Monday, September 29, 2008

The Gambler vs. The Lecturer

Ed Rollins does his thing about last week's debate. (Hat tip: Titus Levi).

McCain proved in his opening answers to moderator Jim Lehrer that he had no clue how the government should respond to the financial crisis. He failed to articulate how he would cut his own programs in response to the crisis.

Other than vetoing $18 billion of his fellow members' pet projects called earmarks (doubtful, since more than half are defense projects) and not allowing another $3 million study of the DNA of grizzly bears (a measure McCain voted for by supporting an appropriation bill including it), he offered little guidance on what a McCain administration would do with an emptier U.S. Treasury.

Obama, on the other hand, proved once again that he can't close the sale. With polls moving all week in his direction, all he had to do was appear presidential and make his case that McCain was going to be "Bush-like" in his approach to governing.

Can't say I would have disagreed with him on my first viewing of the debate. But after watching clips of it again, I have to say that McCain failed utterly to convince anyone with half a brain that he was leading us anywhere but into a series of new quagmires: Iran, Russia, and an economic recession of all recessions. His shoot from the hip "leadership" gave us Sarah Palin, the first presidential decision he's had to make so far, and it was a complete bust. To show how desperate the campaign is, they are now talking about "unleashing" her from her handlers so that she can just "be Sarah." Bill Kristol on Fox News this morning:
McCain picked her because she was a good governor, a good politician, a good communicator. Let her be a politician. Let her communicate. Put her on TV. Put her radio. Let her relax. Let her go into the debate and try to win the debate.

She's not without her charms so long as she's not trying to be a "serious" candidate, and she was able to deliver the attack at the convention and on the trail. Still, it wasn't hard to do that since she was mouthing the words and ideas of others, and she was standing in front of people who largely believe her to be anointed by God. But put her in front of a podium with a strong journalist moderating, and a seasoned veteran like Biden picking away at her arguments (so long as he's not too heavy-handed), and she's going to melt like the Wicked Witch of the West in the shower.

Obama, on the other hand, remained calm, delivered strong ideas, deflected the wild punches being thrown by his opponent, and ended up looking far more like a leader than the old man.

So long as conventional wisdom doesn't portray McCain as the voice of sanity in this financial mess, Obama just needs to keep riding the momentum upward, stay on message, attack when appropriate, and work on improving his ability to reach people where they live. Given his effectiveness thus far -- including defeating the most trusted brand in American politics in the last 25 years -- I think he's definitely on the right track.

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