(Stephen Crowley/The New York Times)
I watched the second presidential debate tonight online, from some outfit called hugo.com which carried the NBC coverage, including the last half-hour of analysis and reactions. Kudos to hugo, because usually the live streaming online cuts off as soon as the moderator says goodnight. (And thanks to HuffPost, which provided the link to hugo.)
I was disappointed in Obama after the first debate, but not this time. He showed some controlled fire and didn’t let as many McCain attacks go unanswered. McCain scored some points, but not nearly enough to reverse his disastrous slide in the past two weeks.
So this is the start of the Obama landslide one month from now. I expect him to win the popular vote by 10% (the technical definition of a landslide) and the Electoral College by 2-1.
Tonight’s format, a supposed town meeting, allowed the candidates to walk around and engage with their questioners. That didn’t work out too well for McCain. He looked old and small and waddled around limping. (Some commentators say his gait is caused by old war wounds, and if so, I sympathize.) But the limp just reinforces the image that he’s an old man. He can’t compete with a guy 25 years younger, obviously athletic and comfortable in his own body, with a smart, gorgeous wife and two adorable little girls in grade school. What were the Republicans thinking?
The nomination of McCain runs completely counter to where America is at right now, the emotional truth that underlies the choice voters are making. That psychology is simple and lies deep in the gut: we are sick to death of George W. Bush and can’t get rid of him fast enough. We wanted him gone two years ago; that’s why both houses of Congress went Democrat in 2006. For 80% of voters, it has been excruciating to have to wait two long years to get rid of a president we’ve come to despise. Now with only a month to go before the election, when we’ve finally entered the home stretch of this marathon race and the world economy is collapsing all around us, we have no patience left, zero, none. What Obama calls “change” is really a collective shout from Republicans and Democrats alike, No More Bush!
Not even Nixon was so despised—and he had the common sense to get out of town before people ran him out.
So in an atmosphere like this, where 80% of people have simply stopped listening to anything Bush has to say, a 72-year-old cancer patient from the same political party doesn’t stand a chance, much less the graceless, Falwell-snuggling, George Bush-hugging John McCain.
I’ve never seen so strong a national mood to “throw the bums out” as this year. An example: my home state of Indiana elects its governor in presidential years. The current incumbent is a Republican named Mitch Daniels, a former director of Management and Budget for George W. Bush. The Democratic nominee is a former Congresswoman named Jill Long Thompson, who has run a listless campaign. A new poll out today has the race too close to call. When even Indiana threatens to go Democrat (McCain and Obama are neck and neck here), all hell’s breaking out.
Tonight McCain unveiled a new plan for the government to buy people’s mortgages and renegotiate terms based on what the house is really worth in this deflationary environment. It would have been easy for viewers to miss this new proposal, because he didn’t announce it with any fanfare (or provide any details about how it might work). Just like McCain’s jokes, it went over like a lead balloon. Does anyone think that bailing out distressed homeowners, by itself, will turn the world economy around?
Obama on the other hand was forceful on foreign policy, his strongest statement yet. He’s committed to hunting down and killing Osama bin Laden, and no amount of McCain claims that “I know how to do that” (win wars, create peace, reform the economy, abolish greed, fix Social Security, he knows how to do it all apparently) stands up to Obama’s vow to destroy bin Laden. It is a goal the whole society will rally around when Obama’s the commander-in-chief.
That’s what he looks like and sounds like, a man you wouldn’t mind following into battle if a war must be fought. He also wouldn’t hesitate to call on every American to sacrifice for the common good—a question McCain blew off tonight.
Finally, what was McCain’s “this one” remark about? It’s bad enough McCain can’t look Obama in the eye, now he can’t even utter his name?
The spinners assure us McCain meant no disrespect by the remark. I’m sure Obama can handle it, but the people McCain disrespected were the voters.
Starting tonight it’s Obama in a landslide. Check out today’s map at Electoral-Vote.com. It shows Obama leading in every swing state but two: North Carolina (dead even) and Indiana (McCain by 4). I bet Obama wins them both, with a final Electoral College tally of 375-163.++