Sorry I didn't do this yesterday, folks, but I spent most of the day getting ready to watch the TCU Horned Frogs whip the asses of BYU! YEAAAAH!!!!!
Anyway, on to my report of Wednesday's final debate between Barack Obama and John McCain. As I said yesterday, I stated that Joe the Plumber won. Why do I say that? Because both Obama and McCain brought him up several times. "Joe, I'm your friend and here's why..." "No, Joe - I'M your friend and here's why..." "Here's my plan to cut your taxes, Joe..." "Here's how my tax plan is better, Joe..." And so on. Joe the Plumber basically served as a face for Gov. Sarah Palin's usual reference to "Joe Six Pack" - in other words, blue collar American workers.
Before the debate, I had said that Obama needed to close the deal in the way that he didn't do for the Democratic primaries. He didn't have to bring his "A" game, he just needed to provide himself a boost so that his lead in the polls can increase. However, he was thrown off his game plan by McCain's introduction of Joe the Plumber. In a way, Joe was bait for Obama to respond to, and he bit like a deep sea fish. What set this up, though, was the tape of Obama talking to Joe and his unfortunate use of the term "spread the wealth", which for conservatives is code for "tax your ass off". I say 'unfortunate', because Obama happened to use a common phrase from the liberal lexicon that conservatives flock to like vultures on a carcass whenever it was used.
While Obama does not have the experience that McCain has in being a candidate for office, he at least has been at it long enough to know what phrases to avoid while on the campaign trail. This is especially in light of the fact that the GOP is so desperate to latch Bill Ayers (aka the so-called "unrepentant terrorist"), Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and other radical left wing folks onto Obama through guilt by association. If not Obama himself, then someone in his campaign staff should have instructed him on certain words and phrases to avoid on the campaign trail; especially when he went from the primaries to the general election. In essence, what sells to Democrats ain't necessarily what will sell to the rest of the general population.
Anyway, I felt that Obama was thrown off his game plan by the introduction of Joe the Plumber, and he ended up in that "explaining away" method of his that makes him sound like your run-of-the-mill politician. Other examples of this are his "above my pay grade" and "bitter Americans clinging to their guns and religions" comments that put him in a less than favorable light that he didn't need to put himself into. He didn't close the deal - it just didn't happen.
In the meantime, John McCain at times was aggressive, pouty, surly, and even downright Cheneyesque - and that's when he was being nice! Some are going to interpret J-Mac's surliness as "finally standing up to Obama", but I felt that he just came across as a grumpy old man. There was no real focus to his attacks, which basically sounded like he was rattling off the current list of GOP talking points. In other words, J-Mac does not make a good "bad cop" - he probably should leave the bad cop role to Palin, who can at least deliver her lines with a better sense of timing. The only reason that I'm awarding McCain the debate this time around was because he introduced Joe the Plumber into the debate, throwing Obama off his rhythm, and also because Obama didn't close the deal. McCain did only marginally more than Obama in accomplishing the goals that I had set out for them - and even in this McCain fell short.
What you can say, then, is that McCain may have won this battle (this final debate, that is), but there's still the war to go. McCain, ultimately, didn't do enough to give him any significant bounce in the polls, and with no more debates in the horizon, that was his last chance in a face-to-face with Obama. Now he needs to figure out how to reach the voters in other ways, and Palin now needs to really boost her learning curve if she is going to be any help for the rest of the campaign. If there were more time, she might be able to learn what she needs to do, but three weeks might not be enough. Time will tell.
Now Obama will need to do what he does best - speak to the crowds. He also needs to avoid any more left-wing blurbs that the GOP and conservative talk-show hosts can latch onto. He can do that easily if he wants to - he only went to freakin' Harvard, after all! Obama is currently like the playoff team that is in a bye week, while McCain is like the team that has to play during a bye week. The only way that this election can get interesting is if Obama lets it.
My final debate results: (out of 3 presidential debates and one vice presidential debate)
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