McCain’s Debate Surprise
Tonight in his debate with Barack Obama, John McCain is going to give us the pleasure, or cringe, of a Hail Marty pass live on national television. I don’t know what it is. I know that he’ll make one. It won’t be the Ayers thing. He’ll deal with that, but only to rattle Obama, or try to. Look for his attempt at a one-two punch: first, soften the ground with a little Ayers bomb, then go for the surprise attack on an entirely unexpected theme.
I have no idea what that will be, but I suspect it’ll entail McCain challenging Obama directly to something nutty, like five more town hall meetings or a pledge to jointly go where no other presidential candidates have gone before—something moronic, risky, but also, possibly, for McCain’s sake, “daring.” The pathological turn of his campaign in the last few weeks demands it. He’s no longer in control of Sarah Palin, no longer in control of his campaign staff, no longer in control of anything remotely like a message. He’s still in control of himself, and he’ll let that fly tonight. Being so far behind, he has nothing to lose. Being guaranteed to lose if he doesn’t do something drastic, which may well end up rhyming with spastic, he has no choice but do something radical.
It can’t really be called “unexpected” anymore because his entire campaign has turned the unexpected into a game of expectancy: what will the old nut do next, that sort of thing. Tonight he’ll have his last large audience of the campaign. He’ll be sitting next to Obama. He’ll turn to him, and he’ll put his “honor” on the line with whatever crazy scheme he comes up with. That, anyway, is what I’m betting on, because if he doesn't do anything, he's lost. There’s one chance in a thousand that should he opt for the radical gambit it’ll be an original idea, one chance in ten thousand that it’ll work as McCain intends it—turn his campaign around. There’s a much greater chance that this will be it, McCain’s last pass, and that one may well end up rhyming with gas.