As a big Palin fan I wasn’t as impressed as many people with her adequate debate performance, but I thought McCain was exceptional tonight. He’s not usually a good debater, but it seemed clear to me that he won tonight’s debate. The lack of any defining moments may diminish any bounce, but McCain landed several blows and took very few that he did not forcefully debunk.
One point that I had not heard previously was McCain’s argument that Obama promised a middle class tax cut before being elected to the Senate but never once proposed a bill to do so. The last time a Democrat was President, he promised a middle class tax cut and then immediately raised taxes on the middle class. People are instinctively wary of Democrats promising tax cuts. This line of attack is very sharp and specific. McCain’s not saying Obama will back out of his promise for middle class tax cuts. He’s saying Obama already did it and will likely do it again. He should push this new argument very hard.
Another point McCain made that people in the conservative blogosphere have been begging him to talk about was the fact that the Democrats opposed regulating Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. I thought he made an excellent case, but a one minute answer is only the start. Run against Obama, but run against congressional Democrats just as hard. It will be easy to link the two considering Obama is, in fact, a congressional Democrat. If this problem is blamed on the Democrats more than deregulation then McCain will be viewed more favorably on the economy, by far the most important issue. Keep talking about greedy CEOs if it’ll get you votes, but talk about Democrats in congress just as much or more.
McCain once again labeled Obama a big spender. This isn’t a new tactic, but Obama has given McCain ammo tonight. Obama said, “I’m cutting more than I’m spending.” What!? This kind of incredible lie should be mocked and pointed out by McCain every day. If the McCain campaign can turn Obama’s spending plans into a joke, that could be the kind of debate gamechanger we’e been waiting for. Obama was asked in both debates what programs he would cut and could never name a single program either time. Delaying new spending is not a cut. He’s proposed around $1 trillion in new spending. So unless Obama found one trillion dollars of spending to cut and has forgetting to mention it, he’s lying to you. How can you trust a man that lies to your face?
What’s the one thing common to all of these issues? Each is an economic issue and Obama is lying about each one. This means talking about each of this issues will feed into the perception that Obama is untrustworthy and not ready to lead. These three issues alone won’t be enough to put him over the edge, but the overall narrative would be compelling. If there’s one thing worse than a flip-flopper, it’s a liar.