Okay, the debate. Let’s liveblog. 🙂
Barack Obama is hardly “the most liberal member of the Senate” as McCain likes to say.
Two tax brackets? Did I catch that correctly? McCain wants to collapse the tax brackets to only two?
How is building nuclear power plants, as McCain suggests we need to do, going to end our dependence on foreign oil?
Obama is absolutely correct — where does McCain get off saying that he’s going to be a leader on cutting spending when McCain has rubber-stamped Bush’s insane fiscal policies?
No, McCain, leadership on Guantanamo Bay does not equate to leadership on righting the fiscal ship.
Anyone wanting to understand McCain’s insistence on “honor” in Iraq needs to read the article on McCain in the latest Atlantic Monthly.
Did McCain answer the question on the lessons of Iraq? I didn’t hear an answer. I heard a lot of history, but I heard nothing about what it means.
So, the lesson of Iraq is to kick the question forward? That seems to be McCain’s answer. The next president has to deal with the wreckage.
Obama — “Senate Inside Baseball” has to be the greatest phrase ever.
Vietnam hangs over McCain’s answer to the question — “Let us win.” Again, see the Atlantic article.
“We didn’t have a difference on funding the troops” is a good answer to the question of funding the Iraq War.
The thing I’ve noticed about the debate is that while Obama has improved as a speaker as the debate has gone on, McCain has stayed roughly the same. Obama was hesitant and halting in the first fifteen minutes, but now he’s hit a groove. McCain has been more consistent. The difference is in the content of their messages. Obama’s responses are more reasoned and more informative, while McCain’s are closer to talking points. Note the way Obama does a “Number 1, number 2, number 3” sort of thing.
Pakistan is going to be a major issue in the coming years. McCain’s plan seems to be a repeat of the pre-1979 American policy toward Iran. McCain also has a tendency to summarize in the most lurid way possible Obama’s policy toward Pakistan.
When was Pakistan ever considered a “failed state”? Pakistan is a bit like Yugoslavia, in that it was assembled from a bunch of pieces that weren’t meant to go together. It’s not exactly stable, but that doesn’t make it failed.
Another major difference between Obama and McCain. Obama’s style tends toward facts and policy. McCain tends toward emotional appeals. For as much as his personalizing an issue by telling a story about a Marine in Lebanon seems to have nothing to do with anything, the thing is that that rambling story will be what people remember because he’s making something that listeners can grasp. “McCain remembers people! Obama knows facts!” In short, McCain’s showing empathy. Obama’s showing smarts. It’s easier to sell empathy than smarts. :-/
McCain’s strategy toward Iran won’t work. It’s the Bush policy toward North Korea. It’s a continuation of the current Bush policy toward Iran. Hell, it’s the current policy toward Cuba. Historically, isolating a nation doesn’t work.
Iran has a genuine security concern right now. It’s called the United States military on its borders.
Multilateralism can work as a carrot-and-stick strategy in dealing with a nuclear Iran. But that means diplomacy.
And even if Iran does develop a nuclear weapon, they would be insane to use it. Anyone they would potentially use a nuclear weapon against would be able to retaliate disproportionately. There’s a reason Mutually Assured Destruction worked during the Cold War — no one is insane enough to use a nuclear weapon.
McCain doesn’t even know who the leader of Iran is. He keeps citing Ahmadinejad, but he’s not the one in charge of the Iranian military. He’s a figurehead.
Good for Obama, bringing up McCain’s statement that he won’t meet with the leader of Spain. Spain, a full member of NATO. Spain, one of our closest allies.
Why can’t Israel take care of itself? McCain keeps talking like Israel needs the United States looking out for it. If Iran attacked Israel, does anyone seriously think that Israel couldn’t and wouldn’t respond in kind? Anyone other than McCain, that is? Or is McCain just pandering for the Jewish vote?
The argument over Russia, Georgia, and Ukraine is pretty much a wash.
Keith mentioned that Obama had earlier in the debate referred to McCain as “John,” and only lately has he changed over to “Senator McCain.” This is something I noticed Obama do in the Democratic primary debates. He invariably referred to Senator Clinton as “Hillary,” former Senator Edwards as “John,” and Governor Richardson as “Bill,” while the others in return referred to him as “Senator Obama.” Honestly, I think the over-familiarity by Obama seems too informal. On the other hand, I think that Obama should continue to refer to McCain as “John,” as it would doubtless get under McCain’s skin to have someone whom he clearly does not respect call him by his first name repeatedly. 🙂
Did McCain take a lead on the 9-11 Commission legislation? It doesn’t seem like something he’d have been on the forefront of.
Obama has made a solid point that the events post-9-11 have damaged America’s credibility in the world and weakened America’s ability to project its power to protect its vital interests.
Why is withdraw from Iraq a “defeat”? It annoys me to hear McCain repeat this canard ad nauseum. Again, see the Atlantic article.
Obama does a good job to tie the social policy failures of the past eight years into the national security failures. “A broader strategic vision” — good summary.
How is McCain more flexible in his thinking than Obama?
And now McCain pulls out POW.
And now it’s done.
I don’t have much in the way of instant punditry to offer. I think that McCain was, as noted above, more consistent throughout the debate. Obama was stiff at first, became more natural toward the middle, and I thought he stumbled and turned awkward toward the end. I would probably give a slight edge to McCain. It wasn’t that Obama wasn’t prepared. It wasn’t that he lacked for things to say. Rather, McCain did a better job at connecting stories about people to the audience, while Obama was a little more theoretical in the way he approached policy.
The key for Obama, going forward, is to get under McCain’s skin. Make him angry, get his temper to go off. Because the debate was more about foreign policy than domestic policy, the debate was more on McCain’s ground. Future debates should be on Obama’s ground and play toward Obama’s strengths. He should be well positioned for the future.