October 6th, 2008

Biden Was Right: Past Is Prologue

by Philip Baruth

Long ago VDB-reader Rick out in Colorado pegged John McCain as “The New Bob Dole.” And so it proved. But the unfolding of the Presidential debates has taken the parallel to a whole new level. Like Dole, McCain failed to dent his rival in the first debate. Like Dole, McCain has now vowed to attack on character in the second match-up. But a cautionary bit of history from CNN’s Debate History page for 1996:

time coverThe second debate developed a harder tone than the first as Dole again emphasized issues of character and trust. He criticized what he called “scandals almost on a daily basis” during the first Clinton term. Questions from the audience gave Dole the openings he needed to raise the issue.

Clinton again refused to engage Dole, telling the audience, “No attack ever created a job, or educated a child or helped a family make ends meet.”

The closest either man came to an outright gaffe was when Dole said the country was mired in “the worst economy in a century,” seeming to ignore the Great Depression of the 1930s.