Presidential Debates: Round Two

I didn't see the debate live. I'm going to have to find it online. What did I miss?


  1. you really didn't miss too much... the format didn't give them a lot of time to talk, so not much new was said. despite what that picture implies, they never kissed.

  2. They both did well. McCain tried to introduce a new, specific plan on buying up bad mortgages for home owners. Barak implied this was already a part of the bailout... now relabeled "rescue plan".

    Other than that neither candidate added more texture or detail to what they've already stated.

    Of course a draw is a win for Barak at this stage of the game.

  3. [Full disclosure: I'm firmly in Obama's camp, barring any big October surprises]

    If you were leaning Obama prior to watching the debate, you felt more confident about your choice after the debate was over.

    If you were leaning McCain, I imagine you felt the same way (although you might have wished for a more "game-changing" performance).

    I've been trying to imagine how undecideds felt about the debate. I think they both did well, neither candidate made any huge mistakes. I noticed last night that McCain tends to speak more in sound bytes than does Obama. McCain comes off, at times, like he's speaking to a ten-year old when he is talking to or about Obama. Obama could still be more concise, and he seemed to be a little more annoyed at some of McCain's accusations than he has previously.

    From a style standpoint, Obama seemed much more at ease and more "vibrant." I expected McCain to do better because he is such a fan of the town hall style debate, but he looked old and tired in comparison to Obama last night.

    My favorite question was the one in which a voter asked what sacrifices Americans will be asked to make because of the fiscal crisis at hand. I don't think either candidate answered this all that well, but I was happier with Obama's answer than I was McCain's. I know talking about what sacrifices Americans will have to make isn't a popular strategy, but I want a leader who is willing to talk about the sacrifices that are necessary.

    Overall, as Larry said, at this point in the game, I think Obama came out on top. He looked poised and presidential, and, with him ahead in the polls and in the swing states, McCain would have had to have a huge performance last night in order to come out on top.

  4. just about nothing. it wasn't much of a "townhall" debate.

  5. Sara, you're observations are interesting. Prior to the candidates getting through their respective primaries, I had decided that I was voting against the Republican Party. So you could say I'm leaning toward Obama. But after watching the debate, I'm not all that thrilled about the guy.

    My observation: McCain is appealing to ignorance and fear rather that providing intelligent solutions; whereas Obama is making huge undeliverable promises as his solution to everything. Neither seem like great choices.

    The best candidate, who's probably already changing the world as a CEO or leader of a no-profit or something, is the best candidate because he or she has the good sense to know to stay out of the political rough waters. One can be far more effective for good by boating in other parts of the river.

  6. Boring, boring, boring. The best part was Obama's smirk and his total inability to take any criticism from McCain without wanting to leap out of his chair. The guy has a thin skin. And Larry is right about a draw being a win for Obama. Unfortunately, McCain needed to make a huge impact in order to turn things around and he just didn't.

  7. You all were right that the debate was excruciatingly dull. The only moments that will be remembered from this debate were those in which McCain's visceral disdain for Obama leaked out. I've mentioned on this blog before that those who know McCain say that he personalizes conflict, and has to dehumanize his opponent in order to get amped up for the competition. I think we saw that in the first debate when McCain didn't look at Obama. We saw it again last night when McCain called Obama "that one." By the way, I didn't see McCain's reference to Obama as "that one" as racist, as some pundits are suggesting; I think it was McCain just being curmudgeonly. What did everyone else think?

  8. Allison,

    I've never heard anybody else criticize Obama for his thin skin. If anything, he is criticized for not showing enough emotion. He seems at times to be completely unflappable.

    With all due respect, I wondered for a moment if we were watching the same debate. Maybe you and I are experiencing something similar to what we learned in physics: that light can be observed both as a wave and as a particle, depending on which instrument is used to look at it. In other words, we see what we expect to see.


  9. yeah, i didn't see it as think skinned so much as mccain telling crazy lies and obama wanting to set them straight.
    and i saw the "that guy" remark as a bit condescending, but not racist at all.

  10. Oh John,

    Obama is hardly unflappable. Remember how mad he got when people were making fun of his big ears? I understand, you're sticking up for your guy. And women are usually more perceptive with these little visual cues in body language anyway.

  11. Ali,

    What are you talking about? This?

    Barack Obama on Mt. Rushmore

    Because it seems to me he's pretty self-deprecating about it.

    You might be referring to a joking exchange between Maureen Dowd and Obama where he chided her for saying his ears stuck out. Rush Limbaugh and Tucker Carlson seemed to think it was a big deal, but even Mary Matalin understood it was a joke.

    And, frankly, I didn't see either candidate fussing for fuming or overly sensitive.

  12. You missed John McCain walking aimlessly around the debate floor during one of Obama's responses. And several times it was hard to watch because McCain kept losing his cool and giving his awkward smile. He also made a joke that didn't go over well with the audience. It was about gold-cadillac health insurance plans that pay for hair plugs. He suggested he may need to get one of those and people just gave him the dead-face.