While in the first two debates, McCain seemed to me to be playing to the undecideds and the voters who might change their minds, in last nights debate what I saw was a candidate pleading with his base not to forsake him, trying to placate the Michelle Malkins of the world by bringing up Ayers even though it was perfectly obvious before hand that going negative in the debates is a losing strategy.
Malkin's response to his performance was decidedly tepid. She posted a 600 word McCain campaign email of Ayers-related talking points which she apparently thinks McCain should have recited.
Amy Sullivan at Time views that segment of the debate rather differently:
Once again, the focus group dials dove whenever McCain went on the attack, particularly when he talked about Bill Ayers and ACORN in what turned out to be the longest segment of the evening. The audience that started out giving McCain a 54/24 favorability rating (and, incidentally, liked Sarah Palin a lot more than Joe Biden, with +6 and -20 splits) ended up almost evenly divided between warm and cool feelings toward him (50/48).Similarly, McCain's use of the term "class warfare" in the debate seemed intended to invoke the right's stupid argument that centrist democrats like Obama are socialists.
"The whole premise behind Senator Obama's plans are class warfare -- let's spread the wealth around."Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post remarks,
. . . when he accused Obama of fomenting “class warfare,” I wondered if I had slipped through some kind of time warp.The GOP presidential campaign seems to have reached the Donner Party stage: their candidate seems to fear his political base as much as he fears his opposition. That seemed most evident in the moment when McCain declared that he was "proud" of the people who come to his campaign's rallies. McCain at this point is a prisoner of his own bad campaign decisions. He'd better be proud of his supporters; otherwise they might bite.