Why Obama Won The Debate

After the first 15 minutes of the debate last night, I could not watch I was so upset with Obama's performance in the economic portion of the debate. I thought, and still think, Obama gave McCain the upper hand on an issue Obama should have had McCain crying on. But for the rest of the debate Barack Obama dominated John McCain, on foreign policy no less. And Obama won the debate. He was the President on stage. An ironic turn.

Of course I agree with Obama on the issues, so I will favor him anyway. But it was more than that. After a seemingly nervous start on the economy, Obama hit his stride on foreign policy and McCain hit his McNasty button. Mccain was incredibly unlikable and unPresidential. Obama was the President on that stage, not McCain. CGR focus group study gives you an idea what I am talking about:

With Barack Obama gaining momentum, John McCain needed to change the dynamic in the race during tonight’s debate and to shift the focus of the campaign onto friendlier terrain. Instead, Democracy Corps research finds that McCain essentially held his ground in this debate, while Obama emerged with higher personal favorability and increased confidence in his ability to handle critical foreign policy and national security issues.

During and after the debate, Democracy Corps conducted a set of dial and focus groups among 45 undecided voters in St. Louis, Missouri. These voters had an unmistakably Republican tilt, voting for President Bush by a 2-to-1 margin in 2004 and self-identifying as 33 percent Republican and 27 percent Democrat. But playing on his perceived strength of national security and before a friendly audience, McCain could only manage a draw among this group. Of our 45 initial undecided voters, a quarter moved to Obama and a quarter to McCain after the debate with the rest remaining undecided. Moreover, by a 38 to 27 percent margin these voters said that Obama won this debate.

A look at the underlying numbers shows that Obama made important gains that could endure through Election Day. These undecided voters had a strong positive reaction to Obama on a personal level. Before the debate, just 40 percent viewed Obama positively, but this skyrocketed to 69 percent after the debate – a remarkable 29-point gain that left him more personally popular than McCain despite this group’s conservative leanings. He also made large strides on being seen as independent, from 44 percent to 65 percent. And in head-to-head matchups against McCain, Obama made significant gains on who “shares your values” and is “on your side.”

. . . McCain either remained stagnant or lost ground on nearly every other issue we tested. He went into the debate being seen as the more negative candidate by a 7-point margin and expanded that dubious honor to 26 points by the conclusion of the debate.

The initial discussion of our country’s financial crisis was not decisive for either candidate [It should have been and Obama failed in this part of the debate]. McCain received his highest mark here while talking about the need to reign in pork spending while Obama repeatedly saw the dials spike when discussing his plan for middle plan tax cuts. In the end, Obama expanded his 7-point lead on who would better handle the economy to 15 points.

Here is the story of the debate and why Obama won it and perhaps the election with it:

The bigger story was the change on security issues. Obama entered at a severe disadvantage on national security with these undecided but Republican-leaning voters, losing the initial matchup on this issue by a 63-point margin, but he managed to close this gap by 20 points over the course of the debate. He also made significant gains on who would do better on foreign policy (closing the gap with McCain by 8 points) and on the war on terrorism (cutting a 40-point McCain lead to 24 points). Obama’s repeated focus on Afghanistan and Pakistan was likely a main driver of this improvement, as his dial reading spiked when outlining his aggressive policy on taking on al Qaeda and the Taliban. On Iraq, Obama made significant progress in reassuring voters that he will not take precipitous action in withdrawing from Iraq with the percentage saying that he “will leave Iraq too quickly” does not describe him well increasing from 33 percent to 47 percent. On one of the most important issues to these voters – who will do a better job achieving energy independence – Obama strongly outperformed McCain, more than doubling an already impressive 20-point lead on the issue to 44 points. Obama scored some of his highest marks on our dials when talking about the need to make America energy independent. Even those who felt McCain won the debate agreed in our follow-up focus groups that Obama was the more persuasive candidate on energy independence.

In the end, Obama’s primary imperative tonight was to pass the commander-in-chief test. He achieved that with many of these voters. Before the debate, only 40 percent agreed that Obama “has what it takes” to be president, but this number increased to a majority of 51 percent by the end of the night.

In a Republican crowd, Obama passes the C-i-C test. He won the debate.

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    Foreign policy (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by Dadler on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 08:27:11 AM EST
    If only Obama had said "John, the Iraqi government wants to know when we're leaving, they want their country back, are your really saying they don't have the right to ask us to leave and that we don't have the obligation to honor that request?  Are you really saying what that implies?  Are your really saying they don't have the freedom to forge their own destiny now?"  I don't understand how he can miss the most obvious of points to be made.  Or how he doesn't bring up that much of the "success" of "the surge" is simply bribery, that the American people are paying off militias left and right and that, obviously, that is not a success that can last.

    agreed. (none / 0) (#50)
    by coigue on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 10:49:58 AM EST
    and he could have said it as a personal story....as in "when I traveled to Iraq and met with Maliki, he conveyed to me that..."

    I REALLY want Obama to talk about his personal experience like McCain does, because people remember it happening. He was good at it, and it's good to remind people of him in Israel and iraq.


    ya (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by connecticut yankee on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 08:48:28 AM EST
    Well, he gets another bite at the economy apple but he took on McCain in the lion's den (fp) and came out looking like the president.

    I was hoping for a draw here but it looks like Obama edged him.  When is the next time FP will come up? Not many chances for McCain to swing that chain before nov.  Now we get home court advantage.

    problem w/ foreign policy (none / 0) (#51)
    by coigue on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 10:50:45 AM EST
    you never know when it will rear it's ugly head.

    Frankly, if I had been Obama (5.00 / 8) (#4)
    by scribe on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 08:53:57 AM EST
    and I'd been debating last night, I would have jumped in McCain's sh*t about the House Republican plan and more deregulation contained in it.  I would have reminded the world that McCain, Charlie Keating and Phil Gramm all show that deregulation not only does not work, but actually makes things worse, and that McCain was so thoroughly corrupt that he could not be trusted.

    I would have further jumped on his comments about reining in lobbyists by reminding him about his staff getting money from Freddie and Fannie through last month, for doing nothing other than providing access to McCain.

    And I would have been wrong to do any of that.

    Even though every one of the economics criticisms against Obama's performance (which you correctly raise, BTD) were true.

    The trap McCain was setting was to have Obama jump at the bait of McCain's own corruption and then let himself be seen as The Angry Black Man, rather than as presidential, restrained, professional, calm, etc.  McCain would have been able to start the debate portraying himself as the attackee, being whaled upon by an Angry Black Man.

    And Obama would have lost not only the debate, but the election.

    As we lawyers know about oral arguments - particularly on appeals - "you're unlikely to win it solely on your oral argument, but you can easily lose it".

    So, Obama was wise to refuse that bait.  The economic situation will be clearer in two weeks - for good or bad - and McCain and the House Repugs (and Pelosi the Lawn Chair*) will have ample opportunity to make fools of themselves between now and then.

    And in the meantime, Obama can continue pounding his points.  And maybe put in a call to Pelosi about mortgage relief in bankruptcy.

    * Come October, she folds up and gets put away.

    what an insightful comment (none / 0) (#52)
    by coigue on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 10:52:02 AM EST
    Economic debate (none / 0) (#85)
    by lcdrrek on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 01:18:44 PM EST
    I thought your observations were spot on.  My only complaint to Obama's performance in this portion of the debate was that it took him 33 minutes to bring up the $10 billion per month we are spending in Iraq.  This point should have been brought up much earlier and often in the debate.

    I spent some time last night and this morning reading some "wingnut" blogs and it was pretty interesting, though I don't recommend it.  I think it will be a pretty good improvement for the economy on November 5th when the morticians start selling caskets for all of the wingnuts who have hung themselves over the results of the election.


    Basically a Draw (5.00 / 3) (#6)
    by pluege on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 09:03:58 AM EST
    • mccain led the economic discussion although I think Obama made mccain's earmark argument look stupid
    • Obama was competent on foreign policy

    • Obama needs to stop saying mccain "is right" all the time
    • Obama should NEVER have let Big Liar John get away with claiming to be against torture when its because of him that the CIA still tortures and the criminal Military Commission's Act exists and can use torture extracted testimony.
    • Obama needs to counter EVERY one of mccain's 'you don't understand' and 'you are naive' with 'John, you were wrong: wrong on Irag and the so-called war on terror, wrong on foreign policy, wrong on supporting bush on almost everything, wrong on torture, wrong on deregulation, wrong on blocking healthcare for children, wrong on....'

    Disagree (5.00 / 2) (#41)
    by joanneleon on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 10:08:48 AM EST
    on both of your points.

    It was not a draw.  The fact that the pundits said it was a draw means nothing.  They are notoriously wrong and out of touch in their first impressions.  Also, now that they have seen the polls, they are changing their tune from what they were saying right after the debate.  Throughout this campaign, they have gone easy on McCain, and they continue to do so.  They are not exactly in the tank for him, but they definitely are tougher on Obama and McCain and they regularly gloss over his flaws.

    Regarding the "ungentlemanly interruptions," I would usually agree with you on this.  However, in this case, Obama had to interrupt because McCain is dishonest so much of the time.  He has to knock down the lies and half-truths McCain is relying on to stay above water.  If Obama didn't interrupt, he would have to spend all of his speaking time refuting McCain's lies.  So it was a necessary thing this time around, and it is likely that it will be required all through this campaign.

    In addition, Obama had to show a little more spark and energy.  Being cool and level headed goes a long way, but in the face of urgent situations and blatant lies, he had to be more forceful.  He interrupted but not excessively, and only when there was good reason.


    It wasn't rude (5.00 / 2) (#54)
    by coigue on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 10:54:58 AM EST
    it was the debate format...conversational.

    mccain interrupted as much or more (5.00 / 3) (#57)
    by pluege on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 10:57:35 AM EST
    you're wrong on pointing only to Obama on the interruptions.

    Furthermore, Obama started off being a flustered while listening, making gestures and head shaking, but got himself under control and ended the debate as the poised one. Big Liar John, just the opposite; became increasingly belligerent as the debate went on, interrupting and making noises and gestures, ending the debate pretty out of control - a bad image to leave with viewers.


    Rude???? (5.00 / 2) (#72)
    by Jjc2008 on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 12:02:32 PM EST
    Someone just outright lies and you are worried that it was rude to challenge it?

    Nothing is ruder that sneering derision and McCain had a constant sneer on his face and his attempts to deride his opponent with lies and spin were obvious.


    Both of them exaggerated and took things out of (5.00 / 2) (#75)
    by boot on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 12:06:25 PM EST
    context in the debate.  Case in point, that  Kissinger quote.  An Obama supporter like me even saw how Obama was misquoting Kissinger for his own benefit.

    This moral superiority on candidates ("McCain is a liar") stuff has got to go.  It doesn't convince independents at all.  Independents are those who believe all politicians lie and twist the truth for their agendas.


    During the last month or so (5.00 / 3) (#83)
    by joanneleon on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 12:51:36 PM EST
    McCain and his campaign have been incredibly dishonest.  IMHO, he's counting on the fact that some of his lies will get through to the people without being refuted.  He's doing this by sheer volume of dishonest statements and characterizations.

    All politicians slant things to their own favor at least some of the time.  But McCain has taken it way over the top, so much that even the media is calling him out on it, and that takes a lot.  Up to this point they have given him a pass almost all the time.


    We see what we (5.00 / 1) (#90)
    by rennies on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 02:17:46 PM EST
    already believe. I haven't seen any postings this morning evaluating the debate that do not reflect the existing views of the writer.

    I do not support Obama (voting Cynthia Mckinney) and I saw McCain thrash Obama on foreign policy -- the Georgia/ Ukraine riff showed Obama didn't really know what he was talking about).

    Also, I thought "i've got a bracelet too" (had to look down to read the name) was patently childish.


    I'm not sure how you could be impressed (none / 0) (#94)
    by call me Ishmael on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 03:13:20 PM EST
    by that riff personally.  The only reason that McCain looked good on that is that people are happy to oversimplify a situation.  The sections in question have large percentages of their population that want to break away (I wouldn't be surprised if that statue of Putin was put up by locals as a symbolic gesture against the Georgian government) and McCain's response both during the crisis and in the debate really makes Obama's point--The US can bluster but it has lost the ability to actually move a lot of situations due to the Bush Foreign Policy.  In the end it makes the government look like a "paper tiger" to go around blustering that way.  Of course Obama didn't say that because it doesn't sound presidential in the ways that people seem to think you should sound.  But on a matter of substance McCain's tendency to simplify everything into black and white doesn't even get us where he claims to want to get us. This problem about ethnic groups claiming independence is a large one that has been around for a long while (even longer than McCain).  He doesn't want to address the world as it is and that is what that "impressive riff" showed.

    If he had not interrupted (5.00 / 1) (#81)
    by joanneleon on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 12:47:00 PM EST
    he would have had to use too much of his allotted time refuting McCain's lies and half-truths.  He would not have had enough time to present his stance on the issues.

    If McCain is going to be dishonest so much of the time, he should expect to be interrupted.  Obama would look weak if he didn't call him on it at least some of the time.  

    Many people don't know the facts.  If McCain is allowed to get away with untruths, there will be many people who will accept it as the truth.

    I don't see that Obama has any other choice.


    The Pundits (5.00 / 2) (#42)
    by MTSINAIMAMA on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 10:10:07 AM EST
    What they thought, while interesting, is immaterial.

    What undecideds and independents thought, that't the question--and based on the reaction thus far, Obama won handily.

    Case in point, my cousin in Florida, who called me first thing this morning to ask me what I thought. This is the woman who last week told me that she was scared of voting for Obama because he was black, and she was afraid he would "favor" blacks over white if he became President.

    This week, 180 degree turnaround. She didn't see Obama as black, she saw him as a human being, and she that he looked Presidential. In contrast, she thought McCain looked "dead", and was, in her words, "angry and mean."

    Right after her, daughter in Boston called. She saw the debate with a group of friends. They all thought McCain was condescending and petulant, and they all noted that he never once looked Obama.


    Never Looked at Him (5.00 / 4) (#48)
    by kaleidescope on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 10:42:19 AM EST
    This is becoming the courtier media's hook, since it doesn't require them to go out on a limb.  They can simply point to the tape.  Then they can go on an on about what this means (and none of that is good for McCain).  When you put it that way, it makes McCain seem dishonest and kind of creepy.

    It reinforces the "he's a liar" narrative the media has been harping on lately.  When is someone afraid to look you in the eye?  When he's lying or being dishonest.  It's a cliche, but our courtier media traffics in cliches.

    This is becoming the McCain equivalent of Al Gore's "sighs".


    I agree this is key (none / 0) (#62)
    by pluege on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 11:10:12 AM EST
    the media will never speak of anything substantive about the debate because it bores them and they're collectively dumb as a stump. The mcnasty, scowling, can't look at his opponent meme is the gossipy, gotcha kind of thing that they love and promote.

    McNasty (none / 0) (#68)
    by MTSINAIMAMA on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 11:52:20 AM EST
    Good one!

    Are you kidding me? (4.57 / 7) (#34)
    by Jjc2008 on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 09:57:54 AM EST
    McCain was an arrogant jerk who constantly sneered and smirked at whatever Obama said and did not have the b*lls to look at his opponent.

    Personal favoribility: McCain -5 Obama +10


    Depends (5.00 / 1) (#39)
    by TheRizzo on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 10:04:32 AM EST
    What you are looking for and prefer.  Some people prefer the gentle guy, others prefer the gruff guy.  There will be lots of people in Middle American that enjoyed McCain's style.  A lot of my friends loved it.  I like something in the middle myself.  Obama was too passive and agreeable and McCain was a bit to standoffish.  

    I thought he should have made a bigger effort to once in awhile look at him and show him a little more respect.  However Obama also was disrespectful by calling him John, interrupting and had his smirks on his face as he tends to do.  Both guys had issues that were condescending to each other.


    Agreeing is a problem with him (none / 0) (#10)
    by TheRizzo on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 09:10:59 AM EST
    He had the syndrome with Senator Clinton too and used it as his way to leach onto her answers.  Not sure I felt he was doing it exactly that way last night but none the less its a way of speaking that he seems unable to stop.   Any Senator Clinton supporter can tell you how many times in many debates he would repsond with "I think Senator Clinton is absolutely right"

    Someone (none / 0) (#12)
    by WS on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 09:16:48 AM EST
    mentioned how the "he/she is always right" answer was how Obama always seeks "common ground."  I think its part of his new politics schtick.  

    That could (none / 0) (#31)
    by TheRizzo on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 09:55:42 AM EST
    very well be true.  Not sure why he does it, but he needs to stop it.

    He certainly has to limit it right now (none / 0) (#43)
    by joanneleon on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 10:11:02 AM EST
    His campaign should give him a quote of "McCain is right" statements.  One or two should be the limit.

    I remember Obama doing this with Hillary (none / 0) (#63)
    by byteb on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 11:11:50 AM EST
    during their debates too.

    Once should be the limit if Obama (none / 0) (#99)
    by bridget on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 03:37:44 PM EST
    absolutely must endear himself to the rightwingers, independents, bipartisans etc. ... but it should include a disclaimer right afterwards.

    Anyone remember the Gore/Bush debate with all the "agreeing" going on there? It was a disaster.


    Orlando paper headline said no clear winner (none / 0) (#30)
    by ruffian on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 09:55:10 AM EST
    and also pointed out that neither of them took a firm position on the bailout proposal.

    That was one of my criticisms of Obama in the first part of the debate.  He was avoiding Lehrer's direct question about the bailout.  Lehrer had to ask again, and then he answered it.


    They both ducked it (none / 0) (#33)
    by TheRizzo on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 09:57:12 AM EST
    But Obama should have owned it.  I also think he was too slippery on the what will you have to cut or delay because of the buyout.  He should have given up a few token things to provide some realism to it.  I was getting FRUSTRATED by his answer on that one.

    Democrats are in a really difficult spot right now (5.00 / 2) (#44)
    by joanneleon on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 10:16:59 AM EST
    on the bailout (the MOAB).  Republicans played this one very cleverly, even if they seem to be careless with the potential melt down.

    But at the moment, the House Republicans seem to be more in line with the sentiment of the majority of the American people.  What the people don't know is that the House Republicans have ulterior motives and will try to put things into the bailout that are not in the best interests of the middle class.  All they are hearing right now is that the House Republicans are pushing back and saying no to the bailout.

    So, IMHO, the reason the question was so difficult to answer last night is that the "plan" is in flux right now.  It's hard to say whether you support something that isn't defined yet.  Obama said that, but he should have laid it out more definitively and explained more about where the negotiations stand right now, and he should have expressed doubt about the motives of the House Republicans, and frankly, McCain, who is trying to sit on the fence.


    That is exactly what (none / 0) (#86)
    by BernieO on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 01:27:52 PM EST
    I thought. But they should have said so instead of ducking the question. They could have pointed out that since there is no firm agreement at this time, they couldn't comment on whether they agreed with the "plan" and that they did not want to undercut the ongoing negotiations.

    I so agree on this (none / 0) (#124)
    by Amiss on Sun Sep 28, 2008 at 12:51:03 AM EST
    <blockquoteObama needs to stop saying mccain "is right" all the time</blockquote>

    I just want to smack him every time he says this!


    Thanks for that data (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by ruffian on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 09:11:08 AM EST
    The debate's affect on undecideds is most important at this point.  Now get them to early voting before they change their minds with the next debate.

    i also thought (5.00 / 4) (#14)
    by sancho on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 09:23:06 AM EST
    obama gained composure and control as the debate went on. obama seemed respectful where mccain did not and i would think that would hurt mccain with some voters. mccain seemed to want to wink at everyone and say, look, you and i know this guy is an impostor and an outsider. but obama's innate sense of dignity rebutted that ploy better even than his words.

    McCain seemed to dislike Obama -- more (5.00 / 2) (#37)
    by esmense on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 10:01:02 AM EST
    as the debate went on. But I don't see how anyone can say Obama was "respectful" -- he didn't just keep calling McCain by his first name (McCain always called him "Senator Obama") he would call him by THE WRONG NAME ("Jim" on one occassion). Obviously, because he made a point of having to grasp for the man's name, he wasn't trying to project the idea that they were close acquaintances. I thought it was perhaps an intentional gambit -- that he was trying to raise McCain's anger by his disrespect. Or, perhaps, he really is so dismissive of his opponent that he can't bother to remember his name or much less address him with his formal title.

    Anyway -- there's obviously no love, or respect, lost between these two opponents.

    In their own ways they both look too little for the job.


    i see your point, esmense (5.00 / 1) (#49)
    by sancho on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 10:43:43 AM EST
    my impeession actuallly may have been that mccain was more disrespectful than obama. i thought obama did get angry and was upset and at times wanted to tattle to the moderator but by the end it seemed to me he had come off nonetheless as more "dignified" than mccain. maybe that's the wrong word. i can see, though, how one might argue that obama "condescended" to mccain in an attempt to provoke him. that's what the person watching the debate with me thought. i've come to think that it is just his manner and he can only try to exploit it as he well as he can. i think it works better against mccain than it did against hillary (who, i think, would just destroy mccain in a debate).  

    A friend pointed out to me that he (5.00 / 3) (#78)
    by esmense on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 12:25:28 PM EST
    always did this to Clinton too. He always referred to her as "Hillary," never Sen. Clinton.

    Jim was the moderator (none / 0) (#55)
    by coigue on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 10:56:27 AM EST
    Of course Jim was the moderator (5.00 / 1) (#82)
    by esmense on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 12:49:24 PM EST
    So? He was addressing McCain. The "mix up" wasn't cute. It just made apparent how false the friendly familiarity that supposedly was the excuse for addressing McCain by his first name really was.

    Not Jim, he called him Tom. (none / 0) (#92)
    by rennies on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 02:21:34 PM EST
    He got his name wrong more than once (none / 0) (#109)
    by esmense on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 04:18:02 PM EST
    Kudos to Lehrer (5.00 / 5) (#16)
    by ruffian on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 09:35:27 AM EST
    More debates like this, please:

    No personal questions
    No reading back of quotes and asking them to react
    No long preambles designed to show off how smart he is
    No questions so silly the candidates had an excuse to ignore the question.

    He got out of the way and let them be the story. I only

    had a problem at the end with the 'what are the odds of another terrorism attack' question - it verged on violating my 4th point, but not so bad that McCain and Obama did not stick to the point of the question.

    Forgot to bring that back around to why Obama won (5.00 / 2) (#22)
    by ruffian on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 09:42:45 AM EST
    When the moderator gets out of the way and the candidates focus on issues instead of trivia, Obama's positions are very clearly better, even to those Republican leaning voters in the focus group.

    It may have helped Obama a little that McCain got nasty, but in general, I want the debate going forward to stay on the issues and not personalities.  


    Loved the format (none / 0) (#19)
    by TheRizzo on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 09:38:30 AM EST
    I like allowing the cross talk and room for actual debate and not just what you were prepped to say by your debate team.

    Obama's team argued (5.00 / 1) (#25)
    by MKS on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 09:45:10 AM EST
    hard to keep the cross-talk portion....McCain's team wanted (and got) it out of the VP debate.

    Link? Thanks. (none / 0) (#114)
    by oculus on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 05:05:13 PM EST
    From the New York Times (5.00 / 1) (#118)
    by MKS on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 06:35:40 PM EST
    Here is the article.  A couple of excerpts:

    The Obama and McCain campaigns have agreed to an unusual free-flowing format for the three televised presidential debates, which begin Friday, but the McCain camp fought for and won a much more structured approach for the questioning at the vice-presidential debate, advisers to both campaigns said Saturday.


    He [McCain]wanted limits on the original format for the first and third debates, which had been nine topics with nine minutes of free-flowing debate on each one. Mr. Obama went along, though his aides did insist that at least several minutes of open-ended debate occur in each block of questioning, because they believe he does well in that format.

    Lehrer was great (none / 0) (#45)
    by supertroopers on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 10:17:46 AM EST
    McCain won by a slight margin. He has more experience and it showed. Regardless, as nice as the McCain people are BO looks stronger just being on the stage with McCain. So in a way, the debates actually help BO more than "John".

    Polls show a decisive Obama win (none / 0) (#119)
    by MKS on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 06:37:21 PM EST
    That sounds right to me (5.00 / 4) (#17)
    by andgarden on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 09:36:09 AM EST
    Of course, a Democrat who passes the CiC test and who is personally likeable comes very close to being a shoo-in, doesn't he?

    I haven't felt as good about (5.00 / 4) (#23)
    by MKS on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 09:42:58 AM EST
    Obama since Iowa....It looks like he can really pull this off.  Astonishing.

    A Democrat ahead in late September--by 6 according to Rasmussen this morning....We are past the conventions and he just won the foreign policy debate....


    Yup (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by andgarden on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 09:46:35 AM EST
    You know what this means? McCain has to demagogue the social issues.

    I wonder if he has that in him.


    Yes he does. (none / 0) (#56)
    by coigue on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 10:57:32 AM EST
    His commercials tying Raines to Obama prove that

    We still have to get past (none / 0) (#84)
    by joanneleon on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 01:00:14 PM EST
    the Rev. Wright attacks.  I have been nervous about this since last spring.  I'm afraid it's going to skew the whole election.  I hope I'm wrong, but back in March, I thought it should have been a deal breaker.  Now I can just hope, and will be forced to defend on an issue that really angers me.

    That, and some unexpected October surprise or reckless move by Bush/Cheney are top on my list of concerns.  I won't feel comfortable until he's sworn in.


    On the economy (5.00 / 3) (#18)
    by MKS on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 09:37:22 AM EST
    I thought Obama did fine......Stylistically, he was as good as I have ever seen him....Clear, assertive....and that matters a lot.

    On substance, it depends on one's perspective....For Democrats and Progressives, McCain got to talk about pork barrel spending and earmarks way too much....But for Independents, I think the discussion was very helpful to Obama.  Obama got to talk about not taxing the middle class, McCain's tax giveaways to the rich, and Obama's (defensive) comeback that earmarks are only $18 billion made them and McCain seem like bupkis....small, small, small.

    Obama won a lot of ground on personality.  He was pitch perfect.  Intelligent, clear, assertive, and very likable.   No hint of arrogance or saying things like "likable enough."  McCain was snarly nasty just like Dole.  

    Style (none / 0) (#20)
    by TheRizzo on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 09:39:55 AM EST
    Obama started off great, got rattled for awhile and got it back near the end.

    McCain started off poorly and got strong as the night went on.  Started to get back on track once he realized he was able to get Obama to talk about what he wanted to regarding the economy.



    McCain became more petulant (5.00 / 2) (#64)
    by byteb on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 11:15:50 AM EST
    and nasty as time went on...either because he was getting tired or he felt he wasn't rattling Obama...but his demeanor diminished him.

    I find it somewhat jarring when Obama (none / 0) (#101)
    by oculus on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 03:51:21 PM EST
    talks about tax cuts for those making under $250,000.00  Does he realize only the top 2 percent of people in the U.S. make $250,000.00 and up?  Not middle class, imo.  

    The McNasty Button? (5.00 / 5) (#24)
    by Militarytracy on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 09:44:31 AM EST
    That's hilarious.  We spent most of the debate watching how the indies in the audience were responding.  It was interesting because once McCain hit the McNasty button he never seem to recover.

    My McNasty detector must (none / 0) (#102)
    by oculus on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 03:52:59 PM EST
    have been out of order, or perhaps I was distracted trying to watch the debate on C-Span2 whilst simultaneously keeping up with Jeralyn, her son, BTD, and the commenters.  

    I think (5.00 / 2) (#29)
    by Ga6thDem on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 09:54:43 AM EST
    the reason that Obama didn't do well on the economy was his style. It's too academic and lecturing when a more "fell your pain" style works in this area.

    People who agree with each on the issues will say that "their" candidate won.

    Obama still came off as too indecisive for my taste though he was certainly better than he has been in the past with the "ums" and "aws".

    I actually think (5.00 / 2) (#58)
    by coigue on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 11:00:11 AM EST
    that he did well on foreign policy because that's what he prepped for.

    Not a value judgement, just what I notice about him. Also a prediction that he will do well on a debate focussed on the economy due to his prep.


    His style (none / 0) (#36)
    by TheRizzo on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 10:00:51 AM EST
    And approach to it is an issue, but the bigger issue to me was he allowed McCain to bring all economy talk back to reform, earmarks and cutting spending.  Even really let McCain hit him on increasing spending by $800 billion.  

    Obama should have dictated where the talks went and had McCain being the reactor.  That didn't happen on the economy.  Disappointing.


    well (none / 0) (#40)
    by Ga6thDem on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 10:05:32 AM EST
    I do agree that Obama was not good a controlling the debate.

    I thought I heard Obama say that, (none / 0) (#104)
    by oculus on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 03:56:34 PM EST
    of course, with the pending bailout, he won't be able to do the things he's promised.  

    Yes (none / 0) (#111)
    by Ga6thDem on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 04:38:11 PM EST
    but he couldn't name what the top three priorities were. Of course, neither could McCain. Total waste of time trying to get either one to answer that question.

    Unbelievable (5.00 / 2) (#65)
    by Ellis on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 11:24:30 AM EST
    I've never read a more biased or ridiculous analysis in my life.

    Obama won the debate?

    You're kidding, right?

    Fer gawd's sake, man, McCain was a POW.

    Obama won on points, demeanor (5.00 / 1) (#66)
    by Coral on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 11:34:19 AM EST
    The commentary I watched, mainly ABC and CNN, seemed to call it a draw at first and then as they continued to discuss moved toward an Obama win.

    Obama spoke more clearly, with less hesitation and professorial phrasing, than in previous debates. He looked at the camera, smiled on occasion, but seemed serious and solid -- presidential -- for most of the debate.

    McCain came across better than I expected after this week of being the drama queen. His use of a few personal stories and examples to break up the heavy policy-wonk talk seemed effective.

    However, he made some mistakes in repeating a few themes too much -- the use of "Senator Obama doesn't understand" and is "naive" -- could backfire. After seeing the Couric interviews of Palin, it is obvious in any objective observer's mind that despite Obama's deficit in experience in the foreign policy area, Palin has deficits in the extreme.

    I've been strongly against Palin-bashing, because I thought it was unproductive and still do. But the media at this point is doing that itself, aided and abetted inadvertently by the McCain campaign and Palin herself. Even some voters leaning McCain are making "I can see Russia from my house" jokes. And Toobin on CNN last night, when the subject of low expectations for Palin in next week's debate was raised, said something like "expectations couldn't be any lower. Cafferty commenting on the Couric interviews called her performance "pathetic", which, sadly, I agree it was.

    Obama demeanor really weren't much better (3.50 / 2) (#73)
    by boot on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 12:03:02 PM EST
    than McCain's to be frankly honest.  He interrupted McCain many times in midsentence.  He came off just as snide as McCain when the opponent was saying something he disagreed with.  The whole demeanor thing was a wash between the two, I was left unimpressed by both.

    Palin is pathetic, true, but McCain came off stronger than Obama in FP.  I really don't see how there's any other way to spin it.


    Obama demeanor really weren't much better (2.00 / 1) (#74)
    by boot on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 12:03:21 PM EST
    than McCain's to be frankly honest.  He interrupted McCain many times in midsentence.  He came off just as snide as McCain when the opponent was saying something he disagreed with.  The whole demeanor thing was a wash between the two, I was left unimpressed by both.

    Palin is pathetic, true, but McCain came off stronger than Obama in FP.  I really don't see how there's any other way to spin it.


    McCain could not and would not look at Obama (5.00 / 2) (#88)
    by watchingitall on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 02:06:28 PM EST
    I don't understand how you can have a debate with someone and not look them in the eye.  I watched the debate, heard the commentaries, and watched the debate again, no one had commented on the fact that Mccain didn't look at Obama,at all, except when it was all over and they had to shake hands at the end.  I'm not an expert on body language, but McCain looked uneasy, upset, and had an inability to look over his left shoulder at his apponent. I believe it is totally disrespectful to talk about someone, in the third person, within there presence. This is weak.  Is this how you deal with dignitaries in forgin policy? The mediator, Jim Leher, said, "I'm determined to make you talk to each other."

    I've heard the phrase ... (5.00 / 1) (#91)
    by Robot Porter on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 02:19:42 PM EST
    "looking presidential" for as long as I can remember.

    I have no idea what it means.

    But I have a sneaking suspicion it means "tall."


    It also reminds me of this scene, from The American President.

    Either way, not a quality I care anything about.

    tall with hair (none / 0) (#121)
    by pluege on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 08:24:45 PM EST
    bush, Clinton, bush, reagan (and his shoe polish head), and Carter. All oldish men with most of their hair - pretty unusual. Big Liar John not too Presidential.

    Right ... (none / 0) (#123)
    by Robot Porter on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 10:17:41 PM EST
    because he's shortish, and has lost most of his hair.

    Sexism and racism aren't the real problem when it comes to Presidential politics, it's heightism and hairism.


    We humans are such a sad species at times.


    O those bracelets (5.00 / 1) (#93)
    by boredwell on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 02:23:09 PM EST
    the debates were dreck. the leit motivs the same. obama a bit too aloof,smug at times and professorial. mccain was huffy,aloof,smug and and trying to be professorial, ie, calling people by their correctly pronounced names; knowing which geographic entity they belonged to. We also know that mccain is a world traveler,Kissinger his good buddy (why be proud of that?!)and Petraeus and he are sleeping together. CRINGE!

    those bracelets! politricks. gimmickry. absurdity. that obama stooped so low as to pluck at his (and have to peruse it a little to long to get the name engrave thereon)...i can't go on. we don't need bracelets to remind us that the war. that obama's is about troops deaths or mccain gloating vision of a triumphal march. both insulted me and the people who have given their lives for a cause that had nothing to do with our national interests (dirty word, that!). The bracelets were a profanity.

    If subtlety is the viewer's forte-like mine-that's what "won." They were both fighting with their hands tied behind their backs. They were in the ring, let em duke it out for crying out loud!

    in order for the debates to work in my mind would mean that each candidate has to bring overhead projectors(projectories)to the fray. they need a light stick or sword or whatever implement of choice to tap the map,give us stats, show charts, cartoons...anything to more clearing visualize and explain what it is they are suggesting. And what about the FACTS!? I could have pulverized em no problem with a steady flow.

    No, both failed miserably to bring anything more substantive than rhetoric and self-aggrandizing to the tube. They helped, this time around, to be the boobs in the tube, too. Geeeeezh!

    Frustrating is putting it mildly. (none / 0) (#106)
    by bridget on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 04:06:47 PM EST
    I can think of a couple of very smart Democrats who do the debate stuff v. well ... and must have sat there in front of the screen throwing cotton balls at it in frustration.

    the first person (5.00 / 1) (#95)
    by Jlvngstn on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 03:22:00 PM EST
    to call Bush on 9-11 was Putin.  I am shocked that O did not bring that up in the context of how our FP has deteriorated so badly after 7 years that the first person to call and express sympathy is now on the verge of starting a cold war based on our hubris.  The work accomplished by Reagan/Gorbacev and Clinton has all but been erased in 7 short years.   Tough talk on Russia when we are STILL in Iraq and still have not found the wmd is ridiculous.

    I was also disappointed that O did not address the Chris Cox firing so to speak as by and large Cox had nothing to do with the current situation and is well respected by most.  The WSJ stated that McCain erred on that tremendously and made
    him very unpresidential.

    On the last report card we were at 3 of 18 benchmarks achieved in Iraq, i don't know how O can address that without "demeaning" the troops but the surge coupled with the cease fire is the reason for the drop in violence but we are no where close to resolving the political issues that have gone no where.

    McCain did exactly what we thought he would do "fear fear and more fear" and that is so 2004.  We are long past 2001 and people are more worried about their jobs and the consequences of losing them than they are of fighting al qaeda in Iraq which did not exist there before our arrival.  

    Fear sold in 2004.  McCain has no idea how to campaign without it....

    2 cents from AotB (5.00 / 1) (#105)
    by agentofthebat on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 04:06:02 PM EST
    I am a Dem. And unlike a lot of the Reps I've seen online and across the airwaves, I'll give points to McCain. I honestly expected less of him and I have to give him credit on the use of personal experiences within his debate.
    Now I take points away for his demeanor. For someone who says he reaches across party lines, he seemed rather impersonal.

    Obama turned to McCain and addressed him by his first name. While I've seen some Reps argue this as a sign of disrespect or elitism; I saw it more of a man addressing a coworker. They are both senators and why wouldn't you address a coworker by their first name (especially while trying to be civil)?

    I think both were vague in terms of the economy. And I frankly don't fault either of them for it. With the bailout looming, it wouldn't be smart for a politician to take too much of a solid stand that could bite him for the next month ("The fundamentals of our economy are strong..." See what I mean).

    Why do I think Obama won? Well I do have an admitted bias, but beyond that foreign policy is McCain's home turf and I think Obama went toe to toe and stood strong with him. To paint a picture: a 15 round Apollo Creed vs Rocky Balboa fight. And who wins in a tie between the champion and a rookie?

    Obama will bring up the economy again, (none / 0) (#2)
    by Finis Terrae on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 08:33:23 AM EST
    and next time he will be ready.

    I agree that he held his ground on FP and EI.

    Bush lost (none / 0) (#5)
    by BernieO on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 08:58:15 AM EST
    All I could think of was how much better both of these guys were than Bush. It had  to be reassuring to the public, both here and abroad.

    As for who won, I thought they both did what they needed to do. Clearly McCain is not slipping mentally and Obama is knowledgeable about foreign policy. I assumed that it would not change most people's minds. However, I was really surprised this morning when a close friend who supported Hillary and now unenthusiastically supports Obama. She was VERY unhappy with his performance and impressed by McCain and is clearly rethinking her choice. Not that a survey of one means anything, but I was shocked because she had been so negative about McCain and then Palin.

    Maybe, but one of them is a craven liar (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by pluege on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 09:04:55 AM EST
    and its not Obama

    reckless, feckless, mendacious, craven liar (5.00 / 2) (#15)
    by robrecht on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 09:34:38 AM EST
    Indeed (none / 0) (#60)
    by pluege on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 11:05:44 AM EST
    Thanks for the serial comma. (none / 0) (#98)
    by oculus on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 03:30:20 PM EST
    Yeah (none / 0) (#112)
    by Ga6thDem on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 04:41:46 PM EST
    I was at a festival today and the debate came up. People were talking about having watched it hoping to decide who to vote for. Their answer? Still undecided.

    CGR gets it (none / 0) (#8)
    by mg7505 on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 09:05:20 AM EST
    right. Why did the New York Times miss the mark? They say Obama won the economy portion and McCain the foreign policy. Bizarre.

    Depends where you sit (none / 0) (#13)
    by TheRizzo on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 09:20:45 AM EST
    Are you a democrat, indy, republican.  It was very much a debate of where you sit is where you will see it.  

    I felt Obama came out even and maybe a slight lead on the economy but he left a lot on the table. He let McCain back in and dictate where the conversation was going to go and let him out of the corner on an issue he should have dominated.

    On foreign policy he was better than I figured he would be, but he still let himself get pushed around when McCain said he was naive, dangerous, just doesn't understand or doesn't get it.   Didn't fight back hard enough there.   Obama's best moment was when he said 3 or 4 things about McCain in the leadup to the war and during the war and about being him wrong.  Needed much more of that.   McCain got him good when he said your living in the past, we don't need to debate why we went there, we are there, we need to decide where we go and what we leave behind.   I didn't think Obama responded well enough to that.

    I personally gave McCain a slight advantage because of making the economy about his terms of spending cuts and reforms and put Obama on the defense.  But I was impressed by Obama holding his own on Foreign policy and making a much better effort at getting his answers crisper.  He still needs to work on using more antidotes and stories to bring emotion and connection to middle america though imo.


    Well... (none / 0) (#9)
    by lambert on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 09:07:47 AM EST
    I've been trained by the primaries to be cynical, so I find it unsurprising that a Democratic firm discovers that a Democrat won -- though my reaction was also that Obama sh*t the bed on the economy (what a surprise) and did well on the c-i-c stuff. Basically, Obama won on points, and that will probably be enough.

    Obama did well enough to scare McCain (none / 0) (#27)
    by ruffian on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 09:49:45 AM EST
    I think it is clear McCain's freak-out this week backfired, so he might not try another "bold" maneuver like that. I think he might unleash the 527s though.

    Agreed (none / 0) (#28)
    by joanneleon on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 09:53:06 AM EST
    But Obama has to do much better on the economy.  He has to avoid the nonsense pork barrel spending arguments and saddle McCain with the Bush and Republican responsibility for crashing our economy.  He has to put the bogus "tax and spend Democrats" meme to rest, once and for all.  He has to cite the surpluses and balanced budgets of the Clinton administration and he has to ask the question about "are you better off now?" over and over.

    There is no way he should be arguing about petty earmarks.  Every time McCain goes in that direction, he's got to bury him with facts about what this administration has done to our economy, to the middle class, and to the entire global economy.

    Additionally, whenever McCain brings up anything that has to do with diplomacy, he has to similarly bury him and tie him to the disastrous lack diplomacy and statesmanship of the Bush/Cheney admin. and simply say that he will handle things differently, and illustrate how.

    But the economy thing is top priority.  I was also losing it when he did not take advantage of the current situation.  He had everything on his side, and he missed so many opportunities.  This can't happen again.

    McCain gave Obama several (none / 0) (#47)
    by inclusiveheart on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 10:36:08 AM EST
    openings on the economy to hit back hard that Obama did not notice or choose to take - not sure which was the problem.  Obama did take the bait on the personal snipe about what Obama considers "rich" unfortunately.  McCain spewed a fairly nonsensical list of lies about Obama's economic plan that Obama should have seen as an opportunity rather than as an offensive set of lies.  That's where his debate skills falter at times imo.  In that string of lies healthcare was the best "gimme" on the list, because we know that McCain's plan for healthcare would not only indirectly tax working Americans, but also end up further deregulating the healthcare industry.  McCain's plan is the same kind of shell game that got us into this very economic crisis.

    I was afraid Obama was going to counter (none / 0) (#103)
    by oculus on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 03:55:03 PM EST
    with how many cars and homes McCain has.  But, he resisted.

    Eye of the Beholder (none / 0) (#35)
    by Pianobuff on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 09:59:20 AM EST
    I saw it kind of opposite.... thinking that Obama won the economy rounds and McCain won the FP rounds.  Then again, I'm not the typical poster.

    I find the fact that most of the (none / 0) (#53)
    by kenosharick on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 10:52:35 AM EST
    media/pundits called it a draw or thought it was close rather odd. Since it is a well established fact that most of the MSM is in the bag for Obama, I expected them to call him the winner no matter what.  Kind of sad that many are considering an ok debate with no major mistakes as a huge win for whoever they favored going in- we used to look for excellence, instead of barely passing medicracy.

    medicracy? (5.00 / 1) (#61)
    by coigue on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 11:09:51 AM EST
    I never could spell (5.00 / 1) (#113)
    by kenosharick on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 04:58:31 PM EST
    mediocrity (none / 0) (#79)
    by Don in Seattle on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 12:32:06 PM EST
    Immediate aftermath reinforces Obama (none / 0) (#59)
    by pluege on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 11:02:20 AM EST
    I don't see any of the gasbags commenting on it, but in the immediate aftermath of the debate, Obama further reinforced his Presidential demeanor as he went to Big Liar John to shake hands, while Big Liar John did not meet him half way or reach out. And after the two went to their wives, the Obama's crossed the stage to shake hands with both mccains. Big Liar John was stand-offish, continuing to not look to Obama and clearly NOT reaching across the aisle.

    Obama (none / 0) (#67)
    by simontmplr on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 11:50:29 AM EST
    To me he came across looking weak and inexperienced in the debate. Especially on foreign policy. Which to me is troubling considering what a resurgent Russia has been doing lately. As far as the economy, I'm glad McCain didn't bring up the fact that Senators Dodd, and Obama were the two top recipients of campaign contributions from Fannie Mae/Freddiemac. I'm also glad he didn't mention that republicans tried to pass stricter regulations on Fanne/Freddie back in 2005/2006 but that democrats stopped it. I think Obama needs to come up with some sort of statement saying that it should be illegal for corporations to give to political candidates. If a person wants to donate, or an executive of a corporation-wants to donate, he should use his or her own money, not corporate funds.

    -a disappointed taxpayer

    Actually (5.00 / 1) (#87)
    by Steve M on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 01:57:28 PM EST
    it is already illegal to donate corporate funds to a candidate.

    Actually... (none / 0) (#129)
    by simontmplr on Sun Sep 28, 2008 at 08:09:48 PM EST
    It is not, some states allow corporations to donate directly to candidates, as well as to PAC's, which should also be made illegal.

    well (none / 0) (#70)
    by connecticut yankee on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 11:57:42 AM EST
    The republicans are horribly disadvantaged on the issue due to 8 years of Bush admin oversight with most of it under a gop congress.  Not to mention the many deregulation votes Obama could hit McCain with.  The public doesnt trust the gop at the moment on the economy.

    This was McCain's FP realm and by not taking Obama out, he's got a problem.  FP won't come up much in the next month.


    Obama didn't win the FP part of the debate (none / 0) (#69)
    by boot on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 11:54:01 AM EST
    Obama merely held his own during the FP part and survived. Obama's "I got a bracelet too!" line made me cringe.  I would've said he decidedly lost the FP part of the debate if it were not for the closing moments when Obama started talking about China's growing influence and how we were dropping the ball.  But there was no time left to elaborate.

    McCain's best moment was in saying that the next president won't be worrying about whether war in Iraq was right or wrong, but about finishing the war in victory.  And I agree with him.

    Obama did well enough on the economics part of the debate, but didn't take advantage of many opportunities.  He will probably go more offensive on the real Econ debate.  

    Overall, McCain won the debate, but not enough of a win to make much of a difference.  Looking forward to the Biden-Palin debate.

    well (5.00 / 1) (#71)
    by connecticut yankee on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 12:00:15 PM EST
    Even at FOX they were calling it a tie (krauthaumer) or an Obama win (Morris).   But pundits dont really matter, what counts is the undecided voters and those trends suggest Obama reassured them.

    I agree with you (5.00 / 1) (#76)
    by boot on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 12:16:11 PM EST
    Obama was reassuring.  But he didn't objectively win the FP part of the debate as BTD claims.  Had this debate been in 2004 and Obama's opponent was George W. Bush, then yes, he could've won the debate easily (a referendum on the war).  But frankly now, it's a waste of time arguing whether we should've gone to Iraq or not.  We're there, what are we going to do about it?  Obama didn't address this well enough.

    I was an undecided for much of the summer, and only recently decided on Obama (mainly because I can't stand Palin).  The whole debate convinced me that if you really care about FP, you ought to go with McCain.  But most undecided's don't put FP on the top of their priority list, so of course an FP win for McCain matters very little.  So I can see how the debate would reassure a lot of undecideds on Obama.  But he didn't win that part of the debate.  He only "won" it in the sense that he didn't come off as someone like Palin.


    But history does matter (5.00 / 2) (#80)
    by call me Ishmael on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 12:34:55 PM EST
    and Obama's point was that you have to look at the long-term judgments.  McCain didn't say anything about what to do in Iraq except that we have to "win" which I realize seems emotionally powerful but doesn't establish that he has a plan or any vision of what to do.  And Obama was right about the lack of McCain's strategic vision.  What Obama missed on was not pointing out that when McCain did his "I won't abandon the Afghan people again" line that he had done that in 2003 or that this isn't about how many leaders he had met but whether he understood the countries and the larger international reorganization that is going on.  McCain like Bush was back to personalizing it.  So I can see how BTD would say that Obama won the FP point--he actually seemed to have a sense of the world today rather than how it was in the 1980s.

    For Obama the independents only matter if he (none / 0) (#100)
    by bridget on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 03:45:06 PM EST
    has the Democratic core voters solidly in his corner.  He doesn't. Voters are not born yesterday. They know what happened during the primaries.

    However, there is no doubt that every single Republican will vote for McCain whether they like him or not. It's just the way it is and always has been and every Rep candidate knows it.


    someone last night (none / 0) (#89)
    by Jeralyn on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 02:14:27 PM EST
    in our live thread says he can't move his head in that direction, Obama was on his wrong side. I don't know if that's related to his injuries, like not being able to move his arms above his shoulders or not. Perhaps someone could search and see if he has a head turning issue. If so, they should have figured it out before the debate but it's hard to blame McCain. On the other hand, he could have pivoted I guess to turn his whole body towards Obama.

    It seems to me (none / 0) (#97)
    by Steve M on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 03:30:01 PM EST
    that if McCain needed to be on a specific side for physical reasons, that would have certainly been worked out during pre-debate negotiations.  It's not like the Obama camp would be able to say no.

    Nobody won the debate (none / 0) (#96)
    by bridget on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 03:28:42 PM EST
    This theater is the best the US has to offer? Watch it and weep!!!

    Btw. if you want to see what a real Dem candidate should be all about watch Ralph Nader spell it out on Real Time last night in a couple of sentences.
    Just a couple of sentences.

    Besides Any Dem candidate like obama who believes in the war of terror and can't wait to attack Afghanistan and Pakistan in order to look taugh, supports the thieving corporations in every which way (incl. the bailout), and forgets that Peace and personal freedoms are what a true liberal strives for, might as well run as a Republican, too.

    just saying cause this is just all too sad to believe ...

    interesting view (none / 0) (#107)
    by agentofthebat on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 04:15:22 PM EST
    ...thieving corporations...are those anything like the imfamous evildoers that Bush talked about?

    I could've sworn that Obama talked about diplomacy and was blasted for it.


    I saw a physical theatre/modern (none / 0) (#115)
    by oculus on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 05:08:34 PM EST
    piece recently based on the negotiation of the Good Friday Agreement.  That's the debate format I think would be really great.  Movement reflecting the words.  

    What is the name of the theatre piece you saw? (none / 0) (#122)
    by bridget on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 08:42:12 PM EST
    "Hanging in There" (5.00 / 1) (#125)
    by oculus on Sun Sep 28, 2008 at 01:33:57 AM EST
    Here's the review from The Herald (UK):

    Hanging in There runs it round the block to the tune (or rather rhetoric) of the Good Friday Agreement. Nick Bryson and Damian Punch (aka Legitimate Bodies Dance Company) deploy the verbiage of political negotiations as if it was a movement primer or a choreographic tool. The sober-suited duo deliver snatches of verbatim text while physically striving for parity and balance. It's funny and perceptive on so many levels, not least in the suggestion that their contact improvisation techniques might help politicians get to grips with slippery opposing parties.

    thank you, oculus! (none / 0) (#127)
    by bridget on Sun Sep 28, 2008 at 04:22:10 PM EST
    I will most def. check it out

    "Hanging in There" - nice title and so appropriate ;-)


    So far, the only performances have (5.00 / 1) (#130)
    by oculus on Sun Sep 28, 2008 at 08:53:30 PM EST
    been in Ireland and Scotland I think.  I talked to the two dancers/choreographers, who sd., so far, they haven't performed the piece for any politicians.  I had asked if Sen. Mitchell had seen their piece.  

    The Debate was Boring (none / 0) (#108)
    by mexboy on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 04:15:50 PM EST
    I say McCain edged Obama out.

    I say this because McCain managed to say things about himself and Obama I didn't know. Things about pork barrel spending, that Obama is for and McCain has been fighting against. It reinforced his reformer image.

    While people at talk left may say he stretched the truth or whatever, most americans will be impressed by those statements.

    Obama came off knowledgeable about FP, but when McCain spoke about FP,  Obama in comparison looked like he was reciting memorized items.

    Overall, boring night, I think the next two debates will be crucial. I expect the polls to go up for Obama over the next week or so and then for McCain. It's going to be a roller-coaster and this race is still up for grabs in my opinion.

    Foreign policy: (none / 0) (#110)
    by oculus on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 04:34:48 PM EST
    Obama's repeated focus on Afghanistan and Pakistan was likely a main driver of this improvement, as his dial reading spiked when outlining his aggressive policy on taking on al Qaeda and the Taliban. On Iraq, Obama made significant progress in reassuring voters that he will not take precipitous action in withdrawing from Iraq

    Although Sen. Obama didn't really say anything he didn't say in his DNC speech, this statement of his foreign policy positions troubles me.  What have we gained if we merely move  U.S. miliary forces from Iraq to Afghanistan, which also seems to be "unwinnable."  Pakistan appears to be a quagmire at present and U.S. miliary use of force w/o permission of the government of Pakistan seems quite a risky strategy.  When Obama states we must defend Georgia's borders, I worry.

    Any thoughts?  This is not how envisioned Obama would "win" the debate foreign policy.

    I only had one thing to say to the T.V. (none / 0) (#116)
    by Militarytracy on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 05:20:10 PM EST
    last night when Obama was talking about putting 2 or 3 more brigades into Afghanistan.....brigades from where?  Is he going to pull them out of his blank blank blank?  McCain can't call him on it though because then McCain would be admitting that our force strength has been greatly impaired by our Iraq debacle.  So Obama appeared tough while speaking out of his rear end and McCain could say nothing.  Sigh.........politics

    Assuming, arguendo (that's (none / 0) (#117)
    by oculus on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 05:28:35 PM EST
    legalese)U.S. military had the breadth and depth to send lots of troops to Afghanistan at this point, do you favor doing so?  If so, why?

    I wish I knew (none / 0) (#128)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Sep 28, 2008 at 04:57:46 PM EST
    I would have to wait to hear what Clark and Pentagon had to say about it all under say an Obama administration.  It may not be so much as what they say as what they choose to do that will let us know what our prospects in Afghanistan are and what we have to expend.  Under the current administration's strategy it seems like Afghanistan is an abyss to attempt tend to.

    Actually... (none / 0) (#126)
    by simontmplr on Sun Sep 28, 2008 at 02:53:26 PM EST
    Uh, no it is not illegal for corporations to donate to political candidates. Some states allow corporations to donate directly to political candidates as well as to PAC's.