Before saying anything else, he did just fine. On the issues he chose to address, he did so in a calm, rational way which seemed to connect pretty well with the audience on both sides of the television. Just as he has done before, he set forth nicely the need for earmark reform, the need to tighten the federal belt, the plans by his rival to raise taxes on pretty much everyone. Personally, he mentioned reaching across the aisle with Joe Lieberman and Russ Feingold and Ted Kennedy a little too much for my taste–lamenting that the McCain-Lieberman Climate Stewardship Act of 2003, a nightmare of a bill, did not pass brought out a loud groan in my living room–but addressed healthcare and climate change and domestic and foreign policy in a competent, down-to-Earth manner. The “Town Hall” style suits him well, and it shows.
However, should Hillary Clinton have been in Barack Obama’s chair across the bright red carpet, I get the feeling that he would have had the exact same things to say. That, my friends, was the problem.
McCain needs to count on a little of the “comfortable old shoe” vote, people who walk into the voting booth with their mortgage or their job security or their monthly budget on the mind and pull the lever or push the button for the known entity, the well-worn, scuffed-out, beat-up pair of New Balance sneakers, rather than the flashy, shiny new pair of Nikes. As the flashy, new Nikes, Barack Obama just needed to show that he, too, can elicit comfort — and he did.
All Barack Obama needed to do was convey, to American voters, that he was a safe, smart, thinking man’s average center-left senator who, when push comes to shove, would keep the perspective of the American public at heart rather than govern strictly from his far left ideological standpoint. And, with the exception of repeatedly stating his intention to make “investments” in the economy (read: increased taxes and spending) and his argument that healthcare is a “right” for all, he did that. He was, largely, not actively exposed as the radical he is.
While McCain did point out Obama’s and the democrats’ responsibility in the economic crisis, you’d never know that he was sharing the stage with a guy who has just about the worst judgment in friends and acquaintances that a guy can have. While the format doesn’t necessarily lend itself to personal attacks, it would have been nice for McCain to ask the audience four simple questions:
- First, how many of you, by show of hands, know who Franklin Raines, Jim Johnson or Jamie Gorelick are? (Then, he should tell them about their former positions.)
- Jim Johnson was advising Sen. Obama on his vice presidential pick, until he stepped down amidst the mortgage controversy. Raines and Gorelick continue to advise Sen. Obama on economic policy. Who would you like to see put in charge of the economic recovery of America?
- Second, in your own circle of friends, how many of them are corrupt Syrian businessmen, PLO operatives, advisers to Saudi billionaires, card-carrying communists, mentors and founders of the Black Panthers, unrepentant domestic terrorists, or rabid racists who blame the United States government for trying to kill black people with AIDS?
- Often times, the men or women who sitting U.S. presidents nominate to the U.S. Supreme Court are people with which they’re comfortable, ideologically and otherwise. Who would you like to see on the bench of the United States Supreme Court, shaping our laws, culture and country for a generation?
All Monday-morning quarterbacking aside, as the GOP candidate debating his rival, McCain did just fine. He won. As John McCain debating Barack Hussein Obama, however, he may have won but could have done a whole lot better.