Welcome back everyone!
It's once again debate night in America. The election landscape has shifted under the ground of the Presidential campaigns - as a result of the Wall Street meltdown - with significant impacts on the race. The American public is shaken and angry. Their desire for change in the status quo has never been more pronounced.
John McCain has emerged from the Congressional bailout with diminished stature. Overheated, over-reacting without a clear, strategic path ahead for the economy. Barack Obama, on the other hand, has emerged as the voice of 'change'.
Sarah Palin has been a 'shooting star' in this campaign. At first she shot up brightly at the Republican Convention with an incredible speech, and then her 'star' flamed out when she undermined her credibility by the bizarre campaign choice to put her in front of Charlie Gibson, and then - incredibly - into an interview with Katie Couric. She clearly couldn't sustain a credible line with either of them. Her 'better-than-expected' debate performance stopped the bleeding but didn't heal the wounds. Biden looked strong and clearly won going away.
So now we have the second of three Presidential debates. One of the last opportunities for Sen. McCain to close the widening gap with the Obama campaign.
Tonight, he needed to clearly tell the American people what he would do to turn the economic mess around. He needed to demonstrate the kind of Presidential timber that the American public so desperately wants. Did he do it? Not as well as he needed to. On substance he was adequate for sure. Was he compelling? Did he offer a stronger, clearer differentiation from Obama? No.
He came across as angry, somewhat bitter and overall negative in his persona. On substance, he got better on foreign affairs, and he closed well, but he needed to show the visionary, leadership side of his personality. This was his town hall forum with which he is so experienced and he was definitely improved from his first, somewhat stilted, debate performance.
A Presidential candidate needs to demonstrate that he has a strong sense of priorities. So what does he say? He will attack energy, health care and entitlements at the same time. What about the recession? The impact on Main Street? On consumers? If they go down, where would the money come from?
In contrast, Obama came across coolly and fully in charge. He didn't lash out bitterly. He was comfortable in his own skin. His silver tongue served him well. Not much content that we hadn't heard before. Nothing seems to faze the guy. He successfully positioned McCain as the 'same old same old'. Ouch!
Either Sen. McCain is no longer listening to his aides, or he's got the wrong ones.
So to use the common analogy - no knock-out punches, but Obama won it on points. That's more than he needed.
John McCain has one more debate to turn it around. He must win on October 15th if he has even a slim chance of pulling it off.
Memo to Sen. McCain
So Senator McCain, here's the advice. Listen carefully. Stop the angry tone. They aren't working, and diminish you. Speak calmly and clearly to the American people through the camera. Largely ignore Obama. He bugs you and it shows. Speak to the higher vision of America. Reach into your heart and connect with those who ache for a new and fresh start, anchored in the ideals of the American dream.
With less than a month to go, Senator McCain, you need to have the ability to take a deep breath and kill the negative campaigning and ads. We're not hearing your vision for the future while you're digging up old news about Bill Ayers. No one cares - no matter how often you repeat it. Oh, by the way, note what Barack and Michele did at the end of the debate? They engaged people, looked like winners. You and Cindy were tight, distant and hurried off the stage. Didn't look like winners to me. Oh, and by the way, drop the nasty 'that one' when referring to Obama, and the constant repetition of 'my friends'.
To coin a phrase, 'it's the economy stupid'.
Of course, it's only my opinion.
Until next time......