Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Thoughts on the Final 2008 Presidential Debate

Yaay!! It's over!! The final debate is over!!

Whew. This campaign feels like it's been going on for decades. I think I was in Kindergarten when this thing started. Thank goodness we're finished with the debates. Now all we have to weather are the unbearable tv campaign ads. Is it just me or does every political commercial, regardless of party, look like it's made by the same person? I'll be so glad when this is over.

Now, a few thoughts on tonight's debate. Let's see, who won? Which one.....hmm.....?

Okay, no surprise for me. Obama came out on top once again. He has been super cool and super smart all through this campaign. Since he has a clear and comfortable lead in the race, all he really needs to do is play consistent, and he certainly did that.

What I'm taking away from this debate, and I'll bet many others will agree with me, is John McCain and his temper. Temper, temper, temper. Was it just me, or did it seem like he was holding himself back the whole time? McCain looked like a man on the verge of an explosion. Bitter, cranky, a tantrum-throwing crybaby to the core. Frankly, I'm sick and tired of his schtick. McCain's legendary temper tantrums have become glaringly obvious to me these past couple months. We've already had eight years of a spoiled brat. Enough.

Obama also showed how deft a fighter he is, too. It's classic Rope-a-Dope, straight from the Ali playbook. Obama has been needling and poking McCain since the last debate, almost daring him to bring up the sludgy attacks from the campaign rallies and ads. And McCain took the bait. No doubt his crumbling Republican support made the red meat almost necessary. It's the dilemma of being behind in the race. You need to do something spectacular in the final debate to change things. Politically, it's a hail-mary pass; the McCain campaign has been running on nothing but hail-marys since picking Sarah Palin.

But watch the way Obama fights. It's almost a zen thing, like judo. He manages to stay cool, that soon-to-be-legendary Obama Cool. And it just makes McCain madder and madder. ACORN? McCain gets heated, Obama stays cool and parries. Ayers? McCain gets heated, Obama stays cool and parries. Pretty soon, it seemed like all McCain could do is throw barbs at his opponent.

Then the knockout punch.

Three words: Joe. The. Plumber.

You had to see the match on CNN, because of their split-screen view. McCain keeps hitting again and again with Joe The Plumber, Joe The Plumber. They come to health care, McCain throws his jabs, Obama parries and plays cool. Then McCain responds with his third or fourth reference to his new friend, Joe The Plumber. Joe! You're wealthy!

Obama hits back with a punch worthy of Mohammed Ali.

"I just described what my plan is. And, I'm happy to talk to you, Joe, if you're out there. Here's your fine: zero."

McCain's blurted out in shock, "Zero?!" His jaw dropped to the floor, and his face just froze there. Completely frozen. It felt like an eternity for McCain, his eyes flaring, his jaw dropped, his mouth quivering. He appeared in shock, trembling, as though he was fighting every fiber in his being not to explode and suffer a fatal heart attack right then and there.


It was such an amazing thrill to watch, precisely because those of us watching (half a dozen of us in the gym room) were laughing at McCain's constant refrains of Joe The Plumber. Just who is this Joe guy? Is he making this up? He's totally making this guy up. That's why Obama's knockout punch was so amazing. I'm happy to talk to you, Joe, if you're out there. It's almost like a happy toss-off. Barack Obama has been waiting for weeks for this moment, setting up McCain like a bowling pin. That's how he wins fights. He's done it against the Clintons, and he did it as a State Legislator.

Never misunderestimate Barack Obama. Write him off as a lightweight and you'll find yourself kissing canvas. This is a fighter. And he gave us a spectacular bout.

Back to McCain. I'd like to say something good about the man, I really would. But the only thing that stays in my mind is the anger. The tantrums. You damn kids, get off my lawn! It was just about all he had to go on. It's all the Republican Party has left. After a generation in power - Nixon, Reagan, Bush I, Bush II - the conservative ideology is finally bankrupt and broken. And the whole nation finally sees that.

McCain is playing pure defense at this point. Somehow, his campaign is still spending time and money in states that are long lost, states like Minnesota and Pennsylvania. They've quit Michigan and they're quitting Wisconsin. Now the GOP is left struggling to hold onto the 2004 Bush states, and they're losing that, too. Obama is on track to win as much as 400 electoral votes on election night.

I think we'll see the numbers stay where they are for the most part. Most Americans have made up their minds about Barack Obama, George Bush and the Republicans. They're ready to kick the crooks out. The only change left is McCain's own base. And that base is already cracking and bending. Conservatives, Christian fundamentalists especially, don't like McCain. Never have. Sometime between now and November, we're going to see them breaking away in larger numbers. This is the great fear for the GOP, and this is why they're throwing so much red meat, stoking so much fear and loathing to the lizard brains. That's the only thing seperating a clear victory from a total blowout.

The Republican Party, I suspect, will begin to shift their own focus on the Congressional races. McCain has lost. That ship is sinking and beyond repair. Their only remaining goal is to defend those Senate seats. Don't lose the 60th seat. If the Democrats come away with the triple play - President Obama, 100-seat House majority, and 60-seat Senate majority - that will be the final, crushing blow to Republican Conservatism. There's no way they can weasel their way out of that crushing defeat. Even the racist lizard brains won't buy it.

So the Presidential race is over, and the final fight takes place among the Congressional districts. That's where all of us will be focusing our greatest attention. Naturally, we cannot let up our guard for Obama. I want those 400 electoral votes. I want to rack up the score. We need to shut the door and slam the locks on the Bush-Cheney years. We need America to be America again, not the cruel, broken, dying gulag it has become.

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