The debate last night was not a blowout but frankly, McCain never came close. He made a couple of good points about education, scored best with his pointed questions (that Obama never answered) about Ayers and ACORN, and had a couple of other nice moments. (I am not sure that McCain gained any support with his eye rolling, sneering, head shaking, and unmanly giggles. Those things matter to many people and I believe we might see over the next 24 hours that voters were turned off by his reactions.)
But it was hopeless from the start for McCain. This race is pretty much on cruise control now with Obama comfortably (not decisively) ahead. As long as Obama didn’t show up drunk, he accomplished what he had to accomplish at the debate.
McCain needed Obama to show up drunk. He didn’t.
Last May, when it appeared that Obama had the nomination wrapped up, I wrote a post predicting how the race in the fall would unfold:”Party Like it’s 1980 All Over Again” wasn’t breaking any new ground nor was it necessarily prescient. Democratic strategists had been predicting for months that the mood of the country and the trends were all breaking their way and that the November election had an excellent chance of being a “change” election.
But what really resonated with me back then and what recalled similar feelings from 1980 was the nature of the matchup between McCain and Obama; untested and relative unknown versus incumbent (experience). The way the 1980 race developed, people were unsure of the unknown commodity until after the one debate held between Carter and Reagan. When Reagan showed himself to be a reasonable alternative to the status quo, the floodgates opened and he won going away.
I believed then and believe now that Obama’s comfortable 6-8 point lead will mushroom in the next 3 weeks and make election day a holy living hell for the GOP with a landslide in both the popular vote and electoral college for Obama and a sweeping away of many Republican stalwarts in the House and Senate. It will be an historic repudiation of Republicans and will place the party in a position where it will probably spend a decade or more in the wilderness.
Can this scenario be avoided? McCain must find a way to keep it close enough that he doesn’t drag 2-3 additional senate candidates down with him thus handing the Democrats a filibuster proof majority in the senate. I am at a loss as to how he might do this except my sense of the moment is telling me (and the polls somewhat confirm) that most of his attacks on Obama have backfired and he has lost support because of them. Would a “take the high road” campaign where he spends the last three weeks as a wise man/Cassandra, warning of the dangers of “Creeping Socialism” and an abandonment of classic American values work? No one knows but it’s something he hasn’t tried so perhaps it is worth looking into.
If McCain is a lost cause, it is time for the Republicans to perhaps look to salvaging what they can from the disaster. And that means fighting like hell for the filibuster in the senate. It is potentially the only brake on Obama and the Democrats and given how the far left is licking its chops at the prospect of radically changing the economic and social landscape of America, it might have come to the point that we start thinking about shifting focus from the presidency to the senate.
Many of those races are extremely close but the GOP has one advantage in many of them; incumbency. If McCain really goes off the deep end, there’s nothing much that can be done. But if he can keep the presidential race about where it is now, Republicans will lose 5-7 seats and the filibuster will be safe.
Despite what Karl Rove is saying,, it appears to me that Obama has indeed “closed the sale” and is writing up the order. It is at this point that many salesmen have additional temptations to offer the customer. A car salesman might inquire whether the customer wants rustproofing or an extended warranty? A shoe salesman will ask if the customer wants shoe polish or a shoe tree.
Obama will be asking the voter from here on out whether they wish a 60 seat majority in the senate. And it could be that only John McCain is in a position to help the voter turn Obama down.
First, apologies for the slow loading. It should clear up in a few minutes.
Second, I apologize to those of you who came here expecting to read Republican boilerplate or GOP cheerleading. I am a conservative and nominal Republican. But first and foremost, I consider myself a writer. As such, my goal is giving an honest appraisal of what I believe based on 30 years of watching, reading, and writing about politics as well as working on a few campaigns.
You may disagree with my analysis based on other facts and a different reading of history. That’s fine and wonderful. But if you are going to take me to task for “not helping” McCain or “being too pessimistic” I am sorry but you made a wrong turn somewhere. Might I suggest that you visit the RNC website, McCain.com, or perhaps The Corner? There you will get all the spin you could possibly hope for and all the cheerleading your heart desires.
If you want my honest opinion, then thank you for reading. If you think this blog exists to shill for Republicans or for any other reason than an outlet for my take on the news and world events, then I am sorry to disabuse you of that notion.