The Final McCain-Obama Debate: Small-Idea Republicans, Narrow Minds, and Big GOP Government for the Wealthy Come Out the Loser
I intentionally watched this debate without taking any notes, and with a female friend who, although she supports Obama, has a small business that serves mostly white, middle-class clients, only one of whom actively supports McCain. I wanted her small-business-owner perspective, as well as how she thought her clients would react to McCain and Obama’s final go-round before the election.
What follows, then, is an ’emotional’ reaction to the debate and, keep in mind, all quotes are paraphrased from memory, so they may not be verbatim:
Right out of the box, McCain didn’t do well, looking somewhat confused as he repeated some form of the word ‘anger’ about eight times – was he describing the electorate or himself?
McCain’s only good line of the night — the thing about “I’m not George W. Bush – if you wanted to run against him you should have run four years ago” — will be replayed endlessly by the Punditocracy but, overall, had little impact. Far more important were the typical ‘Republican honcho’ attitudes he displayed about women’s health care and jobs. (More about that later.)
Will McCain finally put the Ayers nonsense to rest? He seemed to be saying he didn’t care about ‘washed-up ’60s radical’ Ayers, but will he tell Sarah Barracuda to stop inflaming crowds with Obama’s tenuous connection to the man? At this point, if he continues to use Ayers to bash Obama, he’s going to look like the biggest jerk in the country, but that doesn’t seem to faze him anymore, so perhaps he will. Throughout the debate, McCain just couldn’t keep McNasty from emerging from the depths of his psyche, which is going to cost him this election.
McCain also veered into Captain Queeg territory several times, and we were waiting for him to produce metal ball bearings from his pocket. As well as repeating ‘anger’ robotically, later he also puzzlingly started trashing Obama for something having to do with vets and their families at his rallies – neither Obama nor his campaign ever said a word about vets or their families at McCain events, so what was he babbling about? Then there was his attempted slam of Obama over Supreme Court nominees wherein he seemed to say that Obama voted against Justice Stephen Breyer, although Obama wasn’t in the US Senate when Breyer was up for the Court. In these lapses McCain just appeared to be a confused old crank, if not actually senile.
‘Joe the Plumber’? Sweet Jesus, he sounded like an old Jackie Gleason character: “Hey, Mrs. Magillicuddy, I’m here to fix yer pipes!” McCain may have thought he was scoring points by repeatedly using this cornball cardboard cut-out of the small business owner, but real small business owners already know that the Bush Republican years have been terrible for their businesses – higher gas prices alone have been killing them. McCain continuing to invoke this as some kind of theme meaning that he identified with the ‘Little Guy’ was just plain silly.
Two other things that sunk McCain: 1.) Even the post-debate pundits noticed his callous attitude toward the health of mothers in late-term abortion cases. His sneering and heartless attitude – “These anti-abortion groups stretch the word ‘health’ so it can mean anything” — didn’t go over well with women or men. Who wants their wife, daughter, mother or sister treated by Dr. Just-Shut-Up-And-Have-The-Damn-Kid? He might as well have said pregnant women are nothing but a bunch of whiners. Obama hit the right note of concern and sympathy; McNasty couldn’t go there. 2.) And this is one the Pundits didn’t catch; while Obama proposed getting people back working at useful, good-paying jobs making such items as energy-efficient cars, solar panels and wind turbines, McCain basically brushed that off and said the magic line that will turn the Rust Belt states deep blue: “We’ll send them in for reeducation and retraining.” Laid-off auto and manufacturing workers from Kenosha to Toledo and Detroit to St. Louis have heard those fateful words for over twenty years and know what they really mean – a few weeks learning data entry at a community college and then a minimum wage gig manning a cash register at a convenience store because there aren’t any data entry jobs available, if they can find any work at all. McNasty, with this one phrase, just lost the Midwest and the election.
Obama, meanwhile, as he has in the previous two debates, appeared calm, presidential and knowledgeable about the issues, in contrast to McCain’s occasional rambling and pugnacious attitude – it was obvious he was trying to rile Obama, trying to push him into a gaffe, and Obama benignly smiled at the attempt. In a time of national emergency, McCain’s political gamesmanship just seemed petty, self-centered and narrow-minded – and emblematic of his entire campaign.
McPalin will hobble along for the next few weeks, chained to what’s left of the dwindling GOP base of religious nuts, neocons and racists but, nearly out of money and with a message that’s not selling to the general public, all he can do is pray lightning strikes. Obama will seal the deal with his half-hour of paid TV primetime next Wednesday while McCain watches from the sidelines, bleeding from mostly self-inflicted wounds.
This was McCain’s last chance to reach a national audience and he came up with confusion and bile and the same Reagan-Bush prescriptions that have set the table for our current economic disaster. In short: The majority of the public is suffering from Republican Fatigue: they are tired of George W. Bush, tired of the effects of the Reagan Revolution, tired of the Republican Party, tired of Rovian personal attacks, and tired of John McCain.
Obama is averaging about a nine-point lead in the polls, cut that by three for the ‘Bradley Effect’ and the various GOP voter purges, then add the millions of cellphone users and newly-registered voters who aren’t being polled, and you still have Obama winning by six or seven points and at least 300 electoral votes, a landslide in anyone’s book.