With less than a week until the voting booths draw themselves open, both candidates find themselves in the vital battlegrounds, but also engaged in arguably the most tactically important stretch in the election.

And because of this, we are now starting to see different strategy in the press and in both campaign’s speeches.

Dubbed “the closing argument,” Obama has, perhaps surprisingly, fully reworked his recent string of stump speeches reminiscent to his early primary victories, in a sense summing up his campaign. 

The speeches consist less of attacks to the other party, rather a more “dreamy” and crowd pleasing stump made up of policy proposals. 

But what is the most interesting is that the Obama campaign has essentially changed its entire framework from the present economic situation and policy attacks to a more or less futuristic tone. 

Obama has, however, hit home on one present-oriented message, what he calls the one week campaign, where the Democrats have stressed that the “future of America” depends on the action in the next week of campaigning. The Obama campaign has also leaked and later confirmed reports of a thirty-minute campaign ad set to air in most national television stations, and most notably during an (if necessary) world series game 6.

But the most ironic catch to the Obama campaign “closing argument” and PR ploy has been that it simply has not been countered.

Seemingly unaffected, the opposing McCain campaign has not yet put up any hint of tactical rework in their campaign in response to Barack Obama’s future oriented campaign change. 

McCain’s latest Pennsylvania campaign stop was capped off with nothing less than expected, a well-rounded attack and policy proposal speech that showed no sign of contrast from recent weeks. 

To open this up to the commenters, simply: what does this mean for the remainder of the election — and will McCain change his campaign in response to Obama?

In what many would call a fascinating debate intellectually as well as strategically, I will say that I am completely shocked by the lack of political and strategic performance that John McCain put forward. 

In my opinion, this debate for John McCain held a huge importance — McCain was in need of a breakthrough, and he as well as I knew that it would need to come with negative attacks. 

But McCain simply didn’t pick the right fights — he picked all of them. In almost every question and issue, McCain choose to attack his opponent. And this simply did not (and is proven to have not) provoke a positive reaction from the audience. 

And this is essentially what part of the outcome is for McCain’s slip in the polls — he has chosen a proven strategy, in this case negative campaigning, and has abused it — both in this debate and in his campaigning in total. 

 Obama laid out my point perfectly after a repetitive string  of small jabs by McCain, quoting to a questioner in the  audience named Oliver:

 “You don’t want to hear politicians pointing fingers, you  want to know how my or senator McCain’s policies will  affect you.”

 This quote was both the closest point to a knockout punch  that this relatively motionless debate held, but also a show  that McCain was not pointing his finger correctly at Obama.  As a democrat and Obama supporter myself, I will say (and you can quote me on this) the Obama won the debate from a policy standpoint. But as a thirteen-year old American and political blogger, I will also say that McCain lost a debate on the strategic side that he very well could have won if he simply stopped attacking.

And this is essentially because although McCain had very little momentum coming into tonight, the debate’s town hall-style favored him — he purposely holds his campaign events as town-halls because he knows that it is his strength. 

But despite this, McCain, instead of capitalizing on the town-hall format by directly answering the questions asked, seemed anxious to put fourth a knock out punch question after question in the form of a political attack towards Obama. 

And because of this, McCain left Obama the momentum door a jar and Obama exploited it, using his strengths to please the crowd with his policies, ignoring the sometimes off-topic McCain points. His ratings instantly increased and as an effect, the normally non-commenting people I watched the debate with pointed out that Obama clearly had a strategic and political edge. 

And in the end, McCain never got his chance for a knockout punch. Why? Obama never gave him another chance — using his earned momentum to both answer McCain and present his point in the way he wanted to.

And so I think that McCain fared as more anxious in his portion of the debate than Obama, and that is why he clearly lost.

In what was anticipated to be a debate of gaffes rather than politics, the first and only vice presidential debate was of more depth and quality than then its preceder – the presidential debate. I say this not in my political view, but of the nation’s vibe preceding the event. And this is essentially because of hype. 

There is no disputing from either party that the preparation for tonight was unbalanced. The public, mainstream media, and bloggers alike were seemingly convinced two different ways: the first that Palin would gaffe, and the second that she would be surprisingly intelligent. In a sense, both were right and wrong. 

John McCain had Palin prepared, but from any perspective he knew Palin would be Palin. The Governor, policies aside, has a distinct personality that he could not change no matter how much she was prepared. In a non-partisan sense, Palin has a not only unique personality, but a certain way of bringing out her points, and that is what has made her successful on the political stage. 

However, the McCain campaign could and did save her from a gaffe. Again staying non-partisan, Palin has and is so closely examined that she (as a completely new national politician), could very well send off a misjudged point or flat out gaffe that would explode onto the MSM stage. My case in point would be Palin’s disastrous CBS interview with Katie Couric. 

And because of this, one of the few things that the McCain camp had the ability to do before the debate is give Palin a response to Biden’s likely attacks so that she didn’t gaffe. That was definitely apparent tonight.

 And this leads us to the debate, which I will flat out say that  Joe Biden won. In simple text, Palin was rehearsed, but  Biden knew which points to pursue and picked his fights. 

 Biden came into the debate as an underdog to win.  What I  mean by this is that the press essentially predicted Palin to  decide not the winner or loser, but rather if she would lose  well or collapse. Biden, however, was never perceived to  walk out of the door with a loss. 

And this changed dramatically with the start of the debate. A main point that I would like to get out is the fact that I sensed a feeling of renewal. Despite the fact that the media had called for a one-edged debate with a gaffed ending, both candidates were place on the same level. 

This is what gave Palin a boost out of the gates — no one expected anything, and because of this, Palin showed a surprising degree of fluentness in her points, something that took everyone off-guard. And in a sense, Palin used this to run away with the first topic — the economy. 

Then came foreign policy.

The main turning point in this debate was exactly what Biden needed — a direct soundbite — coming after Palin’s first talking point on foreign policy in which she essentially backed up her ticket but never gave examples.

Biden answered in what I would call the best way possible — reading:

“With all due respect, I didn’t hear a plan”

In this quote, Biden both found his grip on the debate and swept Palin off her feet for the first time. The quote itself was simple, but orchestrated what is essentially the biggest difference with both tickets as far as foreign policy — ending the war and winning it. He took advantage of a bad talking point from Palin, and then turned it into a much needed soundbite.

From then on, Biden rode the wave of confidence, further taking chances with the crowd and the public, in example — quoting that Dick Cheney has been the “worst vice president” the US has had, and later in the debate jumping on a softball question about what would happen if he would replace Obama in president if something were to happen.

In short, the debate showed its ups and downs, but in the end Palin lost not because of a gaffe, but rather through a single quote.

It would be put well quoting that tonight’s debate “almost wasn’t,” far exceeding my expectations of a full out brawl.

But before I start, in a nutshell, what really occurred the most to me is that there never really was a knockout punch, a home-run swing — a bold statement or attack that either tore off the roof or declared a real winner. There were really more or less small policy jabs, and in that respect I think that Barack Obama came out on top strategically. 

 A conservative CNN guest commentator put it extremely  well, pointing out that in a social sense, there were truly  two different people debating — a confident foreign policy  candidate who will accuse, accuse, and accuse, and then an  intellectual candidate who very acknowledges his opponents  rights and points out his wrongs, playing out the debate on  the defensive. 

 Although I am not sure that I agree with the statement on  offense and defense, I think that the man raises a very good  point — that Obama will win a debate through his policies,  not his soundbites.  

And this is really where Obama came right off the bat strong, starting by discussing the economic crisis. His first message was ripe and straight to the point, first throwing out the problem and what he will do to fix it, then proclaiming in a more subdued way that his opponent will take a different and less successful path more towards our president. And I also think that he brought out the point of: “Do you want the next four years under a president similar to ours, who is by the way the same person who you give approval ratings below freezing to?” 

And I think that the general audience thought a second about that, liberal, moderate or conservative, and make their own decision. 

And I think at the same time, McCain felt his grasp slipping. CNN provided a audience reaction poll (it obviously debatable if it is accurate) which showed a huge advantage out of the gate to Obama. 

And this was a very decisive moment in the debate. 

When the topic switched to foreign policy, I noticed a McCain taking chances. The pinnacle of this was a very bold statement from McCain about Russian President Vladimir Putin, quoting:

“I looked into the eyes of Vladimir Putin, and I saw three letters — a K, a G, and a B.”

And although the strongly conservative crowd went nothing less than “ga-ga” about that comment, I think that in the long term that really lost the debate for McCain. But it essentially wasn’t the point itself, rather a small turning point in the debate showing the larger and larger chances that McCain was taking to make his points. And in the end, I think that people will think about the debate in a whole and move towards the conclusion that Barack Obama was more in control, not jumpy, and factual. But most of all, he wasn’t trying to start a World War Three inside that Mississippi auditorium, rather pointing out what is wrong and right. 
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Analysis: Sarah Palin is a force, from whichever prospective you may enter from. But the underlying question is how she has become one in the form of something completely different than what the political world has ever seen. 

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 Shortly after her “homecoming” speech in Fairbanks, Alaska, Sarah Palin opened up, making her first fresh address since her repetitive “stump” speeches after her GOP acceptance, provoking the first thought from me that explains her marvel. How has Sarah Palin accumulated this much press in such a short amount of time?

What me must first understand is the fact that this has been done before, by the person who has been hit most by Palin — Barack Obama. Long ago in political time, Hillary Clinton was once the king of the hill, and a sure-shot to at least make to the general election. And then Obama came, literately out of thin air, and getting more press and hype than Clinton has ever had — eventually overtaking her. 

And although on a bigger stage, this process has essentially repeated itself with Sarah Palin. And because of this, the Obama camp must understand how they took down Clinton could end up being the end of them — defensive rage. Clinton, down in the polls, switched from talking about her policies to using brute force, taking swipes at Obama from a defensive standpoint, something the public recognized as weak.

So what Obama must do is exploit Palin’s weaknesses without letting go of his strengths — discussing himself and what his plans are if elected. 

As I have explained in a different post, Sarah Palin has two big weaknesses — the press, and hand to hand combat. 

The first weakness is due to Palin instant celebrity status. She has fallen victim to what many politicians have feared — a press craze. One of the prices Palin has paid since entering the political stage out of nowhere is that every political or celebrity magazine must have her on the front cover. And because of this, most magazines or press outlets has attempted to discover dirt, hidden, or unexploited information about Palin so their article could be different. And this is what really brought out Palin’s family, greatly including her now infamous daughters, one with down syndrome and the other 17 and pregnant. This has exploded, and later sparking so-called attacks from the opposing party.

The first weakness is due to Palin instant celebrity status. She has fallen victim to what many politicians have feared — a press craze. One of the prices Palin has paid since entering the political stage out of nowhere is that every political or celebrity magazine must have her on the front cover. And because of this, most magazines or press outlets has attempted to discover dirt, hidden, or unexploited information about Palin so their article could be different. And this is what really brought out Palin’s family, greatly including her now infamous daughters, one with down syndrome and the other 17 and pregnant. This has exploded, and later sparking so-called attacks from the opposing party.

The second weakness of Sarah Palin, which could potentially make or break her, is hand to hand political combat. Palin has (and will have) success in what I would call mortar fire, attacking the opposition by way of press statements and campaign ads, which continue to play huge roles in the public, each one accumulating tons of traffic on the viral web and ending up as stories on news outlets such as CNN. 

But If you ask any political commentator of any party the main reason why Sarah Palin has become such a dartboard, they would say her politics. And this is mostly true — Palin is short on the offensive-defensive game of a sit down debate, and because of this, she will most likely not fare well in any sort of think-on-your-toes situation, which has resulted in this very visible tactic: stay away from any interviews or debates unless they are mandatory. 

This tactic, recognized by the McCain camp, has let Palin literately control American press in her direction without making it. More simply put, because she has already created an amazing amount of press and PR from bursting on the political scene and accepting her nomination, Palin doesn’t need to create any press in the form of an un-necessary interview or debate. And instead, she has created the occasional new story far back in her campaign headquarters with statements and ads reacting or criticizing to Obama and Biden. But this stay-back-and-shoot strategy hasn’t been publicly reported or written on, however, mostly due to the overwhelming news on her family, which has now been proved to act as a media shield.  

If Obama plans to take a vital advantage in the media, he must not only focus on his strengths, but exploit Palin’s tactical  weaknesses, which provides a gaping hole in her public image.

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Athlete 

n.

A person possessing the natural or acquired traits, such as strength, agility, and endurance, that are necessary for physical exercise or sports, especially those performed in competitive contexts.

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It’s been hovering around him since the opening ceremony, and now after he has shattered six world records and won seven of his seven entered races, there is no question to many sports fans and journalists alike that Michael Phelps is the greatest athlete ever to set foot on Earth. He has the three key components of a true athlete: strength, agility, and endurance, and he happens to compete in a sport that demands each of those traits. But is he really the best? I beg to differ.

There is no disputing that Phelps is the greatest swimmer ever, but some people need to seriously contemplate making a statement like this, which in my opinion is very premature. The world has only seen this guy for less than a week, and whatever he has managed to accomplish is admittedly extremely impressive, but the world has simply seen better out of a human being. It seems like in all this excitement the world has forgotten the flawless performances that have been displayed thus far in the world of sports ranging from Kobe Bryant’s 81 point performance, where relentless scoring met grace and agility, to Michael Jordan’s illustrious career. And who can forget Walter Payton’s mesmerizing speed and toughness in the dirty sport of American football and Usain Bolt’s recent world records with arguably the best sprinting ever showcased. And what about Pele, Gordie Howe, Magic Johnson, and the many others who really were sports during their era. 

And we keep forgetting the unknown sports that really showcase the most challenging and athletic ability — Big Mountain Skiing, Biatholan, the marathon, horse racing, gymnastics, and (my favorite) — parkour.

So is Michael Phelps the greatest athlete ever? It’s very hard to tell, and it all comes down to a long and hard thought by a well respected journalist. So who is the greatest athlete ever? David Belle. Look him up.

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