Each debate has been very different. This final one had lots of interesting things to observe – as long as I stayed calm! The split screen – and the dialing of the reactions from the focus group of undecided voters running under the screen on CNN – was a treat. McCain?s constant blinking, his rolling his eyes, his smart-aleck tone, his sarcastic repetition of ?the health of the mother? during the abortion discussion – as though the mother?s health is just a made-up excuse for having an abortion – he sure didn?t look presidential, or even particularly civilized. Each time he spoke, the yellow line representing the women in the focus group headed down toward the bottom. Sometimes the guys joined them, but sometimes they actually agreed.
Barack stayed calm and peaceful during John?s attacks – the two big ones being William Ayres and then the abortion discussion. The split screen occasionally showed a raised eyebrow or an incredulous glance at moderator Bob Schieffer, but none of McCain?s third-grader antics.
Barack handled just perfectly, I feel, the William Ayres issue. A simple, calm and complete explanation of the relationship, pointing out that Barack had been 8 when Ayres was a Weatherman, and that many high-ranking Republicans served on that Annenberg Board along with he and Ayres. It seems to have erased all doubts among the persuadable electorate, and we really don?t have to worry about that rabid 12% who adore Governor Palin.
The abortion response from Barack was even better. Reasonable, clear, and no hesitation in stating that this is an issue best handled between the woman and her doctor. Since Barack will be appointing probably three new Supreme Court Justices, we can feel good about our future.
Once again, the pundits, who must love scoring boxing matches, seemed to miss the point. McCain?s best, they said, scoring it for him. It was McCain?s best, but no voters scored it for him. Even the Fox News focus group came over to Barack?s side.