By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Let the excuse-making begin

In my latest for the Guardian, I find that conservative pundits aren’t even trying to make the case that John McCain won last night’s debate with Barack Obama. Instead, they’re blaming the economy, the format and even McCain himself.

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Open thread for tonight’s debate


Truth in labeling


  1. Steve

    While I wouldn’t classify him as a “conservative” pundit, in this morning’s commentary Jon Keller claimed McCain “won this debate fairly handily”.Objective measures to the contrary:CBS Poll: Uncommitted Voters Favor Obama (40/26 Obama)CNN poll: Obama picks up second debate win, poll says (54/30 Obama)

  2. Aaron Read

    Because I’m too lazy to look this up: how has winning/losing debates correlated to winning/losing the election in 2000, 1992 and 1988?The only one I know of off the top of my head is that supposedly Quayle went down in flames in 1988 but he and Bush handily won the election anyways. But that was the VP Debate; different kettle of fish, no?

  3. The Eclectic Cleric

    McCain just looked tired last night…as in used up, past his pull date, and ready for the blue recycling bin. He’s a shadow of his former self, and clearly in decline…while Obama seemed sharp, yet patient and nuanced in his response…maybe a little too so. But after last night I really saw clearly for the first time that we need not only an Obama victory, but an Obama landslide — with a working majority in both Houses of Congress and the kind of mandate a leader needs to lead our country back from the edge of the abyss. Because if we screw this up, there are going to be a lot of people suffering for a long, long time. And America, too, will feel like a shadow of its former self.

  4. O'Rion

    My friends, occasionally a contrarian POV becomes an embarrassment. Any professional who said McCain won the debate, doesn’t care about his credibility. There are so many ways he lost, it’s pointless to annotate them. I wouldn’t take seriously (if I ever did) any broadcaster who failed to see the obvious.

  5. O-FISH-L

    Dan, this is at least the third time in recent weeks that you’ve written something along the lines of “conservative pundits aren’t even trying to…” as if somehow it’s unusual for conservative pundits to be truthful. I didn’t hear too many pundits of either ilk saying McCain won, nor did I hear too many saying Obama won. I heard the pundits say the debate was incredibly boring and there were no knockouts, but because McCain supposedly needed one, it was a loss for him. I tend to believe McCain only needs to hold his own, keeping things within the margin of error and allowing the deep doubts about Obama combined with the Bradley Effect to do the rest. Regardless, your on-going faux amazement with conservative pundits who analyze rather than cheerlead is getting rather trite. As for your title “Let the excuse-making begin” wasn’t it you, Dan, who whined incessantly at Brokaw’s constant interruptions? Now you point the finger at others who disliked the format? Pot? Kettle?

  6. Doug Shugarts

    George Will is no stranger to the truth. This morning, Zeus thunders about McCain’s failed attempts to cast Obama as a “bad person.”This, McCain and his female Sancho Panza say, is demonstrated by bad associations Obama had in Chicago, such as with William Ayers, the unrepentant terrorist. But the McCain-Palin charges have come just as the Obama campaign is benefiting from a mass mailing it is not paying for. Many millions of American households are gingerly opening envelopes containing reports of the third-quarter losses in their 401(k) and other retirement accounts — telling each household its portion of the nearly $2 trillion that Americans’ accounts have recently shed. In this context, the McCain-Palin campaign’s attempt to get Americans to focus on Obama’s Chicago associations seems surreal — or, as a British politician once said about criticism he was receiving, “like being savaged by a dead sheep.”

  7. Dan Kennedy

    Fish: Brokaw sucked. How did you like him telling Obama and McCain to get out of the way at the end so that he could read the Teleprompter? He’s been in the business for 40 years, and he can’t figure out how to say “Thank you and good night” without his script?That, by the way, may have been responsible for the false charge that McCain refused to shake Obama’s hand.Brokaw’s suckitude was not a matter of favoring one side or the other. McCain and Obama were trying to take the time to explain complicated matters, or to respond in some depth to an accusation, and Brokaw was having none of it. After all, he had a stopwatch, and by God he was going to remind them of it.

  8. Aaron Read

    I tend to believe McCain only needs to hold his own, keeping things within the margin of error and allowing the deep doubts about Obama combined with the Bradley Effect to do the rest.You mean keep things close enough so voter fraud by Republican Sec.States can do the rest?I mean, Good God, a full TWENTY PERCENT of Colorado voters were just purged from the rolls. The NY Times may say they think it’s not coordinated or intentional, but after Katherine Harris in 2000 and Ken Blackwell in 2004, I don’t buy it for a second.

  9. Ani

    I’m glad the problem of illegal purges of voter rolls has at least been brought to light, and I’m glad that some people at least are aware in the context of voting of covert racism (the Bradley Effect). As with energy issues, an effective response to these problems has many facets and we all can actually do something to help. For instance, the media can work to keep these issues front and center and in the public eye, buzz can be sustained through less formal channels, and everyone can make clear that they find these things unacceptable, uncool, and unAmerican.

  10. Tunder

    Found this interview with Michelle Obama that I thought speaks to her class during this increasingly ugly tone of the campaign. Sorry not to be able to make it a direct link (i forget how…)

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