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September 26, 2008

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9:15- Earmarks! And the bear paternity joke! That McCain is a riot.

Okay, so move this htere: So is the live-blogging the debate thread? Because I'm now waiting to see if Obama brings up Sarah Palin's requests for earmarks, now that McCain has denounced earmarks again.

And no, he went the higher road by explaining how relatively insignificant earmarks are.

Should McCain really bring up "Miss Congeniality"?

McCain's jokes aren't sounding too hot in a silent auditorium.

"My friends": drink!

Am I crazy, or is Barry kinda beating him up on points here?

EARMARKS!!! THE SCOURGE OF HUMANITY!!*

*after Liberalism.

/mccain

McCain is being aggressive, I think. Obama should be more so.

Should go after McCain on lobbyists in his campaign.

I think Obama scores on the tax cuts vs. health care issue.

I think McCain's other exemption @9:34 was entitlements.

Can someone PLEASE just say "Keating Five" when McCain is talking about being against corruption?

9:36 Both Obama and McCain totally dodged the question of what they'd cut, instead both launching into discussions of what they want to do. I guess they're getting into it now, somewhat, but of course neither of them wants to say anything very specific. Can't really blame them since nobody knows what next year's budget will look like or what this bailout will actually cost anyway.

McCain says he wants a spending freeze on everything but defense, veteran's affairs, and something I didn't catch. Also calls for 40 new nuclear power plants.

McCain also says we have to go through the government agencies and find the ones that aren't working well and "eliminate them". Eliminate? Not fix? Uh, what if they actually served some useful purpose?

Miss Congeniality joke for the second time.

6:39 Maverick x2 in one sentence: CHUG.

Obama said "orgy" a few minutes earlier though. Edgy!

I wish one of them at least acted like they knew what to do about the bailout. Their talking points haven't caught up with reality yet.

In reference to performance, Jim Leher is doing a decent job, at least to my ethanol muddled brain.

Obama says McCain is right too often, I think. Congeniality is one thing, but you don't want to give the impression that you mostly agree with him.

"I think Obama is being basically clear; if he has a weakness, it's moving through too many points."

I think it took Obama roughly 30 minutes to gain his footing.

Just when I was wondering when he was going to mention President Bush, he did for the first time -- around the 30-minute mark.

Soon after, he used his first memorable phrase -- the only memorable phrase of the debate so far -- when he brought up Bush's name again and said that McCain has supported the president's "orgy of spending."

Got my attention.

So did McCain -- out of left field -- when he proposed a "spending freeze," after both candidates were pressed numerous times about the inevitable effects of the $700 million Wall Street bailout.

Classic McCain, who clearly likes the Hail Mary pass.

This idea of a "spending freeze" (with exceptions Hilzoy noted) is extreme and probably unworkable, although if I relied on government spending for various things that a McCain Administration would consider non-essential, I would be worried.

However, I'd give McCain points for at least conceding the point that neither candidate will be able to fulfill their pie-in-the-sky campaign promises. Obama repeatedly dodged Lehrer's question.

"McCain, by contrast, is rambling, but in an aggrieved sort of way."

Hilzoy, neither of us are McCain fans. But I would suggest that some viewers would look at McCain's anger as feistiness and spirit.

Of course, he's no Mr. Congeniality.

Is it just me, or is McCain's check bulging like a xenomorph is gonna pop out.

Props to Hilzoy.

Just adding a comment here and there is tough enough, much less liveblogging, while trying to adequately digesting the whole debate.

If you don't say it out loud (re: strikes in Pakistan) HOW BOUT WAR WITH RUSSIA?????

First mistake by Lehrer.

The back-and-forth on Iraq was lively and he should have kept it going. Both scored points.

To borrow from Hilzoy:

Obama: "John likes to pretend the war started in 2007."

McCain: Obama doesn't know the difference between strategy and tactics. Also: he will not acknowledge the success of the surge.

Is Obama trying to needle McCain a little bit, to maybe induce a blowup here?

I give Obama credit for trying but he just butchered McCain's "Ba-ba-bomb Iraq," mentioning if McCain wants "to sing songs about Iraq, that's OK."

Many viewers aren't going to know what the hell he was talking about. Should have referenced the Beach Boys and quoted the whole damn line.

WTF? What does McCain as 33-year old midshipment have to do with respecting Reagan? He respected Reagan then? Reagan wasn't even in the movies yet!

And the litany of wars he has supported.... were there any he didn't support?

McCain talking about the dangers of cross-border strikes into Pakistan. Er, aren't we already doing that?

McCain says Obama is irresponsible for saying he would attack Pakistan. Obama says hey! Nobody is talking about attacking Pakistan! Plus, you sang a song about attacking Iran, so, WTF.

Anecdotes about mothers are touching, but Presidents are supposed to be thinking strategically, not validating Gold Star mothers' feelings.

Man has this campaign ever sharpened Obama.

Pooh: I think that's what he was doing with the "sing songs about Iraq" -- although McCain is making a pretty good retort right now, talking about a mother of a marine he talked to.

Obama finally brought up "making good judgments."

This is where he can trump McCain -- not questioning the man's valor or singing ability.

McCain, fer Chrissake, the two wars are connected because of US incompetence! We can't keep fighting both!

Jesus.

Man has this campaign ever sharpened Obama.

I have to agree. He's been a lot sharper than he was in the primaries. He's been really good at responding to McCain's bogus charges.

Pooh: "Can someone PLEASE just say "Keating Five" when McCain is talking about being against corruption?"


To Bernard's point about Obama not being agressive enough -- this would indeed be something to bring up (if economics comes up again).

Oh, goodie. McCain wants to form his own UN because he hates Russia and Iran.

Pooh: I think that's what he was doing with the "sing songs about Iraq" -- although McCain is making a pretty good retort right now, talking about a mother of a marine he talked to.

Yeah, it seemed like he ALMOST got him, but McCain was able to reign himself in before going off.

"Is it just me, or is McCain's check bulging like a xenomorph is gonna pop out."

I'm sure Michelle Malkin is blogging even now about the illegal aliens living illegally in McCain's illegal cheeks, where he houses illegal aliens. Illegally.

One thing about Obama that's freaking me out is his ability to explain his Senate votes in a concise and effective way.

If only this guy had been around in 2004...

Jacob: "Miss Congeniality joke for the second time.

"6:39 Maverick x2 in one sentence: CHUG."

McCain does make for one helluva drinking game, my friend.

How I miss college.

yes, because what Ahmadenijad lacks is a platform...

Retarding comment by McCain on not dealing with dictatorships until they change, and then citing Nixon and China. Right Johnny, because the 1960s was an unbroken litany of human rights advances on the Chinese mainland.

I like that Obama is popping him with Kissinger on the "no preconditions" bit.

This is fun, but I better get upstairs with the wife.

She is enjoy the CNN broadcast on hi-def --anaylsts point-scoring the debate on the left and right of the TV screen, a focus group doing the same underneath it.

I found it distracting.

I hope McCain can be baited into irritability. McCain has a problem with sounding whiny when he gets pissed off.

McCain also seems to have a problem with having a smug smile while Obama is discussing life-and-death issues.

Spain!
Spain!
Spain!

F'in preconditions

Preconditions!Preconditions!Preconditions!Preconditions!Preconditions!Preconditions!Preconditions!

"McCain also seems to have a problem with having a smug smile"

It's officially known as the "creepy smile".

McCain: "I don't even have a (presidential) seal yet."

Good dig at Obama.

But, again, like the Beach Boys line, this is inside-baseball stuff.

It does show that McCain is fighting back -- and I think he finds Obama contemptable.

His "Oh, please" just now was a pretty good putdown of Obama, who looked baffled.

"I am not parsing words," a frustrated Obama shot back.

Looks like McCain won't have the Senior Moment that Chris Matthews was begging him to have in the pre-game.

REAGAN! REAGAN! PRECONDITIONS!

I think the right will call Obama arrogant tomorrow, for repeatedly saying "When I am President" while McCain is saying things like "I'm not presuming to set the White House guest list" and "I haven't even got a seal yet". Completely idiotic, but I'll bet it's one of the major talking points in the wash-up.

McCain is going to get his head handed to him on the Kissinger bit.

I think McCain just looked like an a** on the subject of talks. Maybe not - I'm not unbiased, but the smug laugh is really annoying.

McCain: "I looked into Mr. Putin's eyes and I saw three letters: K - G - B."

Great, great line.

And it separates himself from Mr. Bush.

For those of us hoping Obama would knock out the 72-year-old candidate tonight, it ain't happening.

McCain sure sounds like he's threatening war with Russia to me.

i know i'm biased, but McCain sounds pissy, annoyed, and mean. Obama sounds calmer, more statesman-like.

Very nice pivot on the energy issue by Obama there.

Jacob: The drinking game has had one major letdown -- we're almost finished and not single POW reference.

Sobriety scores a point.

I think the talks are a losing topic for McCain. He's not justifying WHY he wouldn't sit down and talk with them, so his repeating of the accusation as if it's innately insane sounds like a weird obsession. To me.

McCain keeps giggling and laughing at things Obama is saying. I have no idea how that plays with someone who doesn't despise him, but I sure don't think it looks good for him.

McCain keeps talking over Obama in that unstoppable-grandpa way. I'm not sure Obama can do anything about it.

"Obama sounds calmer . . ."

Sometimes too calm, allowing McCain to sneak in too many falsehoods.

Jacob: Our first Joe Lieberman reference.

Drink up!

I like how working with Lieberman somehow counts as bipartisan...

Obama should have insisted on correcting McCain's comments on nuclear waste.

Mistake. He's giving McCain too much time.

I think the right will call Obama arrogant tomorrow, for repeatedly saying "When I am President" while McCain is saying things like "I'm not presuming to set the White House guest list" and "I haven't even got a seal yet".
I'm reasonably sure McCain referred at some point to what the McCain administration would do, or something that would happen under it.

For those of us hoping Obama would knock out the 72-year-old candidate tonight, it ain't happening.

Actually, the knockout onus is on McCain. Obama just has to not make a hash of things, and the news for the next few days is going to be about the bailout anyway.

"I like how working with Lieberman somehow counts as bipartisan . . ."

For me, there is just way too much man-love between Lieberman and McCain.

He has, Gary, and more than once. Won't stop the right-wing from calling Obama presumptuous though.

Oh.my.god. SDI ended the Cold War. McCain is just relentless with BS.

"We seem to have come full circle again . . ."

McCain -- who I thought was a bland debater in the primaries -- is actually managing to close out this debate with a closing summary in response to a question.

Sharp.

McCain: "I looked into Mr. Putin's eyes and I saw three letters: K - G - B."

Great, great line.

The first hundred times, maybe; he's been using it for years.

I'm not sure, but Colin Powell may have used it first.

"Specifc dates for withdrawal" crap a minus for McCain. IMO: harping . in effect, on yesterday's issue.
Not snart

Star Wars ended the Cold War? Perhaps I have judged The Phantom Menace too harshly.

"and the news for the next few days is going to be about the bailout anyway"

Yeah, these two could have come to blows tonight or even kissed and the Bailout is still Topic A.

"The first hundred times, maybe; he's been using it for years."

Must confess: I had never heard him use it -- and if I haven't, I'd bet a few million watching haven't, either.

Oops - McCain's close is a sneer ("Obama's experience")

& "Love the veterans" ? WTF??

McCain loves the veteran -- "I love them. And that's going to be my job" -- and we should all tear up now.

POWPOWPOWPOWPOWPOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!

McCain: Obama is showing poor judgment by refusing to acknowledge that he made a bad decision in supporting the surge.

And the decision to support the invasion of Iraq, Brute?

Oops.

Thank God -- he got a "POW" in.

Finally.

"Star Wars ended the Cold War? Perhaps I have judged The Phantom Menace too harshly."

It's all because of the Soviet Union employing Jar Jar Binks.

Waited until the end, but he got in the POW! Knew it had to happen.

Good debate.

These guys DO NOT like each other.

"Contempt" comes to mind.

Not sure if the event would have changed an Independent's mind, however; so I'd count it as a win for Obama.

Okay, so I had to be away from the tv for half an hour, so I'm watching the rerun of the debate on my local PBS station, and am only up to the first 39 minutes so far.

And he just said that the lesson of Iraq was don't have a bad strategy that will cause you to fail unless you change it?

Uh, righhhhttt.

Star Wars ended the Cold War?

We had TIE fighters buzzing around the planet ready to shoot down pesky ICBMs!

I think this was a slight win for Obama, just by calling out some of McCain's crap, especially the "talks w/o preconditions." McCain just kinda kept going a lot, and Lehrer had a hell of a time getting him to stop. Whoever mentioned McCain's talking was an un-interruptable grandpa style was right.

(Darn you Gary! Your joke is much funnier than mine.)

I didn't watch it, but is it true that Obama refused to credit the surge as a success? If so, good. If not--well, I don't have high hopes for serious discussions in a Presidential debate anyway.

Gary- And he just said that the lesson of Iraq was don't have a bad strategy that will cause you to fail unless you change it?
I have a tablecloth in the washer from my friend and I spitting a screwdriver out at that moment.

From the Caucus blog on NYT:

"Mr. McCain says: “It’s an existential threat to Israel.” They’ve used this phrase before, meaning that it is a threat to Israel’s existence. But they ought to explain it, otherwise it sounds to voters like we’re trying to protect Jean Paul Sartre."

Probably a draw, though I'm a bit disappointed. I hope that's just because I thought Obama would score a KO and he didn't.

I do think he should have been more aggressive, both in his direct answers and in responding to McCain's claims.

I didn't watch it, but is it true that Obama refused to credit the surge as a success? If so, good.

It's more like he popped McCain in the mouth over the fact that we shouldn't be in the war in the first place.

My discounted market-adjusted ($0.02) opinion: a draw. Both men proved equally adept at spouting cliches, platitudes and talking-points. Both men proved equally adept at "managing" a set-piece debate. My opinion of the candidates - and their chances - : unchanged.

Back to Square One. (I.e., President Obama in jan.)

Here is a quick and dirty transcript that's still in progress that everyone can use to find versions of what they remember.

Points that amazed me: McCain answers that the way he'll lead us out of the financial crisis is fighting earmarks:

[...] LEHRER: All right, let's go to the next lead question, which is essentially following up on this same subject.

And you get two minutes to begin with, Senator McCain. And using your word "fundamental," are there fundamental differences between your approach and Senator Obama's approach to what you would do as president to lead this country out of the financial crisis?

MCCAIN: Well, the first thing we have to do is get spending under control in Washington. It's completely out of control. It's gone -- we have now presided over the largest increase in the size of government since the Great Society.

We Republicans came to power to change government, and government changed us. And the -- the worst symptom on this disease is what my friend, Tom Coburn, calls earmarking as a gateway drug, because it's a gateway. It's a gateway to out-of-control spending and corruption.

Hooboy. That's the solution to the financial crisis?

Then my previous point:

[...] LEHRER: All right. Let's go another subject. Lead question, two minutes to you, senator McCain. Much has been said about the lessons of Vietnam. What do you see as the lessons of Iraq?
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MCCAIN: I think the lessons of Iraq are very clear that you cannot have a failed strategy that will then cause you to nearly lose a conflict.

Hoo-doggie.

Biden had a small bit on NBC. Then they moved to Guliani. Did any of the networks talk to Palin?

In the closing it's really clear that the only issue here is Iraq and whether the initial decision to invade was a good one. McCain kept bringing it back to the surge to avoid discussing that, and Obama kept bringing it back to the initial decision to invade to avoid discussing the surge. I don't blame either of them for their desire to avoid those two areas. But to me (unsurprisingly) the decision whether to invade was by far the more important one, and that's one where their opinions differ greatly, although McCain doesn't want to broadcast that too loudly.

I do think the surge is an area of vulnerability for Obama. Americans like to win, and they're also pragmatists who want to make the best of a bad job. Not sure Obama made enough mention of the gigantic cost of staying in Iraq, though.

There was, finally, a P.O.W. reference at the end but it was so fast that I think most people would've missed it. Plus, I had drunk my solitary beer by then. I'm too old for drinking games really.

Overall I think the whole thing was remarkably cogent, mature, and rational with surprisingly little recourse to talking points or mockery. I don't like McCain one little bit, but this was the part of him that I think those who have admired him in the past have seen. This is his home turf.

But I think that mature tone also left the viewer without a knockout winner on some gotcha point. So the independent voter waiting for that gotcha moment will be disappointed and actually have to make a decision based on which policies they like better. A tragedy!

Good to see Obama getting a lot of prime-time exposure. For all the exposure in the primaries, I think people need to see more of Obama on TV just to get used to this idea that a 40-something black man could be qualified to be President. I think a lot of basically decent people have trouble believing that because they don't have very much personal experience with African-Americans and have a view shaped by the media portrayal of black men. It kind of pains me to say that, but there we go. So seeing him up there, sharp as hell - though McCain was sharp too - knowledgeable, confident in his judgement, I thought that was a good thing. And they may mock him for "When I'm President" but that's the idea that needs to be accepted: he can be President. In fact, if the polls today stayed the way they are, he will be President. So I think, better to get that idea accepted by people than to say "if I'm President" and risk sounding like you don't think you can do it.

Rudy G. just got on whatever station I'm watching and said "Well I thought McCain won this debate hugely" which, dude, come on. Won? Nobody "won" that debate, it wasn't about winning. For once, it was about informing people about what the two candidates really want and where they differ. Imagine that. So it was a little sad to go right back to the bullshit politics of instantly declaring your candidate a "winner" and repeating it until we all just give up protesting.

Biden had a small bit on NBC. Then they moved to Guliani. Did any of the networks talk to Palin?

AFAIK, Palin flat-out refused...

"I think a lot of basically decent people have trouble believing that because they don't have very much personal experience with African-Americans and have a view shaped by the media portrayal of black men."

The bad news.

McCain said "...so we never have to torture prisoners again."

Tacitly admitting we torture prisoners. Curious.

"So it was a little sad to go right back to the bullshit politics of instantly declaring your candidate a 'winner' and repeating it until we all just give up protesting."

This is where the word "spin" gained its political meaning from.

Only saw the last 45mins, but McCain was much more steady in the Foreign Policy section. Obama was pretty good, but he was a wee bit forced. IMO.

McCain lied a lot.

Biden's follow-up on MSNBC was weeeeaaak.

JV-VP Little Rudy G was much more fun to listen to.

Sarahcudda was apparently busy with some Adderall and the last five years of Newsweek.

It would be interesting if someone did the positive/negative statement analysis on the transcript. It seemed to me that McCain spent a lot of time on stone-throwing and not as much on describing his solutions.

McCain also seemed to go out of his way to highlight how old he is. I didn't expect so many, "Back in the day, I went to that country" stories.

Gary - the good news is that it isn't going to be close.

"Gary - the good news is that it isn't going to be close."

I've seen too many predictions fail in too many elections to buy into any any more.

Obama praised McCain for saying that he opposed torture. Andrew Sullivan says that it was a "graceful" move on Obama's part. But Obama did not say that McCain voted for torture in the Military Commissions Act of 2006. Obama, in fact, except one time, did not convey what a liar and slimeball McCain is. The one time was when McCain accused Obama of voting against funding for the troops, and Obama replied that McCain had also voted against funding for the troops; Obama had voted against the funding bill with no timetable and McCain had voted against the funding bill with a timetable. But Obama made no general statement about McCain's dishonesty.

I wish Obama would stop saying "When I'm President" so much, I don't think it will play well, it sounds cocky.

WTF with McCain's League of Democracies??? Every time he said that I got a mental picture of the Justice League and giggled. But seriously would that replace the UN, how would that even work, just bizarre.

The spending freeze was so left field too. It may play well to people who have no knowledge of the federal budget process so maybe he'll get away with that one. But I used to work in the civil service and when he said that I was baffled.

But overall I though McCain did well, I was hoping he would lose his temper or have a senior moment. Oh well. Obama was okay but I thought McCain was stronger.

I understand that EVERYBODY here hates the Rethuglicans, but look, this was a debate on foreign policy. McCain has had a lot more experience in foreign policy, and that can be debated whether it is good or bad. Obama's experience is mostly in Chicago Public Schools via IL state senate and Chicago Annenberg Challenge, and his effectiveness can be judged on that.

Here is another partial transcript.

For Donald's sake, and anyone else, here's what's relevant to the "surge" (in two parts, due to Typepad's new length limit on comments with links):

[...]

SEN. OBAMA: Look, the -- I'm very proud of my vice presidential selection, Joe Biden, who's the chairman of the Senate Foreign

Relations Committee. And as he explains and as John well knows, the issues of Afghanistan, the issues of Iraq, critical issues like that don't go through my subcommittee because they're done as a committee as a whole.

But that's Senate inside baseball.

Let's get back to the core issue here. Senator McCain is absolutely right that the violence has been reduced as a consequence of the extraordinary sacrifice of our troops and our military families. They have done a brilliant job and General Petraeus has done a brilliant job.

[continued in pt. II]

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