“John Was Right”

Last night, the fact that Obama said that McCain was right on several occasions caused consternation among some liberals, and great rejoicing on the right. I didn’t agree. It would have been one thing had Obama not also been willing to say, forcefully, that he thought McCain was wrong. But he was, and usually his acknowledgement that McCain was right on some point was the preface to an explanation of why he was wrong on another.

In that context, the fact that Obama was willing to acknowledge those points where he agreed with McCain struck me as gracious, not weak. As Pat Lang said: ”

“There will be those, like the oaf Chris Matthews, who will think that McCain’s attitude shows him to be a leader. I think it shows that he was not raised well. His refusal to look at Obama throughout the debate, his dismissive tone of voice when continually speaking of Obama in the third person as though he were not there, his inability to say anything good about his opponent, all showed him to be a natural bully or someone who has been taught to be a bully.”

I wasn’t sure whether McCain would come off this way to anyone other than myself, but he seems to have.

Nonetheless, the McCain campaign seems to think that pointing out the occasions when Obama said that McCain was right is a winning strategy. I think this is wrong, not only for the reasons I mentioned, but because it undercuts one of McCain’s main lines of argument: that he is willing to reach across the aisle and work for bipartisan solutions, whereas Obama is not.

Think about it: McCain couldn’t even bring himself to look at Obama. He was consistently contemptuous and dismissive. And now he has released an ad that takes Obama’s willingness to acknowledge that his opponents are right to be the sort of thing that’s worth attacking him for.

McCain claims that he can truly reach out to his opponents and work with them, while Obama cannot. It’s hard for me to think that his performance in this debate didn’t seriously undermine that claim.

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