Thoughts on the presidential debate

Re-post of Bryan’s notes from the Presidential Debate over at Subliminal Gary

Presidential Debate – September 26, 2008

McCain’s tie is truly awful. Obama took the center of the ring immediately. Guess he’s going to take the initiative.

Q1: Where do you stand on the bailout plan?

Obama looks good. Speaking directly to the camera. Looks smooth and relaxed and prepared. Obama draws first blood by blaming the current crisis on Bush, supported by McCain.

McCain mentions Kennedy being in the hospital right off the bat. Interesting tactic. McCain appears to be looking at and speaking directly to the moderator, not the television audience. Not sure how that will play to the television audience. Obama is speaking directly to us, McCain does not appear to be doing so.

Q1a: Are you in favor of the plan, damnit?

Obama says we haven’t seen the language of the plan yet and goes on the attack again. Too aggressive? At least he is wearing his lapel pin!

McCain says he will vote for the plan but basically brushes off the question. Seems a bit blase about seeing the crisis coming.

Jim Lehrer is a bit of a dork. Is he trying to increase the drama or run a debate?

Q2: Are there fundamental differences between the two candidates in how they would solve the economic problem?

McCain says we have to curb government spending. Mentions earmarking specifically. Studying DNA of bears? WTF is he talking about? Attacks Obama for wanting 900+ million for something.

Obama responds that McCain wants 300 billion in tax cuts for wealthy and corporations. Obama’s tax plan gives release to 90+% of people.

McCain just doesn’t look good. He points at the moderator very mechanically when he makes points and often laughs nervously.

Q3: What will you give up to pay for the economic bailout?

Obama says we have to have energy independence through alternative energy. Have to fix health care system. Education (science and technology!). Rebuild infrastructure and broadband lines. Electricity grid.

McCain says we have to cut spending. See Q2, apparently. Eliminate ethanol subsidies. Return defense spending? What? Need fixed cost contracts.

Obama insults Bush and McCain laughs. A bipartisan moment!

McCain says spending freeze is the answer except for defense and veterans. Obama says that is overkill. Obama finally plays the Iraq card.

McCain mentions climate change. Huh.

McCain doesn’t seem to have any message other than cutting spending.

Orgy of spending! Obamamania!

Q4: Lessons of Iraq.

McCain: Can’t have a failed strategy. Now we’re winning. Huzzah!

Obama: Should we have gone into war in the first place? Nope. Obama opposed war from the beginning. Didn’t finish job in Afghanistan. We’ve made things worse. And spending 10 billion a month. While Iraq as surplus. Have to use military wisely.

McCain is condescending towards Obama after having mistakes pointed out. That won’t play well. But he’s left-handed. How about that?

Q5: Afghanistan: More troops? How many and when?

Obama: Yes and as soon as possible. Safe havens in Pakistan.

McCain: Won’t make mistake of…ever leaving the middle east?

Oh sweet jesus something is moving inside of McCain’s face!

It sounds like McCain is making a lot of factually incorrect statements and accusations towards Obama. Hopefully there will be some fact-checking in the post-debate.

How many times now has McCain said that Obama doesn’t understand something? 10?

Q6: Iran.

McCain says Iran is a threat to Israel and region if they get nukes. A second holocaust? McCain wants to replace UN with a new league that doesn’t include anyone who opposes us.

Obama says Iran was made more powerful by war in Iraq. Tougher sanctions. Need support of Russia.

Q7: Russia.

Obama: Entire approach needs to be reassessed. Work with Russia.

McCain: Obama doesn’t understand. Over and over again. McCain is going to get hammered for this, I gotta think.

Q8: Likelihood of another 9/11.

McCain: Much less than it was at 9/11. Long way to go.

Obama: Safer in some ways. Airport security. Securing targets. Long way to go. Need port security. Terrorism spreading. Regain international respect.

Tough to call a winner here. Obama is a much better speaker and debater, but McCain’s foreign policy experience is very strong. If people believe that the war in Iraq is destroying the country, Obama should be declared the winner.


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