Thursday 19 Jul 2018 | 19:49 | SYDNEY
Thursday 19 Jul 2018 | 19:49 | SYDNEY

Third debate: On Joe the oft-quoted plumber


Michael Fullilove


17 October 2008 10:01

As Sam observes, Obama looked deliberate and presidential in last night's debate, while John McCain looked jerky and occasionally wild-eyed. McCain was already writing notes on his pad when moderator Bob Schieffer was doing the introductions (had something occurred to him that hadn't come up in the days of debate prep beforehand?).

The two-shots were particularly revealing: Obama watched McCain seriously and respectfully, whereas you could see in McCain's frequently incredulous expressions during Obama's soliloquies that he still can't believe this young whippersnapper is sitting on his stage, let alone cleaning his clock.
Obama pirouetted around McCain with ease for much of the night, making McCain's fine words on special needs kids, for instance, look hypocritical because of his promise to freeze all government spending. McCain had his moments, for example on the Colombia Free Trade Agreement. I liked it when he directly rebutted Obama's implication that he was the political or policy equivalent of President Bush. His attacks were better weighted than in the second debate, but Obama parried all of them. I think the only viewer watching tonight who may have been convinced by McCain was Joe the Oft-Quoted Plumber (who may or may not actually be a plumber), and even there I'm not sure.
The race is becoming so lop-sided that even people whose worldview practically obliges them to vote McCain are jumping ship. The latest is Christopher Hitchens who, like McCain, supported the war in Iraq and the subsequent surge, and routinely describes the threat from Al Qaeda-type terrorism in lavish terms. Hitchens has now endorsed Obama*. The Republican standard-bearer is in trouble, and I don't think last night's debate changed that.

* Ed. note: so has Christopher Buckley, son of William F, considered the intellectual founder of the US conservative movement.