Friday, September 12, 2008

Wait for the debates!

TNR has been doing a bunch of these "What Obama Should Do" featurettes. Most of the advice hasn't been so good so far, but I think this piece by Gov. Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania is characteristically astute:
The first and single thing he can do, and I believe he will do, is to do well in the debates. Because once the debates start, people will remember its Obama and McCain they're choosing between. And there's no way McCain can hide behind Governor Palin, regardless of what the status of Palin is these days. Once the debates start, it will remind people that there are two people they're choosing between. And I think Senator Obama has a real opportunity in those debates to focus on the issues. You can't hide behind 30-second ads; you've got to talk about the issues. And I think Obama can win the debates significantly, and if he does so, I think he'll become president. That's first and foremost. That dwarfs everything else.

I think this is exactly right. I actually had this thought today. I'm predicting that, coming out of the debates, Obama will be either tied or ahead in all the polls. Why? For most of the reasons Rendell states, actually. I think Palin fades once the debates start--she'll have her own debate, which she'll likely bomb--and the focus gets back onto McCain, who severely doesn't want to debate domestic policy at this point, and I think that he'll probably lose the foreign policy expectations game for that debate. Obama is scarily informed on this stuff, though McCain is supposedly the expert. The best McCain can do is an as expected, while Obama can quite possibly exceed expectations. If he wins that, it's over.

According to the schedule, the first debate is on September 26 and is on foreign policy and national security. I think Obama can exceed expectations there. The second debate is a town hall on October 7 and is a town hall meeting. McCain might have a slight edge there, but both candidates are good at town halls. The third debate is on October 15 on domestic issues. Obama will probably do well there as well.

Ultimately, though, debate season's main advantage is that reporters will (hopefully) be talking about policy stuff because there will be policy stuff to cover. In any event, that's what will be on peoples' minds. And if that's the case Obama is in good shape.

So, thanks, governor. I'm feeling much better right about now.

The Man, The Myth, The Bio

East Bay, California, United States
Problem: I have lots of opinions on politics and culture that I need to vent. If I do not do this I will wind up muttering to myself, and that's only like one or two steps away from being a hobo. Solution: I write two blogs. A political blog that has some evident sympathies (pro-Obama, mostly liberal though I dissent on some issues, like guns and trade) and a culture blog that does, well, cultural essays in a more long-form manner. My particular thing is taking overrated things (movies, mostly, but other things too) down a peg and putting underrated things up a peg. I'm sort of the court of last resort, and I tend to focus on more obscure cultural phenomena.