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Friday, September 26, 2008

McCain is trying to run out the clock and have the last word. He tries to go to experience as a closing argument, the idea that Obama needs "on-the-job training"—I thought this was change vs. change, but perhaps that's no longer operative.

Oh, and by the way, he was a POW.

McCain goes back to the well perhaps one too many times on "doesn't understand."

Obama returns to two issues: nuclear proliferation and actually taking on al Qaeda.

Last question: What are the chances of another 9/11 attack on the U.S.? McCain visibly thinks for a second before saying it's lower than it was the day after 9/11. He then turns to the 9/11 Commission as a major accomplishment.

Last question. But first a McCain interruption. "No one on earth is against solar." Will that come back to hurt McCain tomorrow?

Think Progress is doing real-time fact-checking.

More of McCain's travelogues. He's been everywhere! What a maverick.

McCain keeps saying that Obama is naive and doesn't understand things. I'm not sure that's such a great line for him. It doesn't have an impact.

10:19 Russia.

McCain just lost it over the Kissinger thing—hard to say how that will play with the Real Americans in the Heartland.

Brings up the Spain gaffe. OWNED.

Obama says the name right, and gets to the point: "I reserve the right to do whatever I think is best to keep America safe." Namechecks Kissinger, who agrees with Obama on this. Uses North Korea as an example of what happens when you embark on this policy.

McCain brings up the sitting down with dictators issue, but he bungles Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's name, badly, twice.

Both candidates try to tie Iran to Iraq from their own perspective, Obama getting the better end of it by tying Iran's rise to the Iraq invasion and eight years of cowboy diplomacy.

McCain brings up his nonsensical League of Democracies idea in the context of the Iran answer.

10:03 Iran.

Obama has a bit of a stunt reply: "I've got a bracelet too." Now he's hitting McCain on a poor choice of words: the "muddle through" quote. McCain's reply is that he's traveled to these places, a common retort of his I now finally understand: McCain's narcissistic worldview is such that a place isn't real unless The Maverick has seen it with his own two eyes.

Oh, here it is: "I have a record." That was the worst answer from either candidate yet. He's still talking, by the way—now he's going on about Iraq and gold-star mothers.

McCain's defensiveness is hurting him here. He keeps bringing up his own gaffes and drawing attention to it. Now he's rambling about every military action he's either supported or opposed. This is awful. What is he talking about?

Obama decks McCain on the Pakistan issue, bringing up bomb-bomb-bomb-bomb-bomb Iran and McCain threatening North Korea with extinction.

Unless I'm mistaken, McCain just confused Pakistan and Afghanistan.

9:50 Afghanistan.

The surge. Obama hits back on the judgment involved in going in in the first place. McCain wants to hear Obama say we're winning. This has been pretty deep in the weeds, but Obama needed to mention that everyone relevant has come around to his plan on this, including the Iraqi government. (UPDATE: Ezra Klein disagrees with me here:

Interestingly, Obama is MUCH more compelling on national security and foreign policy than he was in the domestic portion. McCain is agitated and shifting and giving awkward, digressive, angry answers. Obama seems confident and fluent and in control of this part of the discussion.

9:39 Iraq.

McCain rebuts: I'm a maverick, and so is Sarah Palin. Does he not realize that everyone hates Sarah Palin now?

Obama asks why McCain hasn't had anything bad to say about spending in the last eight years of Bushonomics. Verdict: Obama is killing.

9:37 McCain still talking about spending. Jesus Christ.

Lehrer wants to hear exactly what the crisis is going to do to the way these people will govern. Obama gives a solid answer that goes to priorities, bringing back the issue of $300 billion in tax cuts for rich people and corporations. McCain says he doesn't want to turn health care over the federal government; since Obama doesn't want to do that either, that point's a wash.

McCain says we need off-shore drilling and nuclear power. This was sort of non-sequitur.

Obama praises his Google for Government initiative. McCain had something to say about this, but Lehrer won't let either of them off the hook. How is the financial crisis going to affect your presidency? McCain wants a spending freeze. Obama says the problem with a spending freeze that you're using a hatchet when you need a scalpel. Good line.

McCain wants to cut defense spending. Why does John McCain hate America?

McCain wants to cut spending! Why doesn't he talk about this more?

9:26 Question #3, and Lehrer has abandoned all pretense that this is a foreign policy debate. Obama lays out his budget priorities, including alternate energy and fuel-efficient cars. He talks about health care and education as well, bring up the specter of the Chinese space walk as a measure of competitiveness. Infrastructure, especially new electrical infrastructure.

9:26 First appearance of McCain's creepy, creepy smile at the tail end of a heated exchange over taxes in which each called the other a liar.

McCain goes back to earmarks. Obama won't have it: "John, you want to give the oil companies another $4 billion."

McCain brings up his own Achilles heel, the health care tax cut! That answer spewed so much nonsense, Obama can hardly respond to it all—but he gets to the health care tax cut issue and lays it out clean.

McCain wants to cut the business tax. But he *really* wants to talk about earmarks.

Obama cuts him off when he starts talking about raising taxes and says "I don't know where John is getting his figures." Insists upon the fact that 300 > 18.

Obama says McCain's earmark talk ($18 billion) is dwarfed by the size of his tax cuts to the rich and corporations ($300 billion), pivots to growing the economy from the bottom up. This was a good comparison. McCain ignores the substance of what Obama said completely and starting talking about corruption.

9:14 Question #2: Are there "fundamental" differences between what you and Obama would do to lead us out of this financial crisis? McCain goes back to spending, and earmarks of all things, using the "We Republicans came to change government, and government changed us." Points to Obama's alleged earmarks.

Another age joke—After being instructed to direct his comments directly to McCain, Obama does so, prompting from McCain: "Are you afraid I couldn't hear him?"

McCain brings up his Cox gaffe, framing it in terms of a need for accountability. Obama responds with a pivot back to the Wall St./Main St. line, which he seems to be quite fond of.

Are you gonna vote for the plan, Senator McCain? "I sure hope so."

McCain opens with a shout-out to Kennedy, who is apparently in the hospital. Tries for an early age joke: "the greatest financial crisis of our time, and I've been around a little while." Kind of a rambling answer in comparison, though of course I'm biased.

Obama is giving a remarkably polished answer to this. (Debating pants?) Outlines his plan, hits Bush and then McCain on "eight years of failed policy."

Lehrer quotes Eisenhower: "We must achieve both security and solvency." Question #1: What's the deal with the financial crisis?

9:03 Here they are.

Debate #1 liveblog. Fingers crossed that Barack brought his debating pants.