The Third and Final Round. . .McCain and Obama Tie but McCain Needed More — McCain’s Eye Rolls and “Joe the Plumber” will be Remembered as Highlights

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I’m in Barack Obama’s home base town, Chicago, and will live blog this debate. I’m sitting here with Martin Walker, editor emeritus of UPI and Director of AT Kearney’s Global Business Policy Council, as well as his wife, Julia Watson, who publishes the blog, Eat Washington.
Bob Schieffer — whose brother Tom is George W. Bush’s Ambassador to Japan — opens with a question about the beleaguered economy and why each candidate thinks his particular economic plan is better than his rivals.
McCain has started off with a salute to Nancy Reagan who is in the hospital with a broken pelvis after a fall. But then he gets into why Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were the core root of the housing crisis. Not really true — and I don’t think he spoke in a way where his lines were memorable. But mostly, he didn’t say why his plan is better than Obama’s. . .
Barack is up. Good line….”we are in the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.” That will be remembered. He said he tried to work for “core principles. . .” And he said we haven’t seen a “rescue package for the middle class.”
Obama has a lot of memorable phrasing. He’s been working at this. McCain was wonky, serious, calm — but not memorable.
Another good line. . .Obama doesn’t want to engineer “a giveaway for banks.”
This is by far the best start I have seen for Barack Obama.
McCain is trying to talk directly to a small business plumber named Joe Wurzelbacher who thinks Obama’s plan will raise taxes on him. Interesting maneuver.
Obama gave a very effective response speaking to a much wider group around “Joe the plumber.” McCain says Obama is trying to redistribute Joe the Plumber’s money to other people. Obama counters that he’s going to lower taxes — or not raise taxes — on 95% of the nation’s citizens.
McCain is coming off as crotchety, snarky. . .but he did a good job connecting to an individual’s personal economic problem. . .Joe the Plumber.
Kind of like pointing up into the gallery at the President’s State of the Union address. . .seems personal, but basically insincere.
Home ownership is teed up by McCain. McCain thinks if we can start “increasing home values” we can help get beyond this problem. How is he going to actually increase home values.
McCain is losing it. . .sounds angry….bubbling that we need to change this, change that — but it’s not articulately or cleanly constructed. He’s running down a technical roster of “to do’s” but it is not organized.
Touche. Obama said that “earmarks” — a centerpiece of the McCain campaign — constitute 1/2 of 1% of spending. Ouch. That was a good line. . .and then Obama went into the macro issues of how large the surplus was seven years ago and how large the deficit is today.
McCain: “Senator McCain. . .I am not President Bush. If you wanted to run against President Bush, you should have run four years ago. . .” It’s getting more tense.
McCain just told Bob Schieffer that he thought he could balance the budget in four years. McCain said “yes” — he could do it. I say, no way. . .
Obama is defending himself against McCain’s charges that he’s not stood up against the leaders in his own party. Obama raised charter schools, clean coal technology and tort reform — none of which are popular with Dem leadership.
Obama just scored by linking McCain to Bush and saying that he’s essential a continuation of eight more years of the Bush administration. Now McCain defends himself. . .
I don’t like his answers but McCain is getting more solid and clear as this moves on.
Ooh…the William Ayers question just came up indirectly. Schieffer asked whether they’d say to each other, face to face, what their campaigns have essentially been accusing each other of. . .
McCain just accused Barack Obama of spending more money on negative ads than any other presidential candidate in history. Also called him untruthful for flip-flopping on a commitment made early in the campaign to take public funding rather than private for his campaign.
Obama is doing a nice job saying that we need to talk about the economy, health care, energy, sending people to college — rather than the tit-for-tat politics as usual game going on. McCain is attacking Obama for running ads that distort McCain’s record on stem cell research, his health care plan, and immigration. . .
McCain is hitting hard — and according to the “males” in uncommitted Ohio voters that CNN is tracking, is scoring some support.
Obama is getting less smooth as McCain pushes harder — and he’s losing momentum. Obama is getting know response on the CNN monitor. . .but this is just a short blip in an otherwise strong performance thus far by Obama.
But clearly McCain succeeded in pushing Obama off balance here — at least for this section.
McCain’s campaign just sent me this graphic depicting amounts spent on negative ads by the Obama and McCain campaigns:
mccain ads.jpg
McCain now saying he doesn’t care about an old, washed up terrorist — Bill Ayers — but he thinks Americans should have the right to know about the extent of Obama’s relationship with Ayers, with Acorn, and with other people and institutions who have threatened or do threaten the integrity and stability of America’s democracy.
Obama said look at who I do associate with — Jim Jones, Warren Buffett, Richard Lugar, Joe Biden. Ayers is not a part of Obama’s campaign or advisory group — but Obama said that McCain has made Bill Ayers a central part of his campaign. . .
After a poor start, I have to say that McCain is putting in a strong performance. He’s coming off as serious, direct, confrontive. He’s putting Obama off his game just a bit. . .
McCain is defending Palin — calling her a reformer, a breath of fresh air, an anti-crony type. . .and oh yes, she understands “special needs” children. What really bothers me about this line is that it took her to have a child with special needs to be into the subject to the degree that she is. What if her child turns out to be gay — will she find herself able to move beyond tolerance of homosexuals??
Obama previously did a good job of speaking to Joe Biden’s solid credentials. McCain just called the Biden/Gelb federal plan for Iraq a “cockemany plan”. But essentially, McCain said that Biden could be qualified to be president. . .grudging respect of a sort.
But McCain is staying tense, tough, direct, confrontive.
Now McCain is saying that Obama doesn’t support nuclear power. I know that’s not true. We’ll have to see how Obama responds. . .but I’ve heard Obama talk about expanding “safe nuclear” power.
Obama says that in “ten years”, we can significantly reduce external American dependence on oil. Obama is for some offshore drilling, but drilling will not help Americans move beyond foreign oil dependence. He then said that he’s supportive of wind, biofuels, geothermal, solar, etc. . .but actually he did not say nuclear.
Here is a response from an undecided observer who sends insights to TWN now and then:

Steve,
Seems to me that not only has John McCain come out swinging but that many of his jabs are landing. In part because of clearer statements and accusations but just as much because Obama is (surprisingly) accepting the premise of the argument and justifying it with a (poor) response.
I fear Obama is trying so hard not to make a gaf or lose his notoriously cool demeanor that he is allowing too much to go unchallenged. I think in some of these situations, just once in a while, “Joe six pack” and “Sally hockey mom” might actually like to see a little steam come out of his ears now and then.
(PS – who would have imagined Bob Schieffer would be the best of all the moderators and the one actually holding the candidates’ feet to the fire on actually answering the questions asked? Lastly, please point out the voters should feel pandered to and angered by promises of energy independence. I would expect more from the otherwise sound policy wonks in the Obama camp.)

Ugh. I don’t like this. The Columbia Free Trade Agreement that has not been passed by
Congress is not the best agreement to debate principles of trade. McCain has thrashed Democratic opposition to the agreement — and Obama who acknowledged that the Columbia FTA has provisions supportive of environmental and labor standards said that Columbia labor leaders were sometimes subjected to assassination attempts — and the government was not moving against perpetrators.
Obama talking about how to reindustrialize the “heartland.” Actually a very good response and a decent shout out to the auto industry.
Now on to health care. . .Obama is talking first to those with health care and telling those folks that he’s going to try and lower their costs. And to those without health care, he’s going to try to negotiate with health companies on drug prices and stop denials of service — and then offer a plan to everyone that’s a lot like what Members of Congress have.
McCain said we need to reduce costs by putting health records on line. Those who fear Big Brother won’t like that. . .but his response sounds a lot like Obama’s advice to fill up tires with air to deal with the high prices of oil and the energy crisis (i.e., not good).
Joe the plumber is back!!! McCain shouts out to him — calls him McCain’s friend — and said that if Joe doesn’t get a health care plan then Obama’s plan is going to “fine him.”
Now Obama says hi to the virtual “Joe the Plumber.” Obama responds to McCain that Joe will not pay any fine regarding health insurance. . .in fact Joe will get a credit of 50% for all of the health care he provides people who work for his plumbing company.
I think “Joe the Plumber” is the unanticipated drinking line for those expecting to down beers every time “maverick” came up. . .which it hasn’t.
Women in Ohio don’t seem to be happy whenever Joe the Plumber’s name comes up — but there will be a lot of articles next week on “Joe” — all over the nation and world. And Joe apparently tilts McCain’s direction.
John McCain wants “Joe to do the job.” He wants Joe the Plumber to stand against the increasing size, scale and operations of government.
I wish Obama had someone to talk to like Tania the Teacher or Wally the Warehouse Guy. . .or someone. . .
Wow. John McCain thinks Roe vs. Wade is a bad decision but he would submit “no litmus test” of any kind to Supreme Court nominees. interesting. . .John McCain is going to win points here. McCain just told the public he voted for Justice Breyer and Justice Ginsburg.
Obama is coming off weak in response. He’s not jumping at this. He calls the situation of picking judges consequential. He thinks Roe vs. Wade does stand in the balance. He thinks “good people on both sides disagree on this.” Generally a weak response. He seems to not understand that this is a zinger issue that he should be hitting out of the park.
I think Obama is trying to avoid gaffes. I am getting a lot of email from sophisticated political watchers and supporters of Obama and they think he’s holding back on purpose. I’m not sure. He started out smooth.
McCain is smooth and tough now. Doing a strong job — but I can’t tell if he’s really convincing independents to move his way.
Again, Obama is on the defense explaining his old votes on partial birth abortion. He’s getting too technical and is not impressing the audience.
McCain is succeeding in nudging Obama off his game, at least to some degree. Obama is still coming off as presidential, as someone with gravitas and stature, but just a little bit weak. . .had to say it. It’s true.
John McCain was doing so well — but then he looks like the naughty little child right now that has to speak and sputter what is on his mind immediately. I think he lost a few points on the behavior front.
Now. . .last question on education. America spends more on education than any other nation in the world — but we trail the world in educational performance. First to Obama — the education problem has more to do with the future of the nation and the security of the nation than any other issue. Obama said that the debate is between either “more money” or “reform” — and he said we need “both.”
I hate to say it — but I’m not an education policy specialist — but every time I hear a leading politician talking about hiring more teachers, training them, setting standards. . .it ALWAYS sounds the same to me. And now Obama is saying we need “parents” in the game too. Same old. Same old. . .to me. I know that ed policy people may disagree.
McCain says that education is the civil rights issue of our times. He wants competion between schools — wants to promote good teachers and “find bad teachers another line of work.” McCain said that “throwing money at the problem is not the solution. . .”
John McCain just made the odd comment (at least to my ears) that American servicemen who come back and who can teach ought not to be subject to testing exams. Is this the guy who was just promoting standards and encouraging benchmarking between good and bad teachers?
Obama is pro charter schools like McCain. He wants greater emphasis on childhood education. Obama disagrees with McCain on widespread distribution of vouchers — and went after McCain for calling youth who needed greater support to go to college “an interest group.” Obama said that students are not an “interest group” — they are “our future.”
McCain was very strong in the middle of the debate — but his eye rolls and huffpuffery at the end cost him stature and probably the debate. He reinforced he’s angry — but also reinforced that he was knowledgeable and compelling.
Obama is steady, a bit aloof, smart — here at the end. McCain, at the end, was snarky but still strong through a great deal of the debate.
Now for closing spin from both. McCain said “America needs a new direction and that he wants to take on special interests. . .” He might try and take on his own national security advisor who was working for the Government of Georgia in the lead up to a high stakes global conflict. I’m not anti-lobbyist, but I think McCain just comes off silly pretending to be as anti-vested interests as Obama when so many of the vested interest crowd populate his campaign.
Obama, in his closing statement, reminds people of what an economic mess the nation is in. He said “we need fundamental change in the country.” He says we are going to have to reinvest in the country, in the middle class, in education, in health care. He’s doing a good, positive job of calling on the nation to join him in managing very tough challenges — and did a nice job of saying that if he got the “extraordinary privilege” of going to the White House, he’d work tirelessly on behalf of Americans.
Very nice end for Obama. But taking all of it together — I think that this was a “tie.”
Obama was not a definitive win and occasionally came off bland and flat — but he had moments of excellence. McCain was strong, confronted Obama — but undermined himself with snarkiness and behavioral pettiness.
But McCain needed more than a tie and didn’t get it. His eye rolls were really bad.
OK. . .I’m so glad that these are done.
McCain and Obama tied — but that wasn’t good enough for John McCain.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

73 comments on “The Third and Final Round. . .McCain and Obama Tie but McCain Needed More — McCain’s Eye Rolls and “Joe the Plumber” will be Remembered as Highlights

  1. Kathleen says:

    Sorry to be flippant but this link is a very funny picture of John McCain.
    shttp://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=132×7473451

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  2. questions says:

    A couple of mistakes in my post above — the Wurtzelbachers are Richard and Robert, the relationships are murkier than I had thought, but nothing is documented yet. And the status of the licensing is a little more complicated…..
    As Steve notes on a more recen thread, there was not much vetting. We’ve been Palinized again.

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  3. Ken says:

    Steve,
    Re: the McCain graphic on negative ads. I’m a little surprised that the McCain camp is pushing this. Even if it is true (see leo’s posting), it proves that the McCain campaign is mostly negative — 84% (compared to Obama 60%). The last line about the difference in the amount of spending is irrelevant — it just shows that Obama is out spending McCain.
    So the message that the graphic shows from the McCain camp is “we’re more negative and we’re being outspent”. Is that the message they really want to project?

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  4. yeshe says:

    Here’s the scoop on Joe Plumber — I think it’s hysterical !!!
    Joe the Plumber:
    Turns out that Joe Wurzelbacher from the Toledo event is a close relative of Robert Wurzelbacher of Milford, Ohio. Who’s Robert Wurzelbacher? Only Charles Keating’s son-in-law and the former senior vice president of American Continental, the parent company of the infamous Lincoln Savings and Loan. The now retired elder Wurzelbacher is also a major contributor to Republican causes giving well over $10,000 in the last few years.
    What a “coincidence”!
    http://www.eisenstadtgroup.com/2008/10/15/joe-the-plumber-wurzelbacher-related-to-charles-keating-oops/

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  5. Matt says:

    The New York Times is currently scoping out “Joe the Plumber”, so let’s see what happens. There are Republican dirty tricks at work here, and it does matter – the third debate was hijacked as a result and it mostly played to McCain’s favor by keeping away from actual issues. This is another parlour trick, just like “suspending the campaign” and choosing Palin for VP.

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  6. Kathleen says:

    I have to disagree that Obama seemed weak for not pounding McPain…Subliminally, it would have been very bad psychology for a young virile black man to be perceived as beating up an elder, white torture victim…this would have re-inforced every negative stereotype that racists like to play upon….No, Obama is at his best when he remains above the fray and refuses to be tricked into reacting rather than responding…he is better perceived as kind, courteous, thoughtful. and unruffled. If you’re going to call yourself a “Christian” you ought to at least show some capacity to turn the other cheek.
    On education, more parental involvement just doesn’t cut it as a plan.. In an economy where both parents have to work and still can’t make ends meet, where are parents supposed to find the time to be involved? Kids are shuffled off to day care while they’re still in diapers.. so many kids go to school without breakfast because their families qualify for public assistance and eat at school…better they’re fed, of course, but the days of a nourishing home with a parent there to focus on the kids is gone and education is feeling the pain…. we need to change the tax code by raising the standard dedcution to a lviable income and greatly increase the exemptions for dependants, including a stay at home parent…this is a way of stretching a person’s income without raising the minimum wage so sharply it hurts small businesses. Until kids can leave home in the morning with a good breakfast and their done homework in hand, knowing there will be a parent there when they get home to help them and nourish them emotionally, kids are going be too stressed to learn…all this addd., adhd, stuff is form hectic living from an early age. look at the countries who are besting us educationally and see how many have both parents working.
    Further, on education, my daughter is stressing that Obama hasn ‘t answered Sarah Palin’s’ promise to families with Special Needs kids, that they have a friend in the WH. Ever since she passed the CA Bar, she has worked exclusively with parents of kids with special needs, making sure the school district’s special ed programs are up to State and Federal standards, helping parents know what they are entitled to receive in help, etc. She knows how dedicated, desperate and organized they are.. She is afraid they are all going to vote for Palin because of what she said and Obama’s lack of comment or proposals.on special ed….she keeps calling me from CA asking me when Obama is going to say something and telling me to tell him to say something, like I have a direct line..she knows if I can find a way, I will.. Consider that 1 in 4 families have kids with special needs.. counting parents,siblings, granparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, in-laws, that’s a very big, very motivated and higly organized block of votes. so my suggestion to Team Obama would be to come up with something thoughtful, ASAP…call former Senator Jim Jeffords and ask him. As former Chairman of the Education Committee, Jeffords left the GOP over Special Ed funds….I’d trust his judgement, for sure.
    On facial expressions and eyerolling, I’m Italian, so I’m not going to say peep about McPain’s, I do it congentially.. every time Al Gore sighed in the 2000 debates, I did too although McPain’s tightly torqued jaw does make him seem to be fighting the urge to bite someone….when it comes to taking the helm of the Ship of State, “steady as she goes”, works best for me… with McPain at the helm, before long we could be having a “strawberries incident”…Mr.M: McQueeg, good one. it was Capt’n Ahab who chased the white whale. and then there’s Capt’n Bly…now if Obama wanted Bush and Cheney to walk the plank, I’d be gung-ho,
    And last, judging from the bill I just got from Jimmy, my plumber, I’m the one who is hurting, not him.

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  7. questions says:

    hayduke,
    This one is debunked — who’d have thought there’d be more than one Wurtzelbacher in the world, even more than one RICHARD W…. — but in fact there are at least two (via a kos diarist who checked the ages of the two Richards.)
    But it doesn’t really matter that there isn’t a Keating connection. It doesn’t even matter if this Samuel Joseph Wurtzelbacher (aka Wortzelbacher) is a plant. It doesn’t matter that there were cameras filming him watching the debate. It doesn’t matter if the inspiration was Barney Smith/Smith Barney (from the Dem convention) (my sense of the inspiration). It doesn’t matter that when they found a “Regular Joe” he wasn’t regular and he wasn’t Joe.
    What really matters is that McCain’s policies on: energy, education, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, health, sex, war, drugs, gender, economics, jobs, efficiency, government, campaigning, international relations/ Russia, Iraq and Iran, nuclear weapons, choice of VP and economic advisor…are all problematic or worse.
    Let’s let Sam “Joe the Plumber” Wurtzelbacher go back to taking care of his kid, running his plumbing business without a plumber’s license (apparently acceptable in Ohio), and hoping to see the end of the tyranny of Social Security withholdings. After all, he’s so shrewd an investor that he’d have beaten out the market. Roubini would likely agree. (snark)

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  8. hayduke says:

    and now we see the story just trickling out that Joe the Plumbers close relative from Milford, Ohio is Charles Keating’s son in law. Yeah, that Charles Keating. So that is the kind of hoodwinking McCain’s camp, and Mr. McCain by proxy, think are appropriate. Sounds like Joe is not newsworthy except as in showing that the McCain camp saw him as an opportunity to have him represent the old Joe Sixpack. At Politico there is mention of Joe the plumber having a 1.1 million dollar judgement against him as well.
    Typical and spontaneous my arse.

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  9. Don Bacon says:

    SC: I hate to say it — but I’m not an education policy specialist — but every time I hear a leading politician talking about hiring more teachers, training them, setting standards. . .it ALWAYS sounds the same to me.
    from a McKinsey study on education:
    First, that the best performing countries do much better than the worst and, second, that the same countries head such league tables again and again: Canada, Finland, Japan, Singapore, South Korea.
    what do the successful lot have in common?
    Schools need to do three things: get the best teachers; get the best out of teachers; and step in when pupils start to lag behind.
    http://www.economist.com/world/international/displaystory.cfm?story_id=9989914
    So Obama was not so far off, was he?

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  10. hayduke says:

    well to suggest Bob Schieffer was the best moderator seems a bit of a Republican bull pucky comment. As you noted, his brother has a job through the Bush administration. Sort of a slippery slope to say he has not in the past fawned over McCains war record et al. Sort of a slippery slope to call him clearly objective. I don’t see it that way at all.
    In light of the McCain campaign meltdown regarding Gwen of pbs moderating when she has a book coming out that touches on the Obama candidacy historically, I think it a bit hypocritical not to say the same regarding Mr. Schieffers connection to the Republican establishment.
    And how much cred would Joe the plumber have if it had been represented that he was already a McCain supporter prior to the debate. That is not undecided… And what to the newstory from this morning that Joe is not even registered to vote.
    For me the most convincing part of the debate as to why Obama will get my vote, was when McCain said he would not agree to “spread the wealth”….
    I guess he is afraid others may need a couple of cell towers at their homes and there may not be enough to go around….
    So cutting off this sharing business becomes quite important.

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  11. Mr.Murder says:

    Hillary made an appearance after the debate and noted that record tax cuts got us to this point in Bush’s staggering job loss economy.

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  12. Arsene says:

    I gave the edge to Obama because I felt he effectively countered / refuted McCain and made him look like he’s dated on his approach (ex: tax cuts again).
    McCain was stronger this time but being old and white and married into money shows he’s out of touch with the majority of the country today.
    I wish Obama had countered with the McCain-Timmons-Saddam link after the Ayers explanation. There were also a couple of other things Obama could have done as counters to McCain, but overall he did what he needed to do to look presidential and increase viewers comfort level for him to be president.
    Out of the three debate moderators, Bob Schieffer was the better one.
    Personally I wish they’d bring back the League of Woman Voters to moderate debates and have the third parties.
    As it is, this really isn’t a debate as much as it is a 90 minute live advertisement funded by corporations.

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  13. Matt says:

    Another one of McCain’s really annoying little ticks is when he gets all worked up and starts listing all the different types of alternative energy. You can almost see him calling up whatever mnemonic device he’s come up with to get them all down: Wind!Solar!Tide!Nuclear!Bio-fuel!Ethanol! By the power of Grayskull, I know how to do this my friends. I know! I know how!

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  14. rich says:

    Note also that McCain is relying on the “I can solve that” line.
    Hillary Clinton’s campaign similarly defaulted to “I am better. I have experience.”
    But asserting you is better is much different than displaying a superior capability. There is no performative content to McCain’s speech patterns—“I can do this” does not show the capability—and no specific details to support generic the red-meat-as-policy positions.
    It’s the difference between completing a job to close a deal and pleading one’s case, which is what John McCain was doing.
    The ‘Free Trade’ mantra—ossified into dogma—was particularly tone-deaf at a time key swing states have been and still are hemorrhaging jobs.
    John McCain can’t run against Wall Street and Washington with Phil Gramm as his major economic advisor and an extensive record of pushing deregulation.
    Unless, that is, you let him. You being, say, Dan Balz and David Broder, who’s biases are showing through again.

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  15. DonS says:

    Lot’s of good comments above. Thanks to all.
    On the economic issues, I remain surprised that both candidates can characterize someone making under the range of $200-250,000 a year as immune from prospective tax increases. Wish I lived in that range myself. I would definitely consider myself rich.
    It is interesting how McCain, the republicans, can throw out any old garbage and not be challenged on it if it corresponds to some worn cliché, like a bucket of warm spit. I credit Obama for taking up the challenge where he did, e.g. on FTA, abortion and women’s right. I thought he could have hammered on women’s rights stronger, but at least he didn’t dissemble.
    McCain left a big opening to address [failed] drug policy, admittedly not high on the radar, but socially corrosive. I guess its too risky for Obama given some folks would see it as too close to the ghetto.
    Totally ignorant non sequitur by McCain on “special needs” children; gratuitous reference non-credential of Palin just for being a breeder. And the reference to autism when Palin’s child is downs syndrome just serves to underline the hollowness.
    On style points, I thought Obama was relaxed. I saw McCain as barely under control.

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  16. Steve Clemons says:

    leo — I wasn’t pushing the material. It came to me as I was live-blogging. It was part of what I was seeing…at the time. Not endorsing it…it is what it was and wanted others to see it and either applaud the material or rip it up. Live blogging is different than typical analysis.
    To Judyo and others — appreciate your views that this was not a tie. But it wasn’t definitively Obama’s evening in my view….but that still meant a “loss” for McCain.
    Thanks for recording how you saw things though — best, steve clemons

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  17. judyo says:

    You thought it was a tie? Not from my living room.
    Memorable, no but McCain and his cheshire grin truly projected the anger he exudes and some of his proposals were laughable. I was particularly offended on the issue of Lewis and the “kill him” responses. This has happened more than once and Obama had the right to cut McCains legs off. He didn’t which was the politically correct thing to do but, all the same, the McPalin crowds are frightening. Obama … steady throughout.
    A tie? Not by a long shot.

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  18. leo says:

    Hey Steve,
    What are you doing pushing/headlining McCain campaign data when there’s an independent report saying that nearly 100% of McCain ads are negative?
    http://wiscadproject.wisc.edu/wiscads_release_100808.pdf

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  19. Linda says:

    First, again a suggestion to everyone to get out and work for the candidate of your choice to get out the vote–and early vote where you can to avoid the crowds.
    I thought with no doubt that Obama won the debate by a pretty wide margin, but I have been pro-Obama since he announced 20 months ago.
    I still am not sure Obama will win because I grew up on Ohio-PA border where there is a lot more subtle racial prejudice than I find here in Atlanta. And I lived in CA and voted for Tom Bradley for governor there.
    It would be good for the unity of the country that we’re going to need in the recession for him to have a solid win and mandate.
    Questions, I agree with you that Roubini is very smart economist who has been correct all along by being more pessimistic (realistic) than just about anyone else. He’s predicting a 2 year U-shaped recession and need for a big stimulus–not cuts in spending.
    Obama has run two brilliant campaigns in the past 20 months. He had to prove that he is not inexperienced, arrogant, angry, and alien. He surely is articulate. But he also has been quietly bold, audacious, and extremely intelligent.
    I’ve never used “awesome” to describe him, but if he wins, I think that would be a very appropriate adjective to describe the past 20 months.
    Women do not want Roe v. Wade overturned and want the health of the mother and cause of the pregnancy (rape/incest) considered.
    We want equal pay for equal work and to have civil rights laws interpreted as Congress intended when they passed them–not as Roberts SCOTUS re-interpreted them in Lilly Leadbetter case.
    A big tribute is due both Obama and Biden in how they have handled running against Sarah Palin.
    We’re still working hard to make Georgia less red.
    McCain leads Obama by 8% points here and is not considered “in play.” However, in 2004, Bush won GA by 17.
    Jim Martin, Democratic candidate for Senate, is behind Saxby Chambliss by 6% points but gaining. Martin has been outspent 4-to-1 so far, but this week finally the Senate Democratic Campaign Committee gave Martin $500,000 for television advertising–so it isn’t over yet.
    Finally, John Lewis is my Congressman. I think he was totally justified in his remarks. He knows hate and racism when he sees it. He is the only member of Congress who has the scars from forty years ago.
    I’m going to now to vote early for Obama, Martin, and Lewis.

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  20. rich says:

    Steve:
    “I think Obama is trying to avoid gaffes. I am getting a lot of email from sophisticated political watchers and supporters of Obama and they think he’s holding back on purpose. I’m not sure. He started out smooth.”
    Disagree—obviously Obama will avoid errors. But I disagree Obama is holding back at all this time.
    The politicos and supporters have a too-easy throw-away line. One that was true, I think, in the first debate.
    But Obama directly confronted many of McCain’s most egregious charges. He needed to do that, and he did. Obama was clearer, crisper, and more on-point, esp in countering these mischaracterizations and attacks.
    Had Barack Obama suddenly lit out after McCain, chased him down rhetorically, and bludgeoned him to make his point, it would’ve come off as a sudden change in tone—and one unbecoming a dominant primate. (Which makes you wonder how Bush/Cheney have avoided the costs of doing same.) Instead, why not let John McCain flounder in the hole he’s dug himself into?
    McCain’s “spreading around the wealth” spin gained zero traction in a society routinely awarding $44 million in CEO compensation—to none other than Carly Fiorina—one of John McCain’s most prominent advisors/spokesmen.
    “He’s gonna take your money” has to rank as one of the most heinous fear-mongering tactics in Przntl campaign history, and yeah, there’s an element of race-baiting there. And it wasn’t an accident: John McCain hammered away at the ‘spreading the wealth around’ meme, and actively distorted how “Joe Plumber” (avg wage ~46,000) would be affected.
    Not subtle.
    Think the lies have worn a little thin.

    Reply

  21. Nobcentral says:

    One more thing. I have to take you to task on the Colombian FTA. First, it’s ColOmbia, not Columbia. I know you were writing on the fly, so you get a freebie on that one.
    But I don’t think the Colombian FTA is as straight forward as you make it sound. This year alone more labor leaders have been killed since 2003 and we’ve still got 2 months to go. And the truth is, the Colombian government only gives lip service to investigating those murders (there are other murders which take higher priority).
    I’m not totally sold on this line of attack as a reason to reject the FTA (there are many others that are much better – like the fact that Colombia’s ag industry just isn’t ready for an onslaught of subsidized US ag), but it is a valid argument and no amount of “labor protections” are going to fix that. Like it or not, the US has a huge carrot to offer Colombia and as a foreign policy realist, I’m surprised you disagree with the tactic of withholding the FTA until we get something we want.
    And yeah, I’m writing this from Bogota.

    Reply

  22. Nobcentral says:

    I don’t know if I can agree with you Steve. Not only has every single poll suggested that Obama won (and decisively) I found Obama much, much better on abortion, education, and health care than you did. McCain was flustered and incoherent on those issues and his lack of transitions from any issue to taxes was really, really bad.
    Plus, Obama nailed McCain at one point on the no new spending line (which is utterly stupid for so many reasons). McCain says he’ll do a spending freeze. And later he says he wants to “solve autism” and things like that. And Obama comes back and says that’s gonna cost money and McCain already said he’s not gonna spend it. Ooops. He also housed McCain on energy (we can’t drill our way out because we have 1% of the oil and 25% of the demand) which was supposedly McCain’s strong point.
    On the points, I thought Obama trounced him pretty good (although I confess I missed the first 20 minutes or so).
    Stylistically, Obama came off as calm, collected, cool, and presidential. He was above the fray. McCain on the other hand really freaked me out a couple times. His facial expressions reminded me of an angry Al Gore. Maybe Obama didn’t come back with the fire, but he didn’t need to. He’s winning this thing going away and he knows it. So yeah, McCain was better in this debate (much better I’d say), but I still think Obama won quite easily.

    Reply

  23. rich says:

    Steve,
    I do agreee John McCain came off very well at certain points. Clearly his most coherent and effective of any point in the campaign.
    Yet he was pressing a grievance, not making a case. And donning the mantle of victimization badly damaged McCain’s standing. The notion that Obama has somehow wronged McCain—rather than the reverse—just isn’t so, and more important, doesn’t pass the smell test of even less informed voters.
    This was an opportunity for John McCain to repudiate the smears and race-baiting of Sarah Palin—and he didn’t do it. Remarkably, McCain claimed he HAD repudiated the tactics his campaign and his allies are using to incite hatred and incite violence.
    Murmuring his discomfort, once, hardly qualifies as a ‘repudiation’. And for McCain to assert otherwise qualifies as a falsehood. His campaign hasn’t called a halt to the method.
    The victimization act, imploring Obama to stop his evil deeds, hurts McCain’s stature and prevented him from gaining ground.
    Worse, it applies a double standard and follows GOP methodology of persistently applying the big lie. He attacked Obama for going back on his word on funding limits—but John McCain himself broke the law on campaign funding. He attacked Obama for running ‘the most negative campaign in history’—when John McCain’s campaign advertisements are so viciously dishonest they display no integrity at all. Obama’s ads merely responded and called a spade a spade. Doesn’t Barack Obama know Democrats are supposed to sit back and take it??? That’s what’s got McCain irked.
    So, yeah, John McCain got in some good punches, did a good job at several points, and those predisposed to believe in him will find that comforting.
    But that was far outweighed by three patterns. McCain was persistently incoherent, and that cost him. McCain attacked with a litany of manufactured smears that stank of conventional politics, and most were not aimed at the people he needed to convince. Finally, McCain came across as stressed and angry, as though something had been taken from him. Unattractive.
    Barack Obama countered consistently, rebutting the worst attacks head-on, without becoming defensive, or going on at length, or getting thrown off his game.
    “Feeling Kinda Presidential” is a game-winner, and Barack Obama had it. John McCain didn’t.
    “YY” above makes a great point. Did anyone expect Obama to bring up a longstanding American policy of countenancing—and assisting in—the assassination of union leaders and political organizers in Latin America? Didn’t think so. And McCain looked absolutely stunned. McCain was equally out of sync with the electorate and the historical moment in wondering ‘how anybody could be against free trade’ (?!?). If the last 8 to 16 years haven’t impressed upon John McCain the importance of establishing fair and free trade that’s regulated in the American national interest, he will never get it. Never. That came through pretty strongly. John McCain is sticking with George W. Bush’s economic policy, and with his war policy, and everybody, everybody knows it.
    That’s why all the coherent jabs McCain could muster last night could never win that debate.

    Reply

  24. questions says:

    Transcript of the original Joe/Obama conversation.
    http://firstread.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2008/10/15/1550438.aspx
    It speaks to Obama’s seeing that you can’t just privilege your own wealth and security — you need to pitch in to preserve everyone’s. Everyone’s wealth and security actually strengthens everyone else’s — it’s called civil society.
    Hobbes is the theorist of the day. We all give up something and we all get something in return. If Joe gives up a tad bit of income, he gets a system in which people can afford to pay a plumber, buy a house that has indoor plumbing, pay for a wedding for a plumber’s kid….If Joe keeps all of his money, he’s not going to have any left because no one is going to pay for plumbing if they can’t afford food and mortgage payments.

    Reply

  25. YY says:

    One significant point made was Obama taking a very strong stand against anti-union activities in Colombia. I think this is very significant in context of the bipartisan history of right wing sympathetic foreign policy and bodes well. Everything else was pretty much predictable.

    Reply

  26. questions says:

    Joe Speaks
    http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=4525220n
    Obama tap dances like Sammy Davis, Jr????
    I just don’t know Obama.
    He says he’ll raise taxes on people making $250,000 a year. Who knows when that will become $100,000 a year? He might raise my taxes. I can’t afford that.
    Oh my. How did he become the spokesman of the McCain campaign?
    (Could anyone draw a line between taxes and services; between taxes, regulation and less corruption in the financial industry, between taxes and emergency safety nets when the worst happens; between taxes and our responsibility to one another; between taxes and government oversight and overcoming prisoners’ dilemmas and collective action problems and the over-pursuit of selfish interests that leads to economic bubbles?)

    Reply

  27. Matt says:

    This Republican blogger claims “Joe the Plumber” is an in-law of Charles Keating, of the Keating 5 scandal. I would hardly be surprised.
    http://tinyurl.com/3qz6n9

    Reply

  28. DonS says:

    On the energy question, I believe Obama did mention nuclear at the end, but dropped his voice. But it is disingenuous for McCain to have said that putting 45 nuclear plants on line could be done quickly — certainly not safely.
    I felt that McCain was flapping and blinking erratically, in the physical sense. He did have a few smother points, but overall looked like he was struggling. I don’t much like Obamas speaking style either, but in fact I’m a whle lot more ocncerned with substance and truth telling.
    The debates simply sold to the center, except where McCain “I know how to fix that” lied through his teeth. Most nuances and uncomforatble truths and realites were avoided.

    Reply

  29. questions says:

    Roubini is suggesting the possibility of 18-24 months of the worst recession in 40 years, deflation, unemployment at 9% (I’m guessing the way we count it now — disregarding underemployment and adding in the military to make the numbers look better, and leaving out the discouraged people who are no longer looking for work). So the best McCain can come up with is to increase housing costs, freeze government spending (a major hit to government workers), and making sure that none of the under/unemployed or unpaid women can have abortions. Wow.
    And he spent the debate looking like he was going to explode. The underlying anger this guy feels when you disagree with him, the shock he expressed when it turned out that small businesses aren’t fined for not offering health insurance under Obama’s plan, the support for Joe the Plumber who is considering buying a $250,000 plumbing business at the top of a recession — it’s all so off key. He can’t control his emotions and he doesn’t identify with struggle. Joe can keep plumbing without owning for now — he’ll pay his bills. The people who are really going to lose out are the victims of this Republican-induced massive recession.
    And that anyone would look at budget cuts rather than Keynesian stimulation — it’s crazy (as Dan Kervick noted above).
    (Read somewhere that Joe the Plumber isn’t even registered to vote, so I’m guessing he doesn’t entirely care who wins…..)
    McCain’s diction lacked coherence in a Palinized way — half-sentences dropped as other talking points exploded in his brain and exited via the mouth. He was hysterical — we laughed and cringed on his behalf. I can’t imagine his willingness to be challenged by anyone, and this characteristic is his most Bushian.

    Reply

  30. pacos_gal says:

    I think that when the debate started and McCain came out confronting and attacking on the issues that his campaign has been talking about, the republican base and the democrat base, both got excited, thinking ‘finally we’ll see a feisty debate’, that didn’t happen, and the independents who were still trying to make up their mind, were never interested in that. I’m guessing that the republicans were more disappointed by that than the democrats. Republicans expected more based up on McCains earlier comments leading up to the debate and rightly so.
    McCain needed to show, no personal anger towards Obama, anger towards issues is one thing, but personal anger doesn’t help him. You can’t convince anyone that you can work with the opposition, if you can’t even be civil to your opponent. Obama has consistently scored in that area during all 3 debates.
    McCain’s job wasn’t to try and appeal to his base, which he kept doing and I have to wonder why, but to appeal to those who haven’t made up their minds, which is mainly independents, or republicans who are tired of the way Bush has run things. Independents obviously are those who don’t want to belong to either party and therefore are probably closer to the center on the issues. He should have been trying to convince you Steve and me and every other independent out there. McCain never got there and he certainly never got there in a manner that was calm, cool and collected. He stayed on his campaign topics of attack and appeal to his base. Why?

    Reply

  31. Mr.Murder says:

    “Looking Presidential” sounds like some kind of title granted nobility, or even a veiled a reference to the noblisse when it was used in 2000.
    As for rednecks, more than their share detest Bush as well.
    Like a friend says, “the problem isn’t with people who don’t keep up with the news, the problem is with the people who do….
    …the most stupid mf’s from work watch the news all the time and they’re dumber than dirt from watching Fox.”
    “They don’t balance things with any outside information or care to do personal research.”
    Granted he’s personally below the median income. Both his parents were ill and he took a GED in tenth grade to become the main wage earner. They’re gone now and he has a family to take care including two kids.
    They still found the time to host a German exchange student. She’s all of sixteen now and about to be accredited and licensed to be a health care worker. That’s right, professional accreditation and college experience. He says America’s influence is already waning in every competitive field compared to true first world nations. Don’t even get us started on health care comparisons.

    Reply

  32. Steve Clemons says:

    Bill R — Good note, and I acknowledge the very strong polls saying Obama scored well. I think I did say that Obama looked presidential — maybe I said that in an interview rather than writing — but I think he held his own well. And I make clear that McCain’s temperament and impishness really undid him. But it was no blow out — at least not from my perspective. Again, I’ve said it a few times — McCain needed a Knock-out or game changer or serious gaffe from Obama, and he didn’t get it.
    I watched this with a group of people too this time – -and usually watch alone, so could have skewed things for me….but I agreed with many that McCain did well for a substantial portion of the debate — but didn’t finish well….that’s why I said it was a tie. Obama didn’t blow McCain out of the water either — though he did do well on Ayers, abortion, and ACORN….which has affected my sense of things after the fact.
    So, given my reassessment, I’ll acknowledge Obama won by a bit more than a nose — but still, it only mattered if McCain really did great, which he didn’t.
    Thanks to all for the very good comments and push backs.
    best from Chicago,
    Steve

    Reply

  33. Bill R. says:

    You can call this a tie, Steve, and other wannabe pundits, but the viewing audience was overwhelming that it was an Obama victory. Once again, debates are not a sports event, like boxing, they are a sample of behavior. And the majority of the viewing audience liked Obama saw him as presidential, and inversely didn’t like McCain and don’t want him as president.
    CBS poll of undecided – Obama 53-22
    CNN poll of debate viewers- Obama 58-31
    CNN Post debate -Barack Obama’s personal ratings are 66% favorable to 33% unfavorable, way ahead of McCain’s score of 49%-49%.
    Focus Groups- Fox News, Greenburg, CNN, CBS, MSNBC
    All Obama
    Online polls, CNN, CBS, Fox News, MSNBC- overwhelming Obama.
    Even the depressive Charles Krauthammer said Obama won because he demonstrated presidential temperament.

    Reply

  34. TonyForesta says:

    Excellent points Mr.Murder. America must move beyond and repudiate the pathological lies and fictions pimped by wingnut, or redneck America. These ignorant idiots would have their fellow Americans believe that “libruls” or democrats are anti-American, spawn of satan, giving aid and comfort to our enemies. I am proudly liberal and want every jihadist and all those who aid and abet them hunted, captured, or killed and their heads paraded on Utube on sticks. This hilarious ficition that liberals are anti-American is a joke. We are anti fascist bushgov. We want jihadists hunted, captured and killed just like the wingnuts. The difference is, we are not willinig to rape the Constitution, the rule of law, and every principle that formally defined America to achieve these shared ends. Nor are will we willing to look past the crimes of the fascists in the bushgov., and the bushgovs rank unaccountabililty. We are all Americans (outside those fiends who support the fascists in the bushgov.), and seek the same ends. The problem is a certain group of rednecks and rank partisans who blindly support the fascists in the bushgov would compromise and countermine America’s future, to blindly support the fascist in the bushgove who have, are, and will continue to destroy America for their own profit. Thefew have commandeered America. The hope is that themany will usher these fiends, wanton profiteerr, and pathological liar out of positions of leadership and restore some little semblance of credibility to what little is left of America.

    Reply

  35. Mr.Murder says:

    With personal savings at an all time low this recession is going to be very deep and extended.

    Reply

  36. Zathras says:

    Sen. McCain seemed to tire in the last part of the debate. Candidates in these things nearly always have their closing statements in the can. It’s the first thing they rehearse, because they want to leave voters with the reason they think they deserve people’s votes. McCain’s last statement was bits and pieces pulled seemingly at random from various stump speeches.
    In the end, I don’t think it mattered. Sen. Obama was somewhat bloodless as usual; his greatest advantage was pre-debate coaching to look directly at the camera, which he did while McCain was looking at Bob Schieffer as he normally looks at the moderator in his talk show appearances. But by now most people have made up their minds, more than anything else because all the bad news of the last few years with a Republican in the White House has been topped off in the last month by panic in the financial markets, a power dive in the stock market, and the threat of an economy that may be in recession for years. Sometimes campaigns can drive election results. This year, not so much; events have taken over.

    Reply

  37. rich says:

    Obama did stumble, but largely in ways that work to his advantage.
    He didn’t specify what he’d cut to balance he budget, but it’s kind of a stupid question. And several answers were too drawn out or non-directional.
    The big ‘flaw’, again, at least appeared to be not fighting back sufficiently hard to counter McCain’s flurry of attacks. The major criticism from past debates. In some quarters, it will appear as though John McCain was able to define Barack Obama, if only by sheer volume and repetition. “Spread the wealth around.”
    Yet Obama struck an interesting balance, directly countering many attacks, clearly and definitively, once. He didn’t bother to correct and dispute every single smear. He didn’t have to. It had the quality of the Ali vs. Foreman fight. One was punching away, but the other fighter was clearly dominant, and it showed in their demeanor and body language.
    So we can say Obama stumbled because he didn’t get specific enough about budget cuts or at a few other points. But he had a more coherent command of each issue than McCain: we have 4% of proven oil reserves but import 70% of what we use and account for 25% of world consumption.
    And what to us seems to be a Barack Obama who’s holding back, not fighting hard enough, to others conveys a reassuring strength. A certain Przntl quality. People can assess the quality of crap McCain dished out; but Obama’s can control his own responses and demeanor.
    McCain, between hammering Obama and infanticide and respecting vets’ caps and ACORN and Freddie Mac, wasn’t able to define himself adequately.

    Reply

  38. Mr.Murder says:

    Agreed, McCain’s fall back items were all the usual GOP wedge issues that Americans of tired of arguing over.
    You want to get in a woman’s personal business, we want jobs, health, care, sane foreign relations.
    Is that a bit too much to ask?

    Reply

  39. canyonguy says:

    While I normally agree with much of your analysis, I must
    disagree on your take of the third debate. I don’t think McCain
    did nearly as well as you seem to feel…but there are three things
    that I feel will be huge to undecided women voters:
    1. McCain in no uncertain terms said he was against Roe v. Wade
    (and certainly implied he would appoint only anti-choice
    judges).
    2. His stereotypical GOP line about trail lawyers when Obama
    brough up the equal pay dispute — again, McCain went for the
    base and showed no empathy or sympathy for women in the
    workfoce who face discremination.
    3. The unbelievable and shocking contempt McCain showed with
    his flippant attitude about the “health of the mother” being an
    “excuse for extremists” who were pro-choice.
    i think women watching the debate and realizing McCain’s
    across the board dismissive attitude to women’s concerns will be
    completely in the Obama camp now. If there were any of the
    Hillary voters on the fence — that just sealed the deal for them
    to vote for Obama.

    Reply

  40. Mr.Murder says:

    McCain fumbled on ACORN, he should have tied it into the “community organizer” claim because it is a phrase Obama uses repeatedly. Face to face and he fumbled it.
    Then it could suggest more to Obama’s original narrative. One that took short cuts to taking the party nomination, etc.
    He could not find the words. Not sharp enough. Dare one to call either obtuse?

    Reply

  41. Miriam says:

    Hi, Steve.
    Thanks for your blog on the debate. I often agree with you, but frankly, you gave McCain too much credit to seem impartial.
    Obama was smart, articulate and self-possessed.
    McCain was angry, impatient, erratic and came across as insincere.
    There was no comparison.
    Have fun in the Windy City, my old home.

    Reply

  42. MarkL says:

    Steve,
    What about health care? $5000 to buy health insurance? I find that a particularly stupid ploy, because people know how much health insurance costs, and it’s much more than that. I thought Obama handled that issue particularly well.
    I also thought Obama’s riposte on energy independence was good, saying that 10 years was a realistic time frame (which is awfully optimistic). McCain’s answer was just not believable.

    Reply

  43. TonyForesta says:

    Partisans will claim victory on both sides. The point is McCain’s policies do not speak to poor and working class Americans. With regard to abortion. In a perfect world – there would be no abortions. No one supports abortion. But we do not live in a perfect world. The key issue is choice. Wingnuts are perfectly willing to step over poor and starving people to kill an abortion doctor, and his or her bodyguard, to prevent an abortion. But what real choice do poor and middle class Americans have if their 14 year old daughter becomes pregnant? Forcing the family to raise a child in abject poverty. Destroying a young girls future to raise a child in an economy where there are no jobs, there is no job security, there is no hope for people in said economic strata to even dream of a better life. This while every message in our society glorifies sex, where are media pundits are chosen on the beauty factor and not their intellectual or journalistist integrity. Our children our confused by the duplicitious messages our society is sending them, so what real choice do they have?
    Obama was cool. McCain was not. Obama was focused on specifics, McCain was focused on the nebulous pipedreams of an America that does not exist.
    McCains economic policies exactly mirror the pernicious and predatory policies of the fascists in the bushgov.. Feeding the superrich, holding to the fiction that privatization in education, or healthcare, or the markets is the best option for America, while ignoring the sad fact that privatization is a wingnut code word for dictating to, and forcing upon the people choices that are not, – are NOT – in the American peoples best interests. We do not live in a perfect world. In fact we habitate and pernicious and overtly imperfect world wherein the superrich alone, singularly, and exclusively are immune from accountability and the rule of law, – while poor and middle class Americas are forced to endure and hazard the ferocious dictates of a totalitarian government that would impose morality on the people, but ignore or grant immunities to criminal the conduct of cronies, cabals, or oligarchs in industry beholden to the fascists in the bushgov.
    The choice for America is real change, or the unadulterated perpetuation of the exact same predatory policies and nefarious ideologies of the fascist in the bushgov.
    America and the world is looking to Americans to return to some semblence of sanity and the rule of law. McCain is bush3. Obama, for better or worse is the ONLY hope for restoring credibility and the rule of law to America.

    Reply

  44. Steve Clemons says:

    Mr. M — If I had a prize to give, you’d get it for the most fun response.
    MarkL — trying to join the reality based community, but I call them as I see them, and my views are part of the natural or unnatural variation out there. I still think Obama won overall in the debates — but I think he was trying to play it safe tonight for the most part.
    I would revise my view now with a slight (only slight) win for Obama now that I think back about how well Obama did knocking back challenges on ACORN, Ayers, and abortion. I sort of missed that when we were going through it.
    But this was not a game-changer for McCain — so a tie (whether it really was or wasn’t) is a loss overall for McCain. He needed to do better and he didn’t.
    But listen. . .I’m open to feedback and learn from your thoughts and reactions. But as I’m doing this — I really do try to set aside bias, and some of you would be more compelling if you could share some of the things that Obama stumbled on — just not that he beat McCain overall…
    best to everyone — have to run off to a late night television shot now…
    more later….and Kotz, we’ll discuss Fannie and Freddie another day.
    best, steve

    Reply

  45. CAROL says:

    John McCain lost this debate again tonight…he comes across as very smarmy and arrogant….what’s with the eye rolling…reminds me of a young girl disagreeing with her Mother?
    Still trying to avoid giving concrete answers and turning straight away to attack Sen Obama….he looks angry and ruffled and basically waffled on and on saying absolutely nothing!!!!
    No, this is the end for McCain and his sidekick Palin…..their negativity has not paid off and they will pay the price.
    Roll on Nov so we can elect a stable, responsible, cool headed and intelligent man for President and that certainly is NOT JOHN McCAIN!!!

    Reply

  46. Mr.Murder says:

    McCain called it Fannie Mac? McCain lost his fanny on factual content repeatedly.
    Obama played not to lose. His biggest late slip was mentioning the polls to support a point that doesn’t really need such emphasis. This is someone who doesn’t govern so much as run a series of PC driven press statements.

    Reply

  47. Mr.Murder says:

    McCain is channeling his inner Nixon with all this talk about plumbers.
    As for being angry, this is what one should expect of Cpt.John McQueeg, driven by vengeance to hunt the great white whale of Manifest Destiny on oceans of oil in the Middle East….

    Reply

  48. MarkL says:

    A tie?
    Please, Steve.
    Stay in the reality-based community. McCain was awful. He was not in command of the facts or his demeanor, and he was incoherent at times.
    He also admitted that abortion is a litmus test when he said that a judge who approved of roe v. wade would not be qualified.
    McCain was slaughtered tonight.

    Reply

  49. Matt says:

    Boy those Republicans sure are slimy. There’s something fishy with all this “Joe the Plumber” nonsense. The Drudge Report gave that story really undue attention, I think for at least two days before the debate. It looks like it’s connected to Political Action Committees like “Family Security Matters” too… And then Drudge had this strange “leak” that more or less just looks like a press release from the Obama campaign; he accuses the Obama campaign of “issuing talking points” to the media for them to cover the debate.
    http://drudgereport.com/flashotp.htm
    This is like the sequel to Matt Damon’s Disney movie with the hockey mom.

    Reply

  50. Steve Clemons says:

    Ian — your comment makes much sense. I really do think that Obama came off exceptionally well in the end. I also know that both were inconsistent through the debate. But since I thought the challenge of winning for McCain was super important, I may have been somewhat more critical of Obama now and then to account for bias I think I might carry….but as I said above, in the end, Obama really wins — even if one believes that the debate itself was a tie.
    But thanks for your commentary on the abortion issue…
    steve

    Reply

  51. Ian Fried says:

    Steve — I think you are way off on how the abortion discussion played out. Obama was able to get in that he would ban late-term abortions if the life and health of the mother were excepted, while McCain responded saying that the health exception was the way of the “extreme pro-abortion movement.” Obama is not only closer to the center on this issue — and he came across more thoughtful on this issue. I think criticizing the health exception will hurt McCain with independents.
    McCain was stronger in the first half of the debate as the nature of the questioning put Obama on the defensive, but by the latter half of the debate Obama was a master of details and seemed to know more about McCain’s health and education plans than McCain did.

    Reply

  52. kotzabasis says:

    My dear Steve, your response “not really true” that Fannie… and Freddie “were the core root of the housing crisis,” shows that by using the adverb “really” that you are not convinced that your response reflects reality and rather cognitively is your ‘default line’.

    Reply

  53. carsick says:

    Typo above and a clarification:
    I was actually drinking every time Senator McCain didn’t mention the middle class. Clearly, I’m drunk.
    None the less, no excuse four slopiness.
    “Four” for “for” in the above comment.
    And, I would be surprised if anyone thought this debate a tie but, as I stated above, I became biased once Senator McCain so quickly blew off the balanced budget in four years question.

    Reply

  54. carsick says:

    I didn’t see a tie. At worst 55-45 for independents in West Virginia..
    I was thrown off though when McCain was asked if he would balance the budget in the next for years and his only reply was “Yes” before he moved on to his hurt feelings.

    Reply

  55. Paul Norheim says:

    The media will find Joe The Plumber, and interview him. If he`s a
    nice fellow, McCain may score points. They`ll probably ignore his
    brother Joe Sixpack. And that`s a shame. Being drunk, he may
    tell the truth.

    Reply

  56. rich says:

    Disagree this can be reasonably be termed ‘a tie’.
    Obama responded and rebutted far more effectively this time, without overdoing it or losing his cool.
    McCain was on the attack almost constantly, going too far in that direction even though polls show it has clearly been costing him. But what was he for?
    To be fair, McCain did very well and spoke clearly at a couple points.
    But McCain was also palpably stressed, if not angry, whereas Obama was confident and composed. Beschloss, whom I rarely agree with, just reminded us that debates allow unfamiliar voters an opportunity to see Obama in action, get to know him, and get comfortable with him or the idea of him as Prznt. By that measure, the PBS crew agreed, Obama came through ahead. And could afford to.
    Even at his best, McCain was outclassed. After all, Obama didn’t even need to go after Palin. Or, for that matter, McCain. Which is telling.

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  57. Dan Kervick says:

    What a dreadful, dreadful debate.
    This debate was taking place during the most pressing global economic crisis in decades, but you would hardly know it. It was moderated by the economically illiterate and intellectually overextended Bob Schieffer. Large chunks of the debate were eaten up by weird, tired irrelevancies and extraneous bullshit when the entire world is looking to the next American president to see how he is going to handle the very serious challenge facing all of us.
    Who wrote these damn questions for Schieffer? Why is it that mainstream media poohbahs Like Schieffer and Brokaw think that it is the height of economic wisdom to preach Hooverite fiscal austerity during a SEVERE RECESSION, and to badger the candidates with questions that seem to incorporate prejudged ultraconservative answers about what they are going to cut spending and balance the budget, when almost everyone to the left of Calvin Coolidge understands that the government is going to need to run a deficit for a while so it can prime the demand pumps and also provide capital on the lending side?
    Even the Republican McCain seemed flustered by Schieffer’s cluelessness.

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  58. Spunkmeyer says:

    I’m convinced the Plumber’s lobbying efforts are paying off better
    dividends than, oh, say, the Architect’s lobby.

    Reply

  59. viktor_vaughn says:

    I score this one overwhelmingly for Obama. McCain’s visibly nervous smirk and jokeresque grin were even more pronounced tonight, and I feel he danced around a number of questions with played out talking points and half truths.
    The moderator was certainly more effective in his questions this time around, but weak on his follow ups.
    How about that gross EVASION of the climate change question by BOTH candidates? “Reducing our dependence on foreign oil” alone does nothing to stem climate change. All these two have managed to say is that we need to get our oil from different sources, with nothing about getting OFF oil full stop. Yeah they name-dropped some alternative energy sources, but I have yet to hear a concrete plan, and how to implement it.

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  60. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Well, I don’t now about the rest of you, but somehow Joe Sixpack and Joe The Plumber aren’t the two models that signal Palin and McCain have any respect for the intelligence of the American people.
    Joe Sixpack is drunk, and if you’ve seen one butt crack, you’ve seen ’em all.

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  61. rich says:

    While McCain did hit his stride midway, he also repeatedly stumbles, both in delivery/coherence, and on the parrying and general accuracy. It’s uneven. And he can’t win saying we can drill our way out of foreign oil dependence.
    McCain looks much better this time out. But Obama is also turning in his best performance—and is head-&-shoulders more capable on the crucial issues. McCain just sounded good on SCOTUS litmus tests—but when he sounds good, it’s not on the difference makers.
    McCain’s coming through with some severely spurious characterizations. Some are straight out of left field, or really so vague they’re hard to dispute off-the-cuff. Except for those, I don’t believe most people will swallow them.
    McCain is also not reaching the sections of the electorate that’ll turn this election with his major attacks ‘points’. Now he’s making some points about partial-birth abortion. Pro-lifers are already voting McCain. The persuadable middle aren’t gonna believe Obama as a whacked-out abortion-performing radical.
    McCain’s best moment, right now. School choice. Says a lot it came on that issue.

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  62. pacos_gal says:

    Speaking of “joe plumber” didn’t the plumbers union come out and endorse Obama?

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  63. JP Carter says:

    Steve,
    I don’t agree that Obama is not strong. I also think that Bob is not a strong moderator. Finally, McCain is too little too late. He is not landing jabs. He is rabbit punching. This debate will not turn the tide for McCain. He looks stressed and weak. Obama looks relaxed. I don’t need to see steam coming out of his ears. I needs to see reasoned, balanced, and mellow. McCain is out of his league and he knows it. Who is giving the most specifics about his plans for our country? – Obama.

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  64. Bethie says:

    John McCain is an angry angry man!

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  65. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Forget the rhetoric, the promises, and the policy advocations. These two are American politicians. Odds are, they’re lyin.
    Look at demeanor, attitude, and what emotions show themselves in their responses. McCain’s facial expressions would be more in place on an adolescent child who has had the cookie jar placed out of reach.

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  66. jude says:

    Regardless of the rhetoric, the only one swetting here is McCain.

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  67. michael says:

    that graphc shows that 85% of McCain’s ads are negative and
    62% of Obama’s are negative.

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  68. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Anyone watching McCain’s facial expressions, and his obviously concerted efforts to hold his temper in check, should be TERRIFIED at the prospect of this man becoming President.
    And there is simply NO WAY to present Palin as anything other than a fuckin’ liar. Her statements that she was vindicated by the Branchflower report was a BALD FACED LIE. The fact that McCain continues to give her glowing praises says alot about his character. How many other lies will he accept and condone from those he might choose to appoint to his cabinet?
    And Steve, I’m dissappointed that you are willing to post stats coming from these pieces of shit in the McCain camp before you’ve had a chance to actually vet and verify it. If they could be trusted, they would not have allowed Palin to stand up and lie her ass off to the American public.

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  69. pacos_gal says:

    I agree McCain is staying confrontational. However, I don’t know that it is a big help to him, he’s doing the negative continuously without sticking to talking about the issues. In this years campaign, people are serious about the issues and don’t want to just hear negatives.
    I think that has been proved by the polls showing that the negative ads haven’t helped him. Fox I believe had those.

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  70. rich says:

    “I’m proud of the people that come to our rallies . . . [acting hurt] . . I have repudiated everything”
    McCain has studiously avoided repudiating ANYthing Gov. Palin and his supporters have said about Obama. He’s stood by and allowed this flood of lies to proceed wholly unchecked.
    The total lack of responsibility on McCain’s part here is shocking, or would be, if it weren’t standard operating procedure.
    McCain got in some good punches (if baseless), and Ayers is up. McCain coming back; an effective lies is the one that’s repeated. The first real plus for McCain, though not on stable or honest ground.
    More profound problem for McCain is he refused to repudiate the ‘terrorist’ & ‘Muslim’ lie, then just openly asserted that he’d repudiated all these attacks, and tthen immediately urned around and repeated the Ayers and ACORN smears. That’s a deep hole, and McCain can’t dig his way out of it.
    Not even with help from a media not interested in truth-squadding these things.

    Reply

  71. A2 says:

    It seems like Obama is getting cocky with his reaction to McCain.
    The laughs are not appropriate. McCain is doing well, but Obama
    seems less emotionally charged where McCain’s emotions seem
    make him stumble over his words.

    Reply

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