I never really paid much attention to the who-won-who-lost discussion regarding debates. We’re not talking about a football game where you methodically score points to win. No, we’re dealing with people’s opinions, something that can be swayed by many things. So the question isn’t who won, but rather who helped themselves the most in the campaign. A few things stand out:
Sitting at a table doesn’t compliment Obama well. He doesn’t have the same commanding presence as he does while standing at a podium. I noticed the same thing in the primary debates and with his O’Reilly interview. He isn’t as aggressive and seems to be more on the defensive (granted, McCain was on the attack more last night), and that isn’t just some obscure observation. This man may one day meet with world leaders and, yes, dictatorial leaders. Maybe he can have those meetings while standing.
Obama didn’t condemn John Lewis’ words comparing McCain to George Wallace. He should have. Yet, he still criticized McCain for negative ads.
Obama didn’t say Sarah Palin was qualified to be President and I think that was a missed opportunity. Obama is trying to make the case that he is qualified despite having a thinner record than Palin, so how can he be qualified if Palin is not?. I think it would have been wise for him to seize the opportunity and I expect the GOP to point this out in the coming days.
Abortion finally came up and it exposed one of Obama’s many weaknesses on policy. First, he argued that the Constitution guaranteed a right to privacy, which it most definitely does not. Then he argued for fewer abortions as a means of finding “common ground”. Let me explain something here. People who oppose abortion do so because we believe a fetus is a human life. We don’t want common ground on the matter because we believe that abortion equates to murder. We won’t work for common ground because that ultimately means that we would have to agree to keep it legal in return for fewer abortions and we don’t want murder to be legal…period. That’s simply unacceptable. And besides, if a fetus is just a mass of lifeless tissue then why would it be necessary to reduce abortions? If it is nothing more than removing a hangnail then there shouldn’t be a need to make it rare. McCain missed a chance here.
Obama’s associations finally came up and McCain missed another chance. He should have described in detail what Ayers did, who Tony Rezko is and how he is associated with Obama. He should have mentioned Reverend Wright, Father Pfleger, Louis Farrakhan and should have talked more about ACORN. Obama was not very truthful here. He didn’t mention the money that he gave ACORN and flat-out denied that his political career was launched in Ayers’ living room. McCain should have also pointed out Jesse Jackson’s recent comments that Obama would stop putting Israel’s interests first in the Middle East, and John Murtha's recent comments describing western Pennsylvania as a "racist area".
McCain should have used the word ‘Marxist’ to describe Obama’s tax plan. Instead it was Joe the Plumber. McCain didn’t do enough. He should have mentioned how Reagan brought the economy out of dire straits in 1981 with policies opposite those of Obama. He should have pointed out how Obama mirrors Jimmy Carter in taxes. And yet again he failed to mention that 40% of Americans don’t pay taxes and that much of Obama’s plan amounts to nothing more than government handouts to those people.
McCain did a good job arguing for free trade but should have called Obama’s policy for what it is: corporatism and economic nationalism.
Overall, McCain was more aggressive and that’s what he needed to do. Obama was on the defensive all night, probably because he leads in the polls. But I think McCain accomplished something important…doubt. All he needs to do is keep people in doubt of Obama’s ability, judgment and experience. We face the most difficult economic times in decades, with some of the most difficult foreign policy challenges. At the same time, we stand poised to elect the most inexperienced, most socialist President in our history who – coupled with Pelosi and Reid – will form the most liberal US government in history. I think that will resonate. The polls may be a bit misleading because people are angry, but I see things being a bit different inside the voting booth. It’s not going to be as easy as some think to pull that lever for Obama because such a vote would be a risk. If McCain keeps stoking that fire he will continue to be in this race, and the outcome may end up being a shocking surprise.