September 26, 2008

Presidential Debate Open Thread

Carroll Andrew Morse

Something witty may be retrofitted into this space later.


I like this new more aggressive Jim Lehrer. Where's he been for his last 30 years of interviews?

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you're right Andrew. LOL.

I'm sitting at my house with two women who think Obama is doing great!

Me, I think just so-so.

man, i miss tim russert....

Posted by: donroach at September 26, 2008 10:02 PM

One note, especially now that they're actually talking about foreign affairs: McCain is definitely doing some good differentiation work with every answer that includes mention of his travel and meetings along with reasonably deep explanations (dropping unfamiliar regional names and such). I usually find them presumptuous, but I'm finding his "what Senator Obama doesn't seem to understand" comments effective.

Posted by: Justin Katz at September 26, 2008 10:26 PM

Wait, Senator Obama just contradicted his VP candidate by calling for clean coal power generation.

Posted by: Monique at September 26, 2008 10:26 PM

Overall, I think McCain has made some serious hay with respect to foreign affairs.

Obama had too many cliche's and anecdotes.
He did have a couple good zingers.

I think it's a push and you'll see those on the right praising McCain and those on the left praising Obama. I don't think any large blunders were made, but from a personality standpoint, we see some key differences.

Posted by: don roach at September 26, 2008 10:38 PM

I'd give an edge to McCain, largely because the issues favored him.

A few points:

-The economic discussion quickly turned into a debate about Congressional spending. That favors McCain.

-It almost looked like Obama had to look at his wrist to remember the name on his wristband.

-Obama continues to run against George Bush.

-Obama seemed to agree with McCain on a number of issues. I suppose that is good for McCain.

Posted by: Anthony at September 26, 2008 10:48 PM

Justin says, "I'm finding his "what Senator Obama doesn't seem to understand" comments effective."

The first time it was possibly effective. The second was repetitive. The third time, it became clear that this was a line his handlers told him to repeat. By the 4th or 5th or 6th time, it became clear that McCain was repeating a mantra he had been fed and not thinking for himself. He was clearly no longer his own man, if he ever was.

Posted by: Thomas Schmeling at September 27, 2008 12:00 AM

How do these PBS types keep getting picked to moderate these debates? That being said, I thought Jim handled himself well, too (SNL is going to have a field day). I especially liked the debate format, as it lent itself more to a real discussion, as opposed to quick sound bites.

Speaking of sound bites, a lot of what Obama said tonight seemed to be in the form of pre-rehearsed lines. He also seemed somewhat dispassionate. He also kept calling Sen. McCain "John," while McCain always called him "Sen. Obama." It seemed disrespectful. I think a lot of others may have seen it that way, too.

I certainly think McCain won tonight, but it was close enough not to be a knockout -- more like a TKO. Of course, being the first debate, any kind of win is a win. McCain probably could have been even more forceful about Obama's connections with Fannie Mae and specific Wall Street bankers. However, I presume his not bringing those kind of things up now is part of a strategy to save his powder until a little later in October. The biggest opportunity I think McCain missed is that he could have come out in opposition to the $700B bailout plan.

McCain kept Obama on the defensive most of the night and otherwise had a pretty good night.

PS McCain already has a new ad up online, making fun of how many times Obama agreed with McCain tonight!

Posted by: Will at September 27, 2008 12:40 AM

PS McCain already has a new ad up online, making fun of how many times Obama agreed with McCain tonight!


Doesn't Obama realize that we're all locked into a manechean struggle between darkness and light and that the failure to disagree fundamentally with EVERYTHING the opponent says is a sign of weakness and failure?!?!

totally shocking.

Posted by: Thomas Schmeling at September 27, 2008 1:00 AM

McCain needs to exploit this:

Posted by: Mike Cappelli at September 27, 2008 1:04 AM

Obviously, Obama doesn't understand... :)

I don't know if it's necessarily Manichaean, but on some level, everything is a struggle between darkness and light, even lowly but necessary things like politics. However, that doesn't mean everything is black and white. There are often many shades of gray in between.

On a distantly related note, Henry Kissinger is really angry at Obama for mischaracterizing his position on Iran. I sense a new ad by McCain coming!

PS Excellent video there, Mike!

Posted by: Will at September 27, 2008 1:37 AM

"While it appears Kissinger and Senator Barack Obama disagree on what level those talks should occur, they do agree talks should begin, in Kissinger's words, “at a very high level” and without preconditions."

Posted by: Thomas Schmeling at September 27, 2008 1:43 AM

The Weekly Standard's Stephen F. Hayes got on the horn to Henry Kissinger shortly after that exchange to find out who was right -- and, unsurprisingly, the answer to that question was McCain.

Hayes reports that "Henry Kissinger believes Barack Obama misstated his views on diplomacy with US adversaries and is not happy about being mischaracterized," and quotes the former National Security Advisor and Secretary of State as saying:

"Senator McCain is right. I would not recommend the next President of the United States engage in talks with Iran at the Presidential level.

My views on this issue are entirely compatible with the views of my friend Senator John McCain.

We do not agree on everything, but we do agree that any negotiations with Iran must be geared to reality."

Posted by: Will at September 27, 2008 1:50 AM

I was pretty disturbed that most media outlets tried to imply Obama had the correct understanding. Glad Kissinger was able to set the record straight himself.

They probably won't report that, however.

Posted by: don roach at September 27, 2008 7:20 AM

I know it's hard for most of the participants here to put ourselves in the position of people who pay only a little attention to politics, but I have a hard time seeing how McCain could have done well with undecideds who were seeking information about the candidates to help their voting decision.

Even when I agreed with his substance, I had a hard time following some of McCain's answers without drawing on a large pool of background knowledge about his record. On the flip side, Obama did a decent job giving coherent and self-contained answers, even when I disagreed with his fundamental principles. (And the one big place where Obama rambled off was a wash, on the question of what would be delayed to pay for the $700 billion bailout. McCain answered I'll cut spending by cutting spending, and Obama answered by giving a list of the programs he wants to spend on.)

Posted by: Andrew at September 27, 2008 9:20 AM

Political debates are a dog and pony show. Nobody (as in statistically insignificant) ever watches a "debate" and has his/her opinion changed.

I thought that McCain was trying to play Colonel Jessup to Tom Cruise's Lt. Kaffee in A Few Good Men, and I thought that Obama showed that he could suffer fools.

You could pick a point or two here and there that one or the other candidate "scored", but in sum it was, as it almost always is, Status Quo Ante Bellum.

If you haven't made up your mind yet, what in hell are you waiting for?

Certain ideas must elicit knee jerk reactions:

"troops" - "Brave and courageous",
"Israel" - "sacrosanct and innocent",
"Iran" - "gnashing of teeth and use of the word 'rogue'", etc.

Posted by: OldTimeLefty at September 27, 2008 10:11 AM

Advantage Obama, although McCain was OK. It's just that foreign policy was supposed to be the area where JM's experience was going to demonstrate the unfitness of BO for president and that didn't happen. BO held his own. Kind of like a tie game in football on the other team's home field. JM looked silly when he again trotted out the Ahmedinijad pre-conditions card to try and tag BO as an enemy of Israel. I understand the political gamesmanship, and the unstated but intended suggestion that Barack Hussein Obama is somehow cozying up to Islamofacists,but while Jewish voters might enjoy the attention, they will ultimately see through it and vote on economic issues in Nov. Also, the "I traveled there, you didn't bother to" line about Iraq or Afghanistan only works with hard right security concious voters and JM already has most of them. The rest of us associate it with junketeering and photo-ops for granstanding politicians. Best moment. "Hey John, I got a dead soldier's wristband too."

Posted by: observer at September 27, 2008 10:18 AM

What jumped out at me was that BOTH of them referred to the "Republican Guard"being labelled a "terrorist organization".The Republican Guard ceased to exist in 2003-it was the core of the Iraqi regular army.
The Iranians have a "Revolutionary Guard"-a very heavily armed paramilitary force that is very much a terrorist organization-most of it directed at ordinary Iranian citizens-it came into being shortly after Khomeini seized power from the interim Iranian government of Shapur Bakhtiar after the fall of the Shah.The Iranian Revolutionary Guard were the group that stormed and seized the US Embassy.
Call me a nitpicker,but how could they both get that wrong?
Thank God McCain didn't say "nuculer".

Posted by: joe bernstein at September 27, 2008 5:18 PM
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