John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


Final Debate Finally

Posted on October 16, 2008




Final Debate Finally


            Joe the Plumber will lead many of the news programs tomorrow, if there is any justice in this world.  He exemplifies why Barack Obama would be such a dangerous President and why John McCain won the debate.


            McCain is not that eloquent.  Obama is very eloquent.  So the dial tests and the instant polls will show that Obama won.  But he didn’t, because the story coming out of this debate is Joe the Plumber.


            McCain is not much a story-teller.  He has a halting, smirking delivery that is off-putting to viewers.  In that, he reminds me of Bob Dole.  The Senate has some of the best orators on the planet, but also some of the worst.  McCain, Dole and Ted Stevens rank among the worst.  


            But leadership is more than simple oratory.  It comes from experience, temperment, stubbornness and a strong will.   McCain beats Obama in three of those categories.  Obama has shown that he at least ties and perhaps beats McCain in temperment.


            McCain needed somebody else to tell his story.  Joe the Plumber could be that guy.  He can tell about the dark side of the Obama tax plan, the side that leads to bigger job losses, slower growth, and a sinking economy.  Joe the Plumber can tell that story.


            McCain had a chance to score other points, but didn’t quite the job done.  Bill Ayres and his story about what he did forty years ago is not that important in isolation.  But Bill Ayres and what he did with education reform is an important story, because he did it with Barack Obama.  Ayres and Obama took education reform money and spent it on Afro-Centric studies mumbo jumbo.  McCain could have made that point and he didn’t.  Perhaps the news media will follow up on that.  But I am not holding my breath.


            McCain didn’t specifically talk about his plan to help senior citizens deal with the financial meltdown.  He has a good plan, and he needed to keep it simple.  “I have a plan to help older Americans deal with this crisis.”  He didn’t say that and he should have.  He should have told a story about some senior citizen he met, who has seen his retirement savings disappear overnight.   But he didn’t.


            Still, McCain showed a surprising command of the issues for a guy who wasn’t supposed to know much about domestic policy.  He went toe to toe with Obama on health care and education, and came out ahead.


            His halting speaking style and nervous smile probably will hurt him in the instant analysis.  But Joe the Plumber will help him get some momentum in this campaign.  Isn’t it interesting that it take a plumber to fix a leaking campaign?  

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