Thursday, October 16, 2008

Obama Plays Defense in Final Presidential Debate

I let out a hoot last night when John McCain slipped in calling Barack Obama "Senator Government." The Wall Street Journal says that was the best moment of the debate:

Whether or not last night's much-improved debate performance helps John McCain rally in the polls, at least voters finally got a clearer sense of the policy differences. For our money, the best line of the night was Mr. McCain's Freudian slip of referring to Barack Obama as "Senator Government." Neither candidate is offering policies that meet the serious economic moment. But Mr. McCain would let Americans keep more of their own income to ride out the downturn, while Mr. Obama is revealing that his default agenda is to spend money and expand the government.
Beyond this, I think Barack Obama was on defense the whole night. McCain won the debate for his aggressive stance and clearly detailed responses on the economy. Unfortunately, I have to agree with Noah Pollock that the Arizona Senator missed a chance to drive the stake:

Opportunities abounded to drive home simple, direct, and perfectly legitimate arguments against Obama: his support for federally-funded and late-term abortions, his mendacity about his tax and health care plans, his associations with America-hating radicals and anti-Semites. He repeatedly tiptoed up to the line, but never quite crossed it. The effect was to discredit such accusations. The back-and-forth about Ayers ended up absolving Obama far more than it incriminated him. If you’re going to bring up Ayers, you better be ready to say something poignant and damaging. Instead, McCain served up Obama a stellar opportunity to make himself look perfectly innocent. And that is exactly what Obama did.
I'll have more on the debate later, and both sides are going to spin their candidate as the winner.

The truth remains that Barack Obama is benefiting from the economy, and Americans are setting aside reservations about machine politics and ideological radicalism in the hope of something new.

Be careful what you wish for, as they say...