Commentary Magazine


Debate Thoughts

Tonight’s debate provided a remarkably crystalline portrait of the two candidates. Barack Obama is a mellifluous caregiver, beautifully reassuring folks that their suspicions and resentments are registering in the halls of power. In this role, he need not get too specific because he’s not dealing with specific gripes. He’s there to let people know that burdens will be “shared” in a more “fair” manner, nevermind how that will be accomplished.

John McCain believes that America is a force for good, and is willing to stake a lot (too much?) on this principle. Moreover, he has decisiveness behind him. But there’s not much popular strength in data. Sure, he had names for the Secretary of Treasury question, but Obama could echo popular gripes and point at a vague light at the end of the tunnel.

It should be noted that this debate, coming at the height of election mudslinging, was admirable issue- and policy-oriented. Doubtless, that makes for a bunch of “dud” reviews, but it’s also probably a welcome change for a lot of us. And credit where it’s due: Tom Brokaw was excellent.