My reaction to the last two debates is to pose the question above. Do facts matter? It seems not. It seems to me that what matters is the persona and personality of the candidates.
Obama is cool and collected. He calmly answers the questions. He seems comfortable in his own skin. No matter what is said he keeps pounding his Bush caused this and McCain is just like Bush mantra. And why not? It works.
Biden, although not particularly consequential, has the same pattern. It doesn't matter what he says or whether it is true or not. He is a long time Senator and sounds like he knows what he is talking about so he must be better and more qualified.
More on this question below.
- Does it matter that Obama insists the the financial crisis was caused by deregulation when this is simply not true?
- Does it matter that the policies of "deregulation" Obama attacks were supported by President Clinton, a majority of Democrats, and his own VP pick?
- Does it matter that Obama and Democrats insisted that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were fine and resisted any attempts to reign them in prior to their implosion? Does it matter that he continues to get advice from people involved in this critical aspect of the crisis.
- Does it matter that Obama insists that he is going to cut spending and taxes when everything we know about a Democratic controlled congress and Obama's record indicates this is highly unlikely in the extreme?
- Does it matter that Obama's higher marginal tax rates will hurt economic growth when we need it the most?
- Does it matter that Obama misrepresents McCain's health care plan constantly to confuse and frighten voters?
- Does it matter that Obama's foreign policy explanations are incoherent and contradictory? (His constantly changing stance on the surge, we should have intervened in Darfur but should have left Iraq immediately, Bush missed capturing Osama Bin Laden by invading Iraq even thought Bin Ladin escaped before the Iraq invasion, Does he want to meet with rogue leaders without precondition or not, etc.)
- Does it matter that Obama's chief policy making attempts in areas like education and public housing have been spectacular failures?
- Does it matter that the man preaching Hope and Change has no record of reforming a thing in the corruption filled world of Chicago politics but in fact was buddies with a host of questionable charcters like Rev. Wright, Bill Ayers, Tony Rezko, etc.?
On and on the list goes. The fact of the matter is that Obama is highly skilled at seeming like a competent and articulate young politician when in fact he is in fact a rather inexperienced run of the mill leftist.
Like him or not, John McCain has accomplished things in Washington. All Obama has accomplished is getting elected and becoming famous. But when personality is king, Obama wins.
I am becoming cynical about voters ability, or desire, to see beyond Obama's cool demeanor and McCain's age and party affiliation. They blame Bush for everything and so seem content to elect Obama because he has a calm and cool temperament.
If they are not to regret their choice, people need to ask: do facts matter?