There’s a lot of doom and gloom among conservatives, especially among the readers on national review corner. Many are saying that McCain blew it by not exposing Obama as an ultra-liberal radical. Now I agree that McCain’s delivery was less than impressive, and Obama did come across as presidential. Moreover, McCain missed some chances to land body blows.
However, after looking back at tonight’s debate, I think the main problem was the format, more specifically Tom Brokaw’s performance. It is well-known that Brokaw is a liberal, and it is absurd that in a supposedly town-hall debate, where anything should go, Brokaw picked the questions himself! The questions were so bland and generic that I’m not quite sure how McCain could have attacked Obama on Ayers, Wright, Rezko, etc. If he had brought up those people gratuitously, it could backfire massively. In a sense, broad policy questions regarding the economy benefit Obama because he’s running against the incumbent party and can blame everything on Bush and McCain. Unless the moderator asks questions that are more specific and have a moral/values component, it would have been very difficult for McCain to cripple Obama. This is why the Saddelback forum was such a huge boost for McCain. Rick Warren’s questions exposed Obama as liberal, weak, and not ready to lead.
I think the McCain campaign already knows this, which is why they’re focusing the energy on stump speeches and ads. There is no way the liberal moderators will ask questions that can potentially damage the Messiah. You can count on that.