All Over But the Crying: Obama Sweeps on Long Island

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What McCain did last night was prove that a 72-year-old man, who has been buffered by upper-class white privilege for virtually all his life, could project anger, disdain and bitterness for 90 long minutes. And in the process, he got his own ass righteously whupped. Again.

[Election 2008]

On the eve of last night’s third and final presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, John McCain promised that he was going to “whip” Barack Obama’s “you know what.”

Talk is cheap. What McCain did last night was prove that a 72-year-old man, who has been buffered by upper-class white privilege for virtually all his life, could project anger, disdain and bitterness for 90 long minutes. And in the process, he got his own ass righteously whupped.


Obama coasted to his third straight victory at Hofstra, and the resulting poll numbers are startling.

CNN surveys conducted immediately after the debate found Obama winning 58 to 31 percent. At the same time, Obama’s “favorable” rating rose to 66 percent at the end of the debate, while McCain’s dropped to 49. As any seasoned campaign analyst will tell you, that final figure means that McCain is doomed. His negatives have caught up to him.

It gets even worse. By a greater than two-to-one margin—65 to 28 percent— viewers thought Obama was more “likeable” during the debate, a critical factor in the remaining days of the campaign for so-called undecided voters. Among them, Obama was viewed to have won the debate 54 to 28 percent. This is a strong indicator that Obama’s lead in the polls will grow even larger in the days ahead.

The New York Times declared that all Obama had to do was “freeze the dynamics of the campaign in place” during the debate. In fact he did much more than that at Hofstra: he fanned the flames of a Republican Party melt-down.

In short, McCain no longer has a viable electoral road to the White House. To say that he and the Republicans are desperate is to put it mildly. He is now down by double-digits in several swing states—New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Missouri. More importantly, McCain is now trailing in the likes of Virginia, Florida and North Carolina—a trio of states that he thought he had in his back pocket only a month ago.

He is now facing a catastrophic landslide. At some point his campaign will have to consider pulling out of Pennsylvania and making a run with the rest of the table. It’s the only possible electoral strategy McCain has left.

From the moment he pandered to the right-wing base of his party by selecting Sarah Palin as his running mate, McCain has never found his footing on the campaign trail. He has run as a conservative ideologue—something he has never stooped to during his long service in public office—and, much to his disdain, he has been upstaged by Palin at several campaign stops. He is cavorting with the lowest common denominator in his party—at the advice of his foolish campaign manager Rick Davis—and by so doing he has flailed pathetically in his attacks on Obama.

McCain has never been known for his even temperament, and this long and challenging campaign has finally brought out the worst in him. His facial expressions and body language at Hofstra gave the game away. The notorious McCain anger was lurking just below the surface. He grew testy and impatient. His references to “Joe the Plumber” were as calculated as they were condescending. Meanwhile, Obama held his ground, and just as importantly, held his cool.

Some said that Obama seemed a bit too professorial at Hofstra; perhaps. But McCain was light years away from appearing presidential. That was the key difference in this closing debate—perception more than substance.

The election is now Obama’s. Mark my words, this will not be a close final tally. Obama will win by an electoral margin of more than 100 votes, and perhaps by a margin pushing towards 200. The so-called Straight Talk Express swerved off course this summer and McCain—with his idiot savant Davis riding shotgun—was never able to steer it back on the road.

With less than three weeks to go in the race, it will be interesting to see which way McCain now turns as the campaign winds down. Palin will no doubt keep up her inane and vicious attacks on Obama, and soon her 15 minutes will be over. She will go back to Alaska, where she is facing serious, bipartisan ethics charges about her behavior as governor. Without the national Republican Party protecting her, she may even face a recall.

But McCain has a significant personal choice to make. He can lose with dignity or go down ugly. The decision will be his. When he returns to the Senate, he can lick his wounds and reconfigure himself as the mostly practical and principled legislator that he was during his early days in Congress—or he can maintain his forced posture as a conservative ideologue that he has mistakenly and, I believe, almost tragically, assumed in this presidential campaign.

John McCain’s legacy remains unfulfilled, his role in American history still to be written. Time will tell whether he can remove the stains from his reputation that he has garnered in this campaign. One thing, however, is now certain: the American Presidency will never be his.


Black Star News national affairs columnist Geoffrey Dunn, Ph. D., is an award-winning filmmaker and journalist. He is the former recipient of a both a John L. Senior Fellowship to the Cornell University Graduate School of Government and a National Newspaper Association Award for Investigative Journalism. His most recent film is Calypso Dreams.

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