The Daily Dish calls it: Obama wins by a knockout
Andrew Sullivan’s blog The Daily Dish is spot-on about last night’s debate. My own perception of who won the contest and his more professional politico’s take were pretty close. I’m glad, because perhaps that means I’m not hopelessly partisan to the point of blindness – which I actually hope I’m not – and that what he and I both saw was simply what everyone else saw (who weren’t blindly partisan). I mean, I’m agreeing with a Libertarian, for Pan’s sake.
The more it sinks in, the more I think Obama actually knocked it out of the park last night. He is, in some ways, the inverse McCain. McCain is all drama and explosions but then … the air smells like damp, finished fireworks smoke. Obama seems calm and cautious but then … you realize he cleaned your clock.
The comparison is beautiful. McCain’s projects the aura of a tired old warrior, realizing he’s in his last fight, and the young upstart is going to beat him. But if so, by Wotan he will go down with a sword in his fist. McCain saved nothing for defense and poured everything into futile, senseless attacks.
Obama won the debate so decisively because he answered the questions and defended the facts, and he didn’t turn each answer into an academic lecture. He also didn’t answer questions with a chain of sob stories from poor folks he’d met. He stated facts and gave rational responses, without apology. Obama only brought up his bracelet after McCain tried to garner sympathy by proxy with his own. Obama tossed McCain’s cheap tactic right back in his face, and it was fun to watch.
McCain was in bad shape. He couldn’t stop blinking. He pulled out painfully stilted jokes about his own age in a painfully transparent attempt to appear self-deprecating. And what was the deal with McCain never looking directly at Obama? Does he think his opponent is Medusa? Does he remind McCain of the help, in his many mansions? Perhaps so, given how many times he tried to imply Obama just couldn’t grasp the complexities of… well, just about everything. These uppity kids today.
McCain simply refused to argue policy, and answered every question with a tiresome hymn about America’s greatness, when he wasn’t kvetching about how the whippersnapper just doesn’t get it, or scolding about Obama’s earmarks. Obama made the point, and he made it well. Earmarks are paltry compared with McCain’s tax plan, which seems conceived by Mr. Howell and Lovey, or compared with the enormous cost of two wars. McCain might as well have been grandstanding about how much to charge for photocopies in the Library of Congress.
As I said in last night’s blog, McCain’s flag-waving might work for his base, but it was an insult to the intelligence of everyone else. Things are bad in this country right now, but they could get worse or they could get better. I want to pick the candidate who is most likely to make things better, based on his rational and realistic policy positions and record of responsible behavior. Obama is Mr. Responsible incarnate. McCain ran off on a whim and picked a spunky piece of trailer trash as his Vice President. He proclaimed his campaign was on hold, but then it was back on within a day. Is that how he’d run the country?
I just hope Obama gets more aggressive. He needs to not just make the points, but make the points and return a withering volley. Obama needs to ask McCain how he can sneer about elitists and celebrities, when Obama grew up on food stamps with a single mother and McCain can’t remember how many mansions he has in which his heiress wife holds gala events full of movie stars. Fight back, Obama, and take the old man down.