Political Weekly: Every Moment

Written by

White House Bureau Chief
James Downie continues his dispatches from the trail:

“Six weeks. Four candidates. Two winners. It all comes down to this.” If I were a bad copy writer like those who seemed to be advertising and writing last night’s Emmys (cheers to Glenn Close and Zeljko Ivanek for Damages!), that’s how I’d lead in. 

And while that would be hackneyed, cliched and overly dramatic (also known as “Heroes-like”), it would be wrong to think that nothing will change as the campaign ramps up to the first of three debates this Friday, and the last six weeks of the campaign. Whatever ground lost must be made up almost immediately, as the candidates jockey for the position of favorite heading into the debates, and then Election Day.

And now, the news:

Friday Night Debate: The first of three debates (not counting the Obama-McCain service extravaganza) takes place at Ole Miss this Friday. Unfortunately for McCain, the polls have shifted back into Obama’s favor, meaning that he goes into the debate needing to reclaim momentum (if the debate had been held last Friday, people would be seeing Obama as the one who needed to do well). The debate will be moderated by Jim Lehrer of PBS. Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post breaks down the respective strategies, while the New York Times breaks down the debate over the debate rules.

It’s Mathematical!: As always, numbers are available here, here, here, and here.

We’re Gonna Do Stuff: The presidential candidates both have been scrambling to lay out their plans for dealing with the Wall Street crisis (down 375 points today!). Unfortunately for John McCain, Obama’s camp grasped the direction of the debate more quickly, already rolling out a plan on Monday while McCain was still declaring “the fundamentals of our economy are strong.” Still, their plans probably won’t matter much come January, as they’ll be restricted to whatever plan the Democrats will let pass the Congress. As of writing, what that plan will be remains unclear.

But There Might Be Other Stuff: Mark Halperin of TIME lists non-Wall Street factors that will be important over the next six weeks.

Reason No. 6 Why Democrats Always Lose: Heading into last weekend, there were numerous stories about how Democrats were worried that Obama was blowing his summer lead. Of course, your correspondent agrees with, who outlined the two-week period of ties as simply how a basic “convention bounce” works. The sad lesson Democrats have to take from this is that there are numerous so-called “strategists” who apparently have no clue what a convention bounce is. No worries, though: it’s only the most documented phenomenon in presidential polling. Nuances like that surely aren’t necessary knowledge in a national campaign.

He’s A Machine!: Politico outlines the many gaffes of Joe “told a man in a wheelchair to stand up” Biden.

Can You Hear Me Now?: tries to gauge the effect of including cell phone-only users in polls. No news on a separate iPhone effect.

Barack’s Got Your Gun(s): Or at least he will take it (or them), says the NRA. In other news, NARAL plans to tell voters that John McCain will personally kill all abortion practitioners.

Nothing New Here: Steve Schmidt declares the New York Times a “pro-Obama advocacy organization.” Your correspondent is forbidden from commenting on merchandise he gets for free.

Back From the Land of Cancellation: Maureen Dowd enlists President Bartlett to give some advice to Obama.



  1. Jim Downie  

    I look forward to these every week.

  2. yeah  

    seriously, well done.

  3. d'oh  

    "At the insistence of the McCain campaign, the Oct. 2 debate between the Republican nominee for vice president, Gov. Sarah Palin, and her Democratic rival, Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., will have shorter question-and-answer segments than those for the presidential nominees, the advisers said. There will also be much less opportunity for free-wheeling, direct exchanges between the running mates.

    McCain advisers said they had been concerned that a loose format could leave Ms. Palin, a relatively inexperienced debater, at a disadvantage and largely on the defensive."

    Sarah Palin, lets see if Vladimir Putin and Hu Jintao will also play by your rules. The Republican pick for VP is a disgrace.

  4. filibuster

    If there weren't time limits, the vice presidential debate would finish a couple of days late in the Senate Judiciary Committee room. A tired Patrick Leahy would have to be awoken from his sleep to gavel it to a close.

  5. Leo  

    Bartlet for America.

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