By Paul Gleiser | October 7, 2008 | Print This
Those who support John McCain were hoping for an “I paid for this microphone” or “Senator, you’re no Jack Kennnedy” moment at the second presidential debate Tuesday night. They were hoping for that rare but juicy moment in a national debate that gets played over and over on all of the networks. They were hoping for the kind of moment that changes the momentum and trajectory of a campaign.
Those who support John McCain know that the clock is running out and they hoped for such a moment.
It never came.
What we saw Tuesday evening was standard presidential debate fare. And that means Obama won.
The so-called “town hall” format, said to favor McCain, was a format in name only. Unlike the town hall meeting that John McCain held in Tyler during the Texas primary, where McCain answered audience questions as they came, moderator Tom Brokaw edited the questions submitted by live attendees and by those participating via the internet. He then boiled the debate down to standard debate questions that were answered by both candidates in standard, stump speech fashion.
On national security and foreign policy, an objective observer might be willing to call it advantage McCain. But on domestic policy, the economy and the current economic crisis, Obama used his smooth style and terrific voice to great advantage while McCain went “Blah, blah, blah, my friends, blah, blah blah.” The Democrats are actually quite vulnerable on the mortgage meltdown but McCain took no advantage.
The only real tension in the debate was the scolding of both candidates by Brokaw for failure to observe the time limits when giving their answers.
Beyond Brokaw’s fussiness about time, there were no fireworks. There was no naming of names. There was nothing said by either candidate that will be quoted years from now. There was no laughter. There was nothing memorable. There was nothing to move the campaign from its current status — Obama in the lead and pulling away.
On a couple of occasions, Obama stated the standard line about the failures of the Bush administration even in cases where Bush has had little to do with the topic Obama was addressing (the mortgage crisis being the most obvious). At no time did McCain take Obama to task for this tactic. Obama tied McCain to an unpopular president and McCain let it stand.
McCain went into tonight’s debate down by a couple of touchdowns. He never got within field goal range.