What to look for tomorrow

Assuming McCain shows up, that is.

My Northeastern colleague Alan Schroeder, a leading expert on presidential debates, writes in the Politico about what McCain and Obama need to accomplish tomorrow night.

Schroeder’s bottom line: McCain is better than Obama in conversational settings, but he’s been inconsistent this year; and Obama is better than McCain at giving a speech, but has rarely showed the ability to seize the moment in unscripted settings.

Neither, he says, is a master of the debate form on the order of John Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton or Schroeder’s latest addition to the pantheon — Hillary Clinton.

8 thoughts on “What to look for tomorrow

  1. Dunwich

    Obama has had an arm tied behind his back. He can’t appear too aggressive, too smart, too smug, too anything. This becomes even more acute v. McCain. McCain can do anything he wants and his only real concern is not having a senior moment. Deference will be the watchword of this debate. I think McCain will treat Obama the way he treated Mitt, and there’s nothing Obama will be able to do about it.

  2. Chalicechick

    ((He can’t appear too aggressive, too smart, too smug, too anything. ))I do think Bill Clinton was the MASTER of not appearing to be too aggressive, too smart, too smug or too anything, though. It can be done. That said, I don’t know that too smart is the issue exactly. Smart in the sense of quick on your feet is awesome, it’s smart in the sense of eggheaded that you have to worry about. CC

  3. Steve

    I think I agree with Charlie Pierce’s comment: The coverage of the debate will represent an attempt at getting back to “balance.” As long as McCain doesn’t show up dressed like Charley’s Aunt, we’ll hear a lot about how he “regained his footing after a tough week.”

  4. Peter Porcupine

    Steve – actually, I wish he’d show up dressed like the graphic which accompanies a Joe Klein piece in Time Magazine about the VP choice. Klein’s argument was that contrary to image, Obama had made the safe, stodgy pick in Biden, and he was portrayed in a blue pin-stripe suit with a cigar. McCain had made the wild and crazy renegade choice – he was portrayed with a red bandana in a black leather jacket doing a fist pump.Every time McCain decides to go with his gut now, I see the ‘Easy Rider’ graphic and think – THAT’S who he really is….

  5. Dot Lane

    “Every time McCain decides to go with his gut now, I see the ‘Easy Rider’ graphic and think – THAT’S who he really is….”******************It certainly explains his willingness to enter his old lady into the Miss Buffalo Chip contest at the Sturgis bike rally.

  6. Steve

    PP – I agree with you about the Easy Rider image. And I agree with Dot as well. That’s exactly why I think a McCain presidency would be a dreadful mistake.

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