By Ray LeMoine
The Final Debate: McCain, Obama Dodge Questions and Point/Wag Fingers on Economy and War

Londonderry, NH: women look on at an Obama rally today.

24. That’s how many mentions “Joe the Plumber” got last night. Joe’s a real guy, from Ohio, who would be among the 1% of Americans affected by Obama’s tax increase among those who make over $250k per year.

Yup, that’s about the least important thing ever to be discussed in a political debate during times of economic collapse and war. Disgusting: Worrying about the top one percent of Americans when unemployment is expected to hit 9 or 10% by year’s end. Even if all 100% of the top 1% lost their jobs, that’s still 8-9% of the nation (who aren’t rich) out of work. Why didn’t John McCain address them last night? He could have mentioned how wages have decreased, when adjusted for inflation, over the past 5 years. Instead, McCain feigned like he didn’t care about “washed up terrorist” Bill Ayers even though his campaign has spent millions on ads linking said “terrorist” to Obama. 

Obama, for his part, was pure class. He was a tad boring, but he outplayed McCain on every level save tax-raise fear mongering. In his answers, Obama was aloof and nuanced and charming—a cynical presidential mix for a cynical time. I’m sure the clip of Obama setting the facts straight on his relationship to ex-Weatherman Bill Ayers is being watched by a lot of people today. Unfortunately, Obama used a lot of the same language manipulation tactics (avoiding answering questions with facts and policy proposals, changing topics at random) as McCain. A few Brits I was watching with commented on how sad American politics is. It’s true: the lack of substance last was stunning.

After two dozen plus debates this election season, and almost two years of campaigning, Obama’s proving to be the greatest political talent of my lifetime. He’s caught some lucky breaks, yes, but O’s more of a natural than Bill Clinton. After all, Obama’s overcome not just his race but the Clintons themselves! 

Sitting on a double digit poll lead with three weeks to go, Obama is so close to the White House. But I’m not sure it’s over. Both convetional wisdom and polling—the two most prominent tools used to guage a political race—have been ineffective this years. Polls were off all primary season. And since this year us unprecedented, with a black nominee, “conventional” thinking is unreliable. Nonetheless, Obama has a big cash advantage over McCain. The most visible effect of which will be Obama’s 30-minute prime time special to air on all networks on October 29th. If done correctly, the ad could propel Obama to victory…