In today’s New York Times, Adam Nagourney cites six reasons why the presidential race still isn’t over, and of course it’s always true that things can change over the next few weeks, that Obama’s newly registered voters may not actually turn out, that there’s the race wildcard, and so on. But there’s a certain point late in the fourth quarter of a football game when it’s fourth and long with one team way behind, and you can theoretically say, “All they need is to get this first down, score a quick touchdown, then return an interception for a touchdown, successfully recover an onside kick, score again, and they can pull it off.” Yes, all of that is theoretically possible, but quite unlikely, especially if the other team has home field advantage and the ability to keep making first downs with a strong running game. The bottom line is that though a lot can change over the next few weeks, and it’s quite possible McCain can make things interesting down the stretch, basically everything needs to break McCain’s way from now until Election Day for him to win, because Obama has built up such a large cushion, is riding the wave of the economic crisis, and has the ability to outspend McCain in key states. All Obama has to do is run out the clock. Barring a major international crisis or late-breaking Obama scandal, for McCain to win the election, he’s going to have to convince Americans that he’s the person they want to lead them through this financial market meltdown. He has an opening because Obama still has not done anything to distinguish himself during the crisis, and for that matter, neither has any leader in the country inspired much confidence. So there’s a leadership vacuum that McCain can fill. It’s just difficult to know how he can make the sale given that: 1) He’s a Republican and 2) His initial reaction to the crisis was so haphazard.
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