Tuesday, October 07, 2008

The Debate, Redux (UPDATED)

I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised. No Bill Ayers, no Jeremiah Wright, not even any Sarah Palin. In short, not as many cheap shots as I expected. McCain pointing at Obama and going "you know who voted for it...that one!" was condescending, but it could have been worse.

Obama seemed to be losing focus in the last half hour, but Brokaw gave both candidates the opening they needed with the "zen-like" last question, which basically gave both of them license to repeat an abbreviated version of their stump speech. And when you do that, sorry if I seem biased, but Obama wins.

Oh, and on that subject: as a moderator, Tom Brokaw sucked. SUUUUUUCKED. But, admittedly, not in the way I thought he would. I expected him to bend over for McCain (see previous posts). Instead, he chose to basically lose control of both candidates, letting them go beyond time and run roughshod over the rules.

Thing is, Obama's ahead in the polls. All he had to do was not lose. He didn't lose, so I'm giving this one to Obama.

UPDATE: John Cole at Balloon Juice, one of my favorite blogs, has this to say:

Given ninety minutes to go after Obama like he and his partner and his surrogates have the past few days, and he said nothing. Given all that time to question Obama’s patriotism, to question his background, to suggest he does not support the troops, and McCain refused to do it. Why didn’t he look him in the eyes and call him Sen. Hussein like his surrogates aredoing? Or is that just supposed to be in the background, to make Obama look suspect, to accuse him of being in league with terrorists- but like every punk and every bully he can’t own up to it himself.

As for myself, call me naive, but I can't help but wonder if John McCain is a good man who secretly has no heart for the kind of nasty divisive campaign his advisers apparently want him to run. He doesn't play the "palling around with domestic terrorists" card because deep down, he knows it's not true, even as his campaign advisers try to push it.

That doesn't make me support him, mind you; quite the contrary, It makes him sad. And it makes him entirely unfit to lead this country.

11 comments:

Jonathan Hayes said...

I thought that Obama didn't really deliver with the zen final question, didn't work himself up into the kind of blinkered patriotic zeal that McCain does that goes over so well with the voters. Indeed, I think that Obama's weakness as a candidate is that he hands out reason more than sentiment.

Either way, though, I thought he won the debate. I felt almost sorry for the whiny, wheedling McCain, who just seemed old and desperate. Poor guy: just WANTING it badly is not qualification enough for the most powerful job in the world...

Gerard said...

I think McCain "won" overall. He was more assured in the setting and went on the offensive early and stayed on it. Obama did not always take the bait on McCain's shots but had to spend valuable time refuting them.

I thought McCain was clearer in his answers. He also had an advantage on a few big questions by answering second.

I don't think Obama did bad but his speaking style and pauses to formulate answers seemed more...I don't know how to explain it except that it seemed too close to being "politically weaselly".

Fran said...

I don't know. Maybe because I'm predisposed not to like McCain, but his constant use of "my friends" seemed like his version of Palin's good-ol'-girl pseudo-friendliness, and I had one person observe to me that McCain's strange whisper seemed reminiscent of a playground-stalking child molester.

But then, as I say, I'm biased.

David said...

McCain didn't start rolling steel balls or talking about strawberries, so I suppose he beat expectations in that regard.

Gerard said...

That "my friends" gets on my nerves. That's a drinking game right there.

Tom Panek said...

I thought both candidates seemed to be better prepped on how to present themselves. I'm not sure if it worked for them. On Obama's part, he didn't interrupt McLame to refute his lies. He answered most of the questions more directly this time than in the last debate. McCain seemed to have been prepped along the lines of being more folksy and more congenial, a la Sarah Failin'. But his answers seemed more like Palin's, too - more scattered, less focused on answering the question directly, and with little content. As for his use of "My friends," I find it offensive. When someone starts in like that with me, the putting their arm around your shoulder or the pat on the back, I'm wondering how soon I'll feel the knife penetrate. I don't trust that stuff; it sets off bells.

However, Obama nailed McCain on his masking of the facts regarding his health plan proposal when O pointed out that McCain also intended to tax any employer health benefits provided. However, when he pointed this out and subsequently said that $5000 doesn't begin to cover the annual cost for a family of four, he should have also pointed out that McCain's plan doesn't call for $5000 for every person (as Johnny stated), but calls for $5000 for families and $2500 for individuals. Also, it's a tax CREDIT, not a lump sum, which doesn't amount to squat if a family doesn't have the cash in the first place.

I felt that McCain closed stronger than Obama. Given that he went last, it may be an impression that sticks in the minds of the voters. I hope not.

Tom Panek said...

Oh, and McCain definitely looks old and stiff. Maybe because he is...

Gerard said...

I was afraid McCain was going to trip and fall.

David Terrenoire said...

david,

I too thought McCain sounded like Bogart playing Captain Queeg. That slightly crazed voice with anger bubbling just beneath the surface, desperately trying to make his case.

He looked old. He sounded cranky. It wasn't pretty.

Obama didn't light any fires, but he didn't look likely to fly off in a fit of rage, either.

eviljwinter said...

I honestly think McCain is throwing the election, doing just enough to stay close (energize the base, let surrogates trash talk Obama), but isn't setting people on fire like he did in 2000.

Is it just me, or did two weeks of the bailout debate seem to take the wind out of McCain's sails? Obama seems almost energized by the process. "Hey, here's something I can tackle on Day 2." (Nothing gets done on Day 1 except the inaugural ball.)

Kate Hathway said...

After the fifth or sixth "my friends" had me yelling "I'm not you're friend!" (and other things, I turned it off and started to read Robert Morgan's new biography of Daniel Boone. John McCain needs to study how a real maverick leader leads - I'd mail him the book, but I doubt it'd do any good.