Yeah, it was an easy decision. For what it’s worth, Lez Zeppelin rocked the casbah last night, belting out impressive covers of “Ramble On” and “Kashmir,” among others. They also stayed away from the really obvious song choices (thank God “Stairway to Heaven” didn’t make the set list). Of course, attending the show was merely a pretext for an in-depth look at Virginia’s shifting demographics, which is how this political blogger justified missing the debate. Based on an informal tally of the number of 40 year-old lesbians making out in the audience, I’d say Obama will win the state pretty handily.
And while I understand the importance of debates for voters who haven’t been paying attention, I’m not sure why even a disastrous performance from either candidate would change anyone else’s mind. Extemporaneous speaking is certainly useful, but it doesn’t say much about either candidates’ judgment. Obama and McCain have already had months to explain and defend their positions on a wide range of issues. The one new development that may have influenced previously committed voters was the bailout controversy, but Lehrer was unable to elicit anything from either candidate other than maddeningly vague commitments to “action,” “oversight,” and the like.
Predictably enough, the commentariat’s collective reaction to the debate was quite silly. National Review reconfirmed its authors’ amazing ability to generate faux-outrage from any Obama statement, no matter how innocuous. This piece from Politico highlights one of the more obnoxious habits of political pundits – namely, the tendency to attach an inordinate amount of value to a trait that says nothing about the candidates’ judgment or ability to govern (emphasis mine):
True, the majority of the debate was fought on McCain’s strongest ground: foreign affairs. And true, McCain’s feet were not held to the fire as to why he urged the postponement of the debate in order to secure a financial bailout package in Washington, but then decided to show up without any such agreement in hand.
But it didn’t seem to matter much. McCain just pounded away on his central argument: Obama just didn’t “understand” how to deal with Pakistan; how dangerous it is to meet with foreign leaders without preconditions; how serious the Russian invasion of Georgia was; the price of failure in Iraq.
“He doesn’t understand, he doesn’t get it,” McCain said of Obama, also saying, “There is a little bit of naiveté here.”
Of course, the author doesn’t bother to examine the merits of McCain’s positions. The only thing that matters to Roger Simon is that McCain has been around the proverbial block; never mind the fact that the block is a lot worse off for McCain having been there.
Simon would surely reply that he is only assessing voters’ likely perception of the exchange. So why not outsource that sort of thing to the focus groups, who awarded the night to Obama? Then again, that might force Roger Simon to actually comment on the substance of the candidates’ positions, which could have the unpleasant side-effect of informing his audience that McCain’s foreign policy proposals are absolutely insane.