Sunday, September 28, 2008

Let's Call It a Draw

I sat down and watched the debate last night, wanting to see it before watching Meet the Press tonight. I've read some of the post-game commentary, mostly on the Huff and some op-ed pieces in the NY Times. And I have to say I came away from the debate with an "eh" reaction.

Obviously, the debate isn't going to change my mind. I'm not going to have this sudden epiphany over the course of two hours and suddenly become a rabid McCain supporter. If anything, the debate and this week's ridiculous show of suspending the campaign eroded any of the remaining respect I ever had for John McCain. (Check out today's Frank Rich for a great take on the "suspension.") If I heard that guy say he wasn't "Miss Congeniality" one more time, I was going to scream. Of course we know he's not Miss Congeniality -- he looks nothing like Sandra Bullock. How stupid does he think we are??

To me, the debates are like a football game (yeah, there's that sports metaphor again). I watch to support my team and hoping to see my team deliver a crushing defeat to its opponent. I did not get my wish with Friday's debate.

Did my team even win? I'm not even sure I can say that. Yes, Obama gave a fine performance. His cool calm was on display, and I had a glimpse of a future where America is in crisis and we have this cool customer calmly assuring us everything will be okay. McCain seemed petulant and grouchy. At times, I found him incredibly condescending towards Obama. But he didn't buckle under Obama's rhetoric. The fault for that lies with Obama. His refusal to let McCain ruffle his feathers kept him from really digging in and attacking McCain. He had several opportunities where righteous indignation could have delivered a devastating blow, and he let those opportunities slide. Maybe he didn't want to seem like he was beating up the old guy. Instead, he let the old guy continue to perpetuate the same untruths that has been fueling his campaign.

I know that Obama is trying to play these debates as a gentleman's game and doesn't want to dig in the muck. But when the rain is pouring down around you, you have no choice but to get a little dirty if you want to get through the storm.


Danielle Mari said...

I agree, Mel. I think that if America actually listened and measured, the clear winner would be Obama. But intelligence, unfortunately does not seem to be something we as a whole seek in a candidate.
I do think Obama made some tactical errors. 1) How many times did he agree that McCain was right? Of course, he followed those placations up with why McCain was wrong, but my granddad was an advertising guy- and I'm sure Grandpa would have had something to say about giving the other guy free press like that; 2) Obviously Obama's handlers told him to say "John" instead of the more superficially respectful, "Senator McCain"; and 3) Where was the youtube zinger moment? None of the questions were a surprise, none of McCain's answers were shockingly new- so Obama could have prepared at least one sound bite zinger.

Oh- and how 'bout the mediator? I personally thought he did a piss poor job-- especially when both candidates deftly answered his "How will the financial crisis change your goals" question with generalizations. Hubby said,"Who IS this crazy eyed dude!?"

Jen said...

I agree that the debate was not a slam dunk on either side, but I've read a lot of feedback that is leading me to believe that this is a larger strategy. Obama is clearly not trying to convert us--he is trying to appeal to the undecided constituency that has been repeatedly told that he is dangerous and too inexperienced to do the job. By remaining calm, he defies the first stereotype. By holding his own on what was supposed to be McCain's area of greatest strength, he shows that he is much more knowledgable than the GOP wants to give him credit for being. As much as we all want Obama to call McCain on all the ridiculous b.s. he has been peddling, he can't afford to come across as angry or out of control. His performance seems to be playing well with undecided voters--which we are not--so that is a good thing. I am very curious to see what the next debates bring. I suspect less overt agreeing with McCain (makes for lousy soundbites for us!) but I doubt we're going to see a fiery attack.