Blog Buzz: John McCain Is a Hit at the Al Smith Dinner, More Joe the Plumber, McCain's Robocalls

The candidates roast each other at an annual dinner, and McCain launches a series of robocalls.

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McCain Trades Anger for Humor

After an underwhelming performance at the final presidential debate, John McCain redeemed himself at the Al Smith dinner in New York, an annual charity event where the candidates are expected to roast themselves and each other. Among McCain's gems: "Joe the Plumber recently signed a very lucrative contract with a wealthy couple to handle all the work on all seven of their houses." Both liberal and conservative bloggers say McCain was a hit (more so than Barack Obama, who was solid), not only for his jokes but for his tribute to Obama at the end of the night. Huffington Post blogger Steven Weber wonders why McCain's speechwriter for the dinner hasn't been running his campaign all along. Former Bill Clinton speechwriter Mark Katz says the speech was an important lesson in the difference between humor and spin.

Joe the Plumber Won't Go Away

Joe the Plumber is still getting attention from the media despite his admission that based on his income, Obama would lower his taxes, not raise them. A conservative blogger points out that Joe has unpaid tax liens but thinks the media should instead focus on the tax liens against Martin Nesbitt, the Obama campaign's treasurer. ThinkProgress calls out Michelle Malkin for the hypocrisy in her complaints about the media's mission to "tear down" Joe the Plumber. Is he the new Sarah Palin?

McCain's Annoying Robocalls (And Faux Robocalls)

A series of robocalls launched by the McCain campaign in a slew of states has given liberal bloggers another reason to wonder what has happened to the John McCain they once knew. Liberals call the tactic "fundamentally gutless" and say "real men don't hide behind robocalls." They also point out that McCain condemned robocalls back in 2000 when they were smearing him. The Huffington Post has the scoop on the Arizona Republican Party, which is telling voters that all they have to do to get off the robocall list is send in their early ballot. Ben Smith at Politico says some of the robocalls have actually been live people reading off a script - just as annoying as the real thing.

—Gretchen Hannes