Debate Preview: October 7, 2008

October 7, 2008 by Ben Smith

Here we are again, back to debate time. Teams of patriots scurry and scamper, trying to make sure that McCain doesn't look too short or too curmudgeonly and that Obama doesn't look too black or too anorexic. Before we get all the way into the debate, though, I thought it would be helpful to summarize the candidates' positions. John McCain: Cruise not Bullock Is this John McCain's idol? In the last debate McCain couldn't stop talking about how he's a Maverick and wasn't voted Miss Congeniality. It was so weird, but obviously the thrust of his campaign. Okay, so, in full disclosure and everything, I've never actually seen Miss Congeniality, but if the IMDB Plot Summary is to be believed, the story has surprising depth and really speaks to Sarah Palin more than anyone may realize. An undercover "federal agent" disguised as a beauty queen in order to catch a rogue serial killer? Sound familiar? Okay, well maybe not an exact parallel. Are we more at home with McCain's continual assertion that he's Maverick, a high-flying dare devil who is always disobeying orders and making the air-traffic-control guy spill his coffee? I can live with that, but I think McNasty should consider that being a Maverick isn't all Kelly McGillis seduction and hot times in the bar. It also involves not being afraid of some really intimate, teeth-gnashing moments in the locker room with Val Kilmer. You know what I mean. If McCain really wants to model himself after the Maverick, he should remember those homo-erotic moments with Iceman in the shower and loosen up a little. Same-sex marriage, international diplomacy... WWMD? All that old-man hawkish talk on Iran and constant grimacing looks like sexual frustration to me. Obama: Education and TERRORISM! I think it's not hard to see that the neo-Cons (even further stress here than usual on "con") want to make Obama's loose affiliation with ex-Weatherman Bill Ayers the Swift Boat of 2008. It seems like weak material but, then again, so did the swift boat accusations. After Fox News balanced things out with the Sunday Primetime special "Obama & Friends: The History of Radicalism” everything should be fine. They made sure the base wouldn't forget the Muslim rumors or that he's ... well ... black. Come on, Fox News, just say it and get it over with. Look for McCain trying to call Obama a terrorist-sympathizer in either coded or outright blunt language. Really, it's about the only trick McNasty has left up his sleeve. The 60's cultural divide has always been an election issue that Conservatives use to ask older voters "which side are you on?" But isn't the electorate growing past that? McCain's Vietnam history puts him firmly in that era and that debate, but Obama was just a boy when all of that division was really going down. Let's hope, accordingly, that these "culture war" reminders haven't aged well and carry less weight than they used to.
Author: Ben Smith