Thursday, October 16, 2008

After the fourth debate

Once again, my familiarity with the stances of each candidate keeps me from being particularly surprised by anything I saw. I expected to see the measured, calm demeanor of Obama, and the energetic near-powderkeg of McCain, and I saw that. I expected Obama to be able to lay out his plans in a well-reasoned fashion, and McCain to shoot for one-liners while having less command of the details, and I saw that. (In fact, Obama seemed to understand McCain's own medical plan better than McCain did.)

Not that I wasn't disappointed. Neither man had much to offer in the way of an economic crisis plan; I suspect the real answer is that there is no such plan, that the economy is going to have to work its way through this period, and Washington can only hope to mitigate, not fix, the damage. Let's not forget that the New Deal didn't magically dissipate the Great Depression, it took a world war to do that (and I half expected McCain to offer that as a possibility: "My friends, we're going to invade Iran to perk up the economy.") Neither wishes to confront the reality that their objectives will have to be put on hold as America finds itself unable to pay for their bold plans. When you consider, however, that their advisers (like Larry Summers for Obama) don't see any such deferral as necessary, I probably shouldn't be surprised.

I thought Obama did a better job of pointing out that his plans would have long-term benefits at some short-term cost, though I don't really believe that those benefits as stated will be fully realized. McCain is less coherent here, cutting taxes and freezing spending while adding programs to do certain things. He also seemed to feel that vouchers are a magic bullet for transforming education, citing Washington D.C. as an example, and the schools remain terrible in our capital.

Some of the post-debate pundits said that they thought McCain's performance would energize the base, but that's not what McCain needs right now. With 19 days to go, he's going to have to chop about a half a percentage point per day off Obama's lead; even if he somehow achieved that last night, if only through increased turnout, that momentum is unlikely to be maintained. Unless he can come up with a new financial program that Americans will embrace as the solution to their problems, or find a way to cast doubt on Obama's fitness, it would appear that the race is over. It will be interesting to see which approach he'll take - I fear the latter.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yeah, McCain really need to "energize the base"!!!

I recommend that you should take a peek at CNN in the afternoon, the base of McGain is full of men with WWII/Korean hats, bad teeth, and over-weight folks.

All reasonable human beings should stay away from "the base" to avoid the association.

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