It's really funny that right-wingers think that they are the "true" Americans, because they're almost dangerously untethered to the mainstream, by now having created an alternative culture and media that chronicles an alternate reality, one where ACORN is a mortal threat to the fabric of democracy, where Bill Ayers is one of the world's most dangerous men, and where the financial crisis was caused not by the creation of highly leveraged derivatives, but by the Democrats' pushing for more minority home ownership.
In this bubble, what's scary isn't the dangerous incompetence of George Bush and his disastrous eight years -- recognized by pretty much all non-wingnuts -- but "socialists" like Barack Obama who wants to raise taxes on folks making over $250,00. And ironically, John McCain, one of the few prominent Republicans who has resisted the wingnut echo chamber in the past, is now completely ensnared in it.
If, in the previous two debates, McCain was a little too caught up in his own personal crusades (read: earmarks; taking on his own party), here was a performance that was launched from wingnuttia, where "spreading the wealth around" is dangerous, where $250,000+ earning "Joe the Plumber" is the stand-in for Mr. America, where "health of the mother" is somehow code for zealots, where only liberal wimps are concerned about storing nuclear power "safely", and vouchers are a cure-all for education.
The pundits thought McCain did well because he was aggressive and forced he debate, but the trouble is the right-wing philosophy he was espousing didn't connect to people, and the shorthand he was using made sense only to the cheerleaders over on The Corner. By contrast, Obama didn't launch into sputtering attacks on the Alaska Independence Party, G. Gordon Liddy, Diebold, Troopergate, the torture memos, US Attorney firings, and any number of other liberal blog causes. The rather phlegmatic Obama, in cool professorial mode, explained his policy proposals in detail, over and over. Unlike the 2nd debate, Barack was off his game and missed a lot of obvious retorts. But he did his job.
And more importantly, Obama looked calm and unflappable. McCain looked like a meth fiend, bulging his eyes, and moving around in his seat like a maniac. Is it any wonder McCain got slammed again in the snap polls?
It's clear that McCain is an uncoachable candidate, and that his downfall was trying to run a Bush '04 base/echo chamber campaign that is both wrong for the times and completely unsuitable for himself.