Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Town Hall Debate

I'm going to watch this one, but I'm predicting a snooze fest, not the knife fight that some others are. The format stinks... no follow up by either the questioner or the moderator, plus the fact that the candidates aren't supposed to ask each other direct questions, means this "debate" is likely to be a series of vague answers that quickly segue into talking points. Now, word on the street is that Brokaw is having nothing to do with the "no follow up" deal, but I'm not holding my breath. Both campaigns have been more negative lately, but I'm having trouble seeing how either could make that work in this format... especially the Ayers/Wright stuff, since it doesn't relate to any issue currently facing Americans. I certainly agree with everyone who says McCain needs something dramatic here, but I also agree that it's a Catch-22: the worst thing for McCain is for voters to think of him as a "erratic old coot", but anything he does tonight that is vicious and dramatic enough to close the gap with Obama... is likely to reinforce the erratic old coot meme.

I tend to think McCain's camp isn't quite foolish enough to go all kamikaze when the debate format and growing media narrative are all set up to make that play desperate and self-destructive... but I'll be watching, just in case. He is a maverick after all.