Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Last Debate

IF THE THIRD and final debate offered the presidential candidates the opportunity, in some sense, to make their closing arguments to voters, viewers could be forgiven if they felt like jurors in an interminable trial. "By now, we've heard all the talking points, so let's try to tell the people tonight some things that they haven't heard," moderator Bob Schieffer of CBS said at the start of the debate. But the discussion last night, other than in regard to the odd focus on someone named "Joe the Plumber," largely replayed the by-now familiar clashes between Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama -- over tax policy, over health care, over spending. The much-anticipated fireworks fizzled. Mr. McCain, taking up Mr. Schieffer's offer to say it to his opponent's face, went after Mr. Obama's association with former Weather Underground member Bill Ayers -- "an old washed-up terrorist," Mr. McCain called him -- and questioned the Obama campaign's involvement with the community organizing group ACORN, which he said was "maybe destroying the fabric of democracy." But the attacks, under the present unhappy economic circumstances, including yesterday's 733-point drop in the Dow, seemed petty and unconvincing, and Mr. Obama appeared unrattled.

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