October 15, 2008

The Last Debate: What to Watch for Tonight. [nytimes.com]

It’s fourth quarter, McCain is down a touchdown with the American people but not out, it’s second down (after all, he’s got another three weeks after this debate to play feisty scrappy get-out-the-vote underdog). He’s on the 40 yard line, and his running game (the whole Maverick thing) is tired, his passing game (attack ads) ain’t working.

He’s gotta break through—watch him throw Ayers, Wright, who knows what at Obama. Obama will be ready. Only thing Obama won’t be ready for—can’t be ready for—is if McCain finds his stride and acts the part of the tough, earnest debater he played to great effect in the Republican primaries. It’s Obama’s job to do more than run out the clock—read the new New Yorker, he’s gotta connect for a pass with those Middle Classers he had such a hard time winning over even after he’d technically knocked Hillary out of the running.

Here’s the article by the pros, it’s a good read. Excerpt: 

“Tonight’s debate provides Senator John McCain with his last, best hope of reversing the tide that appears to be running against him.

This final matchup starts at 9 p.m. Eastern and will run for 90 minutes. You can watch it on any of the networks, lots of cable channels, all over the Web, and of course at nytimes.com, where we will have live video, live blogging, fact-checking and lots of other features for the viewer who is hungry for up-to-date information and analysis.

The debate, being staged at Hofstra University on Long Island, is set to cover domestic and economic policy and will be moderated by Bob Schieffer of CBS News.

This is the season finale of an exhaustive 50-part miniseries that began in April 2007, when both Mr. McCain and Senator Barack Obama lagged in their respective packs and did little to distinguish themselves on the debate stage.

Now, with less than three weeks until Election Day, Mr. McCain is trailing Mr. Obama in the national polls, and his multiyear quest to become president is coming down to the wire. If he is going to change the dynamic of the race, watch for him to try mightily to do it tonight.

In tonight’s debate the two candidates will be seated next to each other at a table. The format is intended to promote conversation rather than the regurgitation of stump speeches. It sometimes encourages candidates to be more civil toward one another, but it can also have the opposite effect.

In previous debates when Mr. McCain has been seated next to his opponent — earlier this year against Mitt Romney and in 2000 against George W. Bush — he evidently saw no reason to restrain himself.

Mr. McCain has already vowed to “whip” Mr. Obama’s “you-know-what” tonight. Of course…” For the rest, check out the New York Times’ article.

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