Since everybody else and their pets are weighing in on last night’s debate, thought I’d add my own musings about it.
I’d always thought that McCain’s greatest advantage was the sense of security he might offer to voters. After all, we know him, right? In uncertain times, wouldn’t more people want to turn to someone proven and well-known and experienced like McCain — instead of a very unfamiliar, untested new candidate, however exciting and eloquent he is?
But, like Bill Clinton’s effect on Hillary’s campaign (he was supposed to be her ace in the hole, remember?), this accepted wisdom hasn’t proven true for McCain.
It seems to me that during the two presidential debates, Obama has done something very striking, but subtle. He’s remained calm and confident and measured and reassuring. People are getting used to him, in spite of his lack of familiarity to them, his strange name, his exotic appearance, his very different background.
McCain, in stark contrast, looks like the wilder of the two cards. He’s erratic and irritable and has made a series of strikingly rash and bad judgments (e.g., Sarah Palin is supposed to be fit to govern if he dies? Why call off his campaign because of the economic crisis, then start the parade up all over again?).
Oddly, in a time that calls out for reassurance, McCain isn’t the steady father figure I’d expected him to be. He’s the father who’s waiting at at the door with a half-empty bottle of whiskey and a shotgun and a mean, crazy glint in his eye, waiting for you to come home from a date that’s run too late. Who wants to come home with a father like that waiting? Who wants his finger on the nuclear button?
(Copyright 2008 by Ruth Pennebaker)