I was quite struck, watching the debate last night, at how much of McCain's time was taken up presenting attacks which had been delivered before in a variety of forums, and which have mostly been pretty effectively debunked. The fact-checking organizations could have taken the night off, turning the job over to interns who just had to pull the right files from the archive. It was heightened by McCain's delivery: he sounds like an old man who's delivered the same joke thousands of times before, who expects his audience to chuckle tolerantly even when he doesn't set it up well,* deliver the punch-line or pick appropriate moments.**
The repetition and negative tone didn't make sense to me. Reading conservative reactions to the debate, though, it's become clear to me that there is a significant segment of the population, one with considerable influence over McCain and Palin and which is grossly overrepresented in their audiences, which considers these points relevant, true and effective attacks, despite all evidence to the contrary.***
Worse, perhaps, many of these attacks fall into the "I'm rubber, you're glue; what bounces off me sticks to you" category: more applicable to McCain and Palin than to Obama and Biden. I'm actually willing to concede some level of truth and relevance to a variety of critiques of Obama and Biden -- they're not my dream candidates -- but I can't abide hypocrisy.
* "that one" wasn't really as disrespectful or racist as it sounded; it was jarring because it's part of a patter which he couldn't pull off in that setting.
** Obama was repeating himself, too, I fully admit, but at least he sounded reasonably coherent and present.
*** it's possible that they only consider them to be two out of the three, but I'm trying to be nice and assume good intentions....