Tuesday, October 28, 2008

What If He Loses?

After November 4, 2008 someone is going to be pissed. For John McCain and Barack Obama the closer Election Day gets there is this innate desire to be positive, but not be presumptive. The speeches they will deliver will try and erase lines like, “when we win” with “if we win.” No one wants to jinx the outcome. Polls show Obama with leads in places democrats have not won in the past. It also shows the margin in states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia, and Florida give McCain a mathematical chance to prevail.

I will be giving my analysts on WYPR-FM on election night. It is either going to be a short night or a very long night. I expect problems with so many first time voters, challengers, and critical states in play. I am psyched about the results either way. So let me bring some doom and gloom to the post.


It is the headline his supporters will cringe hearing. Here’s what I expect the concession speech to sound like. “I want to thank everyone who did everything they could to make this campaign work. I have called John McCain and congratulated him on his win (crowd moans). We began this journey in Springfield, Illinois with the conviction the American public wanted change. The change they got through the ballot was an army of new voters who crossed racial, social, and income lines to cast a vote for me. But we must move ahead. The great experiment of America continues. God Bless, America.

The analyst of the outcome will center on several areas: the bruising primary, the inability to connect with blue collar voters, and the not ready for prime time voters.

The primary challenge by Hillary Clinton will get plenty of play. Some will suggest her attacks damage him. There will also be questions about her enthusiasm. Lastly, some will suggest she wanted this outcome and get ready for 2012.

Despite having a monetary advantage and blanketing the airwaves it was not enough to change the minds of millions who were unsure of his politics. The last minute spots attacking him directly became effective and essentially canceled out his blanketed advertising.

The early voting fell Obama’s way but he was unable to close the deal with independents that split down the middle. He needed a plurality among this group. The enthusiasm showed by supporters could not be translated in places where he needed to win in Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio. The African-American vote went 95 percent his way but this was not enough. He needed another coalition. The obvious coalition was white women. They have been called “soccer moms and security moms.” It was interesting the older you were the less like you were to vote for Obama.

Here’s the good news, despite losing he has won. He will return to Senate as the go to guy for any piece of legislation. He will still be the largest fundraiser for the democrat party. This is his second political loss but don’t count him out.

McCain Stumbles

Unable to change the subject from the economy Senator John McCain loses to Senator Barack Obama. “I’ve called Senator Obama and congratulated him on his win. I want to thank him for running a campaign which focused on issues rather than personality. By the way how about Sarah Palin. (crowd roars). I’ve been fighting for this country since I was 17 and don’t expect to stop now. Let’s join together and put our political fighting behind us. God Bless all of you and God Bless America.”

This is a telling moment in history. The country has looked beyond its dark past of slavery and entered into the 21st Century with its First Black President.

Inside the GOP the blame game begins. Some will point to McCain’s insistence not go negative early. Others will suggest the selection of Palin was a blunder, but the harshest criticism will be leveled at the campaign staff especially Charles Black.

Pundits will suggest the Republicans were doomed from the start by President George Bush. His unpopularity combined with political scandals, an economic collapse, and the war in Iraq was the undoing for all Republicans.

The big question now, “What does it mean to be a Republican?” Will the social conservatives have sway or will the fiscal conservatives have sway? Who is the new leader of the party and can they find a way to broaden their base. Too much has been left up to independent voters who’ve called this election.

The good news for the GOP is the Democrats are in charge and they will likely “screw it up” before the mid-term election. Spending cuts should their mantra. Behind the scenes several Republicans are gleeful the Democrats will be facing the financial debacle.


I really don’t know if either of these outcomes will come true. People on both sides of this contest are committed. The lost will be personal. Will you be able to survive? Of course you will. Remind yourself you still have family, work, and a mission to survive. The stakes are high. No doubt about it. Watch as I will not just for the winner, but also how the loser spins the outcome.



Monday, October 27, 2008

You Can't Make This Stuff Up

I can't stop laughing and know you can't. This political season has been full of jokes that weren't meant to be from both sides.

You've heard of that adage "open mouth insert foot." The late night comics and the comedy shows have had a field day. Saturday Night Live is now the obvious leader despite trailing the Comedy Channel's John Stewart Show and Stephen Colbert Report. I caught a couple of the Stewart's Correspondents at DNC in Denver.

Those who are in comedy clubs have have added political humor to their routine. "How many of ya'll hear voting for John McCain (crowd claps). Now how many of ya'll are going to vote for Obama (crowd), as Comedian Ricky Shackleford brings the crowd to sustained laughter. "I've had to talk about the election it's the only thing people are talking about, says Shackleford.

Sarah Palin

"A pit bull with lipstick" the punch line for Republican Vice Presidential Sarah Palin on her description of a "hockey mom" has provided the most laughter. Her few television interviews did ratcheted up the comedy. Tina Fey, formerly of SNL-currently of 30 Rock, has the VP candidate down from mannerism to language. "You, betcha." The parody of her interview with Katie Couric will become comedy classic. The VP debate with Queen Latifah had me rolling on the floor.

This showdown between Faye and Palin scored one of the biggest audiences ever for SNL

The VP pick has spawned a number of people to sing the praises of her challenge.

Obama Off Limits

Several Obama supporters have taken offense to his parody's. Some comedians have had to issue statements such as "You can take a joke?" But it was a weekend stop at fundraiser in New York where Obama parodied himself.

Senator John McCain was also in good humor. He jumped into the fray.

I Shop at Walmart?

The most recent revelation of the Republican National Committee spending $150,000
on Palin's clothes is just the latest ironic twist. Especially since she and McCain continue to say they are for "Joe Six-Pack" and "Joe the Plumber." Shopping at Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom doesn't seem to be in line with what they are telling voters.

It's interesting several of the cable channels have picked up on the idea there are few people of color in these skits. The Comedy Channel has launched "Chocolate News" and CNN has put on D.L Hughley. It's easy to get jokes, but I remind comedians know your audience. Failure to know them will mean they don't get the joke.

So you can't stop laughing. I'm hosting a political conference at Georgetown University called Watergate II: Did Politics Change Media or Did Media Change Politics. The conference occurs November 21-23, 2008 for more information you can go to http://www.nabj.org/mediainstitute/conferences/112108conf.php. You can see the interpretation of the season from a cadre of comedians.



Sunday, October 19, 2008

Ugliness and Endorsements

(New Orleans, LA/Charlotte, NC) - I'm in a meeting on Sunday morning and we're interrupted because General Colin Powell has just announced on "Meet the Press" he's endorsing Barack Obama for President.
This is big. Getting the General's greenlight was seen by some as validation. It's what he said that was real damaging.

"Mr. McCain, I found that he was a little unsure as to how to deal with the economic problems that we're having. And almost every day there was a different approach to the problem and that concerned me. It's sensing that he didn't have a complete grasp of the economic problems that we had. And I was also concerned at the selection of Governor Palin. She's a very distinguished woman and she is to be admired. But at the same time, now that we have had a chance to watch her for some seven weeks, I don't believe she's ready to be President of the United States, which is the job of the Vice President. And so, uh, that raised some question in my mind as to the judgment that Senator McCain made.

I've also been disappointed, frankly, by some of the approaches that Senator McCain has taken recently – or his campaign has – on issues that are not really central to the problems that the American people are worried about. This Bill Ayers situation that's been going on for weeks became something of a central point of the campaign, but Mr. McCain says that he's a watchdog of terrorists. Then why do we keep talking about him? And why do we have these robocalls going on around the country, trying to suggest that because of this very, very limited relationship that Senator Obama has had with Mr. Ayers, somehow Mr. Obama is tainted. What they're trying to connect him to is some kind of terrorist feelings. And I think that's inappropriate.

I've come to the conclusion that because of his ability to inspire, because of the inclusive nature of his campaign, because he is reaching out all across America, because of who he is and his rhetorical abilities – and we have to take that into account – as well as his substance – he has both style and substance – he has met the standard of being a successful president, being an exceptional president.

I think he is a transformational figure. He is a new generation coming into the ... onto the world stage and on the American stage and for that reason, I'll be voting for Senator Barack Obama."

Wow !!!

Charlotte Stop-Over

As I land I'm amazed to see numerous people wearing McCain/Palin t-shirts. Dah, I forgot I'm in North Caroline which is up for grabs. Both candidates are crisscrossing the state. It's the first time the state has been in play in presidential politics since Jimmy Carter.

As I make my way to the B-terminal there is a restaurant with a NASCAR racer out front. Oh, this is NASCAR county. North Carolina has a lot of traits of Virginia. It's holding on to its southern roots while northern and educated folks are invading their state. It's meant good jobs but intellectual curiosity blunts some of the racism which held sway in the past.

I remember Obama is in Fayetteville, so I check out the Politico online and Fayetteville Observer. Headline downplays a woman yelling at Obama while visiting the Cape Fear BBQ & Chicken restuarant.

Campaigns will sometimes do these unscripted stops and Obama is masterful at using these activities to talk to people with the press in tow. My visceral reaction was "the south hasn't changed much." But a closer look shows how effective the message has soaked into the minds of some people.

Diane Fanning, 54, yelled, “Boo, socialist! Socialist! Get out of here!” Her intention was not to make news but rather give voice to what she had heard and had made up in her mind. Fanning is just two years older than me. She likely experienced the integration process first hand. I'm also going to guess she works with black people.

I'm guessing while growing up, her family probably didn't like the fact people were changing their world. She has accepted it, but just doesn't trust "colored people." Note, I didn't use the N-word because in these times its just wrong. I'm assuming she has a high school education and can easily be influence by media. She is a marketers dream. She has been a Republican all her life and can't imagine why anyone would vote for a "Liberal Democrat." If you asked her if she's a racist, she would deny it. But old ideas die had.

Obama will never be able to convince her, but the confrontation is example of why Obama may be on to something. "Confronting our fears." He talked about it when he denounce Reverend Jeremiah Wright. It must scary to think "a black man could be president." Older people are cringing at the thought.

I believe older white woman and some younger ones (not all)are especially susceptible to this because they visually have an image of a viral, oversexed, and angry black man.

Here's question that needs to be answered; Can you get pass your long held beliefs and vote your interest. It won't be easy.

The ugliness of the campaign is being played out in other places well. I located this fake dollar sent out in California categorizing Obama. There is two weeks left what could we be in store for?



Friday, October 17, 2008

Tsunami, Tidal Wave, or Implosion

(New Orleans) – We are down to the wire in this presidential race. The debates are over, several states are weighing in with early voting, and the targeting of undecided voters has ramped up. We live in very interesting times. We are on the cusp of a historic election where voters are engaged in ways they have never been. So what have we learned in this last week?

The Last Debate

Of the debates this was one most watched and had a level of engagement which heretofore had been missing. Senator John McCain was in a position where he had to continue the attacks against Senator Barack Obama.

There were several seminal moments some of them testy. Here are a couple of those moments.

McCain: I regret some of the negative aspects of both campaigns. But the fact is that it has taken many turns which I think are unacceptable.
One of them happened just the other day, when a man I admire and respect -- I've written about him -- Congressman John Lewis, an American hero, made allegations that Sarah Palin and I were somehow associated with the worst chapter in American history, segregation, deaths of children in church bombings, George Wallace. That, to me, was so hurtful.
And, Senator Obama, you didn't repudiate those remarks.

Obama: Well, look, you know, I think that we expect presidential campaigns to be tough. There is nothing wrong with us having a vigorous debate like we're having tonight about health care, about energy policy, about tax policy. That's the stuff that campaigns should be made of.
The notion, though, that because we're not doing town hall meetings...that justifies some of the ads that have been going up, not just from your own campaign directly, John, but 527s and other organizations that make some pretty tough accusations, well, I don't mind being attacked for the next three weeks.
McCain: But again, I did not hear a repudiation of Congressman...

OBAMA: I mean, look, if we want to talk about Congressman Lewis, who is an American hero, he, unprompted by my campaign, without my campaign's awareness, made a statement that he was troubled with what he was hearing at some of the rallies that your running mate was holding, in which all the Republican reports indicated were shouting, when my name came up, things like "terrorist" and "kill him," and that you're running mate didn't mention, didn't stop, didn't say "Hold on a second, that's kind of out of line."
And I think Congressman Lewis' point was that we have to be careful about how we deal with our supporters.

Joe the Plumber

If there was a conversation change during this encounter it was McCain trying to relate to a guy name “Joe the Plumber.” Joe was one of several people Obama met in Toledo, Ohio while canvassing door to door. “Joe” didn’t like the Illinois senator’s stance on taxing people making over $250,000 dollars. He called it wrong suggesting it would stifle his attempt to buy a plumbing business.

McCain: He looked at your tax plan and he saw that he was going to pay much higher taxes. You were going to put him in a higher tax bracket which was going to increase his taxes, which was going to cause him not to be able to employ people, which Joe was trying to realize the American dream.
Now Senator Obama talks about the very, very rich. Joe, I want to tell you, I'll not only help you buy that business that you worked your whole life for and be able -- and I'll keep your taxes low and I'll provide available and affordable health care for you and your employees.
And I will not have -- I will not stand for a tax increase on small business income. Fifty percent of small business income taxes are paid by small businesses. That's 16 million jobs in America. And what you want to do to Joe the plumber and millions more like him is have their taxes increased and not be able to realize the American dream of owning their own business.

OBAMA: Now, the conversation I had with Joe the plumber, what I essentially said to him was, "Five years ago, when you were in a position to buy your business, you needed a tax cut then."
And what I want to do is to make sure that the plumber, the nurse, the firefighter, the teacher, the young entrepreneur who doesn't yet have money; I want to give them a tax break now. And that requires us to make some important choices.
The last point I'll make about small businesses. Not only do 98 percent of small businesses make less than $250,000, but I also want to give them additional tax breaks, because they are the drivers of the economy. They produce the most jobs.

McCAIN: You know when Senator Obama ended up his conversation with Joe the plumber -- we need to spread the wealth around. In other words, we're going to take Joe's money, give it to Senator Obama, and let him spread the wealth around.
The whole premise behind Senator Obama's plans are class warfare, let's spread the wealth around. I want small businesses -- and by the way, the small businesses that we're talking about would receive an increase in their taxes right now.
Who -- why would you want to increase anybody's taxes right now? Why would you want to do that, anyone, anyone in America, when we have such a tough time, when these small business people, like Joe the plumber, are going to create jobs, unless you take that money from him and spread the wealth around.

Obama: I'm not going to...

This was McCain’s clearest message on the economy. But a funny thing happened after the debate as the talking heads start chatting up "Joe the Plumber" aka Joseph Wurzelbacher, “the winner of the debate” with nearly 14 references from both candidates. He’s not even a licensed plumber. By the way Joe only made $40,000 last year, not even close to $250,000. He believes one day he will and doesn't want to be given a higher tax rate. It's unfortunate a message that has been sold to middle class, "one day you will be as rich as us." Wacky. By the weekend his name was just another footnote in this campaign along with "Joe Six Pack", "the Real America", "Hockey Moms"," "Average Working Americans" and other code words being used this campaign season. But this resonates.

Despite these shots at Obama, McCain lost. In baseball terms "he didn't hit it out of the park." McCain was more forceful. Obama was measured. If there was any clear winner it was "Joe the Plumber."

Meanwhile, by weeks end the debate was in the review mirror and those of following this campaign were on to something else.



Monday, October 13, 2008

October Surprise

There has always been this notion in Presidential races there will "an October Surprise." The earliest notion of this goes back to the infamous ad of the little girl picking daises with the countdown and nuclear explosion. It jolted an electorate that was wavering over who should be president. Ever since surprises have been predicted, some materialized others just fizzled.

The surprise this go round however has come in many forms. The last face-off between Senators John McCain and Barack Obama in a town hall forum was one in a series of surprises. Let's just cut to the chase. The debate was a draw. What made this a draw was the overwhelming sense this economy is in the tank. The audience in the room and outside the room heard only one new idea during the 90 minute discussion. A proposal by Senator McCain to buy up depressed mortgages(its the first concrete message he's delivered on the economy). While members of the media were quick to jump on the new idea, the public has yet to hear a full vetting of what it means.

Wall Street Bailout Aftermath

What were they thinking at AIG? Hey we got the bailout let's continue business as usual. Let's send our brokers out to a California Spa and lavish them with $400,000 dollars in pampering. DAH!!! Congressman Elijah Cummings of Maryland thought it so incredible he couldn't believe what he was hearing.

The day before(10/5/08) Richard Fuld, Jr., former CEO of Lehman Brothers(that was forced in to bankruptcy), had the audacity to tell the House Oversight Committee and Government Reform Committee,"Not that anybody on this committee cares about this, but I wake up every single night thinking what I could have done different," he said. "This is a pain that will stay with me for the rest of my life." Oh, really?

Fuld dismissed a call to stop handing out bonuses to executives while the company was drowning in red ink. To add insult top executives also voted to pay bonuses of 23.5 million dollars to themselves during this time. If you think this is appalling how about Fuld's pay in 2000; an estimated total of $484.8 million. Fuld said that was a little high it was closer to $350 million.

These people live in alternate worlds and it's spilled into the Republican playbook making McCain seem more aligned with Wall Street than Main Street.

Attack Mode

The William Ayers issue is overblown. Ayers, a member of the Weather Underground a radical 60's group which targeted the government over it's involvement in Viet-Nam, is the latest "bogeyman." It's also fired up GOP crowds as McCain and Governor Sarah Palin have hit the stump. In Wisconsin and Pennsylvania this line of attack has stoked visceral exchanges bordering on "racial incitement." Lots of code words are being tossed. "Not one of us; associating with a known terrorist; Who is Barack Obama; Barack Hussain Obama; doesn't understand small town values etc..." The call and response have included chants of "terroist...terrorist...terrorist; kill him; etc..." This is unsettling. Firing up your base can also create a climate to spark a fervent supporter to take action into their own hands. Meanwhile, McCain has tried to quell this anger, but was even been booed when he told an audience "Obama is not an Arab."

But don't think Obama isn't beneath firing back. He acknowledge on the Tom Joyner Morning Show, "they may throw the first punch, but we'll throw the last punch." The appearance of a web documentary on the "Keating Five" was clearly the counter punch at the beginning of the week.

While I write this the polls show Obama has either a 8 or 10 point lead and he's a factor in several toss up states. This includes some traditionally red states. The ones you want to watch are Virgina, and North Carolina. Pennsylvania and Ohio is going to be tough for the senator from Illinois. The so call Bradley/Wilder Effect is being banded around. This is the phenomena of White voters saying they will vote for a black candidate but switch in the voting booth.

To stymie this there are several attempts by the Obama camp to counter the underlying perception of an African-American man is a scary guy. Over weekend Obama went back to his core strengths...talking directly to people. He also dispatched the Clinton's to Pennsylvania. One of the more amusing attempts comes from comedian Sarah Silverman of the Comedy Channel that asks younger Jewish voters to talk with their elders. It's pretty funny and profane(this should not be seen by youngsters) but also serious because in Florida perceptions and stereotypes are pervasive.


We are in the waning days of voter registration and this is becoming a big problem. There is an estimate there will be 5 million new voters on the rolls come election day. Near Gary, Indiana, the ACORN organization, a grassroots self help group which champions poor people, was called on the carpet for it's attempt to sign up voters. Of the 5000 voters they claimed they signed up half were illegal. This a problem and doesn't bode well.

There was also a New York Times article which show several states were using social security numbers to discredit new voters. The federal government says the numbers should be used as a last resort and not on the first go round. Adding to this problem is the purging of voter rolls 90 days before an election (this is illegal).

All this adds up to problems at the polls on November 4, 2008. There are going to be long lines, and challenges to voters (which will make the wait longer). I asked a colleague how long should it take you to vote? Her answer, "a half hour tops." It's going to be longer at some polls.

Each presidential election I make a stop at the National Office of the NAACP in Baltimore to their war room. This where they have attorneys on standby in various states to root out election day issues. They may want to double their numbers.

Last Debate

With so much at stake can this face off be civil? Will it delve into personal attacks? Can it focus on issues? How much will this debate be a deciding factor with the undecided voters? Can't wait to see.

OBW, Obama is so flushed with cash he has bought prime time TV on several outlets for October 29, 2008. The half hour blocks will air on CBS, NBC, and MSNBC. This comes one week before the election. A savvy move. If this campaign has learned from the primary season its the final weekend before the election which sways a lot of undecided voters.

Reports also say the Obama camp considered buying a NASCAR ad (painting your name on a car). It's nice when you can jump into areas where your opponent believe he's locked-up the key voting block of "NASCAR Dads." I don't think NASCAR would look kindly at injecting politics into car racing. But wait a minute, hasn't Cindy McCain shown up at several NASCAR events. So much for impartiality.



Saturday, October 04, 2008

VP Debate Analysis

For all of its build up this was not the heavyweight prize fight we expected. I had argued earlier in the week on NPR’s News and Notes, Bloggers Roundtable, there would be diminished expectations for Governor Sarah Palin's performance, a demonization of the host (Gwen Ifill), and a continued desire to discount the media. Unfortunately, I was right on all three counts.

Although, Joe Biden and Sarah Palin were on stage together all eyes were focused on Palin. If you watched or listen you likely heard the Alaska Governor ask the Delaware Senator, "Can I call you Joe?" At the time this seem harmless but debaters use a lot of strategies to disarm powerful opponents. Being able to use first names rather than formal titles (Governor/Senator) means you're equals. This also can mean a deference which can catch you off guard.

Because this event garnered one of the largest television audience it was the medium that was the message. Being able to use it to your advantage is key. There are some quirky little things you do to contact with the audience. Palin a former sports anchor used all of them in her arsenal. Here are a few of them.

1. When the question is asked look at the questioner. Then turn to the camera and keep your head up not down. (We call this looking beyond the camera).

2. KISS. Keep it simple stupid. Answers were relative short. Very folksy (lots of darn, and heck).

3. Tell people what you are going to say. This was illustrated very clearly with her reference "I may not answer the question the way you want."

Memorable Moments

I didn't know in a debate you can say you won't answer a question but she did. The colloquial stories from Biden and Palin painted vivid pictures of who they are. Biden's accounting of his dad's decision to leave Scranton, Pennsylvania to look for work is an American story.

Palin's reaction to taxes was also classic American independence."Patriotic is saying, government, you know, you're not always the solution. In fact, too often you're the problem so, government, lessen the tax burden on our families and get out of the way and let the private sector and our families grow and thrive and prosper."

The Lines

Rehearsed or unrehearsed these are some of the winners.


Let's commit ourselves just every day American people, Joe Six Pack, hockey moms across the nation, I think we need to band together and say never again. Never will we be exploited and taken advantage of again by those who are managing our money and loaning us these dollars.

The chant is "drill, baby, drill."

Oh, yeah, it's so obvious I'm a Washington outsider. And someone just not used to the way you guys operate.

"Say it ain't so, Joe."


Nine o'clock, the economy was strong. Eleven o'clock that same day, two Mondays ago, John McCain said that we have an economic crisis. That doesn't make John McCain a bad guy, but it does point out he's out of touch.

John McCain said as early as last December, quote -- I'm paraphrasing -- "I'm surprised about this sub prime mortgage crisis."

Gwen, with all due respect, I didn't hear a plan.

Issues in Common and Pitfalls

Both of these candidates have sons who are headed to Iraq. There is strong emotional tug at your heart as a parent to your flesh and blood to protect America. The suggestion they both say a prayer for the children means the Iraq War want be thought of as a numbers game.

Politicians have straddled the line on whether to recognized the rights of gay partners. The most contentious of these is gay marriage. Alaska is one of many states that recognize the rights of same sex partners to have joint insurance, visitation rights in medical situations, and to be contractually bound except in the cases of marriage. Governor Palin has signed this legislation and it is a part of her record.

Biden meanwhile has supported the same type of issues in the Senate and has gone on record for wanting to put such issues on a national agenda. He and Barack Obama agree it should not extend to marriage.

For both candidates this subject can be dicey. It can alienate voters and show contradictions. If you you're a so call "values voter" this may have seemed strange, a Republican willing to acknowledge the rights of gays. Conversely, a democratic who is against gay marriage.

The Moderator

By way of full disclosure I know Gwen Ifill. We have had conversations about various political issues. Her opinion piece in the New York Times on Don Imus was on point and should be read by every journalist.

Gwen is the only person of color involved in the debate series involving Presidential and Vice Presidential Debates (this is a tragedy). It's also the second time she has moderated the Vice Presidential face off. Her selection was made before Sarah Palin was selected by the GOP. Following the GOP Convention I worried there would be a concerted effort to "demonize" Gwen. Unfortunately, I was right again. On Wednesday, conservative pundits and talkshow host were calling for Ifill's removal because of a yet to be released book authored by PBS host. The book will look at Black Politics in the wake of Barack Obama's run.

Gwen, who broke her foot two days before the event, was put in a unusual situation. Her detractors were growing. Conservatives were aiming for here with a shotgun(the gun sprays doesn't necessarily hit a direct target); not knowing if she would fold, but she didn't.

There have been many comments on how tough she would be. I remind folks the story following a debate should not be about the moderator but rather the participants. This was the case but some questioned Gwen's inability to force the candidates to answer questions. As a former moderator for several debates I often tell participants "I reserve the right to follow-up and ask you to clarify your answers." Lastly, I think Gwen struck the right tone by letting the audience seeing the absurdity in answers and non-answers from both sides. For those wondering she gave a compelling interview to Tom Joyner on Friday.


More than half way through the debate Governor Sarah Palin was winning. She held her own and was connecting in ways that few people understood. No, I didn't like the winks to the camera but there is a portion of the electorate where this resonates (I understand older white thought she was winking at them).

Biden, meanwhile, took the advice of his handlers not to attack Palin directly, but go after McCain. Although he was losing early, the emotion he showed when talking about the death of his first wife "flipped the script." Empathy is an emotion changer.

The suggestion by Palin she "may not answer the questions you want" is part of the spin the Republicans have seized on during this campaign suggesting the media is the enemy. Dah, without the media their message travels in limited circles. Sorry, the base of the GOP (conservatives, evangelicals, and "JOE Six-pack) is fractured. Selling the message to the laid off worker in Michigan isn't working (McCain has pulled his ad's and staff from the state). Florida retires aren't drinking the cool-aid. Those NY Republicans working on Wall Street (from front line workers to CEO's)are also switching.

The "perfect storm" is meandering (financial collapse, and the public perception Washington is corrupt) will mean this could be another year to "throw the bums out." I was playing golf with some pretty astute brothers and they suggested there are just to many "Dumb White People." While I don't prescribe to that theory there are voters who believe their self interest isn't tied to a Barack Presidency. Self interest is a powerful determinant in an election.

McCain desperately needs to change the subject. The economy is killing him. Pocketbook issues are what people are talking about. The next debate will mean giving more detail rather than broad outlines because its what people want to hear. Fellow Republicans have been asking, "when will you start attacking." McCaain's response, "how about Tuesday (the date of the next debate)." Lastly, the GOP nominee needs to keep President George Bush out of the headlines.

Obama, must continue to hammer home the economy. Friday's unemployment numbers while dismissal reinforce the concept of change. Unlike the line in the WIZ ,"don't bring me no bad news," the more bad news the better it is for his candidacy.