McCain Brittle, Grumpy; But Controlled Debate

News & Politics

McCain controlled the debate tonight. He came off as a brittle, grumpy, mean-spirited old coot, but on the economy -- which should have been Obama's strong suit -- McCain managed to divert the conversation to tax cuts and kept Obama off the kitchen table issues where he excels. McCain was allowed to paint himself as a crusader for reform, and no mention was made of the Keating 5 -- though Obama did manage to tie him to voting for all of Bush's budgets. (McCain's only rejoinder was to refer to himself repeatedly as "no Miss Congeniality." Huh?)

But the biggest problem for me was that McCain had a grab bag of adjectives he consistently used to characterize Obama -- "naive, inexperienced" -- and every time he repeated them, it was like money in the bank. He worked them in at every opportunity, and their cumulative effect wore into Obama as the evening went on. Obama missed the opportunity to do the same and characterize McCain as brittle, rash, impulsive and out-of-touch. His critiques were all over the place, and his failure to tie them together into a coherent narrative about McCain meant that he never really grazed the old buzzard.

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