Yes, But Can He Debate?

Matt Lewis
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Posted: Oct 08, 2008 8:20 AM


I wonder if John McCain is capable of giving the kind of debate performance that would have truly impressed any of us last night. 

McCain is great at Townhall meetings on the campaign trail, but in that venue, he essentially controls the show.  Sure, he takes tough questions from the audience, but there is no moderator or opponent on stage.  McCain was also great at Saddleback, but his opponent was not present for the vast majority of the debate.  He was able to sit down and have a conversation.

There may be little correlation between the ability to deliver a great debate performance -- and governing.  Theater and a flair for the dramatic may not make one a good leader, but they can sure help a candidate get there.  And the truth is there is one "event" scheduled between now and Election Day -- and that is next week's debate.  Fair or not, this is likely McCain's last chance to change the trajectory of the race.  And I honestly wonder if -- on his best night -- McCain is capable of giving such a performance.

As I noted earlier, I think McCain missed an opportunity to bring up things such as Obama's relationship with Bill Ayers.  Some would argue that referencing Ayers would have backfired, but I bet you anything Bill Clinton could have -- and would have -- pulled off that maneuver without looking bad.  Of course, McCain lacks that same rhetorical ability -- and that's the problem. 

McCain did well last night, but he needed to do better than well.  He has one more shot...