Not only did McCain mispronounce the name of “Joe the plumber” in his opening anecdote (Wurzelbacher, not Wurzelberger), but he forgot the punch line. The whole point of the story was Obama’s promise to the plumber that he'll “spread the wealth” once elected. That quote was everywhere today, including page one of the New York Post, but somehow McCain neglected to mention it for the first five minutes, leaving you wondering what the hell he was talking about.
It was a feeling that stayed for the duration of the debate. Time and again, McCain seemed close to completing an actual argument against Obama, only to pull back at the last moment and meander off onto another point. It was weird —almost as weird as the creepy smile Obama maintained as McCain attacked him.
But the strangest moment of all came when McCain raised Rep. John Lewis’ slur against him. If someone called you a bigot, likened you to George Wallace and the Alabama church bombers, would you describe him, non-ironically, as “an American hero”? Yes, Lewis behaved honorably during the civil rights movement. But the sad truth, known to virtually everyone in Washington, is that Lewis is a mediocrity as a congressman, and has been for many years. It would have been nice to hear a little straight talk from McCain on that subject.
Incidentally, if you think that’s an unfair description of Lewis, tune into to C-SPAN some time and listen to him speak for 20 minutes. Then ask yourself an honest question: Is this man really smarter than Sarah Palin? He’s not.
Not that any of this matters for the purposes of the election. It’s over. Obama won.
Check out other opinions on the debate from The Daily Beast team.