One of the problems that McCain had in last night's debate -- and it's actually a problem I notice often with him -- is that in many cases he assumes a certain level of knowledge among the audience and will often make offhand comments that seem odd or evasive to those who don't know what he's talking about. At least two examples come to mind from last night. At one point, when he was talking about health care mandates, he made a joke about hair transplants, which would have probably sounded bizarre if you didn't know that several states require insurance companies to cover such services (though granted, it would probably seem less bizzare if you knew it was to treat hair loss from chemotherapy). Another example came when he was asked whether the U.S. would commit troops if Iran invaded Israel and whether he would do so without approval of the U.N. Security Council. He started by saying he wouldn't require Security Council approval, and mentioned how, "I think the realities are that both Russia and China would probably pose significant obstacles." I'm not sure how many Americans understand that Russia and China are permanent members of the Security Council, giving them veto power that they have been using consistently to block serious action against Iran. As a result, it may have seemed to somebody who didn't know better, that McCain was changing the subject back to Russia, which was the previous question. I remember in the first debate, McCain got caught up in Washington lingo several times, even once referring to a "continuing resolution" that Democrats were going to pass -- had he said klaatu barada nikto instead, about as many people would have gotten the reference. One of the drawbacks of having been in the Congress for 25 years is that in many cases you get too caught up in small details, but as a presidential candidate you have to be able to convey your knowledge in terms that the average person understands.
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