Sunday, August 17, 2008


I missed the Rick Warren shindig yesterday and just now caught the last half hour of McCain's interview.

I'm overlooking the question of whether McCain heard the questions in advance -- I'm not sure it matters because, as Jesse Taylor says, he was a lot more interested in trotting out bits of his stump speech than actually answering the questions.

But this is the probably the longest sustained McCain appearance I've listened to since the primary season, and, well, he's not bad. No, strike that -- he's very good. He's much, much better than I expected him to be at slinging out the sanctimonious bullshit and aiming it straight at the cheap seats. He does that with style and punch.

In other words, he isn't the caricature I keep encountering on the left: a doddering, inarticulate stumblebum. Just the opposite -- get him wound up (especially when the questions all seem to be softballs aimed straight at his sweet spot and the interviewer is clearly too ill-informed to recognize the flaws in a weak answer) and he can uncork just the sort of star-spangled hoo-hah that got Reagan and W elected twice each.

I say this because Obama, despite poor reviews for this appearance, is going to be the presumptive favorite in their three debates (with the possible exception of any debate specifically on foreign policy), just because he's perceived as the silver-tongued one and McCain isn't. That worries me. Personally, I'd like Obama to go in as an underdog in all three, but that's not going to happen. What this means is that all McCain has to do is not fall asleep or trip over his tongue too obviously and he gets credited with being the debate winner -- and it's clear he can do that. Obama, to win, has to excel.

I'm not saying "We're doomed!" I'm saying let's not misunderestimate yet another Republican who sounds articulate enough to seem very articulate to a lot of ordinary people.

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