can’t be the nominee. Here’s why: Even accounting for all the huge errors and gaffes Biden made in the debate and in the weeks leading up to it (about which most voters remain ignorant) Biden has the virtue of looking . . . well, grown up. I do not think the same could be said about Obama and the more confident he gets, the less he tries to combat it. He broke the rules--even to the point of getting irritated with Tom Brokaw--and sat on the edge of his seat as if ready to pounce . . . as I’ve said before, he looks like an over-eager college kid home from break and finding himself for the first time in a position to argue with his relatives at the grown-up table.

When he rose to speak, he did alright with the audience assembled . . . but I thought even to the point of being too distracted with them. He wasn’t merely speaking to them, after all. It looked to me like he forgot he was speaking to the country. So when he answered some of those questions as unequivocally as he did . . . healthcare as a "right" for example . . . I’m not sure that will play out as he hopes in the long run. It may have scored him a point for now and it probably helps him more than it hurts him for the election . . . but I’ve a feeling he’s going to be sorry he said that at some point down the road. If he wins, he’ll be doing nothing but trimming that new "right" for the next several years. This one glaring example of his imprudence will shine like a beacon illuminating his entire approach to politics and governing. He ain’t, as they say, all that.

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