How Debates Change Things

For a long time, I was really fuming at the way the McCain campaign was getting away with telling outright lies about Obama’s tax plan, and I was pushing Obama to directly confront McCain about it in the debates. Well Obama did, repeating often and forcefully that he was proposing a straight forward tax cut for everyone making under $250k a year. McCain responded by repeating the standard lies, and the dynamic, wherein McCain seemed to either not be listening to Obama or having a hard time hearing him, almost certainly had to look very strange to anyone watching not hyper aware of what Obama was proposing.

So, as a result, McCain had to drop the mischaracterization tactic and find some other way to attack Obama on taxes. So he apparently decided that he was going to start calling it “socialism.” But this is a really weird dynamic anywhere outside the vacuum of the right-wing echo chamber, because when the target responds, you have a dynamic wherein one candidate is attacking the fundamentals of cutting taxes for the middle class as a form of “socialism,” and the other candidate is “forced” to defend cutting taxes on 95% of workers. In other words, it’s a very bad place to be in if you’re McCain, trying to explain to Bubba why giving him a tax cut is just dirty, dirty socialism. And were it not for the debates, and the dynamic they created, McCain almost certainly would have gone along simply lying about what Obama was proposing.

That’s why debates matter.