Home > Politics, Presidential Debate > debatable down and dirty ’08

debatable down and dirty ’08

John McCain & Barack Obama

John McCain & Barack Obama

It’s time to get down and dirty – town hall style.

Let’s rumble:

  • First impressions: the height of the stools seems to be to Obama’s advantage, McCain is a little short to look comfortable perched on that bar chair.  
  • When he is not on the stool, McCain looks really comfortable in the confined space of the town hall stage.  He moves around and directly engages those who are asking questions in the audience – he seems very comfortable and looks like he is connecting to the audience.  Early on, Obama does not appear to be as comfortable as his opponent.
  • If the “Joe Six-Packs” watching the debate incorporate the word “record” into their drinking game, they may not make it past the 6th question before passing out. 
  • Tom Brokaw is very committed to talking about the time limits that the candidates agreed to – has he ever watched a debate before?  The odds of that occurring are roughly equivalent to the odds of either candidate spontaneously breaking into a song praising the presidential tenure of George Bush.
  • What is the story behind the people who are in the audience of this town hall debate?  How do you get a seat?  What is the political leanings of this group?  Is the goal to have a group who has not decided on who they are voting for, or to have an equal number of people who support either candidate.
  •  McCain just made a lot of people perk up by telling them they would get double tax credit for each dependent child – sounds good to me.
  • Tom Brokaw just put Obama in his chair!
  • Obama just thumbed his nose at Brokaw and said “forget your question, I am going back to talk about taxes” and “the Straight Talk Express just lost a wheel” – or “BOOYAH!” (in other words)
  • Put another tally by “sit down across the table”.
  • McCain’s voice is a strange mixture of Dirty Harry, Jack Nicholson’s Joker, and George Bush.
  • As I look at the audience, I am a little disappointed.  I was hoping for at least one person – man or woman – who just looks absolutely crazy.  
  • There he goes again. Tom Brokaw is just going to have to give up on his time constraints.
  • Actually, there is one guy – the first question asker – whose glasses make him look like he has a pair of crazy eyes.  I am still feeling a little let down, though.
  • I find that, while I agree that the economy is a massive issue, it can feel so beyond my ability to fathom that I don’t get excited when the candidates are debating their plans for working towards a solution.  But when they start talking about income tax, tax hikes, tax cuts, and health insurance policies, my ears really perk up – I understand those things and they mean something to my monthly budget (especially with a baby on the way).
  • McCain just helpfully indicated that the fundamental difference between himself and Obama is that Obama’s first instinct is to talk about the government getting involved – big government, in other words, which meddles into your personal choices and fines you if you don’t want to do it the government’s way.
  • McCain just made a hair plug joke that bombed. This is not a crowd that is given to laughter.
  • Here is my suggestion for the next debate.  Let’s do it “weigh-in, stare down” style.  Lets draw a line on the red carpet and require eye contact between the candidates at all time – direct addresses.  Should a candidate look away, they lose an electoral college vote.
  • The question about military action is clearly to McCain’s strength – “there is no time for on the job training,” he reminds us.  Obama comes across as clever, but not like a Commander-in-Chief.
  • I think McCain made the right choice in electing to stop sitting in the awkwardly sized chair – shows solid judgement on his part.
  • McCain fielded the question about the “McCain Doctrine” very well I think.
  • That was an enjoyable little exchange between McCain and Obama over having follow up after follow up, evidently Tom Brokaw is “just hired help”.
  • I was beginning to think that I would need to change the title of this blog, but this fiery discussion of the issue of military aggression in Afghanistan just stirred up the pot and wiped that thought from my mind – it is getting down and dirty.  
  • It should not be overlooked that the down-and-dirtiness is exacerbated by Tom “the Time Warden” Brokaw … I think he wants a piece of the action.
  • The difference between McCain and Obama is seen clearly in their response to the question about our response to a hypothetical attack on Israel.  McCain walks over to the gentleman, thanks him for his service, pats his shoulder, and shakes his hand.  Obama keeps his distance, basically says the same thing, but does not seem empathetic or able to connect and resonate with the man. 
  • “What don’t you know and how will you learn it?” – what a crap shoot of a question.
  • I think that John McCain was able to end the debate on the stronger note … and then he conspired with Obama to block the teleprompter and make Brokaw look like the bonehead that he is.

There was a little down and dirty, but there was no thunder and lightning.  McCain needed for the ground to shift, but that probably did not happen.

I think that Brokaw inserted himself into this debate WAY too much.  His intervention sucked the liveliness out of the room and deadened the atmosphere.

A Fox News commentator made an interesting comment, namely that Rick Warren did a better job of moderating at the Saddleback Forum, asking interesting questions that drew insightful answers, than Tom Brokaw did during this snooze-fest.

Now, on to Frank Luntz’ dial poll group.  I have no clue what they are going to say.

They thought it was interesting.  They are evenly split over favoring Obama or McCain, perhaps edging towards Obama.

Luntz says that health care was the key issue that swung things to Obama’s favor.

Not going to lie, I did not find that segment from the pollster to be helpful at all.

Here is my bottom line.  The debate was so incredibly vanilla, dull, conventional, that there were no opportunities available for either candidate to really bust loose.  

This hurts McCain very very badly.  Simply being a Republican puts him at a huge disadvantage when everything in America (economy, war, energy, etc.) seems to be taking a downturn, and there was no way to push back against that at this debate.

Barring some genius move or devastating revelation about Obama, this thing looks to be in the bag.

I don’t know what Vegas odds will be on this, but it looks like smart money will be laid down that, while  history is going to be made a month from now, it won’t be because America will have its first female Vice President.

Losers of the night: Tom Brokaw was a loser.  The American people, overall, lost out tonight because we really did not have the opportunity tonight to learn anything new or fresh about the Presidential candidates.

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  1. amber
    October 8, 2008 at 1:52 pm

    crazy eyes!!! i saw him!!!

  2. amber
    October 8, 2008 at 1:52 pm

    very interesting debate. im not sure how i feel about the health care issue on both sides though. what do you think?

  3. October 8, 2008 at 2:33 pm

    Your real-time commentary is excellent. Even though I read your post the morning after, I could recall the “action” exactly they way you describe it in your play-by-play. And you captured my exact impressions. I fear that your conclusion regarding history being made is accurate.

    Have REALLY enjoyed this series of three and am looking forward to next week’s installment. You have a great wit.

    By the way who was the bonehead who scheduled next week’s debate on a Wednesday night? I am thankful for DVR!

  4. leewilson7170
    October 8, 2008 at 6:33 pm

    Hey Amber,

    We miss you guys!

    Man I really don’t know exactly what I think either. I don’t know if I can really go as far as Obama did in calling health care a “right” or go all the way the other direction and say health care is merely a “privilege”. It is not an easy solution, but if some of the corruption surrounding pharmaceutical companies and frivolous lawsuits were to be squashed, I think it would go a long way, in theory, to deflate the cost of health care.

    McCain did succeed in making me nervous by tacking the word “fine” onto Obama’s plan – that doesn’t really seem right (but, in honesty, can we really believe McCain when he throws that out there?)

    Chuck –

    Thanks for the support of my semi-educated thoughts on the debates as they unfold. I have enjoyed the fun of doing them, even though I know that they are not really making any kind of contribution to sifting through the debates and getting to the bottom of things (assuming that there can be a bottom to things when you are running for president).

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