McCain's big build-up promised a game-changing assault on Obama's credibility.
Led by the shrill Governor Sarah Palin, McCain's campaign shot a cannonade across the bow of the USS Obama to put them on notice of a historic showdown. Palin boasted that John McCain had the ammunition to redefine Barack Hussein Obama as a closet radical and a pliant pawn of convicted terrorists led by that dastardly villain of yesteryear, William Ayers of the notorious Weathermen.
Palin shrieked a thrilling war cry for McCain to do battle with Obama that incited her crowds to shout out, "Kill Him!" McCain's minions followed suit on Fox News with a welter of dire warnings of the forthcoming destruction of Obama in the second debate set in their favored format - a town hall auditorium in the red state heartland of Tennessee.
Amidst threatening shouts of, "Kill Him!" that sent a chilling pall over the presidential campaign of 2008, John McCain swore an oath before a huge audience to get tough with Obama in their no-holds-barred main event in Nashville, but he was all talk and no trousers.
On the night, McCain faltered and fidgeted and failed to deliver one single syllable about William Ayers, domestic terror or Obama being a radical candidate with a dangerous anti-American agenda. McCain went in like a testosterone-fuelled lion, but he came out like an impotent lamb - roasted, seasoned and garnished with a huge dollop of mint jelly.
When McCain charged that Obama did not understand foreign policy, Obama retorted that he understood it was a colossal mistake to invade Iraq. When McCain charged that Obama mis-spoke when he said he might strike Pakistan to destroy Al-Qaida, Obama reminded McCain that he had sung, "Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran." In the course of the debate, McCain was outclassed, outgunned and outrun, time and time and time again.
Obama's performance was so commanding that he barely noticed the petulant and pesky McCain. In the most telling moment of the crucial event, the debate moderator, Tom Brokaw, put the question to both contenders: "Is healthcare a right or a responsibility?" McCain plumped conservatively for "responsibility," while Obama opted for the progressive notion that healthcare is a fundamental human right. This dichotomy clearly defined the two candidates just as starkly as their foreign policies and their personal performances in the town hall debate.
McCain seemed like a man about to explode in a fit of fury, but he was merely frustrated because he did not have the spark to ignite his own fuse. Obama was as calm and commanding as ever. McCain behaved like a drunken braggodocio swilling double shots of scotch in a smoke-filled officer's club, while Obama exuded an aura of effortless superiority typical of a Commander-in-Chief in charge of the Situation Room during a crisis.
The background was far more complex than the McCain build-up would have had us believe. The most conservative national polling organization, Gallup, reported that Obama is leading McCain by a towering 9 points. Dick Morris, a right-wing apparatchik who is rooting for McCain, published an electoral map assigning Obama no less than 386 electoral votes to McCain's rather paltry 118. The more authoritative polling organizations, Real Clear Politics, FiveThirtyEight and Pollster.com are all indicating that Obama will garner over 300 electoral votes with McCain spluttering below 200.
While hope is being abandoned for a resuscitation of the political corpse that is the McCain-Palin ticket, diehard Republican operatives are hard at work purging voter rolls, caging thousands of eligible voters and suppressing the vote in Democratic strongholds in battleground states. In the denouement of this election, the last fading hope of John McCain has devolved from deception to deceit.
In an information age when little can escape the gaze of the multitude, McCain is now perfectly on course to vanish from the world stage on the fourth of November, Election Day - 28 days and counting. Rumors are circulating at the Monocle that the manufacturers of Viagra and Cialis are in search of a new poster boy, and McCain is said to be moving smartly toward the top of the list.