CBS says that Obama won, although the polls do not seem to show a bump after the debate. This may be because there were so many things happening last week, including last week’s declaration by McCain of “Mission Accomplished” with respect to the bailout. It was only this week that this was shown to be as illusory as previously accomplished missions.
McCain’s seizing the headlines last week and his efforts to portray himself as leader of the congressional bailout coalition no doubt caused expectations for his performance in the debate to rise, particularly when foreign policy, his acknowledged strength, was the focus of the debate. Higher expectations may have contributed to the perception that he lost the debate.
I got the impression that he was betting the house when he “suspended” his campaign to demonstrate his leadership ability with the bailout legislation. He of course did not suspend anything except his own public appearances and arguably the television time he got for this gesture exceeded anything that he would have received had he continued to make scheduled public appearances. Once again though he took a short term gain — the appearance of leadership in crisis — and risked a long term loss. Once again, as with the vice presidential decision, it looks like the long term loss will outweigh the immediate gains. For all the broohaha last week, this week McCain looks ineffective. His white horse seems to have charged in the wrong direction.
The vice presidential debate could given the recent downward direction of the polls momentum. I shudder to think what episode awaits us to curb that event if it occurs.