Tonight was a very bad night for John McCain. He came into the debate with a steep hill to climb. He ended the debate further behind.
John McCain began the debate well. Thirty minutes into the debate the wheels came off. He was goaded into bringing up William Ayers and ACORN. He brought up both in one poorly cadenced sentence that rushed past McCain’s lips. With that John McCain showed the American public the pettiness of his election campaign. While the country is struggling with an economic crisis and families are struggling with their bills, John McCain made his campaign about school yard taunts and not about the American people. In a little over five minutes of frothing at the mouth about Barack Obama and his "associations", John McCain had lowered himself to the status of his running mate, Sarah Palin. That is to say, John McCain – once a man of honor – became a small petty man. Next to him, Barack Obama looked presidential. The only man on that stage who wanted to talk about the American people was Barack Obama. John McCain was more concerned with defending hate mongers from John Lewis’s words than what his campaign should have been about – the American people. Like Sarah Palin, he made himself into a joke of a candidate.
McCain spent the remainder of the debate either being angry or pushing Republican ideology on social issues, tax policy, education and healthcare. Early on in the debate McCain declared he was not George Bush. Late in the debate he proved that he indeed was George Bush by pushing familiar and failed policy prescriptions. He may have made his base happy, but the few independents that remained undecided probably moved into Obama’s column tonight.
So, the narrative is set now. Barack Obama is calm, thoughtful, and presidential. John McCain is angry, erratic, and petty. The risky candidate is John McCain – a trait that always loses elections.
As it stands tonight, this race has all the hallmarks of an electoral landslide. All that remains now are three weeks of ugliness from the McCain campaign. Then the American people finally speak at the polls.