You know every election year people get all excited for the debates, and almost every year, they let us down. We keep expecting and hoping for a singular moment or exchange that we will remember for years.
Yet that never seems to happen and last night was no exception.
Though in the history of debates, last night was one of the more odd debates I have ever watched.
The oddities in this debate all came from one man,, John McCain. As has been his problem throughout this campaign his message last evening had no focus or direction.
And more than that McCain once again looked totally out of sorts and uncomfortable.
Here are just some of the McCain oddities:
- I was surprised that the disdain John McCain was skewered for in the first debate,,, he carried over to last night. It wasn't just the dismissive 'that one' line, but in watching these debates McCain can't even fake respect for Obama.
- His 'home loans' plan was a 'new idea', but one that appeals to liberals. There is also some who say this is already in the bailout bill. Plus, if he really believes this,, why didn't he push for it when he 'suspended his campaign' to lead the bailout negotiations?
- Where was Bill Ayers? You and your VP slam Obama on the stump for four days based on his association with Bill Ayers, and you never bring it up? You don't go after him to his face. Why did they bring Ayers up this weekend if they weren't going to use it in the debate?
- You still don't say 'middle class' once or hardly say your opponents name at all? Even Sarah Palin had the wherewithal to talk to the concerns of the middle class and ask if she could call him Joe.
- In an answer to who his Treasury Secretary would be, the first name that McCain mentioned was Warren Buffet. Yes, Buffet would be a great Treasury Secretary but has slammed McCain's tax and economic proposals. Buffet thinks the rich should be taxed higher.
- We have heard how 'Town Halls' are John McCain's best format. Yet McCain looked very uncomfortable throughout the debate. He had uncomfortable in exchanges with Obama, even with moderator Tom Brokaw, and at one point calling a questioner by the wrong name in the middle of an answer. Not to mention McCain's aimlessly wandering around the stage was just plain bizarre.
- While he attacked Obama, he never really tried to knock him off balance with any real zingers. There wasn't a set plan of attack that had any kind of traction.
McCain's odd behavior goes back to a point I have been making on this blog for the last month, that John McCain hasn't been able to become one with the McCain campaign to clearly define himself.
It all goes back to that quote I used from the West Wing about three weeks ago from a Presidential Candidate.
"Years I've been looking forward to this campaign. I never imagined it would look like this."
McCain has to be crushed by what his campaign has become and the fact is that he let it happen. He lost control of his own campaign when he abandoned people like former aide Mike Murphy on NBC and threw in his lot with Karl Rove disciples like Steve Schmidt and Tucker Eskew.
This is what happens when you become the candidate who will say anything, do anything, or take any position that is politically convenient for you at the time. Democrats saw how this works when John Kerry was the candidate four years ago.
When you aren't consistent,,, over the long run, you get burned and his message coupled with the economic crisis is drowning the McCain campaign.
As for Obama, he once again was rock solid throughout the debate. He had a grasp of the issues and unlike the first debate he didn't get stuck on defense. Obama was the more aggressive of the two candidates in going after his opponent. On health care, on diplomacy, on spending, on Pakistan, on Iraq, Obama scored points time and again.
But the story of the debate wasn't Obama, or how Presidential he looked and sounded, though he did. The story was how John McCain went into a debate he had to win, and came to the debate with nothing.
While most debates are easily spun by the pundits of both sides, it was nearly unanimous across the board with few exceptions that the clear winner of last night was Barack Obama.