Both campaigns have furiously spun last night’s debate, and “who won” polls tell us nothing, so far, except about the readership of the web site or publication sponsoring the poll. Clearly neither candidate made a major blunder that has become a news story in itself, so the issue comes down to one of impression: which candidate made more sense and looked more Presidential to the majority of undecided voters. My guess is that by holding his own, Obama helped himself with a lot of fence-sitters.
On at least one point, though, McCain got the last word. Obama (foolishly) invoked Henry Kissinger as someone who agrees with his proposal to meet with Iran’s President without preconditions. McCain pointed out that Kissinger had never said the President should engage in such meetings, and this morning Kissinger released a statement to the effect that McCain was right:
Senator McCain is right. I would not recommend the next President of the United States engage in talks with Iran at the Presidential level. My views on this issue are entirely compatible with the views of my friend Senator John McCain. We do not agree on everything, but we do agree that any negotiations with Iran must be geared to reality.
So McCain won that one. But I doubt that many voters care about “preconditions” or whether it’s the President or the Secretary of State who meets with his Iranian counterpart. For that matter, I’m not sure how many care much about Iran. An election that shaped up, at one point, to be largely about foreign policy has turned out to be anything but.
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