No game-changer; the debate essentially a tie. Maybe a slight edge on points to McCain as he did put Obama on the defensive quite a few times although at the price of a crusty tone. Both campaigns will now employ first-rate funhouse mirror logic to claim smashing victories. McCain will say this puts him back in the race. They won’t complete that sentence which should read…”after two weeks of Keystone Cops style bumbling around.” The McCain campaign’s all tactics/no strategy management style continues to hobble his campaign, but they are right that McCain did well enough in the debate to reset things a bit. The Obama campaign will claim that even a small loss in a Foreign Policy debate is a win for novice Obama. That’s partially right, although the “win through losing” plan seldom puts anybody in the White House. Obama could have had a better night and internally I am sure there is significant frustration in Camp Obama.
The important issue is that the political environment is pushing the race in Obama’s direction. McCain needs a very good next 39 days to curb that. He has no room for any more mistakes and his campaign has made plenty of them to date.
Some questions going forward:
After Hurricane CBS, does Sarah Palin now carry some actual expectations into her debate? As in proving she can do the job. I think so. I’ve argued since the beginning that on a strategic level she was a poor choice. She is now on the verge of being a real problem by election day.
Will Joe Biden react to the inevitable Democrat insider complaints about Obama’s bloodless style by over-doing his attacks on Palin in their debate?
Will the Obama generals look at McCain’s spending freeze idea and see a juicy opportunity for the traditional Democrat tactic of attacking the proposed freeze as dire “cuts” on the most vulnerable or on popular programs with a lot of political support? Team Obama is already shamelessly distorting McCain’s position on Social Security… this would be an easy, if shameless, next step.