Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Wrap Up Deux

Well, tonight was the second presidential debate, from Nashville, TN.

Overall, I thought the format of "town-hall" was about as far away from a true town hall as you could get. The audience involvement was reduced to reading cue cards, badly, of questions written mostly by other people.

I thought that both candidates were horrible in keeping to time limits and pretty bad in staying on topic. I thought Tom Brokaw lost control of the debate about halfway through - and it's times like these where I really do miss Tim Russert, because I don't think he would have tolerated a lot of the shenanigans of running over time and again.

Now, as for the candidates themselves, I think that, being behind, John McCain needed to really turn things around and act with a bit more fire and action that he has displayed since his pick of Gov. Palin. He's been quiet for the last couple of weeks, essentially losing any sort of tactical advantage that he had coming out of the convention. These debates are where he needs to not only show his knowledge of the issues, but also show that he can be quick-witted and actually dish with Obama as well as (or better) Obama/Biden has been dish on his campaign.

While Gov. Palin has tried to do so, and other people have tried to do so, the only person who can really do that is John McCain.

I don't think he did that tonight.

By not bringing out Sen. Obama's connections to Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, William Ayers, Bernadine Dohrn, or Franklin Raines, he appears soft. These are serious questions about serious influences in the shaping of Sen. Obama, and Sen. McCain failed to address those in front of a large audience who needs/wants to hear everything about their candidates to make informed judgments - at least, those who are still undecided or on the fence.

I don't think he did an adequate enough job of defusing Sen. Obama's positions consistently throughout the debate. While he had an occasional good response, it was not consistent throughout the debate.

Aside from stuttering, Sen. Obama didn't really have any unforced errors. He held his own - which will be painted as a victory for his campaign. I don't think this sort of debate will really make a difference in gaining ground on Sen. Obama's campaign. Sen. McCain was not lively or forceful enough tonight, and he is running out of time to reshape this race and make anything stick to the new Teflon kid.

Only John McCain has the ability to get a lot of these points out. If he doesn't do it effectively, then it is all over except for the shouting.

The last debate is in eight days. If McCain repeats this performance next week, he will lose.

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