The punditocracy consensus seems to be that Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., had his strongest debate performance last night, but it was not enough to fundamentally shift the dynamic in the race where Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., remains ascendant in the polls.
I suppose we shall see. Even officials of the Obama campaign acknowledge privately that McCain had some strong moments during the debate, especially his message, "Obama, I am not President Bush. If you wanted to run against President Bush, you should have run four years ago." He probably should have started saying that as soon as he wrapped up the nomination in March.
Where I wonder about, however, is during the period of time when McCain listed his various issues with Obama, ones that seemed quite personal.
I’m not talking about the issue-based attacks, of even the criticisms of Obama’s character as seen through the prism of the Democrat’s relationships with (and obfuscations about) William Ayers and ACORN.
I mean the personal, well, gripes that he listed.
Or, as Frank Costanza, put it, "I got a lot of problems with you people!"
Here were McCain’s grievances, all unloaded in a relatively short period of time.
1) "If Senator Obama had asked, responded to my urgent request to sit down and do town-hall meetings and come before the American people, we could have done at least 10 of them by now."
2) "A man I admire and respect — I’ve written about him — Congressman John Lewis, an American hero — made allegations that Sarah Palin and I were somehow associated with the worst chapter in American history: segregation, deaths of children in church bombings, George Wallace. That — that, to me, was so hurtful."
3) "Senator Obama, you didn’t repudiate those remarks."
4) "Senator Obama, when he said — and he signed a piece of paper that said he would take public financing for his campaign if I did. That was back when he was a long-shot candidate. You didn’t keep your word. And when you looked into the camera in a debate with Senator Clinton and said, ‘I will sit down and negotiate with John McCain about public financing before I make a decision,’ you didn’t tell the American people the truth, because you didn’t."
5) "I watched the Arizona Cardinals defeat the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday … every other ad was an attack ad on my health care plan. And any objective observer has said it’s not true."
6) "You’re running ads right now that say that I oppose federal funding for stem cell research. I don’t."
7) "You’re running ads that — that misportray completely my position on immigration."
8) "So, the fact is that Senator Obama is spending unprecedented — unprecedented in the history of American politics, going back to the beginning — amounts of money in negative attack ads on me."
9) "I did not hear a repudiation of Congressman Lewis’s remarks."
10) "I’m not going to stand for people, saying that the people come — that come to my rallies are anything but the most dedicated, patriotic men and women that — that are in this nation, and — and they’re great citizens."
It all allowed Obama to say, "I think the American people are less interested in our hurt feelings during the course of the campaign than addressing the issues that matter to them so deeply."
Not his best stretch in an otherwise heralded debate performance, I thought.
What’d you think?