Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The last debate

McCain started out strong. His "Joe the Plumber" bit seemed to make a couple of his points pretty effectively, although he overused it to the point where it will certainly become a joke. But McCain was overly aggressive. He kept throwing out largely irrelevant shots at Obama. This may have been effective at first, but eventually it turned into an "everything and the kitchen sink" attack that I suspect ended up turning people off. The character attack crap that used to work -- the BS assault that Bush used so devastatingly against Gore, Kerry, and yes, McCain in the past -- just doesn't fly anymore. In this economy, people (other than the Republican base) care about real issues.

Obama was on the defensive at first, but as always he kept his cool and made his points. I think he was very effective on health care and education. On health care especially, when McCain would attack his plan, Obama just kept addressing the camera and saying, "Look, I just told you what my plan is," making it clear that McCain was just distorting. Very effective.

Visually, the contrast was pretty strong, I think. Obama, young, smart, and cool vs. McCain, old and often -- when he "emoted," smirking and even rolling his eyes -- a little creepy-looking.

I thought Obama's closing statement was much better as well. McCain's was about McCain; Obama's was about us, the American people.

And overall, I thought this was the best debate. They talked mostly about policies, about what they want to do and why they want to do it, they were able to respond to each other, and they had enough time to give at least basic answers. Bob Schieffer also did a good job. He asked solid questions, gave them a chance to talk, and then moved along.

Snap polls:
CBS poll of uncommitted voters:
53% Obama
22% McCain
25% Draw

CNN:
58% Obama
31% McCain

And here's why these polls are important: they democratize the results. As kos says, they render pundits obsolete. They take away the ability of pundits to say what happened and instead put it in the hands of the American people. David Gregory can say all he wants that McCain's "I'm not Bush" was the "Line of the Night" (and it was a good line, but that's all it was -- one good line), but there's no way the media can take that and run with it the way they did with Gore's "sighs," for example. The verdict is already in; Obama "won" in the eyes of the American people. Who cares what the pundits think?

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