Friday, September 26, 2008

If tonight was the first time you paid attention to the Presidential race....

(and it apparently was for millions of Americans, as hard as that is for the rest of us to believe)...

...then with two caveats I think Senator John McCain won the debate.

Caveat one: winning the debate has only a passing relationship to being right about the issues, or even getting your facts straight. I caught gaffes and intentional distortions on both sides, although I'd probably give the accuracy award to Senator Barack Obama by a hair. But that doesn't really matter: because tens of millions of people who watched all or part of the debate did not and will not do the fact check thing. They are going to go on gut feeling and stage performance [like assuming that Bush 41 checking his watch or Nixon failing to wear make-up had anything to do with Presidential qualification].

Caveat two: McCain did two things that Ronald Reagan would have approved of (although he did neither as well as the Gipper would have done): (1) he scored on the what-would-you-do-different-as-President-due-to-the-bailout question, by coming up with specific answers of things he would cut (however minimal they really were) and calling for a spending freeze, which highlighted Obama's two-time attempt to turn the question toward things he thought needed more funding. I think that for the people up in caveat one [who, by decided for whom to vote at the last minute are the people who ultimately decide who won the debate] this will play against Obama; (2) he played the decades of foreign policy experience thing really well, and Obama didn't ever come up with anything to combat it...

An example: McCain's linkage of Ukraine to the Georgia crisis may have been total BS (I really, honestly don't know), but he name-dropped the leaders' names, made a sophisticated-looking connection, and--more to the point--added a dimension to his answer that Obama didn't appear to know enough about to dispute. Even if it turns out that everything McCain said about Ukraine was bullshit, Obama didn't have the facts to call him out on it. The same is true of his "failed state" comment on Pakistan, and his references to Lebanon, Bosnia, and Kossovo.

Debate is about perception; perception becomes reality. McCain would have looked more like a doddering, disorganized old man if many of Obama's answers had not been equally rambling.

Having said McCain won, however, it also must be said that he didn't win by enough. I give him a 1-2% bounce, which only partly nullifies the rush to Washington debacle.

But he has raised the same question that has been dogging the Obama campaign for weeks now: if John McCain is such a drooling old fool, how come Barack can't put him away?

The final verdict of someone not voting for either man: McCain on points, but probably not enough to blunt Obama's momentum from this week. That leaves Uncle Grumpy dependent on Sarah Palin to do well against Joe Biden, which is both Biden's to win or lose. On experience and knowledge he should be able to put her away, but the steady money says he'll either screw that up with a gaffe of his own or keep talking for so long that nobody will care.


ng2000 said...

Valuable resource of debate news summaries:

Anonymous said...

Interesting perspective, Steve, but I can't help but think that people who haven't been paying attention until last night would be that involved with foreign policy. Hmmm... guess that makes me an elitist!

Let's try that again. I never watch football, but usually end up at a Superbowl party. The sportscasters may as well be speaking Greek. I tend to zone out.

Honestly, how many "new" viewers' eyes glazed over last night?

The tracking polls will be coming in soon. I'm betting that Obama did well in these polls. Last night a tie equaled a loss for McCain. And if that isn't completely clear, then wait until next Thursday. Can you even imagine Palin in last night's format? *shudder*

Waldo Lydecker's Journal said...

Obama can't put Uncle Grumpy away because Southerners won't tell pollsters why they really aren't going to vote for Obama.

Midnight Oil said...

1. For any 1 Southerner who won't vote for Obama because of race, there are probably 10 Californians or New Yorkers who will vote FOR him because of race.

2. I sure would like to see McCain get a bounce from this debate, but all the polls are showing Obama in the lead by an increasing margin. I think Rasmussen showed McCain down a point today.


downwithabsolutes said...

Forward Thought,

Thanks. That's just about the most ridiculous comment I've read all day. People may vote for Obama because he will be more lax with the entitlements. People may vote for Obama because he's bent on helping the middle class than the rich folk (check But, come on. I walked into GOP headquarters three days ago and spoke with two people who said they wouldn't vote for "those people" because they're lazy. Yes, the woman I spoke with at GOP headquarters referred to Blacks as "those people."

Say what you will. I know for sure many Blacks will be voting for him because he's black. But your out-of-whack ratio is just ridiculous. I can count more people I've heard say they're not voting for him because he's black than I can those who say they're voting for him BECAUSE he's black.

Midnight Oil said...

First of all, the 1 in 10 ratio was not be taken literally. I was exaggerating for the sake of my point. I'm sorry that it did not come across that way. Obviously, neither you nor I have any idea what the actual number might be.

I live in California, went to school in Maine and Boston, have spent much time in Texas and have friends all over the country. From all of these drastically different places, I know many people who do not follow politics or do not affiliate themselves with any party (many of which have never voted until this election) that have proclaimed they will vote for Obama. Why? These independents (for lack of a better term) have cited differing reasons, many of which center around race. Some just like the idea of having black president. Some want to show the rest of the world just how colorblind and progressive America is. The list continues. Of course, there are many reasons why one might vote for or against Obama. But many people I know cite race as overwhelming reasons why they choose to vote Obama. Plus, just as there are probably whites who will subconsciously, ultimately choose not to vote for Obama because of race, there are people who's vote will sway based on their subconscious feeling that a black president would be a good thing.

There are plenty of stupid people who would let a thing like race make their decision against a candidate, for sure. But there are also plenty of stupid people who would let a thing like race make their decision for a candidate. It's probably not the only factor, but for those who don't have much of an opinion either way or are on the cusp and want to feel like they are part of the solution just may pull the lever for Obama. An acquaintance who is a moderate Republican told me the other day that she wants to be able to tell her kids that she voted for the first black president.

Not to mention that blacks historically do not vote. You'd better believe they're voting this time around.

Oh and by the way, the poll that showed whites think that 34% of blacks are lazy also showed that 39% of blacks think blacks are lazy. That's not stopping them from voting Obama.

And I have not personally met anyone who has said that they don't plan to vote Obama because he's black. Of course, they're out there, but not in the numbers that the media would have us believe.

And after watching the Republican convention and seeing loony partisan people running around in stupid hats and red, white and blue sequin vests, I don't doubt that if there is a crazy racist to be found, you might find them at a GOP rally. But, I do not believe they are not representative of the whole or even much of a part. Just as the crazy leftist liberals are not representative of the Democrats. They're just the loudest and most obnoxious.