Finally, a little action! Was that the demur Mr Schieffer directing conversation, a roundtable creating the right environment, or just some form of repressed campaign energy necessarily finding its release? Whatever it was, the third debate was certainly the best of the three (go NYC?). From my perspective, McCain started off stronger, but wandered into points of confusion along the way, and by the end seemed to have failed to present a fully coherent picture of his vision. However, he did manage to throw some doubts about Obama out there, especially regarding taxes and health care. On the other hand, in a time of economic crisis, I don’t know if people will care as much about the fears of ‘great society’ governing.
For his part, Obama seemed tired and even a little bored to start with. He managed to be clear and deflect things and sound smart, but he sounded like he was going to go back into talking points at the start, and I never saw the spark in the eye the way you used to see with Bill Clinton when he’d do these things, that showed he loved explaining it. Near the end, when the issues turned to more personal things and he could talk about common ground and what we’re all looking for, I felt like I could see a little bit of hope in him. I think it’s just he doesn’t like arguments and debates that much; he’d rather do speeches and orations where he can talk about shared humanity… A lover not a fighter, sort of thing.
… Not to say he’s not a fighter, by the way. If you haven’t seen the Frontline special on Obama & McCain you really should watch it, as it gives a good & I think very fair background on both of them – it’s a bit brief once the campaigns get going but useful to get a feel for their lives leading up the 2008 run. Both are cast in quite favorable lights, I would say, although one diluted scandal each is discussed. But I do think it’s the sort of thing where you can draw your own conclusion.
Anyway, 538 is saying the post-debate numbers are giving it to Obama once again, which I’m relieved to hear as I wouldn’t have been surprised this time to see a shift. But it really just looks like America has made up its mind. Yes, McCain is not BUsh, but Bush is only getting like 25% approval right now, so McCain’s doing a lot better than that! Reagan changed things at the last moment, but he didn’t get his debate until the last moment – it seemed like the voters wanted change but were hesitant to trust the new guy until they’d seen him in action, which is the same thing that’s happened this time, except that we had three debates and they happened earlier in the cycle. But Obama got thumbs up from every debate, even when the media thought the performance was basically even, and I think it’s because the citizenry just wants confirmation that he can handle it.
McCain did his best yet last night, and we’ll see if it has any effect on polls – it might close the gap a little here or there, just to make things interesting.