e-mail me at billdeg@umich.edu



Last night my town's democrat club met for our normal monthly gathering and then adjourned to a watering hole I don't like much to watch the debate. Shortly before the debate began, the club's chair posed the question will McCain go negative? No, says I, the negative stuff is backfiring.

I was wrong. McCain, in what seemed even to McCain supporters like desperation, actually tried to stear the conversation away from issues and toward Obama's "associations." Ugh. One of the things that made Obama effective last night was his calm but imperative statements about wanting to get back to talking about, you know, the candidates' platforms. Finally, when neither McCain nor the moderator thought that was a good idea, Obama zinged, "You've made Bill Ayers the centerpiece of your campaign." Bingo. An education professor who both republicans and democrats in Illinois frequently work with due to his expertise on school reform. I'm not on any boards, but I'm on a boatload of committees and action groups and I don't vouch for the beliefs and past actions of all the people with whom I serve.

Other McCain moment of desperation: "I'm not George Bush." Um, okay. That had to make W feel good, when his own party's candidate was so explicit about the need to establish that distance.

McCain, he of the hurt feelings, knows damn well that John Lewis wasn't comparing him to George Wallace when Lewis said that the atmophere at recent Sarah Palin events feels like a Wallace rally. How is that a stretch? People at a political rally yelled "kill him" about an African-American public figure. How is it a stretch, how is it even a personal attack, to say that such a moment is reminiscent of segregationist ideology and much worse? Unlike a lot of lefties, by the way, I don't hold Palin responsible for those comments. I don't know for certain that she heard them. I don't know for certain there's any causation between her campaign rhetoric and the "kill him" chant. If Lewis had said that Palin reminds him of George Wallace, then Palin and McCain would have a substantial beef, albeit a beef with Lewis, not Obama. McCain feigning hurt feelings = moment of desperation number three.

I would have liked to have heard even more logocentric stuff from Obama. He seems to be winning on the issues, so why not talk policy even more? He did a very good job on health care, I thought, although a conservative dude at the watering hole last night resopnded to that moment in the debate by saying "go to Canada then." I don't know if he was talking to Obama, or our democrat club. He didn't like us any more than he liked Obama.

In fact, at one point, this guy said something to our group like "shut the f#@! up so people in the thinking man's [sic] party can listen." Clever. He also threatened to take a woman in our party "outside to the parking lot." Her response: "Let's do it. I'll keep my arms at my side and watch you hit a lady, big man." On the way home, Nicole colorfully commented how her response would have involved a less passive strategy out in the parking lot. That Nicole.

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