Friday, September 26, 2008

Now that the presidential debate, apparently, is back on...

...all I can say is this: If some miraculous bipartisan agreement on the bailout bill is announced 12 minutes before air-time, thus vindicating John McCain's emergency trip to Washington and allowing him to take the stage in Mississippi as a conquering hero, I'm going to be awfully, awfully suspicious.


UPDATE, Saturday morning. Well, the "overnights" are in, and some folksat least the ones polled by CNN, most of whom were Democratsappear to think Obama won (though many of the pundits I heard, even the normally left-leaning ones, weren't so sure). Certainly Obama avoided falling on his face, and that's the semi-good news. But I still find myself feeling vaguely unsatisfied by his performance, and left with a growing sense that if this is the best the man can do, he may not sway as many of the undecideds as he needs to, or sway them convincingly enough so that there's no last-minute buyer's remorse when they walk into that booth in November. Obama just doesn't seem to win the points he should as often as he should, and I think it's because there's something in that patrician nature of his that fundamentally resists getting "down and dirty," as one of the commentators observed last night. (And he needs to lose that smirk while the other guy is talking. Today would not be too soon.) Even in the early going, when scolded/prodded by moderator Jim Lehrer"Do you have something to say to John?" "Talk directly to John"*Obama would not "engage." For the most part, he kept looking dead-ahead and addressing the camera. And the thing is, McCain gave him some wonderful openings. For example, when McCain said that spending had gotten completely out of control in Washington over the past five years, had I been Obama, I would have looked right at him and said, politely but clearly, "Let's just get something straight here, for the record. Which party has been in charge of the White House during all that time, John? And which party was in charge of both houses of Congress until January 2007, John? And which party do you represent, John?" Something like that.

Yeah, I know, Obama voiced the familiar talking point about the 90 percent voting record, but again, that's more abstract and philosophical; it's not the same as reminding people, over and over, that "this man standing here next to me, John McCain, no matter how many times he uses the word maverick, is part of the GOP machine that brought this nation to the brink of ruin. This man and his party are why more than 4100 Americans have died in Iraq, yet we still can't see our way out. This man's lifelong stance on deregulation is a large part of the reason why the economy is the way it is today. This man's career helps explain why giant companies are going bust left and right, dragging the economy down with them, but their chief executives are walking away with $22 million retirement packages." Et cetera.

And now that I'm getting warmed up, how in God's name does Obama let McCain get away with all that soft-voiced piety about the VA and the treatment of our "brave warriors" when they return from battle? Where was all this concern for our brave warriors up until a few years ago, when a series of media reports highlighted the truly horrific conditions in our veterans' hospitals? If you cared about our veterans, John, why did you let tens of thousands of them rot in their own waste while awaiting badly needed treatment that, in the end, was denied them anyway? Tell me, when did you suddenly discover that our veterans' services are deplorable? When you decided to run for president?

I'm not saying that Obama should've used those words, exactly, because maybe they're too confrontational and broad. (I'm shooting from the hip here on a busy morning.) But he should've prepared a series of "death blows" along those lines, directly blaming John McCain
this man who wants voters to send him to Washington to fix Americafor being one of the guys who broke it.

Maybe next time.

* My wife said it sounded like marriage counseling, or a meeting of some encounter group.


Elizabeth said...

But that was the purpose of the grandstanding, wasn't it? To make him appear as if he had a clue and as if his input was invaluable, nay, crucial to saving our tanking economy. And now we even have pictures from the White House to prove it! (Just like we have pics of Palin with some foreign leaders in our pockets to prove her foreign policy experience.)

McPalin's handlers know that a pic is worth a thousand words (of competence or experience).

RevRon's Rants said...

According to others who were in the meeting, McCain sat silent through the whole thing, his only comments being that he agreed with the Republicans.

Elizabeth said...

Ahem. We are not certain whether McCain will even attend the debate, but he is already running ads saying that he won it!

See this from Washington Post:

Talk about an "obvious agenda," LOL.

ellen said...


I think the poor man is even more of a mouthpiece (puppet? ventriloquist doll?) than his predecessor. He only needs to speak pre-scripted soundbites in front of the camera, behind closed doors I should imagine he gets a verbal kicking if he opens his mouth. What happened to real men in politics? (just trying to stoke the gender war a bit)
At the risk of being inflammatory, hasn't he form for this in his dealings in Hanoi?

Anonymous said...

Great! Now all the democrat blogs can proclaim that Obama kicked butt and the right-wingers can praise McCain for showing what a lightweight Obama is.

Did McCain "grandstand"? Did Obama fail to answer the 3:00AM call?

I'll be glad to see Obama show up since he ducked the 10 town hall meetings.

I know a lot about McCain, and there is not much I like. But I know not much about Obama because he has no trail.

Let's get ready to rumble!

RevRon's Rants said...

Ellen - It may be valid to posit that McCain's apparent disengagement during the meeting might be a residual effect of his imprisonment, but I have my doubts.

While I do believe that he probably suffers from some residual effects, my suspicion is that he kept quiet because he knew that others present were more qualified to address the details of the issues at hand. And this is not merely a partisan dismissal of the man, but rather an assumption based upon his own statements acknowledging his limitations in the area of economics.

Anonymous said...

According to others who were in the meeting, what did Senator Obama contribute to the discussion?
Since we know Senator McCain said nothing of substance, I'm wondering what information Senator Obama shared that proved invaluable and unique to his knowledge of economics?

Steve Salerno said...

I get your drift here, Anon 4:30. But I think the point is that it was McCain who made a big deal about the necessity of his being back in D.C. to preside over this event. Obama didn't seem to feel that his presence was required; in fact, he took some heat for saying, in essence, "If they need me, they'll call me." So I think it's reasonable to ask, if this was McCain's gig--what did he contribute?

Anonymous said...

Neither Obama or McCain can do much. Like I said before, the economic meltdown will be the nail in McCain's coffin. McCain was all for deregulation and he was pushing Clinton in 1999 to pass the bill that changed the banking landscape. Of course, McCain and the GOP blame Clinton. They forget it was a Republican controlled house and everybody was shaking hands across the aisles about how great banking deregulation was going to be. Too bad they could not see today back in 1999.

Steve Salerno said...

Anon 5:54, yeah, I was swearing at my TV set last night during portions of both Hannity/Colmes and O'Reilly, who placed all of the blame on Clinton and Barney Frank.

Elizabeth said...

I've just finished watching the clips of Couric's interview with Palin in their entirety...

Please someone tell me this was a joke.

If I did not know anything else about McCain other than he chose this woman for VP, presumably out of his free will and in a sound mind, I could not respect him as a serious candidate for the US presidency.

Palin is a disaster. Those who still defend her and McCain's choice of her must be beyond hope in their ideological delusion (or cynicism). But I have to say also that I feel angry at McCain for using her so ruthlessly and shamelessly for his political purposes. (Not that she minds it too much, apparently.) She is not only not ready to be a VP, she is not ready to represent the US in any capacity. Her depth of understanding of any issues is about one millimeter. It does not appear that she even reads papers -- if she did, she would not be as abjectly clueless, I suppose. She painfully reminds all of that Miss Teen contestant from South Carolina(?) whose incoherent response to a simple question became a media sensation.

But then, as my family reminds me, we have W for *president,* so why should I be so stunned by Palin. And they do have a point there.

Steve Salerno said...

Ummm, seems to me I recall posting a comment recently about the resemblance between Palin and the beauty pageant contestant who had a "map" issue.... ;)

ellen said...

She may not read newspapers but she reads enough scripture to be sure that the rapture will happen in her lifetime.

Seriously though, that inability to string together a sensibly coherent sentence and the manic gleam as she waffles incomprehensively are strong pointers to a cult mindset.

Elizabeth said...

Ha ha, Steve. It shows we don't read each other's words as carefully, huh?

Because I was first! (squeals with glee)

See my comment in the infamous thread "Not all inexperience is created equal," posted early on in the thread at 8:11 pm (the reference and link I include there are to our Miss(taken) Beauty with no maps):

And to think that Repubs criticized Hillary... For being competent, informed and tough, among other things -- which, of course, seemed so "unfeminine" and "shrill" to them. Well, you have your desired "feminine" now, in the embarrassing presence of Sarah The Clueless Palin.

She seems to continue the great tradition of interviewing popularized, with a smashing success, here:

But OK, I'll forgive you if you forgive me. ;)

Now I'm getting my popcorn and darts ready for the debate.

ellen said...


I was making snide reference to the allegations that he collaborated somewhat--a low blow and in poor taste I grant you.

No shame at all in such a situation, so shame on me really.

Dimension Skipper said... says they will be doing some sort of live debate coverage on their new "FactCheck wire." I suspect though that they may just point out where the candidates repeat claims that have already been investigated before, but I have no idea really.

They will of course have more coverage tomorrow. That will be good enough for me. I'm not gonna try to follow both the debate AND the online coverage at the same time. I'd just end up giving neither the proper attention.

Also, just put out the second in a series of pieces about key election issues: "Sorting out the truth on Iraq"

The first was "Sorting out the truth on taxes."

I just thought maybe one or two people might be interested.

Dimension Skipper said...

Sorry, Looks like reneged at the last minute about live debate coverage on their new "wire" feature. The page linked to from their feed where they were announcing the live "wire" debate coverage has changed and doesn't even mention live coverage now. I also checked the "wire" page itself and there's bupkus there in the way of anything new, concerning the debate or otherwise and the proceedings are just ending.

Oh well, I'll still be interested to see what they have to say about the debate tomorrow or in the coming days.

Anonymous said...

"Obama didn't seem to feel that his presence was required; in fact, he took some heat for saying, in essence, "If they need me, they'll call me."

What alarms me about that kind of thinking is that one of the men who wants to be the leader of this country in about 5 weeks time, and take office shortly after that, feels that being at that meeting is not important.

This isn't really about "being able to walk and chew gum" or "Multi-tasking" as I've heard it called repeatedly for days. It's called prioritizing.

And if I were possibly going to take on the role of president in about 3 months, I'd want to be immersed in whatever discussions were taking place about rescuing the economy I'm inheriting.

Or not. That way, if it fails, my hands are clean.

Dimension Skipper said...

Looks like the Washington Post Fact-Checker blog DID do some live coverage of the debate. I'm just starting to look through it now. I never try to figure who "won" a debate until I have an idea of who flung the most, well, you know... I think I'd be foolish to just accept what either one says at face value no matter how assured or confident they seem when saying it.

But I DO think that the person with the most bracelets from deceased soldiers should automatically win, if not the presidency then the debate.

Dimension Skipper said...

I keep forgetting to mention...

"Century's End"... Cool. Thanks for that. Just wanted you to know I DID notice it up there.

Steve Salerno said...

DS: You "thought one or two people might be interested"? Not sure what you're trying to say there.

Also, and regrettably, I'm not sure that winning a debate--in the general public's mind--has anything to do with facts. It has to do with style, personality, telegenics (see under "Nixon vs. JFK"), the "touche factor," and even the impact of the flung material, regardless of whether or not there's any truth to it.

As for me, I know that if I ever did a presidential debate, I would wear not merely a bracelet, but an actual dead soldier on each wrist.

Anonymous said...

That debate settled nothing - both sides will claim victory, yet neither delivered the knockout blow.

I, too, was disappointed by Obama - he had opportunities to really rattle McCain, but he didn't seem quick on his feet - as if he were sticking to talking points and predetermined debate highlights. The inspirational oratory wasn't there; and neither was the presidential aura.

McCain was solid, plodding, and maddeningly effective - his point about Obama being naive stuck in my noggin after the debate was over.

Obama - is that all you had?

Elizabeth said...

Er... Steve, did we watch the same debate...?

Only one man looked and behaved presidential there and it was not McCain.

And Obama smirked...? Sorry. The contemptuous and condescending smirk, barely disguising anger, was visible on the McCain's mug 50% of the time. Obama smiled with exasperation when McCain lied about his record, but do not confuse it with McNasty's condescending smirk.

McCain did not look at Obama and not once addressed him by his first name, while Obama did both AND looked into the audience and to the cameras, addressing viewers at home. McCain instead just stared at Lehrer, talking to him only 99% of the time, as if afraid that when he looked up and/or at the audience, his anger could explode.

And even in parting he did not look at Obama and shook his hand reluctantly, eager to get off the stage (so he could release his anger in private, probably, before it blew off the top of his skull).

He came across as mean-spirited, small-hearted and small-minded, contemptuous, dishonest (how many self-serving lies can one squeeze into one debate?) and feigning emotion for popular consumption (the veterans/POW disingenuous nonsense from a man who repeatedly dissed bills helping our vets).

That's the beauty of nonverbal communication -- it shows who we are before we open our mouths and betrays the truth about us in spite of our efforts to control or disguise it through our words.

Please note also that Obama cannot "sock it" to Mccain -- as in, be more forceful -- without coming across as The Angry Black Man to too many observers. Besides, this is not his style. He is cool, collected and reasoned -- and informed and respectful of both his opponent and American voters -- as well as concerned about the right priorities. McCain somehow forgot about this block of voters called "middle class" -- maybe his handlers will remind him before the next debates. But then, this is no surprise from a guy who owns 10 houses, 13 cars and a private jet. Oh well.

The debate goes to Obama, hands down (and so will the remaining two, unless McCain gets an emergency personality and soul transplant -- or at least extensive coaching in nonverbal behavior -- yeah, good luck with that...). But, it is also true that winning debates does not put one in the White House. (And neither does getting the most votes, both popular and electoral, as the recent history has taught us.)

Steve Salerno said...

You see, Eliz, it's comments like this last that worry me, because, to my mind, they betray that same insularity that afflicted Pauline Kael when she famously mused, after Nixon's election, "I don't understand how he won; I don't know a single person who voted for him!" We can't allow ourselves to watch these things with a rooting interest. There is the way we see Obama, and there is the way the rest of America ("Undecided America," if you will) sees Obama. I actually agree very much with the Anon just prior to you (9:54).

For me personally, I liked it when Obama smirked, because I was sitting at home smirking at McCain, in all his plodding, essential fuddy-duddyness, too. But we're not the people he needs to convince. We're already in the tent. And again, I don't think it's a fluke that many of the pundits I heard, with the notable exception of Olbermann (who'd think Obama won even if he took the occasion to admit membership in the Communist Party), were either on the fence or thought McCain came out slightly ahead. Overall, I think Obama missed a great opportunity to turn McCain's supposed strong suit against him.

Elizabeth said...

Well, Steve, I cannot speak for the undecideds or any other interest group here; I can only speak for myself. And this is what I saw in that debate: a study of contrasts, with no contest as to who the winner was.

And as to "insularity," you know, I'm not even Obama's fan. He was never my preferred candidate. But seeing him next to the seething, small-minded and small-hearted McCain drove across, to me, the reasons why so many are rooting for him (apart from the obvious, i.e. the issues). In fairness, the contrast also shows why so many will vote for McCain -- that kind of behavior appeals to a large segment of the population.

Also, we must be listening to different pundits too (not that I put much stake in pundits' opinions necessarily). Wasn't it Chris Matthews who noted that McCain acted like a grumpy troll? There were others, whom I'd consider more or less politically neutral, with similar observations.

Anyway, there will be many other, differing voices, coming in. We surely cannot expect that we are all going to agree in our perceptions (as comforting as it may feel when it happens). And if you think we are talking "insularity" now, just you wait till next week, when Biden faces Palin... :)

Elizabeth said...

Cramming won't help Palin all that much, I'm afraid.

When McCain picked her, I too was excited -- and stunned as well -- wishing that she would prove herself worthy of the task (even though I would not vote for her and/or agree with her on issues). She is a compelling figure -- and she is a woman, yes, which makes her even more compelling as a candidate.

But no amount of persona and last minute cramming can cover her glaring and embarrassing ignorance. You can't simply create something out of nothing. And nothing is the content of Palin's brain (that, and ambition). The woman is CLUELESS, and what's worse, she appears to have no clue as to her cluelessness (by definition, but still important to underscore that). Either that, or she is desperately trying to play the role that's way too big for her, as not to disappoint her master. No matter how you slice it, chutzpah and winking charm are great qualifications for a TV personality but not for a VP candidate.

In addition to cramming, she should pray for some calamity (flu?), or just take a plane back to Alaska and do the right thing -- stay home with the kids who obviously need her and let someone more qualified take her place.

RevRon's Rants said...

My real hope is that the American public is intelligent enough to differentiate between condescension and content. Those who root for McCain will root for him and declare victory, even were the veins in his head to burst open while he screamed for the death of the Democratic infidels. He did do well in a few areas, but hurt himself by so obviously trying to paint Obama as some young whipper-snapper and himself as the wizened statesman, when neither description fits.

If we're lucky, the London Daily Mirror won't have reason to run a variation of their 2004 "How can 59,0545,087 people..." cover.

I, too, would have liked to see Obama go for the jugular and call McCain on his misrepresentations. To my tastes, he stayed a bit too calm and collected. I've a feeling he'll be hearing the same admonition from a lot of people, and will correct his approach the next time.

ellen said...

I have not yet seen the debate, it does not air here until later today, but reading the comments it occurred to me that Hilary must be extraordinarily grateful at this moment that she lost the nomination. Whoever wins this election is being handed a poison chalice with all the current problems that will be dumped on their shoulders after November. With no magic wand that will sort out the mess, I should imagine both Obama and McCain can see that no matter how well the winner eventually performs, presiding over an era of austerity and cutbacks is not an auspicious start to a presidential career of any duration.
Hilary now has clean hands for the future- 2012- I'm willing to bet that Obama cannot avoid seeing the irony in that. It's our old friend inexperience again, Obama has not yet been blooded, he has not found his killer instinct yet-or even if he has one. Early days, but Obama has handlers too, I am sure his apparent inability to go for the jugular has been noted. Or perhaps Obama is also looking to 2012 and a clean pair of hands? It must have crossed his mind.

Dimension Skipper said...

DS: You "thought one or two people might be interested"? Not sure what you're trying to say there.

I apologize if any personal inference was made or offense taken by you, Steve, or by commenters here in general. I didn't mean that in quite the way it probably came off, certainly not in a pointedly personal way directed at anyone here in particular. It had more to do with the fact that in another venue (which is not YOUR fault, I know) where politics is discussed I've occasionally, but consistently posted links to the usual bipartisan investigative stuff, often in direct opposition to bogus claims I see being made. And subsequent to such posts the fracas around it then continues with thoughtful discussions about the "Rethuglicans" and then the one or two conservatives stirring the pot the other way, plus links to obviously right- or left-leaning sources as if they prove something. But of course that's typical of most venues where politics is supposedly discussed. So I was kind of in the trough of a personally weary cycle with regard to such things. I'm still not sure if that general state of affairs is sad or amusing or both, but I'm leaning towards mostly sad.

I just sometimes get the impression that I might be the only person in America who actually bothers to take the time to try to get an idea of who is telling an occasional "truth" according to various nonpartisan sources before going on to opine or hurl accusations. Too many people seem solely interested in strategies, polls, who smirked at whom more, and even declaring who "won." I can't begin to figure out who "presented himself better" until I can get a closer look at what was said.

I've certainly learned that just because someone says something with an authoritative tone or uses the phrase "The fact of the matter is...", that doesn't make what they say any more likely to be true. In fact what follows is often just opinion and obviously so.

Now, all that being said, I predict the VP debate will get ratings through the roof or at least the highest ratings in a long time for a debate related in any way to a Presidential race. But I wonder how much the talking points will be discussed afterward and how much focus there will be on Ms. Palin's hair or earrings or some such.

I can't change that and I know it does no good to even bother mentioning it, let alone complaining about it, but still.... Sigh.

Dimension Skipper said...

Oh, and btw, now has their FactChecking Debate No. 1 piece posted today after technical difficulties prevented their live online coverage last night.

I suspect it probably about matches up with what and Washington Post Fact-Checker had to say, but I haven't read it yet myself except to quickly skim the up-front summary.

RevRon's Rants said...

I'll be first to admit that I am biased against McCain, but that bias is based upon what the man has been and done these last few years, and especially during the campaign. Obama was never my first choice, but at this point, he seems (to me) to be the best choice.

I also admit that I'm more prone to overlook when Obama stumbles or presents a conclusion that isn't completely supported by fact. Why am I less forgiving of McCain? Over 4,000 American graves that didn't need to be dug, and 4,000+ mothers who have lost their sons or daughters as the result of a lie and a deceit to which McCain was a willing party. Millions of Americans who see their hopes for a better life, or at least a modicum of financial security, dashed in the frenzy to enhance the portfolios of the wealthiest 1% of Americans; again, an effort to which McCain has been a willing participant.

I truly regret that McCain has chosen political expediency over principles that (I always assumed) guided him. And as a combat veteran of another war, I resent his impassioned proclamation that he is the true friend and champion to military service people, given his unwillingness to provide therm with even the most rudimentary support, both before sending them into battle and upon their return, broken and bloodied.

McCain repeatedly stressed that his push for a surge of extra troops showed that he knows how to win. What voters need to keep in mind is that while McCain might have a valid viewpoint on "how to win" from a military perspective, a president must take a much more comprehensive approach. A general needs to know how to win, while a president needs to know when (and where) to fight in the first place. That's why the military comes under the authority of a civilian secretary, who answers to a civilian commander-in-chief. While the military's priorities are the effective execution of battles, the president needs to always ask whether the battle is the best of the many tools at his (or her) disposal. In my opinion, Obama has displayed such a global intelligence, while McCain refuses to even consider one's existence. And when myopia is compounded by cynical self-interest, we have a perfect storm for political disaster. And I am STRONGLY biased against anyone who would wreak that disaster upon this country and the world.

ellen said...

A few hoary axioms:
Truth is the first casualty in war.
Politics is war by other means.

I wouldn't get too bothered by truth, politicians themselves (off camera, of course) would laugh in your face if you demanded factual honesty. Politics is the art of lying sincerely and convincingly--a bit like salesmanship. What we have to do is try to see through/behind that to the best guy for the job, one who will lie through his teeth, convincingly of course, in our best interests.
I hope I do not come across as condescending, not the intention at all, I'm just a battered old bird who has watched a lot more of this play-acting than any sane person should have to stomach.

Elizabeth said...

Okay, am I imagining things, or has your last comment, Steve, just disappeared from the thread?

Good points, Ellen (as always :) -- yes, whoever is the next preznit will not have an enviable future ahead of him. And I think you're right about Hillary (btw, what's wrong with Bill? He is acting like a McCain surrogate. For godsake, couldn't the man put his ego aside for a couple of months at least?)

Personally, I have to say that I will be very surprised if Obama wins. Very. McCain has the qualities that make him attractive to a majority of voters in the US (and a majority of voters anywhere, almost). Being thoughtful, principled and measured, not to mention possessing depth, has never had mass appeal, and especially not in the US (sorry). This appeal to base instincts is what wins elections here, even if it means that a majority of people are convinced to vote against their interests.

Obama is very good -- and he is good for the country and for the world, but, frankly, I don't think the US is ready for Obama (or anyone like him -- and I don't mean race at all, though it factors here as well).

Now Palin will certainly benefit from the bigotry of low expectations -- if she manages to stay coherent 50% of the debate time and not throw up over her high heels, she'll be declared victorious.

Elizabeth said...

From the mouths of babes:

Reliving last night's debate, my younger kid remarked that the McCains -- John and Cindy -- looked like plantation owners, and that John behaved like one, with contemptuous impatience over being inconvenienced by somebody like this Barack dude.

Steve Salerno said...

Here is an anecdotal but, I think, possibly valid illustration of Obama's "loses something in translation" problem:

A local college at which I used to teach, Muhlenberg, asked 14 "undecideds" to watch the debate. Nine were Democrats. (And the ethos at Muhlenberg is pretty liberal to begin with.) But afterwards, of those who declared a preference based solely on the debate, the majority went for McCain.

DS: Points taken. And probably all too valid, alas.

Ellen: You mean they don't run our presidential debates in real time over there?! How silly is that! ;)

Anonymous said...

I can't get into blogger for some reason (this is Roger O) but Elizabeth, again that is exactly what bothers me is things like this plantation reference. Where does that come from? It is an out and out smear and has no place in this discussion. Talk about playing the race card!

Elizabeth said...

Okay, Roger, you certainly do not advocate censoring people's opinions, do you? One person's opinion does not yet make a smear.

As to where it comes from, I can only guess now (but will ask my offspring when he comes back home from his playdate) that it has something to do with the history and government classes he is currently taking, as well as McCain's imperious impatience and contempt he exhibited in the last night's debate.

Elizabeth said...

Steve, I read the piece you linked (from "your" college) and it sounds like so many post-debate pieces out there today (and I don't mean it as a criticism, merely an observation).

For one, it shows that "our" favorite "won," no matter what. LOL. And then it brings in those undecideds. Which stumps me, to tell the truth.

Are there really any undecideds left in this (or any) political race? I mean really honest-to-goodness undecideds who really wait for the debates to make up their minds and who really are so opinion-free (or neutral) that they have no coherent set of values steering them in one direction or another?

I find it very hard to believe. While there may be some genuine undecideds who suffer from "I-can't-make-up-my-mind-no-matter-what" syndrome, I think most of them are reluctant to express their genuine opinion, for whatever reason (a public declaration of their political leanings being one of them, likely). But "deep down" they know who their candidate is, even if it is "none of the above" at this time. Undecideds, my, er, forehead. I would not worry about them, frankly. Not too much, that is.

Elizabeth said...

You know, it also occurs to me that those "undecideds" are just people starved for attention, playing with us every election season, basking in that sudden relevance bestowed on them by the media, hungry pundits and anxious campaign managers.

Here is Joe Undecided, flipping to and fro between candidates, changing his mind every news cycle, and toying with the pollsters:

"Hm, I dunno, I kinda liked when A said "yes," but now that I hear B saying "no" again, it also makes sense to me. I think that A represents my values, but I feel that B connects with me more. Besides, I'm don't quite know what A thinks about the weather yet, although I somewhat disagree with B's opinions on the snowfall in Seattle. I'm just not sure whom I should vote for... Hmm. You know what, call tomorrow, okay? Maybe I'll have an opinion then."

Goes back to eating his McDonald's triple-cheeseburger and locally grown arugula salad, feeling very important now, yet still oh so confused. (The more confused, the more important, btw.) Stay anxiously tuned for further developments.

Elizabeth said...

BTW, for those interested, here is McCain's voting record on veterans' bills (other issues are also listed on the same site, different pages):

Elizabeth said...

A very good, IMO, assessment of the first debate: