Commentary Magazine


Contentions

On Barnes and Town Halls

Out of over twenty debates that Barack Obama has participated in, he has yet to come away with a decisive victory. John McCain, aiming to capitalize on his political foe’s weakness, recently challenged Obama to participate in ten town halls this summer. Fred Barnes argues on The Weekly Standard‘s The Blog that Obama’s political cowardice prevents him from accepting McCain’s town hall proposal. Barnes has a point: McCain is best when he’s spontaneous, while Obama has struggled in such situations. In his words:

So why wouldn’t Senator Bring-Us-Together jump enthusiastically at the opportunity? Several reasons, all political. Obama figures he’s going to win because of the strong Democratic tide and doesn’t want to offer opportunities for Republicans to lay a glove on him. Also, he’s not particularly good at town hall gatherings–spontaneity is not his thing–but McCain is at his best at such sessions. And Obama would rather give set speeches, at which he’s terrific, than take questions that might force him to deal with things (Rev. Wright, Tony Rezko, etc.) he’d rather not talk about.

Barnes is correct, but incomplete. McCain is lagging far behind Obama in money. As Jennifer Rubin says, “for a weakly-financed campaign it would be manna from heaven to have the networks covering the road show,” i.e., free press coverage that accurately contrasts the two presidential candidates might be McCain’s only hope to close the ever-growing gap.

Additionally, town halls do not come without risk for McCain. In the 1960 presidential election, John F. Kennedy is considered to have benefited enormously by being seated across from Richard Nixon in the first televised presidential debates. Could this pattern repeat? It appears so.

Here’s Markos Moulitsas of the DailyKos analyzing a picture of McCain:

It’s pretty bad when your hair is whiter than your teeth…I mean, they have teeth whitening products today. Just ask Chuck Norris. There’s also photoshop. No one at Camp McCain thinks this is relevant or worth fixing?

Firedoglake offers similarly banal observations:

The tie he was wearing, a sort of aquamarine blue had an incredible sheen on our HDTV while the suit was a great choice as well. When you compare it to the McCain shoulder pad suit and grandpa’s old tie from the back of the closet look? No question who looks like they are moving forward and who looks like they are stuck in 1984.

In short, McCain’s town hall gambit might backfire, but what else is the underdog to do? And most worrisome for McCain: no matter how poorly Obama performed in the primary debates, he ultimately won.


Join the discussion…

Are you a subscriber? Log in to comment »

Not a subscriber? Join the discussion today, subscribe to Commentary »





Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.