Of course Obama won the debate. Here’s the part you won’t believe: I’d say that even if I were still an independent voter, because it was so obvious. McCain looked angry, tired, angry, achy, angry and old. Olbermann mentioned the “get off my lawn” demographic he seemed to be speaking to, and that was it. He’s the grumpy guy in the neighborhood who came back from the Army with a plate in his head. All Obama had to do was stay cool — which he always does; the man has apparently replaced his blood with that blue stuff you put in picnic coolers — walk around a little to show off his knife-slim, erect, athletic posture, and wait for Grandpa Simpson to get angrier. Which he did. It’s presidential-by-comparison.
It’s over, folks. I’m already starting to feel sorry for the Mav’rick. (Sooner or later, I feel sorry for everyone who loses. I’m not the world’s biggest empath, but as a mother, I feel obligated to assume the sorrows and mistakes of all around me.) Maureen Dowd, of all people, seems to put her finger on the roots of his misery:
John McCain has long been torn between wanting to succeed and serving a higher cause. Right now, the drive to succeed is trumping any loftier aspirations. He cynically picked a running mate with less care than theater directors give to picking a leading actor’s understudy. And he has been running a seamy campaign originally designed by the bad seed of conservative politics, Lee Atwater.
It was adapted in 2000 in Atwater’s home state of South Carolina by Atwater acolytes in W.’s camp to harpoon McCain with rumors that he had fathered out of wedlock a black baby (as opposed to adopting a Bangladeshi infant girl in wedlock). Sulfurous Atwater-style rumor-mongering by Bush supporters — that McCain had come home from a Hanoi tiger cage with snakes in his head — aimed to stop him during that primary after he had zoomed in New Hampshire.
(To be sure, this is more or less conventional wisdom about McCain, and not original to Dowd. But she’s the most recent person to say so, so.)
Sarah Palin — now that’s another story. Discussion of her political future was a little side chitchat in the comments here yesterday, and I agree with whoever said she’s having a very good year, win or lose. It’s no accident she inspires rock-star swooning, while her running mate nets a little polite applause. She’ll go back to Alaska and muck around for a while, but her sights are set on Washington, and that’s where she’s going, if not to Blair House, than certainly to some nearby address. (I hope the First Dude can handle the humidity.) She’ll start doing her roadwork for 2012, while the propaganda wing of the party starts its whispering campaign about President Obama. It’s Clinton II! Oh, I can’t wait.
Meanwhile, carve out a big chunk of time and read George Packer’s dispatch from my native land of Ohio in this week’s New Yorker. God, is it depressing:
A man in Brown County, along the Ohio River, in the southwestern part of the state, said that a year ago there was one foreclosure notice in the local paper each week; now the number is six or eight, and the listings for the week of September 12th announced fifty-three foreclosure sales in a county with only fifteen thousand households. In the town of Wilmington, outside Dayton, a D.H.L. facility with eight thousand workers—a third of the area’s population—is likely to close. On September 9th, the day I flew into Cincinnati, a woman named Marla Bell, attending an Obama rally near Dayton, told National Public Radio, “It almost feels like it’s a dying state.”
The next day, Governor Ted Strickland, a Democrat who remains popular in Ohio, announced a budget shortfall that would require painful spending cuts across the board. The state’s budget director, Pari Sabety, told me, “There are a lot more part-time jobs, jobs without benefits, jobs that require a broader social safety net than we currently have. We are not creating high-value jobs at a rate that can absorb people who are losing high-value jobs of the old economy.” The economic crisis, she went on, is so grave that it has created room for a renewed discussion about the role of government in people’s lives. “Here’s the opportunity before us. What’s happening is a slow-motion Katrina to economies like ours. I feel like we are where F.D.R. was.”
(Yes, Deb, John — you’re going to see lots of place names you recognize here. Brown County, Athens, Glouster, Cincinnati, Columbus. So read.)
Several people have sent me a nine-minute YouTube video (!!! Like I have nine minutes! For YouTube! !!!) purporting to pin the entire economic meltdown on the Democrats and, specifically, the Community Reinvestment Act. Because, you know, Republicans couldn’t possibly have anything to do with it. Anyway, they’re wrong, as Daniel Gross explains in Slate. It’s a shorter, lighter version of “The Giant Pool of Money,” touted here about seven million times. Worth your time.
Oh, and speaking of which, in a piece on Poynter.org about “The Giant Pool of Money,” reporter Alex Blumberg mentions a blog he relied on in his research — Calculated Risk. I just bookmarked it and based on two days of reading, I’d say it’s also worth your time. Not a lot of analysis (in two days, anyway), but a wide range of sources collected under one roof.
NPR’s Planet Money blog is helpful, too.
And because I now have three freelance assignments and a zombie-movie shot list to produce by day’s end, I turn the rest of it over to you folks.