McCain can win this debate – but he will have to hire Bill Clinton as a stand-in to do so. We are seeing very clearly that words do matter – and Bill Clinton is the modern master of words. McCain is a seasoned politician, able to deflect criticisms, able to spin content; but this debate calls for more than a draw. McCain’s task is to be a master of communications. Words do matter.
Why do words matter – we ask? Because words, the ability to communicate, are the definition of modern man. Shakespeare did not invent human emotion. He did not invent love or hate – he did not invent roses and he did not even originate the name ‘Rose.’ Shakespeare’s great talent was in articulating thoughts and emotions in a manner that all people understand.
We voters will be listening closely – most of us have made up our minds – but we want that last test drive before we sign the contract. And the polls suggest that most of us are leaning to Obama.
What can McCain say about the economy that will change our opinions – not very much. After several weeks of bouncing around the economic pin ball machine, virtually anything McCain proposes will be viewed with skepticism. He will try to target voting blocks – like senior citizens – but his words will fall flat. Again, McCain likes to point to his record – but his record is riddled with the holes of deregulation – why should anyone believe he has seen the light of responsible government?
What can McCain say about foreign policy? McCain has supported Bush’s unilateral advance of our military around the globe. McCain, by default, has participated in alienating our allies. Ironically – it is our European Allies who are coming to our financial rescue. McCain chose Sarah Palin as his second in command. That choice has almost singularly stoked the fears of world leaders. McCain does not inspire confidence when he continues to use words and phrases like, “I am a fighter,” and “I will chase Bin Laden to the gates of Hell.” This type of rhetoric is too reminescent of the Cowboy in Chief – “Wanted – Dead or Alive,” and “Bring it on.” Words do matter.
What can McCain say about Obama’s character? After three weeks of inflaming the right wing radicals with fear tactics – and having received a good thumping by moderate Republicans for this tactic – McCain will walk on thin ice on this issue. Any reference to Obama’s associations will invoke the fresh memory of “Kill Him!” and “Off with his head!” and “Terrorist.” Words do matter.
What must Obama do? Remain steady and calm. Present reasonable thoughts. Show he can think on his feet. Demonstrate a complex grasp of the modern world. This is a walk in the park for Obama.
McCain is forceful and combative – that has worked for him in many of his life encounters. But he has created a persona in the election season of being grumpy and erratic – so any hint of forceful combativeness will be interpreted as mean spirited and non-Presidential.
The McCain Camp has set the stage for a difficult debate.
It is the top of the ninth inning and McCain is up to bat. He is trailing 4 to 2. A single home run will not win. McCain will have to have some base hits and then hit at least a triple – but McCain does not have those skills.
Words do matter. Communications is extremely important. The ability to articulate clear thoughts is a trait of great leadership. We in America are fortunate that several great men happened together a couple of hundred years ago and wrote the Declaration of Independence – a masterpiece of crafting ideas into words.
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