Maybe. I'll leave that to the historians. As for me, I am a student of History and a current political observer, so, let's get to it!
This tumultuous week ended with the debate at Ole Miss. I admit, I only listened to the first hour, then, kids entered my car, and I had to listen to the same pop music that I hear 24/7.
My initial, live, impression was much the same as my impression of Palin's convention speech, which I also listened to in the car. In neither case did I think McCain or Palin did very well. Last night, listening, I thought Barack was clear and articulate, and came off, listening, as the better debater. On substance, he is full of crap, but, the he was the better debater, better able to articulate his positions. McCain seemed a little stumbling and seemed to me, more obvious about driving home his talking points. Listening, my thought was, he's wiping the floor with McCain.
That was listening.
After I returned home, and got a chance to listen to some commentators, and see some snippets of the debate that I had only heard (and learn that the last 1/2 hour, which focused more squarely on foreign policy, clearly belonged to McCain), did I change my mind. Much as I did with the Palin speech. You really lose something in these things when you lose the visual, and I had lost that in both cases.
Now, be that as it may, Barack OBama in this debate, only had to appear presidential, to give the impression to swing voters that "Yes, I can see that guy as president." I don't know if he did this, but that's actually a pretty low bar, and one of the reasons I do not like the "Not Ready to Lead" mantra of the McCain campaign. Once you pass that low threshold, what do you have?
I have a suggestion for the McCain camp - use "Too liberal for America, Not Ready to Lead," or some such variation. Libs like to rail that Republicans always use that "Liberal" label, and Alan Colmes even claims it's misapplied in Obama's case. Well, it's not, and the GOP uses it, because 1)It's generally true, 2)You can almost always make the case that these candidates are liberals even if they skew moderate, and 3)It works.
CNN has some early data on the debate from debate watchers. I know the link is from CNN, but this actually a pretty interesting article, and I think it's about where this debate will be. As with much from the Liberal media, it is truthful, but you have to read the WHOLE THING to get the whole truth. Bottom line - No knockout blow for McCain, and Obama may have helped move the needle on his "readiness." But, beware, as the CNN article points out, apparently more D's watched the debate, so, it's likely that their results are skewed somewhat. As they also point out, John Kerry did very well in polling following 2004's debates, and he lost ground. So, these debates don't really swing too many people unless they provide "gotcha" moments.
Drudge's readers have it a 2-1 victory for McCain (but they skew right).
Here is what I got from this debate:
- Barack Obama is not going to cut a penny of federal spending. When pressed repeatedly, he continued to provide a laundry list of increased spending priorities.
- John McCain doesn't like earmarks. I realize McCain doesn't want to single out a particular federal agency for extinction, because the Libs and the MSM will beat him over the head with it for the next 40 days, and that's politically smart. But, he needs to better articulate why earmarks lead to a culture of corruption, which is what he was trying to say, that the fact that we allow these earmarks spills over into everything else that gets appropriated. He's got something there, but he needs to figure out how to get that message across. I think perhaps we need Mr. McCain to suggest something bold - perhaps point out that the longer one spends in Washington, the bigger a porker you become, and we need to get Congressmen term-limited (and, in the ad supporting term limits, he can congratulate Obama on being such a quick study).
- Both these guys want to see a bailout occur. I don't think either had great moments in this. McCain had the opportunity to say that he felt the House Republicans, who were the only people speaking for the taxpayer in this thing, were being shut out of the negotiations. He should have said he felt strongly that since they were the only group in this who were looking out for the working man, they needed to be heard and their ideas considered. He should have railed that we can't have the people that helped create this mess in Congress, Barney Frank and Chris Dodd (and Barack Obama), working with those who made these rotten decisions on Wall Street (embodied by Paulson) to craft the bailout.
- On Iraq, McCain needs to get Obama off his high horse about how he was against it and that was the right decision. The proper reply needs to be, "Senator Obama, regardless of the reasons we went to war in Iraq, a war which was supported by your running mate, in case you don't recall, we are in Iraq, and it had become the central front in the War on Terror, and we must win there, and thanks to the surge strategy, we are winning there. If you want troops to come home sooner, as I do also, you will realize that committing to victory is the safest, fastest way to make that happen." Then he could use his line about Barack thinking we have to lose in Iraq to win in Afghanistan. As a bonus, he could add in, "You didn't even have to vote on the War in Iraq, from the safety of your ultra-liberal Chicago district in the Chicago Statehouse, it was actually a pretty gutless and politically calculating move to oppose the war. So, don't lecture me about tough decisions. You made a politically expedient one, and you haven't shut up about it yet, but that was a speech 6 years ago."
- People still don't know that Barack Obama is the Senator from Fannie Mae. McCain had a perfect opportunity, when Obama was trying to lay the financial mess at the feet of 8 years of no regulations, to point out who the largest recipients of campaign cash from Fannie/Freddie are - Chris Dodd and Obama, and to point out that it was McCain who co-sponsored a Fannie/Freddie reform bill in 2005, that the Democrats managed to torpedo. He didn't and he should have, because the media will not do this for him.