That was the moment of decision where John McCain, once again, went the wrong way. If McCain was indeed to win the race with the mainstream before all hope was lost, he had to somehow distance himself from that fragile wacko base that used to be known as the Republican Religious Right, and reactivate the image he had cultivated over the years of being a supposedly reputable heroic persona with astute insight and a clear compelling vision for the good of all Americans. Not that I ever bought that line of crap, but that’s what he’s been trying to sell, every since he lived down that Keating thing.
I have long said that the election for president is like getting to pick your dad who is going to occasionally be mad at you and give you stern speeches—or in some cases incarcerate you for attempting to exert 1st Amendment freedoms while he pilfers the cookie jar. This night, as he had done in the past, Obama came off like that annoyingly right and reasonable dad, frustratingly clear and patient when pointing out our short comings, and explaining why our allowances need to be cut; but basically still someone you could depend on and trust.
Meanwhile McCain came off like some creepy cranky grandpa you hope you never have to stay with if real parents aren’t available. It really was a facial thing: he looked like the jerk his record shows him to be. And when McCain made his well-expected big grandstanding effort at lobbing a William Ayers stink-bomb on Obama, Obama parried deftly and, as the LA Times fact check on the debate verifies, in short understandable order dismissed McCain’s claim of lies as a lie. Obama then scored his best shot of the night noting, “The fact that this has become such an important part of your campaign, Sen. McCain, says more about your campaign than it says about me.”At which point McCain demonstrated another of his patented eye rolls and resumed blindly attacking Obama with his worn out assortment of already debunked misrepresentations or begging for a vote while demonstrating a barely introductory level familiarity with the seven techniques of propaganda.
At some point as we watched McCain stretch his mouth around the latest hateful thought that was so visibly crossing his mind throughout the night, John McCain completely defied the laws of medical science and ate his own self and the last remains of his reputation. As the bevy of after-debate polls showed McCain statistically looked terrible in every way pollsters can measure asinine behavior. Smugness, condescension, blatant deceptions, rudeness, and cheap pandering, they just don’t play as well on nationwide TV as they must in some Washington cloakrooms.
Game Over, John McCain. You have beaten yourself. Of course, that is just this set of polls. Who knows how you will do in November with your buddies counting?
--mikel weisser writes from the left coast of AZ