Rod Dreher thinks that conservatives who think that McCain won the latest debate are all wrong. He trumps polls which show Obama as the victor and he links to John Podhoretz as support. Podhoretz states,

The general feeling on the right side of the blogosphere is that this was McCain’s best debate and he did himself a lot of good. I think people on the Right were so relieved that the debate finally turned to matters of ideological and partisan moment — abortion, ACORN, Ayers, trade, spending — that, perhaps for the first time in his political career, they graded him on a curve. The problem, in my view, is that the shorthand in which McCain spoke about these matters made them comprehensible only to those of us who are already schooled in them. In almost every case, Obama answered McCain’s shorthand with longhand — with detailed, even long-winded answers that gave the distinct impression he was more in command of the details of these charges than the man who was trying to go after him on them.

We’re not the audience for these debates. Undecided voters are, and undecided voters are, or so studies tell us, often astonishingly ill-informed. You can only bring up new issues if you’re able pithily to explain the context and meaning of them. It is not a rap on McCain to say he’s not good at it; he doesn’t want to bother with the introduction. But in a setting like that, the introduction is what matters, far more than the attack.

I think there’s something inherently wrong with Podhoretz’ reasoning, though.

Consider the… undecided voter. I think there are both informed and ill-informed undecided voters. I know of people who have not decided who they will vote for precisely because they are aware (informed) of both McCain’s and Obama’s positions. They’re frustrated with the choices (or lack thereof) before them, and their frustration manifests itself in the form of indecision.

Now, consider the astonishingly ill-informed undecided voters. If such people are so astonishingly ill-informed, then such people have not put forth the effort to follow the candidates, and their positions. Thus, if such people have not taken the effort to become informed, up to this point in the campaign, then why should we expect that they will park themselves in front of a television and watch a 90 minute debate? Furthermore, if such people can only respond to pithily explained positions, then long-winded answers will be lost on them. Hence, such people will only respond to short campaign ads, the likes of which we will undoubtedly see in the next 2 1/2 weeks.

McCain’s tactics, and the Left’s confusion

Just what is John McCain up to?

In the movie Jaws, when the fictional Captain Quint makes first contact with the great white, and the shark behaves unexpectedly, he tells Police Chief Brody, “I don’t know Chief, he’s very smart or very dumb.”

On McCain unexpectedly picking Sarah Palin as his running mate, Kirsten Powers wonders,

I can’t help wondering if this is a trap. The McCain camp watched and learned as Obama supporters offended Hillary supporters by their treatment of her. The McCainiacs had to know that this group is incapable of behaving, that Palin would bring out their worst instincts.

Ed Morrissey states,

This trap has two doors, as Powers notes, and the Obama campaign and its supporters fell through both of them. First, it didn’t take long to speak dismissively of Palin as a “beauty queen” and a “small-town” hick, even though she governs the state of Alaska and has a favorability rating in the 80s…

The bigger trap, though, was the knee-jerk attack on Palin’s experience. Calling her a “small-town mayor” only underscored Obama’s own woeful lack of experience…

and then wonders,

Did McCain set Obama up to fall into this trap? If so, then perhaps that more than anything demonstrates how poor a candidate Obama is and how much more masterful McCain can be. Would you rather have the man who set the trap dealing with our enemies abroad, or the man who fell into it?

At the Belmont Club, Richard Fernandez states,

…McCain will take risks, but only after figuring the odds.

He has the ability to wait patiently until his opponent commits himself to a move then ruthlessly strikes to exploit it. He gives nothing away to clue his opponent on which way he is going to turn. Then suddenly he snaps the stick. A collection of links by Glenn Reynolds reveals a sudden appreciation by McCain’s opponents of his unpredictability. Some are hesitating to criticize Palin’s relative youth and inexperience, lest they fall into the Trap. What trap? A classic AP head says it all: Analysis: Palin’s age, inexperience rival Obama’s.

He’s a 72 year-old Maverick who, it would appear, knows his way around.

Also see:

Mark Steyn’s The Hostess with the Moosest

HotAir’s Desperation from Democrats

McCain delivers a strong, left hook

John McCain, after congratulating Barack Obama for his historic nomination, appears to have chosen Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his pick for VP. (see CNN, FoxNews)

Palin, the Barracuda.

CHANGE… we can believe in.

Amd_palin-smilesIn an essentially 50/50 race, this is an awesome, gutsy, risky, and potentially brilliant move. Can we say… Maverick?

Kind of makes you wonder what Hillary is thinking now, doesn’t it?

(image: McNamee/Getty)