Presidental Debate Liveblogging

I was mulling over the debate during my commute home from work, and started to marvel over just how bad things are for John McCain tonight. Just about every major factor is working against him:

  • The main topic of the debate, health care, is the Republicans’ #2 worst issue.
  • The huge drop in the stock market today ensures that the Republican’s #1 worst issue, the economy, is certain to get a lot of air time too.
  • McCain is totally in a box on this Ayers thing. After the second Presidential Debate, Team Obama was practically goading him into bringing it up tonight, saying “we’ve been seeing some pretty over-the-top attacks coming out of the McCain campaign over the last several days, that he wasn’t willing to say it to my face. But I guess we’ve got one last debate.” McCain responded by saying that he most certainly would. But you know Obama has a response all queued up and ready to roll. And the brunt of McCain’s charges regarding Ayers is that Obama “hasn’t been forthcoming about the relationship”–will he still be able to say that after Obama addresses the issue on live TV in McCain company? Of course, if McCain doesn’t mentioned Ayers, Team Obama can double-down: they can again insinuate that he’s a coward and add that he broke his word to boot.
  • Worst of all, all of this must frustrate McCain terribly–and that’s likely to be evident. The format of the debate has the two sitting right next to each other at a table, so any signs of hostility from McCain (not making eye contact), are likely to be amplified, as most camera shots will show the men side-by-side and in extremely close proximity.
The one upside to the debate for McCain is that it gives him one last chance to change the dynamics of the race. Alas, even that is a poisoned pill: McCain has “shaken up the race” so many times now (picking Palin, his campaign suspension, etc.) that attempting to do so again tonight will only feed into the narrative that he’s “erratic”. But playing it safe is also a losing proposition for him, given the current polls.

It’s damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t for John McCain tonight. It’ll be interesting to see how he handles it.

5:53: Pre-debate prediction: knowing that McCain has no choice but to attack, Obama will be all smiles as he comes out, and will be overtly (perhaps even overly) collegial toward his opponent. Then, in his first few statements, he will refer to McCain as a friend and/or make some comment about how this will be an issue-oriented debate. It’s a twofer when McCain then goes negative, because he can then (a) make the “gee whiz my buddy just stabbed me in the back” face and (b) retaliate with negativity, arguing that “he started it.”

6:00: Moderator: “By now we’ve heard all the talking points …” Ha! Nice try, but get ready hear them again.

6:01: McCain turns the conventional wisdom on it’s head, starting every speech with not a joke but a shout-out to someone in the hospital. MAVRICKY!

6:03: McCain is trying so hard to maintain eye-contact that he looks like a besotted kid starting at a love interest sitting near him in the library.

6:05: Joe Biden, Joe Lieberman, and now Joe the Plumber is mixed up in the race? Can we get a moratorium of Joes around here? Update: Oh my God, how could I forget Joe Sixpack?

6:08: McCain is not stringing arguments together very deftly tonight. Also: helllllllo populism.

6:10: I gotta hand it to McCain, he’s got Obama playing defense early.

6:11: These are good questions, for a change.

6:12: This has pretty much just become a race to see who can be first to work their talking points into this “no talking points” debate. Obama takes an early lead, checking “not one dime” and “go through the budget line-by-line” off his master list.

6:16: “Overhead projector” is the new “Spain”.

6:17: McCain is talking about using both a hatchet and a scalpel. This debate on health care is terrifying.

6:20: Why does Obama keep giving McCain “enormous credit” for his “opposition” on torture?

6:23: McCain ends a response to a question about negative campaigning by calling Obama a liar.

6:28: I don’t know if I can stand 4 years of Obama’s “aaaaaaaaand”.

6:31: This response by McCain on his supporters is the most unfocused I’ve seen. He supports everyone who attends his rallies and recognizes that some of them and hateful nutjobs? Also: every time McCain interrupts Obama he loses1000 voters at least.

6:34: Ayers! ACORN! McCain just blew his scandal load in one heaving spurt. He’s gonna be flaccid from here on out.

6:38: Hahaha. While Obama is answering this VP question I bet McCain is all, like, “OhShitOhShitOhShit …”

6:40: At what point did “autism” become the center square on the Political Bingo card?

6:43: Did McCain just advocate “nuclear pants”? I’m reconsidering my vote.

6:47: Obama’s looking a little ragged, can’t seem to decide is he should be talking to the moderator or the camera.

6:48: Wait, McCain is a Free Traitor? Re-reconsidering my vote.

6:50: Obama just promised to “enforce unfair trade agreements.” I’m fully in the swing vote camp, now.

6:52: Are these guys fully incoherent now, or have I just stopped paying close attention?

6:53: Shorter McCain: “I like ice cream, so there’s really no doubt that Senator Obama will raise taxes.”

6:58: Joe the Plumber has just rocketed in the ranks of C-list celebrities. He will be all over the media tomorrow.

7:04: Wait, Obama is wearing a red tie and McCain is wearing blue? Maybe a Freaky Friday body switch prior to the debate?

7:10: Obama appears to have come armed with reformulated responses on an astonishingly wide range of topics.

7:12: And “eloquence” is the new “articulate.”

7:13: Science question! Mention the overhead projector, Obama!

7:14: McCain: Education is the civil rights issue of the 21 century. PAY NO ATTENTION TO THOSE GAYS!!

7:17: Wow, agreement on charter schools. That’s pretty great.

7:20: Obama thinks children are our future. Apparently he has found the greatest love of all.

7:22: Apparently, by virtue of having an autistic son, I and my wife both get 500 votes a piece this election.

7:24: But will McCain mention he’s a POW in his closing statement as he did in the first two debates? Update: No! C-C-C-Combobreaker!

7:27: Obama’s closing statement: Say no to Bush and yes to free ponies!

I could provide some post-debate analysis, but it would be like summarizing a game of Pong. Here, just watch this 30-second video half a dozen times.

70 thoughts on “Presidental Debate Liveblogging

  1. First off, as a life-long Peanuts fan, I was disappointed that neither candidate reached out to Joe Cool in the debate.

    Secondly, here’s the “Oh, snap!” comeback that I wish Obama had made: “When it comes to the economy, do average Americans really want their economic future decided by someone who doesn’t even remember how many houses he owns? Hey, Joe, if you’re worried about your plumbing business, you’re in luck! With seven homes, you could probably put your kids through college on Senator McCain’s houses alone!”

    Finally, what’s the deal with Federalist suddenly meaning someone who supports states’ rights, as opposed to the historical definition of someone who supports a strong federal government? Does this mean that in 100 years, the term environmentalist will be defined as someone who drinks crude oil from a plastic water bottle lined with polar bear pelts?

  2. What I took from the debate was that Obama wants to take away my video games. After that all I heard was “buzz buzz click pop ding buzz buzz”

    With regards to this hatchet and scalpal. Can we use the scalpal to excise our favorite parts of both candidates and then graft them together to form one super agreeable candidate…that I like to call Obamacain.

  3. passive-aggressive adjective of or denoting a type of behavior or personality characterized by indirect resistance to the demands of others and an avoidance of direct confrontation, as in procrastinating, pouting, or misplacing important materials.

    I don’t think there was anything passive aggressive about my comments

  4. Interesting. How was he?

    Could somebody get Chef some cookies and a throw pillow so we can go back to holding hands and singing kumbayah and shit? Isn’t that what we pinko liberal hippy…uh, what are they calling us this year? Whatever. Isn’t that what we do?

    Welcome, Chef!

  5. Eric:

    I know what it sounds like but… a Federalist holds the belief that a strong national government is restricted to the powers granted by the Constitution and that any power not specifically so identified is reserved for the individual states and the people. Many of the early Federalists opposed adding The Bill of Rights to The Constitution… lest the people be allowed ONLY those rights.

  6. McCain has replaced “My Friends” with “Joe the Plumber.”

    McCain also appears to be angry with Obama in a personal way. McCain needs to take a few acting lessons. He appears to be less personable than Obama.

    Oh yea. Hey guys, what about the real issues? I don’t care about Ayers and that other stuff.

  7. Did you just reference ‘combobreaker’ in debate coverage? You big nerd!

    I’m so sad that I understood it and laughed.

  8. akeeyu: my new hero! i laughed my pants off reading your comments.

    kswolff: i think, after peeking at kswolff’s blog, that the comment here is in the nature of satire. or something.

    i like chocolate cookies.
    and yeah – i had no idea the autism “special interest group” was so powerful these days.


  9. I find it funny and telling that the above comments make no mention of Obama’s wealth redistribution plan. It’s only a tax cut for the middle (economic) class. For those who pay nothing in taxes, it’s a handout, paid in full by the Joe the Business Owners of the world, and of course by 40% of every raise you get under the plan, since that’s the new marginal rate if you make less than $45K.

    Anyway, back to attacking a plumber for uttering heretical words and questioning the Messiah.

  10. Redistribution of wealth, the death of the last descending voice with the re-establishment of the ‘Fairness Doctrine’…if this ‘Super Majority’ comes to pass this will be a frightening place to live.

    My prediction within 2 years of an Obama administration and a super majority you’ll see large national corporations pull up US operations and base themselves elsewhere.

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