Friday, October 17, 2008

A Game Changer

Ladies and gentlemen start your engines. We now have a race to the finish thanks to two game changing events in the last few days. The good news started for McCain with the last debate, where he was clearly at his best and had Obama on the defensive. However, unlike what the media would have you believe not all game changing events occur in debates, although admittedly some of them do.

In 1972, Senator Edmund Muskie was the clear front runner for the Democratic nomination until a sunny morning on a snow covered street in New Hampshire. On that day he gave a press conference at which time he appeared to be crying as he whined about a reporter who had criticized his wife. This was quite a contrast to President Truman who said a quarter of a century earlier about a reporter who ripped his daughter, "I'll punch the SOB in the nose." Muskie's campaign died that very day.

Later that same year, George McGovern, the benefactor of Muskie's misfortune, also shot himself in the foot. The Democratic nominee went to a union hall to talk to union members, a solid Democratic constituency. He told the members it was important to raise the estate tax to help the less fortunate and that they couldn't count on leaving all of their estates to their families. Game, set, and match to Nixon.

The same fate befell Ted Kennedy in 1980 when he challenged Jimmy Carter. The Massachusetts senator was believed to have a real shot to win the nomination because of Carter's unpopularity. It was the time of the Hostage crisis and gas lines. Things looked good for Kennedy until he went on "60 Minutes", at a time when living, breathing people actually watched network TV. During that interview Kennedy was asked why he wanted to be President. He proceeded to give a long winded, three minute, convoluted answer that confused even the most rabid of liberals. From that point on his campaign was stuck in the mud and doomed to defeat.

Eight years later in 1988, Gary Hart was the rising star of the Democratic Party until he got caught on a yacht with Donna Rice. That boat proved to be his political Titanic. Let's not forget Joe Biden either. He made a strong bid after Hart dropped out, until he got caught plagiarizing. Say it ain't so, Joe!

Now this year we have Joe the Plumber and Obama's infamous "spread the wealth" line. Socialism exposed, finally! This gaffe is right up there with Gerald Ford's famous "Eastern Europe is not dominated by the Soviet Union" line. It's out there now and try as he might, Obama can't take it back nor explain it away. In an instant Joe the Plumber was able to do what McCain and the RNC could not, shine a light on Mr. Tax and Spend and clearly show voters that his brand of change is really the same old socialism.

This was followed last night by the candidates' performance at the Al Smith dinner where McCain hit a home run and Obama struck out. Clearly the momentum is now with the McCain - Palin team, and we know from the Democratic primaries that Obama is not a strong finisher. It has been reported that the Obama camp has already ordered caviar and champagne in anticipation of victory. Not so fast Senator Obama, don't put that champagne on ice. You still have the lead but you've just walked the bases full. Can you say Boston Red Sox.

We are counting on you Senator McCain. Now is the time for you and Governor Palin to swing for the fences. A grand slam puts you in the White House.

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