Maybe I was watching through biased glasses (we all do) but I couldn’t agree more with John Podhoretz when he wrote of the Rick Warren/Saddleback event last night: “If John McCain can perform during the three debates the way he is performing tonight with Rick Warren, he will win this election.”
And it wasn’t just because McCain was good and Barack Obama was ineffectual and ill-informed. (Others have said Barack is infected by reactionary post-modernism. I’m not so sure I would give him that much intellectual credit. It might simply be expedient political vacillation.)
No, it was something more extreme and I think more important: John McCain is the single most prepared person to be President in my lifetime – and I ain’t young. [Didn’t you vote for JFK?-ed. I’m not that old. But you did go to college when he was in office. Okay, okay. Don’t rub it in.] Last night McCain exhibited a grasp of the issues and an ability to communicate them extempore in a concise manner that were exceptional. Unlike the frequently bumbling Bush and the evasive Obama, he knew precisely what to say on the big issues – Georgia, radical Islam, energy. He puts to mind the legendary Presidents of a more distant past – Teddy Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower – and carries with him a pride to be American that surpasses even Reagan for me, because it is fraught with that personal history we all know.
And, of course, if you care about the ability to cross party lines or about the courage to stick with your opinions when they are unpopular, McCain has demonstrated that more than any politician of recent memory. It was ironic that the only example Obama could cite of when he had done such a thing was when he had worked with John McCain on ethics reform (in an instance when Obama apparently crumped out).
But this is not about Obama. What happened last night is this: An election that the pundits had told us was about whether the public was ready for Barack Obama suddenly became about acknowledging John McCain.