Now it is less than a month later. Obama appears to be cruising and McCain stumbling. Every shift in campaign tactics by McCain is seen through the prism of an operation in distress. That’s why McCain is on the hot seat for Tuesday’s debate.
Well, okay. It’s seen that way by Beltway reporters and the politically obsessed (guilty as charged, your honor.) But that’s “horse race” campaign coverage, focusing on the tactics and strategy. Nothing against it, actually, but it’s becoming more beside the point right now.
What strikes me is how much interest there is in this election amongst normal people. A lot of folks may be leaning one way or the other, but they’re watching the debates and are genuinely concerned about the economic crisis and who will lead this country. I’ve certainly been a little surprised by some friends and neighbors (both Republican and Democratic) who approached the first two debates with the anticipation usually reserved for football games. (We now live in a country where people make decent snacks for political debates! Yeah!)
When you’ve observed politics closely for a long time, though, debates can be pretty tough to stomach. Platitudes abound, and transparent efforts to score the next “Where’s the beef?” line grow tiresome. So the earnestness with which many voters are viewing this election is refreshing.
Broadly speaking, I think there is an expectation by the public that the candidates will actually say something meaningful tonight about the meltdown. People want to know what these guys are going to do about it, and I’m certain platitudes and evasiveness are not going to be met with much acceptance. Nobody wants to bore the audience to tears with technical discussions, but laying out a long-term, sensible plan for the economy would seem to be within the abilities of at least one of these candidates. You would think.
I suppose it’s likely we may hear the names “Ayers” and “Keating,” but if it gets out of hand people are going to be royally pissed.
Just my $.02.