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Debate Reactions: Joe the Plumber Edition
October 16, 2008, 11:15 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Well, its pretty obvious now that we just experienced a 3 for 3 routing by President Senator Obama in the debates.  So finally, and once again, here are my rambling thoughts about the debate, clearly with no organizational assistance from ACORN.

– This debate was for the most part, and certainly more so than the other two, fun to watch.  Maybe it was because the hype had been generated for a more exciting debate after the last snoozer.  Or maybe it was just McCain’s final chance to do anything meaningful to change the state of the race.  But whatever it was, I found it to be very interesting to watch.

– I have to admit for about 20 minutes in the beginning of the debate I was worried.  McCain seemed to be on his game, he seemed to be getting some good digs on Obama without looking mean, and Obama hadn’t yet found his voice.  McCain seemed to be able to articulate well his tax policy, while Obama couldn’t really solidify it.  Uh oh.  McCain finally got to say on national TV (which I’m sure he was quite happy about) “I am not President Bush”.  Whether or not anyone believed him is another story.

– Who is the man?  JOE!  What is his job? A PLUMBER!  Who is the man?  JOE!  What is his job?  A PLUMBER!  (repeat ad nauseum)

– Then everything changed.  Then Bob Schieffer (who was a fantastic moderator, I must say) asked a question about the process, essentially, “Why do you guys hate each other so much?”  McCain obviously had been heavily coached on this question, and it showed.  First he tried out the “Obama refused my town hall meeting invitation” line, which no one bought (according to the CNN squigglys).  Then he said, seemingly in a single sentence, that he lamented the negativity of the campaign but then also overplayed the John Lewis card.  His faux outrage over this was palpable, and he looked really uncomfortable and strange.  Obama, of course, comes back strong saying, more or less, “sticks and stones can break my bones but your words will never solve the problems Americans are facing”.  And then it all blew open.  McCain makes another attack, trying to draw a false equivalency between the crazy mobs at his rallies and Obama’s ads criticizing his policies.  Obama then masterfully explains to the befuddled old man that someone like John Lewis, who was instrumental and on the ground in the Civil Rights Struggles, knows a thing or two about hateful speech.  And maybe he went over the line a bit in what he said, but to try to equate criticizing one’s policies with people yelling “terrorist” or “kill him” at a rally is ridiculous.  I’m really glad Obama said this to his face.  McCain, not satisfied with this exchange, of course had to bring up scary Ayers and ACORN (I’ll have a post up soon on ACORN…) to which Obama had a good response, and after getting the facts out in the open, pivoted back gracefully to his point throughout all of this: that this kind of discourse does nothing for the political process.  McCain, still not satisfied, tried to do these same kind of mental gymnastics that Obama completes effortlessly, but came up really flat.  This is an uncut quote from this point in the debate by McCain:

And it’s not the fact — it’s not the fact that Senator Obama chooses to associate with a guy who in 2001 said that he wished he had have bombed more, and he had a long association with him. It’s the fact that all the — all of the details need to be known about Senator Obama’s relationship with them and with ACORN and the American people will make a judgment.

And my campaign is about getting this economy back on track, about creating jobs, about a brighter future for America. And that’s what my campaign is about and I’m not going to raise taxes the way Senator Obama wants to raise taxes in a tough economy. And that’s really what this campaign is going to be about.

Right about that first line in the second paragraph, you could see President Senator Obama on the split screen with a huge grin on his face, knowing that no one would buy the crap McCain was sellin’.  At this point in the debate, and hereafter, McCain seemed to sort of give up and give in to his frustrations.  He looked so uncomfortable delivering these points that it’s almost as though he doesn’t even believe them himself.

– Which brings me to my most important point.  Even though McCain scored some points on policy, debates are not really about policy.  It’s about appearance, charisma, and confidence.  And while Obama’s picture needs to be appended to the Wicktionary under sangfroid, McCain clearly showed none of these traits.  Obama looked younger (obviously – or perhaps more aptly, McCain looked OLD), more confident, cooler under pressure, and nothing seemed to bother him.  He could brush off any attack with a smile on his face and quickly pivot back to the issues at hand.  As I’m writing this, I got an email from Strader with his reactions to the debate, and since they mimic my thoughts exactly on this topic, I’ll just quote him here:

The double screen was definitely cruel to McCain, he never really looked comfortable.  When placed side by side, McCain’s behavior, demeanor, and body language amplifies Obama’s athleticism, youthful vigor, and coolness under fire.  Obama’s calm thoughtful responses made the majority of McCain’s attacks look desperate and petty (which they are).  Flip to the other side of the coin and it just get’s worse for McCain.  Forced to share a split screen with Obama, he appears even more agitated and ancient.  He’s doing a really poor job of giving people who don’t like or agree with Obama a reason to cast a vote for McCain/Palin.  McCain is getting outclassed and outcampaigned everyday.  His message and credibility have been lost in a sea of negative attacks and it’s too late for him to effectively remind people where he stands on the issues.  Does politics have a seventh inning slaughter rule?

That was good, but this was the best:

Huh?!?  ZERO???  awww SNAP!

– The rest of the debate was particularly strong for Obama.  He had a really good and sensible answer on the perennial issue of abortion, and he seemed to really find his footing and nail McCain mercilessly on health care.  At this point, it was a done deal.

– Uh oh, looks like Obama didn’t win over Joe the Plumber.  Well, it also looks like he wasn’t really an uncommitted voter either.  He’s certainly enjoying his 15 minutes of fame on all the news shows this morning, with incessant impromptu press conferences at his front door all day.

– Wordle Analysis:  wordle is down at the moment, but I’ll try to get the transcript up whenever I can get back to the site…


EARLY VOTING IN NC STARTS TODAY!  I’m off to a rally with Kay Hagan, David Price, Jim Hunt, Bev Purdue, and then to vote!  woo!  Pictures will come.


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