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The Third Debate

Before last night’s debate began, there were two questions dominating public discussion: First, will McCain come out swinging? And second, is there any way he might be able to alter the dynamics of the race? The second question was always inherently a little fatuous, the journalese equivalent of a noisy promo for an otherwise dull television cop show. Sight unseen, one knew the answer: No, John McCain will not be able to alter the dynamics of the race with this one debate performance, regardless of how skilful. The final debate is inevitably going to be the least-watched, and the least likely to affect anyone’s perceptions of the contest. Even a thoroughly ignorant, hidebound American voter has been living with John McCain for over eight years now, and with Barack Obama for almost two. We’ve seen their speeches, we’ve watched them being interviewed, and before last night we had already seen them debate each other twice (and their primary opponents innumerable times). The impact of even a decisive debate victory for McCain --- no matter how such a thing is defined --- was likely to be minimal. In the first debate, such a phenomenon could arguably have made a significant difference, but not in the third, especially not when Obama was widely judged to have won debates one and two.

By Erik Tarloff  

Before last night’s debate began, there were two questions dominating public discussion: First, will McCain come out swinging? And second, is there any way he might be able to alter the dynamics of the race?

The second question was always inherently a little fatuous, the journalese equivalent of a noisy promo for an otherwise dull television cop show. Sight unseen, one knew the answer: No, John McCain will not be able to alter the dynamics of the race with this one debate performance, regardless of how skilful. The final debate is inevitably…

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