It’s been interesting seeing how the McCain campaign has been flailing the last few days, while Obama was on his overseas trip. It’s understandable; when the Prime Minister of Iraq undercut McCain’s primary reason for running, and virtually endorsed Obama’s withdrawal plan, there wasn’t much room left to maneuver.
But besides the strategy, there’s something else I want to mention. I was at the gym this morning, and CNN was on in the locker room. They were covering a town hall meeting that McCain was doing in New Hampshire. Remember, he thinks that these meetings are his strength; he wanted to do ten of them side-by-side with Obama. Now, I couldn’t see the screen from where I was changing my clothes, but I could hear pretty well. And frankly, McCain just isn’t good in these things. He took a question, and didn’t answer it, instead pivoting to an attack on Obama on a different subject. He made a joke which fell flat. And in the few minutes I was listening, he used the phrases “by the way” three times, and “my friends” or “my dear friends” twice. The first makes him sound like he can’t maintain a coherent argument. And the “my friends” stuff just comes off as phony or patronizing at worst and a verbal fart at best.
We’ve seen that horrible grimace he uses when he’s been told to smile and isn’t really feeling it. He’s fine one-on-one with the press, as long as they are tossing him softballs, and he’s gotten a lot of them over the years. But he’s simply not up to the task when a reporter asks him something outside his comfort zone. And as best I can tell, he just can’t connect with people on television. He managed to survive the GOP primaries to become the nominee simply by not giving up when his campaign tanked last year. He didn’t have to become a better candidate; he just had to hang in there. But Obama was honed into a much better candidate by Hillary and Edwards and the press over the past year. When it’s head-to-head between McCain and Obama, I think McCain will be toast.