Becker Blog

The world according to Brian Becker

Round 3: Grandpa McCain Gets Grumpy

Posted by Brian Becker on October 16, 2008

Tonight’s third and final presidential debate was the devastating blow to McCain that I was hoping for in the first debate. And the funny thing is, Barack Obama barely laid a finger on McCain. All the damage to McCain was self inflicted. Unlike the first and second debates, Obama didn’t really have any memorable moments. He played defense for most of the debate, and kept his cool throughout which worked in his favor. All the post debate insta-polls showed him winning by an even larger margin than the first or second debate.

McCain on the other hand appeared very angry, grumpy, desperate, and old. Frankly, he seems like a real jerk. Johnny Mac came out swinging aggressively, and looked strong for the first thirty minutes or so. It was all downhill from there. David Gergen said this was like watching an exercise in anger management. I agree. His best moment in the debate was when he said that he was not President Bush, and Obama should have ran four years ago if he wanted to debate Bush. Still, why didn’t he do that in the first debate? Its a little late to fight back against that charge when Obama has painted him into that corner for months now.

Aside from that high point, McCain floundered, and the split screen killed him. He blinked hyperactively, frequently rolled his eyes when Obama spoke, and scowled a few times. This particular part of the debate brought me back to the first of the Bush Vs. Kerry debates, where George W. Bush frequently slouched and scowled. He also interrupted Barack more than a few times, which is just rude.

And for those of you that were playing the John McCain drinking game, a lot of you are probably waking up with a surprising lack of hangover. Unlike the last debates, he barely said “my friends”, or “maverick” at all, and who could have forseen that “Joe the Plumber” would end up being the focal point of half the debate?

Substantively, this debate was pretty much more of the same. Aside from the subject of the supreme court being raised, all the questions were ones we’ve heard in the other two debates. The subject of Ayers and ACORN was brought up at one point though, and frankly this is the part of the debate where I think McCain lost the independents. If I were McCain, I wouldn’t have raised the issue at all, because it just gave Obama a chance to defend himself in front of a huge national audience.

I’d also like to give props to Bob Schieffer. Brokaw, Ifill, and Lehrer were pretty pathetic moderators, but Shieffer did his job very well. He kept them within time, asked follow-ups when necessary, and kept them on topic.

So what happens now? McCain needed a huge victory in this debate and instead he imploded. While there is still a few weeks from election day, I think this race is over. Barring some huge unexpected game changing event, McCain has too much ground to make up and not enough time to do it. He doesn’t have the money to compete, is down in all the polls, including almost every swing state, and no more huge national audiences to prove himself to. While anything is possible, the likelihood of a McCain presidency seems to be slipping further away by the day. Obama is going to win. Now we just have to wait a few weeks to make it official.

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