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The Final Debate: McCain's Last Stand

John McCain, movie buff extraordinaire, will instantly appreciate my metaphor: He’s a palooka on the way down. He’s the guy, from countless movies of the 1940s and 1950s, who’s been a prize fighter for too long, whose gifts have left him, who missed his chances, who time has not been kind to and who, at his last chance for the title, is fighting this lithe youngster, this gifted counter-puncher, this confident -- even cocksure -- young man on the way up who will rope-a-dope him, back peddle, deflecting blows so that the old man reaches for sarcasm, which is the low blow of debates, and ugly faces and grimaces until, at the final bell, they have to take him out dazed, wondering what happened. This is what happened: He got old.

The television images were unforgiving. Sometimes McCain looked bug-eyed. Sometimes he seemed furious. Sometimes he seemed mocking. Sometime he seemed drained of blood and cadaverous, the whitest man in the room. It hardly mattered what he said -- and he did say some pretty interesting things. But no matter what, Obama never flinched. Obama wouldn’t even pronounce the selection of Sarah Palin -- McCain’s contemptuous spit into the very face of fate -- as preposterous. Mel Tormé, a singer from McCain’s era, was known as the Velvet Fog. Now that moniker has to go to Obama.

The most poignant line of the debate, often cited in the post-debate chatter for its political impact, was McCain’s announcement that he was not George W. Bush. He went on to tell Obama that if it was George Bush he wanted to debate, he should have run four years ago.

But it was really McCain who should have run four year ago… although that would have been suicidal. It was really McCain who is out of synch with time, who for the second time in his life -- Bush was the first -- sat opposite a man of much younger years for whom he had minimum respect and could not land a knockout blow. In the movie, McCain would have been played by Kirk Douglas. In real life, the part of the loser was played by John McCain.

By Richard Cohen  | October 16, 2008; 9:15 AM ET
Categories:  Cohen  | Tags:  Richard Cohen  
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Next: The Final Debate: A Breakthrough for Abortion Reduction


It´s sad to see Sen. McCain this way. The right time for his presidency would have been 2000-2008, and I guess many people are sorry it had not been.

Posted by: om4n | October 16, 2008 9:39 AM | Report abuse

om4n, I agree. In 2000, I was split between wanting Gore or McCain as president but I definately did not want W as a president so I voted Gore. But for president now, as Cohen said in the article, McCain got old.

He just doesn't seem mentally stable and has certainly lost control of his campaign.

Posted by: cheez | October 16, 2008 10:07 AM | Report abuse

While I share your sympathy for an old fool who insists upon proving that he is an old fool to the entire world, I disagree that he has fallen from the heights of a title holding prize fighter to a has been. You give him entirely too much credit. McCain provided the Republican party with an independent conservative viewpoint from time to time over his career. In comparison to his colleagues, one could attribute this to courage in the face of adversity, or, one could also fairly say that he was just a young fool on his way to being an old fool. I am saddened to see what John McCain is and always was, not what he has "become." There is a difference.

Posted by: merrill1 | October 16, 2008 10:08 AM | Report abuse

Poor old John---he cudda been a contender, until he hired George Bush's crowd to manage his campaign, and picked Sarah Palin to be his ringside doctor.

Any ref with a heart would have stopped this thing by now, before poor old John started resembling poor old Muhammad Ali.

Posted by: andym108 | October 16, 2008 10:10 AM | Report abuse

Frankly, I can't wait for Obama to get elected. Since there will have to be an increase in payroll taxes to fund Social Security, Medicare, universal healthcare, those who are employed won’t have much left to spend. I won't have to pay a dime since I will be retired in a few years. I'll be living in a house that I own outright, while the rest of you pay $8 or more for gas, pay your high rent, and ever increasing payroll taxes. Also, since I will make under $150,000 a year, I’ll get a tax break under Obama. My 401k has been safe since I moved it out of equities. I wonder if any of you did the same.

Obama will have to tax us. He has no choice. 700 billion to bail out Wall Street. 700 billion in deficits. All of it is coming out of your pockets. Obama wants to tax corporations. Countries , like Ireland , are trying to lure corporations to their country. Obama wants to tax corporations 40%. Ireland taxes corporations 12%. Guess where all your job will go once corporations are taxed 40%? Obama wants to tax small businesses. Small businesses employ most of the workers in the US. If small businesses are taxed more, they won’t employ as many workers. This is not rocket science. If you think 6.1% unemployment is bad, wait until you see double digit unemployment, just like the Jimmy Carter years.

To all you young, employed Obama supporters who will be working until you're at least 70 or more, I want to thank you, in advance, for paying exorbitant payroll taxes to fund my early retirement. Go Obama!

Posted by: Dodgers1 | October 16, 2008 10:13 AM | Report abuse


That's 4 debates and 4 convincing wins for Obama/Biden!

In recent history, has there ever been such a feat? Maybe Clinton got a clean sweep over Dole, I can't remember.

But usually, the other guy/girl wins at least one of these things.

McCain can't seem to learn from his mistakes. In every debate, he came across as angry and frustrated. He did not show any respect for his worthy opponent. His answers, while at times firey, were typically incoherent an rambling.
In fact, McCain seemed to get worse, or at least grumpier, with each debate.

Obama, on the other hand, remained cool, calm, and collected each time. He gave clear answers to the important issues of this election. He looked much more presidential and made me far more comfortable envisioning Obama as president.

I can't imagine McCain, or, GULP, Palin, as president, especially at a time in our history where we need a reassuring and calm leader to see us through things.

Obama, you got my vote.

Posted by: jgarrisn | October 16, 2008 10:23 AM | Report abuse

'Tis a pity that Mr. Cohen has drank the Obama Kool-Aid and sold out his objectivity. Obama is a threat to capitalism and freedom of speech. Obama favors wealth distribution; Obama has silenced his critics with threats (i.e. Geraldine Ferraro); Obama has refused to release his records from Columbia and Harvard. He is hiding something and the media has given him a free ride.

John McCain is imperfect; and he has run a horrible campaign. Still, he is not seeking to "change" our way of life like Lenin or Hitler. Obama is a threat to our free and open society. I just wish Mr. Cohen would be willing to look beyond the rhetoric.

Posted by: aleklawyer | October 16, 2008 10:46 AM | Report abuse

I am new to this page, and I see 98.6% liberals writing here...I guess the conservatives are out working, trying to find a job, or raising their all don't get McCain, do you?? He is scared poopless about what obam will do to this am I...what happened to "CHANGE"?? Here comes Joe Biden, John Kerry, Robt Reich...etc...etc...abam is working you all so sweetly, and you don't even get it...

Posted by: worldaccordingtobill | October 16, 2008 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Hey Dodgers1,
I have some bad news for you. YOU'RE STILL GOING TO PAY TAXES!!!Maybe not nearly as much as before but anything you take out of your 401k will be taxed. As for us paying for your early retirement..have you looked at what they pay you monthly in Social security benefits? It's chump change! But you wont get that pittance until you are in your 60's so if you are retiring early you better have some deep pockets, but if you're wealthy the governments going to get some of it anyway.
Like they say.."Life is a B----, and then you die!

Posted by: ScienceGuy1 | October 16, 2008 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Again I watched the debate, and again I could not figure out what McCain was thinking. Did he realize what was going on. He seems so confused and lost. I have to say the McCain/Palin party is really good at dodging the questions. I think last nights debate said it all. Sarah Palins barracuda song needs to be replaced by "Good-bye to you." I guess all we can do now is wait and see. I think we all know what the outcome of this election will be. But we can't count the chickens before they hatch.

Posted by: fairydust53050 | October 16, 2008 11:28 AM | Report abuse

I still want to know why John McCain's speeches these days all contain the word "fight" in them.
Good for you John, you'll fight for me. Probably take a bullet for me too, what an honorable and brave man you are.

And I do appreciate that, I'm not being sarcastic. But what I want now is someone who can THINK. The interconnected world has become far too complex for someone who's only claim on my attention is that he will fight for me.

Posted by: khote14 | October 16, 2008 11:28 AM | Report abuse

McCain is not scared poopless about Obama. He is scared that someday his media buttboys--the name Richard Cohen comes to mind--will awaken to the fact that he sold them a bill of goods, that he has no honor (as he has proved repeatedly during this campaign) and is no hero (other than surviving in a POW camp, and I honor him for that--but he left his courage and heroism in Vietnam). He is a disgrace.

Posted by: greenm1 | October 16, 2008 11:29 AM | Report abuse


Re your comment: "McCain got old." I'm no McCain lover, but you're not exactly a kid...

Posted by: bernmarce | October 16, 2008 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Dodger - not to worry. We'll just cut those social security benefits down and tax those withdrawals from your 401k. So sorry.


Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | October 16, 2008 11:44 AM | Report abuse

"scared poopless about what obam will do"

You are the one that doesn't get it. Do you think our present situation is happenstance? Being a patriot doesn't just mean fighting in wars. A leader that has a vision, that gets it, leads a nation. There hasn't been a more ripe opportunity than now to invest in this country we love so much.

Everything is falling apart, unemployment is sure to rise. It is the perfect time to refresh our infrastructure and repoint our priorities.

The last eight years of paranoia has nearly killed a great nation, while the rest of the world has moved on. If we don't move on now, there may not be a second chance.

Posted by: ducbil | October 16, 2008 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Why has anybody been too reticent to just spit out the obvious? That John McCain the man is a fairly mediocre choice for President and always has been. He constantly brings up his record. Yet a cursory examination of it shows that he was near the bottom of his class of about 400. Then he became a Navy aviator because of influence from his illustrious forebears, whose level he never remotely approached. (Are we not wary of sub-standard scions of famous families attempting to overstep their abilites to the detriment of this country and its people?) He rewarded this boost by crashing several planes. Undoubtedly he was a very brave prisoner but does that meet the definition of War Hero? It makes him a man with sterling courage. Sadly I believe that his stint in the 'Hanoi Hilton' is the one thing that helped him stand out. A fact he has justifiably used to great advantage. He further states with pride that he has dedicated his whole life in service to his country. This is admirable and true but has hardly called for any serious sacrifice on his part as evidenced by his private jet, 13 houses, 11 cars and choice of wives. Time someone directed some straight talk back at the Express.

Posted by: Tansen | October 16, 2008 12:00 PM | Report abuse

I think less of it being a knock-down fight then two suitors trying to woo the same woman (The American public). One guy is attractive, confident, smart and says all the right things. The other is past his prime, having to promise more goodies than he can deliver and more promises than the younger guy.

Posted by: cyberfool | October 16, 2008 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Kudos Richard! you outdid yourself.

Posted by: tydicea | October 16, 2008 12:09 PM | Report abuse

To all you young, employed Obama supporters who will be working until you're at least 70 or more, I want to thank you, in advance, for paying exorbitant payroll taxes to fund my early retirement. Go Obama!
Posted by: Dodgers1 | October 16, 2008 10:13 AM

Disappointed in Blue myself; but baseball aside, would you explain for the benefit of the denser of us here exactly how a Republican administration would prevent this very scenario? We'll all be working past 70 because the Republicans have destroyed the economy and it'll take decades to recover. Having a Democratic government--aside from punishing the Republicans and getting them to rethink their philosophy--will only likely help shorten the recovery and improve the changes this country doesn't degenerate to a revolution.

Posted by: abqcleve | October 16, 2008 12:13 PM | Report abuse

McCain reminds me of the Fool's advice to King Lear: "If thou wert my fool, nuncle, I'ld have thee beaten for being old before thy time.... Thou shouldst not have been old till thou hadst been wise."

Posted by: thrh | October 16, 2008 12:16 PM | Report abuse

If those two doesnt impress anyone, lets hear wat STEVE ADAMS has to say (2008 Independent Presidential Candidate).

Posted by: boston22 | October 16, 2008 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Frankly, I can't wait for Obama to get elected....

Posted by: Dodgers1 | October 16, 2008 10:13 AM


I won't repeat this posting because I saw it the other day in another WaPo forum. It was a clever piece the first time, but now it is just another piece of spam.

Posted by: maggots | October 16, 2008 12:40 PM | Report abuse

I don't know how many agree with me but...... do any of us remember the Boston tea party. Do you all think it is time for another party. Sometimes I think our WHOLE government needs to be revamped. Some of those people are older than dirt.What do you all think of putting a time limit on how long someone can be in gov. the people who are in office have lived off of our money for along time. Average "Joe" wonders how to pay bills and put gas in the car to get to work to pay those bills while our senators and congressmen (and others) don't worry about such things as how to put food on the table to feed the kids, or how to send a kid to college like the rest of us do. What happened to the American Dream, now called an American Nightmare. When I was a kid my dad would tell me to find a good job and stick with it, the employer would admire the dedication to the job and I'd make a good wage. I found that job and guess what, they went over seas and I lost that job. I wonder when it will be figured out. As soon as we started sending our work across seas or borders our U.S of A was screwed. Now as far as I am concerned that is the first thing that needs to be addressed. Bring our work back home. Put our people back to work. I don't know... maybe I'm way out there on this but I'm not sure where else to go but out there

Posted by: fairydust53050 | October 16, 2008 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Someone commented that McCain hired Palin to be the ringside Dr. Sorry, but she was actually hired to be the girl who holds up the cards and walks around the ring between rounds. Doctors are usually competent. The ring girl looks good but has nothing to do but remind people what the next round is. Palin's job is to hold up the latest irrelevant attack and never provide any remedy -- like a Dr. would.

Posted by: bkhoward | October 16, 2008 12:49 PM | Report abuse

It was a sad spectacle to witness McCain's last stand. Had he retired with honor, he would have been revered for the rest of his life. Instead people will now remember him as an angry elderly buffoon who muscled in on the Republican campaign that could have been won by a younger and more energetic candidate. According to CNN Obama already had the required 270 electors, so the debate was just an exercize in futility.

Posted by: dunnhaupt | October 16, 2008 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Get over McCain's age. We should be concerned about Obama's statement "spread
the wealth". Coming from Obama, who majored in Political Science, that tells me
this wasn't a mis-statement, he knows damn
well what he's saying. That is a Marxist
statement. Democrats and Republicans should both be concerned because last I knew, none of us are Marxists. Scary stuff. Like I've said before, Obama is
a Wolf in Sheep's Clothing. Maybe Joe the
Plumber will get voter's attention. Its all we can hope for.

Posted by: ohioan | October 16, 2008 1:49 PM | Report abuse

"I love it when Dem's say that giving tax breaks to the evil rich is wrong and giving tax breaks to "middle america" and taxing the evil rich is the right thing to do. Please do a little research and see who actually pays taxes in America. The top 5% already pay 95% of the taxes..."

--Posted by: tbastian

Either you are confused or deceitful. The TRUTH is the top 5% in this country account for only 28% of the taxes*. Try as you might you cannot skew these numbers.

Did you hear that? That was your poor-a$$ argument falling to the ground!!!

*Source: Congressional budget office

Posted by: Godhimself1 | October 16, 2008 1:53 PM | Report abuse

I don't feel sorry for McCain at all. At this point in his life, it's all about him and his legacy. During the last debate, he answered every question by attacking Obama first, and exaggerating his self importance, patronizing viewers and giving disinformation second. His anger and contempt for Obama and any American who is a democrat is clearly visible. I think he wants to be a war president more than anything else. He was correct about not being another Bush. He is far more dangerous than Bush. We need him like we need a third world war.

Posted by: tommyd60 | October 16, 2008 1:56 PM | Report abuse

George's SIDEKICK is entertaining us all as he desintergrates...
Can we send a tape to his former captors so that they share in the laughs?

Posted by: kase | October 16, 2008 1:56 PM | Report abuse

It will be good to see a change in our government. I wanted to share that I just viewed a video interview of the late Benazir Bhutto by the British journalist Sir. David Frost who discusses the murder of Osama Bin Laden. Since Bin Laden was the primary reason we have transferred the wealth of the US to several able companies, I thought you should know. This is the link:

Posted by: wpcolinbrown | October 16, 2008 2:00 PM | Report abuse

During the debates, Senator Obama has always treated Senator McCain with respect. This shows he is a man of character and maturity. This while McCain is contempuous and sarcastic and accuses Obama with bold-face lies. It is just difficult to watch. There is no win for Obama to knock his opponent out. This is a slow fight like a dance and Senator Obama has shown himself to be the person of strength, wisdom, and strategy. McCain just looks like a deer in the headlights.

Posted by: lucy2008 | October 16, 2008 2:25 PM | Report abuse

We should be concerned about Obama's statement "spread
the wealth". Democrats and Republicans should both be concerned because last I knew, none of us are Marxists. Scary stuff.
Posted by: ohioan

To Ohioan,
It's time Republicans find a new strategy instead of the old "Scary stuff" one. After 8 years of a republican president, we are not scared of the words "socialism" or "Marxist".

Last night, McCain gave plenty of reasons (legitimate or not) of why we shouldn't vote for Obama but not one reason of why we should vote for him. He is completely out of touch with what the country needs now with his talk of decrease the captial gains tax and 5,000 health insurance credits.

We need a new ideas and the Obama/Biden ticket has them.

You talk about Marxism being scary. I just got my 401K statement and looked at how much money I lost. Now that's scary!!!

Posted by: wmwilliams14 | October 16, 2008 2:27 PM | Report abuse

It's interesting how much of the commentary on this election is about the guy who everyone has thought for months was likely to lose.

It could be that Sen. Obama just isn't that interesting, but I don't think that's it. Part of the explanation may be that Obama isn't that much more accessible to the press than Sarah Palin is, by design. McCain isn't all that accessible now, but he has been in the past. And he has a record, which Obama does not, so there is more to write about. But a big part of it is that the incumbent Republican President is so unpopular that any Democratic candidate would win almost by default. This horse race was over before it started, so commentators are looking for human drama.

At any rate, the guy who is most likely going to be President for the next four years is being discussed in the media only in the context of his relationship with his opponent, who will likely be retired four years from now. McCain's tax and budget plans don't add up, so no one minds that Obama's don't either. McCain isn't clear about using ideological litmus tests for judicial nominees, so no one cares that Obama certainly will. McCain wants to be in Iraq for as long as it takes with as much as we need, while Obama pledges to withdraw "combat forces" from a theatre with no front lines, where any forces can be combat forces.

If Obama is going to be President, why is McCain the story?

Posted by: jbritt3 | October 16, 2008 2:39 PM | Report abuse

96.6% worldaccordingtobill, that's a pretty accurate calculation, you must have taken up quite a bit of your valuable time off from working to get to that figure. More power to you my friend. Does this mean you are one of those conservatives who are too busy working to write to this forum? You are are obviously highly enlightened and knowledgable and one of the lucky ones who have found a job that might otherwise have been stolen from you by those liberals, had they not been too busy writing to this forum to go out and find a job. Anyway, it's good that we have you to show us the real McCain, of whom you have given such an eloquent description. I will certainly be voting for Him now as a result of your post. Thank you.

Posted by: spanielmcnugget | October 16, 2008 2:43 PM | Report abuse

McCain is going to save this great country of ours-- if only the ignorant youth of America will get out of the way. I fear for myself, my children, and the next generation of Americans the day Obama is sworn into office. For too long, American's have been blinded by the celebrity that surrounds Obama, and by believing his hollow and dangerous promises, they will run our great nation into the ground come election day.

Posted by: TheChin | October 16, 2008 3:09 PM | Report abuse

What struck me was for all McCain' talk that he was a fighter, and was going to stand up for me and Joe the Plumber, He did not stand up at the plate and support his parties line with regard to abortion. We know he is going to support conservative jurists and have Roe vs Wade overturned. Any moron can see that. Yet because he needs to appeal to swing voters, he said he was a federalist, hence denying his real position.
From my Grandmother who slepted 5 in a bed as a child, and with her 8th grade education would say "He has no Balls".

Posted by: russsingerrn | October 16, 2008 3:12 PM | Report abuse

In my business I deal with alot of "Average Joes" If I had a dollar for every time I hear the name Ralph Nader, I would be a rich woman. We keep talking about john and barack but we have alot of people in this country that don't want either one in office. What do we do about that. Maybe we will all have a big surprise in the end. Speaking of end if something isn't done soon I think we will all see the end. Its been fun discussing this with all of you. You all have a nice day:)

Posted by: fairydust53050 | October 16, 2008 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Dodgers1: (which they didn't, I'm afraid). What a cantankerous jerk you sound.

I can't wait for an Obama presidency either, though my reasons are not bitterness and schadenfreude.

So, you're saying you can't wait for an Obama administration because the country is so F%$#@ed right now that he's going to have to tax us all to keep the country out of the poorhouse. Hmmmm whose fault is that?

Yours Dodgers1. You and everyone else that sold this country down the drain because you KNEW you would be able to cash out before it became time to pay the piper. Now the world is screwed and you're happy that someone else has to pay for it. ME. You're an old curmudgeon who blithely passed all the buck to us. Go screw YOURself. And in reference to that historical reference, Harry Truman would be ashamed of you. Way to sell out. You sound very proud.

I hope when I'm old, if the country's in as bad of a funk as the country is today, I'm apologetic or at least willing to try to help. I especially hope I don't retreat to my home, chastize everyone else for basically not being as old as I am (and owning a home outright, which, lets face it, is impossible for anyone under 40), brag that I'm actually doing okay when many people are not, rub a fortuitous decision to remove my money from a troubled account in everyone's faces as If I'm some market guru and everyone else is SO STUPID then, somehow tie that to being a gifted and charismatic presidential candidate's fault.

For shame. Go live in your house, play your pinochle, sneer at everyone whose different than you and believe that taxes are bad. They don't pay for any of the things you use every day like roads, schools or sewers, hospitals, parks or public transportation. Stay in the house that you own so much better than everyone else and do us a favor and don't come out until you can accept some responsibility and realize that we're all in this together, even if you don't want to be.

I'll see you in the breadlines buddy.

Posted by: Nemotoad | October 16, 2008 3:18 PM | Report abuse

"Obama has silenced his critics with threats (i.e. Geraldine Ferraro)"

(9/5/08) Geraldine Ferraro now behind Obama/Biden (Fox News)

On Fox tonight has declared her support for Obama and Biden.
They got to her some how.

Posted by: Tinkabell_Hussein | October 16, 2008 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Hey greenm1.
Richard Cohen wrote: The Final Debate: McCain's Last Stand.

That is the opinion to which you are responding!


Posted by: Tinkabell_Hussein | October 16, 2008 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the enlightening e-mail Dodgers. That is EXACTLY the kind of "Country First" mentality that we all suspected McCain appealed to. Of course, the news that you are of retirement age is wonderful. The sooner people like you get out of the work force and toddle off to your old folks home; the faster us young people who can still control out bladders can start fixing the mess you and your types have left behind.

Enjoy the colonic irrigation. Just be careful you don't lose a few brain cells in the process.

Posted by: festinog | October 16, 2008 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Hi Mr. Cohen: We've been reading you for years. You are looking rather old these days too with your silver hair. Maybe you're too old to write these lame articles anymore. I mean after all, Obama's supporters seem to be pushing age discrimination big time these days.

Posted by: BettyM47 | October 16, 2008 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Last night's debate was excellent. We finally had a moderator who asked more targeted and specific questions. Here's what I got out of it:

1) The takeaway of the night, that will be remembered for years to come, was John McCain's line that he wasn't George Bush and that if Obama wanted to run against Bush, he should have run four years ago. That line will stick in voters' mind even if Obama continues to try to tie McCain to Bush.

2) Joe the Plumber may have saved John McCain's campaign because when Joe the Plumber spoke with Barack two days ago, a key issue came out was that Obama would redistribute wealth from small business owners to poor folks. McCain hammered that home last night. Obama is not really giving a tax cut to poor people because they don't pay taxes. Barack plans to take hard earned dollars from middle income Americans and give checks to people who don't pay taxes. That's like giving them welfare, and that's taxing small business people at 62% before state taxes kick in. How can small business people, like Joe the Plumber, create more jobs under that crushing tax burden? That's also a huge issue for me personally as I run a small business that I feel is too heavily taxed even now. Small businesses pay the heaviest share of the tax burden. I will make under an Obama administration, about 32 cents for every dollar I earn. I have a mother with Alzheimer's and a son in college, and could go bankrupt under Barack, but Obama doesn't care about my family, obviously.

3) Obama was more aggressive in trying to articulate his health care plan. McCain should have been more aggressive in return. But as a health care plan expert before I started my online business, Obama was very misleading. Because Obama said that most health care plans for families on average costs about $12,000 and McCain only will give $5,000 back and so families will lose. That's not true. McCain is giving a tax credit. Remember if $12,000 is taxed at 27%, the highest tax bracket, then that will give a family a $1800 tax cut and they will get money in their pocket. So of the 5,000 McCain gives families, 3,200 will be paid in taxes on $12,000 in benefits and they will have about $1800 left over to spend. I actually like McCain's plan where families can take control of their health care because when people lose their jobs they often lose their health care. A family based plan is better, but McCain did not make these points, and he needs to in the next two weeks.

Finally, Frank Luntz ran a focus group discussion after the debate, and what I noticed was that many of the undecided voters said that Obama was more calm and appeared to be a better debater, but they were electing a President not a good debater. Rasmussen already shows the race growing closer, even before last night's debate. I have a feeling last night was the beginning of the rest of the campaign for McCain.

Posted by: BettyM47 | October 16, 2008 4:16 PM | Report abuse

Disclaimer: I am not now nor have I ever been a member of the Republican or Democratic parties. I have gone from non-partisan to fervently anti-partisan.

For the "Conservatives" that decry the "Liberal" intent to "Tax", let me say that despite the inability of the opposition party to note or articulate these facts, the Bush Administration has increased taxes tremendously, while trumpeting its tax "cuts"

98% of Federal Revenue is raised through taxation. As such, spending equals taxes and 2006 spending of 2.8 trillion is up nearly 60% from 2000 spending of 1.8 trillion. These are taxes levied but not collected.

It doesn't matter what it was spent on or who will pay and when, we have been taxed when the money was spent.

Posted by: eebsnallof | October 16, 2008 4:48 PM | Report abuse

A commenter here said this:

"McCain reminds me of the Fool's advice to King Lear: ' . . . Thou shouldst not have been old till thou hadst been wise.'"

Exactly to the point! It's not that McCain is old, it's that we expect wisdom from older people. Wisdom! Part of wisdom is humility and generosity. McCain doesn't show generosity. McCain instead seems to want to come across as much younger than he is (does the Sarah Palin thing help him look younger?) and his frustration over it is making him cranky.

The roles are reversed. Obama is the one who is calm and intelligent and wise. He's the one not losing his temper. Obama's confident campaign is one of the few that is neither in trouble fiscally nor squabbling. Obama is a real leader, who thinks about us, not about himself! McCain doesn't seem to have the gravitas to control his own campaign.

McCain is defensive and contemptuous and, frankly, a bit whiney, saying "Well, I wouldn't be so negative if Obama had agreed to my terms." How silly and sulky that sounds. I wanted my way! Wah!

Time for Republicans to nominate people who are interested in their educations, have worked diligently to learn, to be curious about other cultures and points of view. That would show wisdom instead of pure entitlement.

Posted by: cturtle1 | October 16, 2008 5:03 PM | Report abuse


Good stress tolerance is the most important quality of a president.

This is because stress blocks intelligence and judgment. Even worse, it activates defense mechanisms - "psychological blinders", that

distort the perception of reality, making the judgment even worse.

Therefore it is of vital importance that the president has a high level of stress tolerance.

The presidential debates have been good tests of stress tolerance, because in an unprepared TV appearance, the candidates are

exposed to a highly stressful situation that reveals their true nature.

To judge for yourself who is most suitable, see the "Voter's guide for assessing the suitability of a president" at
It is based on the most recent knowledge in the field.

J.Grandville, M.D.
Expert on stress and developmental psychology

Posted by: drgrandville | October 16, 2008 5:14 PM | Report abuse

BettyM47 -

I don't think it has much to do with McCain or Cohen and how old they are or how old they look. This is not about the fact that Obama is young.

The fact of the matter is that there is old and then there is OLD. It is more a matter of a state of mind. I have seen some 80 and 90 year olds who still can think circles around me. Some are still vibrant and active and full of life.

Then there are some who huddle and are angry and spiteful and who have an I got mine mentality. McCain is angry and he is out of step with many Americans who are middle class - How could either he or Cindy know what it is like to be middle class when he never was? Except for a short time when he was working for Cindy's dad & when he was a POW, he has been on the government payroll all his life.

Quit denigrating old people. Look at who someone is, what they do and how they live their lives. Age sometimes has nothing to do with it.

By the way - the Maverick family of San Antonio TX would like for McCain to stop using their name! They all say "a maverick he's NOT". I also heard that HEART has objected to Palin's use of the song Barracuda... That has nothing to do with age either!

Posted by: gjkbear | October 16, 2008 5:32 PM | Report abuse

McCain still could win the election, but he does look old and tired. My father died at 72 and as much as I respected him, he would have been too old to run the country. How old was FDR when he passed? And to think Palin would then be at the helm - banish the thought! When I think of the great president's we have had in our history, Obama may be like Lincoln - an unlikely president, but a gifted and timely one. Let's hope that is the case. In McCain's case, I would worry about his health, mental state, and how all those war wounds would come home to roost as he has aged. I actually was a big McCain fan back in 2000, not now. He seems a shell of his former self, much like Reagan started to fade towards the end of his first term.

Posted by: bfjam | October 16, 2008 6:24 PM | Report abuse

Real Brother here.

What the Racists, White Supremacists and Black man hating lesbians who support McCain don't seem to get is that people with some sense who care about this Country couldn't careless about the "fear" you Idiots have about Barack Obama.

You are all like that Idiot at the McCain rally who said, "I'm afraid of Obama because he's an Arab..." We simply have bigger fish to fry then to be worried about STUPIDITY.

So to all of you DUMMIES who are "afraid" that a Black man will save this country and make you look out to be the Idiots you are, too bad.


Posted by: Realbrother0003 | October 16, 2008 7:20 PM | Report abuse

I listened to the debate closely.

McCain came across as a grouchy, bitter old man with no new ideas and only attempts to smear, distort, and outright lie. His attacks were offensive and dishonest.

McCain's cognitive processes appeared slow at times, and his answers were often off the topic seemingly to reflect inattention. His physical mannerisms showed impatience, irritation and intemperance.

Obama came across as thoughtful, knowledgeable, intelligent, and compassionate.

McCain is simply out of touch and unable to think outside the box or to articulate his positions clearly, succinctly, or directly.

Obama showed presidential character and McCain simply showed his lack of character.

Posted by: abby0802 | October 16, 2008 7:37 PM | Report abuse

Want to know who's really "palling around"? Watch Senator MCain and his ACORN friends at the YouTube link below. The problem with dishing dirt, Senator, is when it blows back into your own face.

Posted by: NotGoingtoTakeItAnymore | October 16, 2008 7:45 PM | Report abuse

John "GRANDPA SIMPSON" Mc Cain found that Joe (DUFFMAN) Six Pack was too drunk to work on the average american anymore - tries and replace him with Joe The Plumber as his campiagn goes down the S apt....has Karl Rove handed over advising Mc Cain to Matt Groening..

Anyway as a distant observer the US Republican party continues the longest live reality sit com in hostory - 8 years strong and still breaking me up....and I thought no comedy team could beat Bush/Cheney - amazing - the sad side is it has been real and poeple in the US and around the world have been hurt by these idiots....

Posted by: colinemery | October 16, 2008 8:17 PM | Report abuse

Here's an idea ... Work hard all your life, and earn your own money.

I am sick of all the lazy people in this country. No personal pride. No motivation. No drive to succeed.

They just wait for the government to take care of them. Rather than pulling themselves by their bootstraps, and being a productive addition to society, they just complain about how unfair it is that some people have money and they don't, and vote for politicians who will take the productivity (money) of those that ARE willing to work hard.

Some of you will tell me that some people just can't do that. That they can't help themselves. I am not buying that.

I have problems in my family too. My 2 adult children, who just won't even cut back on their lifesytle to make it financially. They spend almost 200 dollars a month on cell phone plans, and say that they just could not live without them. They smoke cigarettes, and have a expensive sat. dish plan for TV. Meanwhile they are going down the tubes financially. They COULD cut back, and help themselves ... but won't. Their priorities are just all screwed up.

So people ... Work hard. Really hard. Live within you means. Don't buy a house if you can't afford the payments. Maybe get two jobs. I've done it. When I was a young adult, I was so poor I had to eat generic mac n cheese made with water and no butter ... my youth was not easy, but I never quit my job cause "my boss didn't like me", or "I was too tired to go to work", or "work sucks". I stuck with the same company for 28 years now(even on those days when I did not want to), and I've finally built a comfortable life. The last thing I want is some politician taking my productivity, and giving it to some lazy person who can work hard, but just doesn't feel like it.

Show some pride. Work hard, and take care of yourselves. Stop waiting for the government to take care of you.

Posted by: DSM_CAL | October 17, 2008 12:53 AM | Report abuse

Mr Cohen,
Have you looked in the mirror lately?!!! You are way past your first bloom of youth. Your hair and looks have seen far better days, but would you write yourself off, and resign? Of course not, because with age comes knowledge and experience, which is priceless. I am frankly appalled at the way that you put John McCain down because of his physical looks! He is by far the more experienced of the two candidates, and the more genuine. He has had a long and very valuable grounding in politics, that Obama is seriously lacking. His life experiences have taught him skills that Obama still needs to learn.
Obama is hugely ambitious, and calculating. How long has he been a senator?!!! Didn't you see how false that smile of his was during the debate? It was switched on and off like a light, and was replaced by a narrowing of the eyes, and the tightening of the mouth, which revealed his true feelings about McCain's comments. Driven on by ambition Obama's apprenticeship has been truly brief. That is what you should be focusssing on. Compared to McCain, what experience has he had for the most important job in the world?
During the recent Olympics, along with many others, I was shocked to discover that the little girl who sang so sweetly was miming to another child's voice, because the real singer had been considered not pretty enough for public view. The superficial attitude of the Chinese in that instant was truly disgusting, as yours is, when you criticise such a fine human being as John McCain for very the same reason. Rest assured that he would never reciprocate. He comes from different stock to you.

Posted by: Teach43 | October 17, 2008 5:26 AM | Report abuse

The Republicans have a knack for nominating the most conservative and not the most electable. John Mc Cain was the "last man standing" with a "mission impossible". He chose a "Desprate House Wife" as a running mate, in a campaign that is "Lost".

The Economy and the budget needs an "Extreme Makeover" and not a "Dancing with the Stars" approach. Instead of playing "Hardball" we got a "Regis and Kathy Lee" The "Starter Wife" with and "American Chopper" approach results in "Family Fued" rather than creating "Heros". Her elevation to "Saturday Night Live" at least moves her from being the joke to being part of it.

In short John McCain has looked like "Ghost Whispers" and Palin his "Own Worst Enemy" and his attempt to win the White House resulting in Palin staring in " Americas Biggest Loser"

Posted by: oldgeek143 | October 17, 2008 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Mccain is an old man now.
That is obvious.
I think his facial expressions and complete disdain for Obama are also major turn offs for people.

Posted by: cmmdee | October 17, 2008 10:55 AM | Report abuse

McCain's mistake was letting Bush's hacks run his campaign. The swiftboat tactics just aren't going to work anymore. How many times can you pull the same gag on people and expect to get away with it.

_./'\._¸¸.•¤**¤•.¸.•¤**¤•..•¤. .
*•. .•* *Obama/Biden* o8!! Vote4 REAL Change!!
/.•*•.\ •¤**¤•.,.•¤**¤•.,.•¤**¤

Posted by: HemiHead66 | October 17, 2008 12:03 PM | Report abuse

To some of the wingnut posters here: there is absolutely no proof that Obama is Karl Marx with a suntan. Sounds like sour grapes to me. Read Obamanomics or STFU because you don't know what the hell you're talking about.

Also, the position that people must work hard to get ahead is a tried and true American ethic. On the other hand, if the system is stacked against you and you have to compete with the Ivy-league (or otherwise) ol' boy network, then it really isn't too fair for the rest of the folks in the United States that don't share your privileged pedigree, is it? Wealth should be re-distributed, especially considering just 400 people in the U.S. control 40% of its wealth. That seem fair to you? That seems like a big disparity to me.

It's time to end the Wall Street fatcat robber baron corporate welfare lifestyle and give the rest of the people who would "eat cake" under John McCain a chance to pull themselves up and get ahead by leveling the freakin' playing field.

Talk all you want about how unfair it is that your Ivory Tower is threatened. The truth is you had a fast track to it from your buddies at Princeton, Yale, Harvard, or others, and have shut the door of opportunity on the rest of us. It's discrimination of the worst kind.

If you don't like it, elect a government that will change it. But it's clear to me that Obama's election will be a landslide, and it speaks volumes to the end of the line for trickle-down economics and the ol' boy network because the middle class is mad as hell and we're not going to take it anymore.

Two birds in one fell swoop.

Quite a nice accomplishment.


Deal with it.

Posted by: efreeti | October 17, 2008 4:39 PM | Report abuse

Obama SCREWS Lower/Middle Class Taxpayers by Allowing the Bush Tax Cuts to Expire-Taxes Increase!
The Democrats have a dirty little secret that they don’t want you to know. It is that their mantra of Bush’s “Tax Cuts for the Rich” is unabashedly false. The rich paid a higher percentage of the total tax bill under the Bush plan than under Clinton. In fact, the expiration of the Bush tax cut savages the low- and middle-class voters.
This case has been made and fact-checked with the ever-liberal Snopes.Com. The Tax Foundation used “tax table” rates between the Bush and Clinton tax plans to shows a huge difference for low income taxpayers, sometimes even a 100% tax increase when going backward to the Clinton “tax table” rates versus Bush.
Not so fast, says Snopes! Tax rates do not equal marginal rates, so they run some numbers that supposedly reflect that. Even using their own numbers in the table below, the results are damning.
Single tax payers in three typical low to middle income categories have the taxes increased 12% on average
Single Taxpayer making $30K – Pays 15% more in taxes when Bush tax cuts expire
Single Taxpayer making $50K – Pays 10% more in taxes when Bush tax cuts expire
Single Taxpayer making $75K – Pays 11% more in taxes when Bush tax cuts expire
But married taxpayers in typical low to middle income really get the shaft! Their taxes are increased 20.5% on average
Married Taxpayer making $60K – Pays 19.5% more in taxes when Bush tax cuts expire
Married Taxpayer making $75K – Pays 21.5% more in taxes when Bush tax cuts expire
Married Taxpayer making $125K – Pays 20.5% more in taxes when Bush tax cuts expire

Posted by: 4elise | October 18, 2008 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Cohen, thanks for a refreshing article, in truth.

When I read some of the articles or listen to pondits or news media, I often wonder if we are living in a fantasy world?

Lies are spoken so boldly it is unbelievable to reconcile it is in the real world.

McCain is a sad spectacle these days, a mean-spirited, grumpy, liar, and desparate old man who is disentigrating before our eyes. It would be a real disgrace for McCain/Palin to get near the presidency.

The disrespect Bush has caused America in the world would be magnified a thousand times over; if McCain was elected. The whole world is watching! Obama '08

Posted by: carrm67 | October 18, 2008 12:57 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: 4elise | October 18, 2008 1:03 PM | Report abuse

"Obama is a threat to capitalism and freedom of speech. Obama favors wealth distribution..."

Here is another person who would rather spew Rush Limbaugh's ignorant, illogical, nonsense then learn things on his own. Rush Limbaugh is an entertainer, not an economist.

Capitalism and Socialism are economic systems not political systems! Capitalism simply means private ownership of the means of production; socialism means public ownership of the means of production. Most modern, civilized societies employ what are called mixed economies. Public ownership of what are considered public goods like public transportation, public healthcare, etc; private control of the production of consumer goods like automobiles, beer, toothbrushes, etc.

A capitalist economy with an autocratic political system is what National Socialism was, A mixed economy with an autocratic political system is what China is. A mixed economy with democratic political system is what western European countries employ.

Communism is a theoretical socio-economic system where everybody owns the means of production and shares equally in the profit, without the need of any form of government. Communism never has and never can exist, given human nature. The Soviet Union, Cuba, and North Korea are dictatorships with command economies. They don't work because they defy the laws of supply and demand that socialist, capitalist, and mixed adhere to.

Neither pure socialism, nor Laissez Fair capitalism are compatible with democratic political systems. Some form of mixed economy has existed in the United States since it's founding. Government expenditures on research and development during war time, the space program, and other publicly funded enterprises, has contributed greatly to private enterprises.

A more progressive tax system, while maintaining private ownership of the means of production, is not socialism! A broad consumer base with more purchasing power is necessary to sustain a market economy. Since Laissez Fair Capitalism tends to redistribute wealth from the bottom to the top, it reaches a point, as it has now, and did in 1929, where it cannot be sustained. Giving tax breaks to business, while the consumer base is starved of purchasing power, does absolutely nothing to create jobs; it creates the mess we now have and the most socialistic government intervention with the free market in our history. Demand for products driven by purchasing capacity creates jobs.

All I hear from supporters of John McCain is parroting of Rush Limbaugh' flawed logic. I have yet to hear a coherent argument to support John McCain's economic policies.

Posted by: risejugger | October 18, 2008 2:35 PM | Report abuse

It's sad to watch Bush's hand-picked puppet so out of touch with Americans. Bush should be proud of johnny as he tries to follow in his own sleazy footsteps and swims in the gutter with the rest of the Republican cry babies

Posted by: gatorsn09 | October 18, 2008 4:05 PM | Report abuse

McCain's paranoia of "knowing how to win wars", "being a maverick", "fighting and being a fiend' for Joe the Plumber", of "being a war hero soldier", and even addressing the voters as "My fellow PRISONERS", and choosing Sarah Palin as 'the best V.P. running mate' do show that McCain is out of touch with reality.

He is in need of medical attention, as we all know, but mostly for head checks.

Posted by: ElMugroso | October 18, 2008 4:14 PM | Report abuse

I am so sick and tired to hear the word socialism like is a dirty word , all you capitalist lover it took socialism to bail out wall street , lets see lets use socialism for the fat cats so they can get bailed out after they robbed the middle class and capitalism for the middle class and the poor, this is the way capitalism supposed to work?

Posted by: capskip | October 18, 2008 4:22 PM | Report abuse

It would seem in a media-dominated world the Republican Hollywood squad would have jazzed McCain up a bit. After all, following 911, the Bush regime hired Madison Avenue media experts to help sell the war for them. Could they not have done the same for poor old John? And, by placing young, dizzy, Sarah by his side it just made poor old John look that much feebler.

Is it possible that the Republicans have a vision of the harder times to come and are banking on a comeback in 2012 after the nation is in complete financial ruin from the policies set in motion by the Bush squad?

That's the only reasonable explanation to me for the creepingly senile and "washed up" John McCain being given this brief moment in the aspirant executive spotlight without expert Madison Avenue handling (e.g., a bit of makeup, a workout schedule, and so on), not to mention a credible running mate.

Posted by: Doctor_Jon | October 19, 2008 12:38 AM | Report abuse

Who are you going to trust in these tough economic times?

Should you trust a proven veteran with ability to reform and work across the isle
or the most liberal, partisan and rookie senator who wants to "spread around" your hard earned dollars?

Our corporations are forced to raise capital from foreigners - so is it time to cut capital gains taxes
as McCain will and allow Americans to benefit from taking a risk in these volatile markets, or is it time
to raise capital gains taxes as Obama promises?

Last US president which stopped free trade during recession ( Obama’s plan ) was Hoover and we all know that
what followed - the Great Depression.

On top of 700 Billions bailout Obama wants to spend another TRILLION dollars on his health care reform.
Guess what - it will cost much more and will not achieve even fraction of expected results.


Posted by: DemocracyRules | October 19, 2008 8:29 PM | Report abuse

It is disturbing to me to see so many Americans hurting, you know, us little guys.

McCain accuses Obama of wanting to spread the wealth around, well I guess cause all the money has already been spent spreading it around the BIG BANKS and AIG.

Hey but that is not socialistic, or is it? We now own banks. But don't invest in us "PO FOLK" MCCain, OHHH NOOOOOOOOOO.

Always an excuse.

Even Bernanke wants to send us po folk a check now, kinda spreading around the wealth so to speak.





"........One-third of Americans are worried about losing their jobs, half fret they will be unable to keep up with mortgage and credit card payments, and seven in 10 are anxious that their stocks and retirement investments are losing value, according to an Associated Press-Yahoo News poll of likely voters that was released Monday........."



Posted by: GrandmaDee | October 20, 2008 12:28 PM | Report abuse

AGREE 100%. McCain just might be the only one who doesn't realize he is TO OLD FOR THE JOB. ENOUGH already. Watching him is just getting painful. Loved him in 2000 when he still had honor. This new/old McCain is someone I can hardly believe I am seeing. I never thought McCain would allow such horrible, racist things be said at his or Palin's rallies. Its a shame to see a once honorable and prinicipled servant go out like this.

Posted by: lsale | October 20, 2008 3:03 PM | Report abuse

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