If the political pundits are to be believed everything is riding on tonight's final presidential debate. In fact, nothing is at stake except the prognostications of the prognosticators who will extrapolate from the subjective results of the debate the outcome of the election. Perhaps their predictions should be computed on Election Day and a margin of error established for each political gadfly that might help us gauge his accuracy in a future election (if there are to be future elections). In truth, debates, or the mockery that passes for debates nowadays, are meaningless. Partisans will always think that their candidate won and those in the middle will shift in whatever direction they finally decide their interests lie. No one ever switches sides as a result of a debate unless the differences between the candidates are so insignificant that nothing is to be won or lost by voting for one or the other. The Kennedy-Nixon debate is often cited as having decided the 1960 election. In fact, it was the mayor of Chicago and the undead of its cemeteries who decided that election just as this one might be decided or at least deadlocked (no pun intended) by ACORN's own attempts at reanimation.
Of course, I'll be watching the debate as I don't doubt you will also. It is, after all, high theatre, as carefully rehearsed and orchestrated as any set piece. Spontaneity, originality and even combativeness are all greatly discouraged as too risky. It seems to be the objective of each candidate to come out of the debate no worse than he entered it, that is, to avoid committing a gaffe that would invalidate his candidacy. A debater should always be prepared to take advantage of his opponent's misstatements; in modern debates, however, all that is required to succeed in a debate is to guard against one's own. The best way to do this is to be as imprecise and noncommittal as possible. Inevitably such a course will tend to diminish rather than highlight differences between candidates, which could be calamitous in this election because there are real differences between McCain and Obama, fundamental differences which should not be glossed over, because the future of this Republic depends on understanding the danger which the Democratic candidate and his coterie of unsavory alliances poses to the future of democracy in America.
If John McCain is to be faulted for anything it is for his excessive collegiality which almost makes it seem that he does not fully appreciate the importance to this country of his winning this election. He could have confounded the pundits and defined for all Americans the meaning of maverick if he had opposed and defeated Bush's nationalization of Wall Street and the banking industry. That certainly would have guaranteed his election. Instead he chose to side with Bush and statists like Obama, though his silence at the White House conference on the bail out, also attended by an enthusiastic Obama, gave some indication of his real discontent. He would have won the election for certain if he had voiced it.
I still believe that McCain will prevail in the end because voting for Obama requires a degree of comfort with the unfathomable (or self-induced blindness) which most Americans can't long sustain. Of course, the only reason that mainstream Americans would consider voting for Obama in the first place is that the media have consistently cooperated with him in keeping his well-defined radical positions and solid left record from the American people. In the end, however, questions about him persist which will never be answered because the answers are potentially more dangerous than the lingering questions.
The Rise and Fall of the United States: The Final Chapter?
Enigma: Crip or Blood?
U.S. History 901: America's Black Presidents
The Promise of Barack Obama
Barack Obama: The Future Is the Past
The Truth About Barack Obama Finally Revealed
Advice for McCain As He Embarks on His Crusade to Save America from Its Domestic Enemies
Fidel Castro Endorses Barack Obama
Obama's "Message to Fidel"
What Was Missing in Obama's Speech? Fidel