Saturday, September 27, 2008

General Thoughts (Post-Debate Edition)

My general thoughts on this election haven't changed much in the last week and a half, though obviously John McCain and Sarah Palin have had a much worse week than even I expected. Barack Obama came off like a winner in this crisis not by changing his style or message, but simply by seeming steady and in charge. But it's a long way between now and November, swing voters are fickle and easily distracted, and these things could change a dozen times between now and then. It's hardly in the bag.

Sen. McCain, of course, should never be underestimated, as last night's debate made clear. For a guy who a) tried to avoid the debate all together, and b) showed nothing but utter contempt for Obama and many of the questions, he did quickly take command of the stage. If he does end up losing the election, it can't be said that he didn't put up a fight (and fought dirty to boot). Now granted, a lot of what he actually said was bullshit (on taxes and healthcare, on regulation, on the surge, on Russia/Georgia, etc)-- Obama hit on this on some points, but failed to on many openings-- but swing voters are rarely the most knowledgeable voters, so that ultimately doesn't matter. Still, while I'd say that the whole thing was a draw/wash in the end, I'd give Sen. Obama a slight edge in the end, because he came off more collected, and was able to take on McCain toe-to-toe on the issue that the media has assured it's McCain's strong suit... foreign policy (in my entry last week I made clear why I disagree with this, but I'll let the narrative stand for now). As for the economic portion, both avoided any specifics (which would've been, like, way boring anyway), but that issue goes to Obama's advantage automatically at this point.

Jim Lehrer did a great job moderating, for the record. Unlike the ABC Democratic debate, for instance, he kept the focus away from trivial issues and character questions (flag pins, lolz!!), and more on the actual key questions he wanted answered. But boy was he wasting time trying to get McCain to address Obama directly. Fail!

I'm seeing polls (for whatever they're worth) showing people favoring Obama's performance, which did surprise me, but ultimately will be meaningless by November. There's more debates and campaign stupidity to come.

Finally, TPM edited a video highlight reel. Elsewhere, the internets fact-checks the debate.

[UPDATE: This is just someone's LJ, not a political blog, but I agree with his thoughts 100%.]

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