Friday, September 26, 2008

Nothing to see here, folks.

The Debate is Back On!

The big question: Did this lower the expectations any for McCain?

Secondary question: Was that the goal?

Talk amongst yourselves while I update the electoral college post for today. I'll be back shortly.

Recent Posts:
The Electoral College Map (9/26/08)

The Electoral College Map (9/25/08)

Now They're Trying to Take Away My Debate!?!


Jack said...

I'm wondering if McCain knew he'd debate all along but was trying to force Obama to prepare mentally for both a debate and a possible town hall/conversation.

Either that or he's just trying to save face after a political maneuver gone bad.

Robert said...

I fail to see how McCain comes out of this without alot of damage. He went up there, said he would not debate unless there was a deal, did not help the negotiations and became a convenient scape-goat. It will be hard now to sell the ability to work across the aisle, since he showed he was less successful than GWB. The meeting he called for was where everything began to unravel. What is he going to do when there is a crisis as President? It also brings back into question his judgement (What did he think he coud acheive) and his sincerity (his staff was still fundraising, Palin was still campaigning, some of his ads were still running while his campaign was suspended).

SarahLawrenceScott said...

The problem with throwing Hail Mary passes is that they often end up in interceptions. That's what happened here. It couldn't be worse for McCain--DC pols make a tentative deal along the lines of what Obama had laid out, McCain shows up and the deal unravels, and now he travels to the debate with his tail between his legs. He still hasn't taken a public stand on what should be done.

The expectations for the debate almost don't matter now. Suppose McCain comes in tonight energized and prepped, and Obama is off his game and makes a gaffe. How does that help? McCain predicated this week on action and not talk, while Obama insisted Presidents should be able to multitask. It's not just lowering expectations--the McCain campaign has left themselves no good narrative for explaining a good night for their candidate. If he tries to spin a good night as hi ability to multitask, then the world will burst out laughing. And the Obama campaign can start to paint McCain as a glib celebrity who will say anything to get elected.

Not that I expect a good night for McCain. And a somewhat bad night might be a little better for him than a good night, if his campaign spins furiously to suggest he was distracted by all his "hard work" on the financial crisis. That doesn't really pass the laugh test either, but at least true believers can embrace that explanation.

Of course, a really bad McCain performance, and he's done.

We've gone down the rabbit-hole on this one, I think.

P.S. I'll toot my own horn a bit by pointing out that I did suggest several days ago that this debate would be more about McCain than Obama. Maybe that makes up for my abysmal record in predicting the timing of Obama's VP pick. :D

Josh Putnam said...

Horn tooting is expressly forbidden here at FHQ, Scott.

Actually, this was a banner day for you. You got that right and Rob was citing your comments regarding the Palin fade in our discussion group meeting today. Kudos.

My need to be a devil's advocate is preventing me from totally agreeing with you, Scott, but I am starting to see some John Kerry and some Bob Dole in John McCain. Not a good combination. McCain is definitely in a bind now.

What is your definition of a "really bad" debate performance?

Robert said...


Your points have been well-made, particularly with the long-run strategy rather than razzle-dazzle. From another perspective, David Brooks, who has been very perceptive this campaign, indicates that McCain did not help himself but also did not really hurt himself. He said that he brought the Republicans back to the table (not exactly what has been reported elsewhere). He says that while he (David Brooks) supports what the Democrats and Paulson are trying to do, there is great resistance out there to the deal. If McCain can tap into that resistance, he could make a comeback. I'm not sure I agree, but he has been right many times this year. For the segment check out

SarahLawrenceScott said...

A really bad performance for McCain is if he appears clueless on some key element of the financial crisis, and Lehrer (or maybe Obama, but that's trickier) pushes him on it. Something equivalent to Gibson's pushing Palin on the Bush Doctrine or on her stance on climate change. The ultimate gaffe would be something that also showed a lack of knowledge that all "regular" home-buyers have, like not knowing that mortgage interest is tax-deductible. That would bring back the many-houses issue and undermine his credibility as a leader to boot.

Josh Putnam said...

Here's that link from Rob.

So Scott, something similar to a Reagan first debate in 1984 performance? Well, that may add a whole new layer to what you said actually.