Exhibit 13.9

Debate Thoughts

* Joe the Plumber, Joe the Plumber, Joe the Plumber, Joe the Plumber, Joe the Plumber, Joe the Plumber, Joe the Plumber, Joe the Plumber, Joe the Plumber, Joe the Plumber, Joe the Plumber, Joe the Plumber, Joe the Plumber, Joe the Plumber, Joe the Plumber, Joe the Plumber, Joe the Plumber, Joe the Plumber.

* As always, Obama was good. Calm, composed, and able to sit back and be the only real adult on stage. I had a moment where I worried that he might be laughing at McCain a bit too much, but McCain's exaggerated gestures, strange faces, and repeated references to a certain plumbum in Ohio meant that Obama was really just playing along with the audience.

* It's hard to say what's going on with the McCain campaign at this point. On one hand, Republicans did win the last presidential election by going solely for their base on policy while publicly flogging the other guy's patriotism and character. On the other hand, this obviously isn't last election and it should have been clear since before the conventions that this strategy wasn't going to work in an environment that is far more favorable to Democrats than any election since Watergate (not to mention the massive charisma disparity between Obama and Kerry [or Obama and McCain for that matter]). Why, in their last decent chance to win over the American people on Wednesday, they decided to fall back on Republican talking points for the Rush Limbaugh set is beyond me. Here, let's see if I can break down why this is stupid: (all paraphrases)

Economy= "This guy wants to redistribute your wealth." Um, John, on a day when the stock market dropped another 700+ points, people are far more concerned with maintaining modest wealth than worrying about the scary march of communism across the globe. For every "Joe the Plumber" who apparently thinks he's going to be making more than $250,000 soon, there are a lot more Americans who simply want a firmer foothold in the middle-class. If your opponent keeps saying, "95% of people get a tax break," and you keep playing to the 5%, you're going to lose.

Abortion= "Health of the mother is code for the pro-abortion crowd." Not according to a vast majority of Americans, the Supreme Court, and, in the last major attempt on an outright abortion ban, the state of South Dakota. Let me say that again: South Dakota voters rejected an abortion ban because it didn't contain exceptions for health. If it doesn't play in Yankton, it's not playing anywhere else. If your opponent follows up your craziness with a compassionate, rational defense of Roe v. Wade that gives Americans a way to compromise and get past this issue, and you sound like you want to throw fake blood on a teenage girl, you're going to...well, you know.

Education= "Vouchers, blah, blah, vouchers." Because clearly a lot of non-religious families out there want the chance to pay for private school right at the moment. Even if you ignore the obvious reasons that have nothing to do with education why religious leaders want programs like these, there are so many ways a nationwide voucher program doesn't make sense economically that it's not even worth going into. Thankfully, that's painfully obvious to anyone paying the least bit of attention to the candidate who also, bizarrely, claims he can have a "spending freeze."

Healthcare= "If like Senator Obama's plan, you'd love Canada and Great Britain." Way to misread the mood of the country, Mr. McCain! Do you honestly think a majority of Americans wouldn't take Canada's healthcare system straight up if they could? Jesus. At this point, I think there are more people upset that Obama's plan doesn't mandate coverage than there are upset by the spectre of universal healthcare.

* All of those positions are very hard right which is strange because McCain presumably chose Palin to lock up those voters while he moved to center. Picking Palin, which undercut experience, possibly his only winning argument against Obama, should have allowed McCain to revert back to being the moderate senator he was pre-2000 while Palin winked--literally it seems--to the right. This, um, didn't end up being the plan. Apparently his advisers accidentally opened the folder marked "GET 40 PERCENT OF THE VOTE" instead of the "WIN THE ELECTION" folder. Oops.

* It's obviously not over, but it's worth wondering at this point if McCain ever had a chance to seize the momentum in this election. To me, a winning strategy would have meant choosing a V.P. like Huckabee (personable, Christian, populist), immediately and publicly renouncing Bush (oddly, McCain has an ad out today that does just this, far too late), and making the maverick brand come alive with policy ideas rather than just repeating the word until it became an SNL joke while giving everyone the normal low-taxes, no abortion talking points.

* Going after women was clearly a mirage the Obama campaign was begging McCain to pursue. Within a month of making that demographic his biggest priority with the Palin pick, he had turn around and ambandon them completely because women seem to dislike Palin more than the average American and McCain himself has given up what was previously a moderate stance on abortion in order to please a base that no longer needs pleasing.

* It's also likely that McCain himself just isn't a very good politician on the national stage. He's not proving to be one of those candidates who can say one thing to his base and another thing to the public (by which I mean he's not a winning candidate). There's a way to placate conservatives on topics like abortion without alienating the rest of the country--here's a hint: don't mock the health of mothers--but again and again McCain only makes argument in black-and-white and not grey which should be his strength as a "maverick" and "an outsider." If McCain's advisers aren't dumb, and presumably they aren't, it's likely a lot of the blame falls on McCain himself for not knowing when to use which set of talking points.

* Mercifully, this is my last thought: I think McCain took the wrong message from 2000 when he decided he needed to tack right. There are a lot of reasons why candidates lose elections and to seize on the failure to placate the base as the cause was a misinterpretation of what really happened against Bush. Using the lessons of a primary election from 2000 in a general election in 2008 seems to have been where his campaign started to go wrong.

No comments: