The Eclectic One

…Because labels are a poor substitute for thinking

Obama campaign attempting to set a low bar for tonight’s debate

Posted by Bill Nance on October 7, 2008

The Obama campaign has issued a press release lauding John McCain’s town hall-style debate prowess in an attempt to prepare the ground in case Barack Obama does poorly in tonight’s debate.

The Juice:

When it comes to sheer format, we enter today’s debate the decided underdog. John McCain does extremely well in town hall settings. It’s been his favorite format throughout his career and we think that he will of course do very well.

The release goes on to cite about 10 people praising McCain’s town-hall performances to date, including a short video link.

Frankly this tactic is beneath the campaign. It’s old-style politics, not the fresh approach we’ve come to  expect from Barack Obama.

Sarah Palin can set a low bar and get away with it. Barring the genuine kool-aid drinkers, everyone already knew she had intellectual abilities which make George Bush look like Einstein.

But Barack Obama cannot get away with it and shouldn’t try. His job is to prepare, be ready to tell the truth and not parse anything. If he does that, he’ll do just fine. Minor gaffes and and uncomfortable facts won’t make people unhappy. Quite the opposite, they’ll just make Obama look more human. -Not a bad thing for the image of “mister cool.”

If you can’t talk to the people, you’re already in trouble. Barack Obama has done quite well talking to people for years, and a town hall-style debate is basically just that.

Come on Senator, you’re better than this. Tell the truth, be yourself and tell Bill Burton to shut up.

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5 Responses to “Obama campaign attempting to set a low bar for tonight’s debate”

  1. jonolan said

    I think you’re a bit off in your assessment. Obama is wonderful at ORATION, one of the best of our time. He’s not so good at talking to people and holding an ad hoc conversation.

  2. gasdocpol said

    Obama has looked pretty good to me talking to people.

  3. Bill Nance said

    I don’t think Barack Obama needs to be a Bill Clinton in order to do well in a town-hall setting. All he has to do is be straight with the American people and ABOVE ALL not parse things through a political straw.

    I think people would be quite content with long answers or explanations of complicated issues rather than sound bites. McCain may well be better tat this sort of thing, but intentionally setting the bar low, is kinda lame. Let Barack be Barack. It’s not like we didn’t understand he was kinda geeky.

  4. jonolan said

    Obama doesn’t work well without a prepared speech. The stuttering is bad enough – since it’s not an actual stutter – but his tendency to deconstruct questions and rebuild them before answering is not what most of America wants to hear. Add his tendency to over nuance everything and you have a recipe for failure.

    If Obama keeps to straight, declarative answers – which would be a first for him – he’ll do well. If he doesn’t do that, he won’t sway the undecided voters and won’t do well overall.

    That’s my opinion on the matter from a purely political / election / PsyOps point of view.

  5. jonolan said

    A quick post debate follow-up:

    Obama did pretty well in adapting to the town hall format. His answers, while a bit pedantic and dry were short enough and declarative enough to satisfy the average listener. He was a bit slow off the start though and let McCain essentially run the first half of the debate though. That’s OK, but requires a big finish in order to pay off. Obama didn’t have that big finish, though he did manage to “get some of his own back” in the 2nd half.

    Overall I would say that within the internal logic of the event McCain won. In the larger political context McCain lost because he didn’t “roast” Obama. Since McCain is trailing a WIN was needed last night in order for this to be classed a political victory.

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