By Phil Perkins
The second presidential debate was, sadly, a missed opportunity for Senator John McCain. Despite the town hall format in which he normally excels, the insipid questions and McCain's failure to land any serious body blows to the smooth-talking Obama made it a draw at best. That's not enough for the McCain campaign at this point.
Strangely enough, once McCain hit the campaign trail again with running mate Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska, he finally hit the Obama camp with the zingers that have been desperately waiting to be exposed to the nation at large, not just to McCain's loyal following.
First and foremost is what the drive-by media would be calling "Bill-gate" if it had any sense of fairness, or if Obama were a Republican. Obama's close association with unrepentant domestic terrorist and admitted radical leftist Bill Ayers (see accompanying article by Kent Clizbe in this edition) is a huge issue in this campaign, yet the drive-bys in concert with Obama's campaign are doing everything they can to hide this keg of political dynamite.
McCain and Palin have taken the gloves off and are raising serious and legitimate questions about Obama's relationship with Ayers and what it means regarding Obama's true political beliefs. The fact that Obama's handlers and the candidate himself have scrambled to provide a continuously changing story line on the relationship from "I barely knew him; he was just a guy who lived in my neighborhood" to "I thought he was rehabilitated" shows desperation in the Obama camp and is evidence that Ayers was not "just another guy" in Obama's life. Clearly, based on Ayers' own publicized remarks in 2001 (and never refuted since) that he felt he "didn't do enough" bombing and mayhem of American institutions, he was and is anything but "rehabilitated." That Obama expects his adoring masses to swallow this canard is only more proof of his utter brazenness.
Imagine, though, how the debate could have been ignited if McCain found a way to introduce the Ayers issue to the 60-plus million viewers that night. Sure, the risks would be great, as McCain would have to be prepared for Obama's slick denials and moderator Tom Brokaw's natural instinct to protect Obama by changing the subject and/or scolding McCain for venturing into this allegedly "irrelevant" area of Obama's life. However, the reward from raising the issue could have been greater still, since Obama obviously does not have an answer that the public won't see through.
Second, McCain and Palin finally named the Democrat guilty parties in the recent mortgage crisis-Rep. Barney Frank, Senators Chris Dodd and Charles Schumer, and Obama himself-again in front of mostly supportive crowds on the campaign trail. Granted, during the debate McCain did manage to note that Obama, despite his short time in the Senate, was second only to Dodd (whose name was not mentioned in the debate) in political contributions from Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. Again, imagine how much more powerful McCain's argument would have been in front of those 60 million viewers if he had connected the dots from the contributions to the lack of action to reign in Freddie and Fannie by the above named Democrats.
Of course, as the campaign swings into its final days, McCain will be accused of using desperation or "Swift Boat" style tactics since he is behind in most polls. What he needs to point out is that the only poll that counts in the one on Election Day, and that there is nothing desperate about doing the vetting on his opponent that the drive-bys have so miserably failed to do.