The McCain team is feverishly attempting CPR on the lifeless thing that is their campaign. Will the third and last debate provide the super-defibrillator they need?
The possibilities for excitement on stage today all hinge on McCain. To what do you ‘throw the switch’ in these circumstances, in which you are 8-10 points down nationally with 3 weeks to go? Vaudeville won’t help. He’s already tried that with Sarah the ventriloquists’ dummy. Perhaps you say, “We’ve got nothing to lose, let’s go for the goolies.” If Rove and his ilk are now running things, that is probably what McCain will attempt. Even winning the talking points in the debate is not sufficient for him.
Of course, this debate could be as dull as the “Town Hall” dirge-fest if Obama gets to run it his way. He ‘won’ the last debate by simply appearing cool. It didn’t matter a jot what he said, providing it wasn’t ‘courageous’ or even stimulating. It was all about Presidential poise. Due to that success and the Dems lead in the polls, Obama is highly unlikely to deviate from the minimalist approach now.
The danger for Obama is if McCain manages to wreck the debate with accusations, taunts and dirt, and succeeds in getting Obama down in the gutter with him. The aim would be to diminish the Presidential aura that Obama now has, and that McCain certainly does not. But this is also dangerous for McCain. If the tactic fails, and Obama stays above the fray, McCain will appear to be nothing other than the stumbling, flailing old dope he is.
McCain has already said he will be raising the Ayers ‘connection’ in the debate – ho hum – but that may only be an indicator of a full-on effort to unbalance Obama and prevent him from staying ‘in charge’ during the event.
Unless something radical is done now, the game will just slip away for McCain. The issue is whether he graciously accepts the impending crushing loss, or uses a last opportunity to tip over the card table which could, in the Rovians grotty little worldview, just possibly even things up again. One thing is certain: McCain shaking hands with a war veteran in the audience and saying ‘My friends’ 50 times won’t do the job.
My prediction is of a 70% chance of fireworks from McCain, and if so, a 95% chance of Barry holding the high ground.