Thursday, October 16, 2008 at 7:20 AM

The McCain-Obama “debate” of ’08: final round

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

Despite all the media hype, presidential debates have very little bearing on how people vote on Election Day. Instead, they tend to merely reinforce voters’ pre-existing feelings about the candidates. This means that who won the debate is invariably in the eye of the beholder.

[The McCain-Obama “debate” of 08: round I, The iPINIONS Journal, September 28, 2008]

As far as pre-debate hype goes, the talk going into last night’s final presidential debate between John McCain and Barack Obama could not have generated more suspense. Because on the one hand, reporters were harping on polls which indicate that McCain’s campaign is on life support; while on the other, pundits were proselytizing the notion that the only chance he has of resuscitating his campaign is to go postal on Obama.

Therefore, viewers can be forgiven the expectation that McCain would come out throwing political punches at Obama as if his life depended on it.  And, sure enough, he tried.

Most notably, McCain repeatedly jabbed with the politically expedient woes of “Joe the plumber,” the way Sarah Palin used those of “Joe Six-Pack,” in a patently contrived attempt to make Obama seem like an untrustworthy elitist who “pals around with terrorists” and is out of touch with ordinary folks.

But, ironically, McCain played into the Saturday-Night-Live caricature of him as a senile old fool by demanding that the American people need to know more about Obama’s relationship with 1960s radical Bill Ayers. After all, McCain and Palin have been doing nothing but telling the American people about this relationship (in undeniably exaggerated fashion) on the campaign trail and in negative TV ads for months.

At any rate, he did land at least one good zinger when he channeled Lloyd Bentsen dissing Dan Quayle as follows:  

Sen. Obama, I am not President Bush. If you wanted to run against President Bush, you should have run four years ago.

But, showing off his rope-a-dope style, Obama counter punched as follows:

If I’ve occasionally mistaken your policies for George Bush’s policies, it’s because on the core economic issues that matter to the American people — on tax policy, on energy policy, on spending priorities — you have been a vigorous supporter of President Bush.

Unfortunately for McCain, however, he could not disguise his contempt, consternation and frustration over the fact that Obama responded to most of his attacks with clear-headed eloquence and a disarming smile. Moreover, McCain’s facial expressions betrayed the fact that even he knew that he was losing, and in fact did lose, this final debate.

That’s the way things went, and that, alas, is the way McCain will end his bid to become the next president of the United States: fuming with contempt, consternation and frustration.  

Related Articles:
McCain-Obama “debate” of ’08: round II
McCain channeling Bentsen

*Published originally last night at 11:17 pm


  1. Steve Foerster October 17, 2008 at 12:53 pm

    Anyone remember when McCain was considered the more “presidential” seeming candidate?

    Considering his reaction after the debate, captured in this Reuters photo, I think that theory can be squarely lain to rest.

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