Commentary Magazine


Verdict: Rope-a-Dope

Despite the clumsy rules, the faux town hall setting, and Brokaw’s miserable efforts to raise his profile as moderator, this was, as a pure debate, a good evening for McCain. In the majority of exchanges, he gave a crisp answers, restated the question to put Obama on the defensive, and then pounded away on Obama’s record. On a few questions — like his statement on a foreign policy doctrine — Obama shined. But for the most part, he sat back, rarely responding to McCain’s blows, but never falling down. He played Ali to McCain’s Foreman. His last answer about preparing for the unexpected was more poetic than McCain’s solid, emotional effort. But one has to wonder, at this point, if McCain needs more than good debating points and solid hits. I agree with those who said he really has to roll out a bigger, more ambitious economic plan — and he failed to do that tonight. CNBC just put up the fact that the Seoul markets are down 2.6%. Neither candidate knows what to do about the global financial meltdown. But tonight, McCain needed to show that he had a better plan.