Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical (hermionesviolin) wrote,
Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical

notes on the first presidential debate as I went along

Ted Kennedy?  What a cheap bipartisan ploy, John McCain.  (Yeah, it just really rubbed me the wrong way.)

Obama: "Two years ago, I warned... [about subprime mortgages, etc.]"
McCain: "Let me point out that I warned, too..."

Obama: "I think Sen. McCain's right that we need more accountability -- but we need it not just when there's a crisis."

MCain: "You afraid I couldn't hear him?"
moderator: "I'm just determined to get you two to talk to each other."

McCain: "strict interpretation" of regulations [echoes of "strict interpretation of the Constitution," anyone?]

McCain (quoting someone whose name I don't recall): "earmarking as a gateway drug"

McCain: The "paternity issue" joke about the DNA testing on bears (yes, we've heard this joke before).  "I will veto.  I will make them famous.  You will know their names."  I should find this rhetoric powerful, but it just feels so recycled to me.

Obama: $18B earmarks vs. $300B tax cuts on the wealthy.  Need to grow the economy from the bottom up.

McCain: "$932M is maybe not a lot of money to Sen. Obama."
McCain: "The worst thing we could do in this economic climate is raise taxes" -- Obama interrupts, says: That's not what I wanna do.  I wanna close corporate loopholes, etc.  "Eliminating earmarks alone is not how we're gonna get the middle class back on track."

McCain: The business tax will drive businesses out of the U.S.
Obama counters that our high businesses taxes are only on paper -- that with all the loopholes, we actually have one of the lowest in the world.

moderator: "Speaking of things that both of you want..."  What will you have to give up from your plan to pay for this bailout?

Obama says we won't actually know and shifts to talking about important things we can't eliminate: infrastructure incl. broadband lines to rural areas.

McCain: would eliminate ethanol subsidies, "I hate ethanol subsidies"

moderator: "If I'm hearing you correctly, neither of you would make any major changes to your plans as a result of this bailout."

Obama: worked with conservative Coburn on "Google for Government"

Obama: "we've gotta know what our values are" [who you're fighting for -- talking about helping the middle class or something, but it was weird that the first (only?) mention of "values" was from a Democrat]

Obama: "John, your President, who you voted with 90% of the time, presided over this increase in spending [which you are criticizing]."

McCain: "I have disagreed with the Administration on many issues ... torture ... the way the Iraq War was conducted."

moderator: "Much has been said about the lessons of Vietnam.  What are the lessons of Iraq?"
McCain: answers the question and then shifts nicely to talking about how we're winning the war in Iraq.
Obama: The question is not whether we're using the best tactics after we're there, but rather whether going in was the right decision in the first place (turning McCain's tactics-vs.-strategy back on him).

Also: The re-enlisting story just screams "selective anecdote" to me -- 'cause for every story like that, there are people like CWM-Mark's brother(-in-law?) who keeps having to go back for another tour.  (And hey look, Obama indeed pulls out his own counter anecdote.)

moderator: "Having resolved Iraq, we're moving on to Afghanistan."
all: [wry laughter]

Did you just invoke the Holocaust, John McCain?  Srsly?!

Ooh, stumbling over foreign leaders' names... not good, McCain.

Obama: "difference between preconditions and preparations ... starting with low-level diplomatic talks."

McCain: "I will not set the White House visitors' schedule before I'm President.  I don't even have a seal yet."

McCain accuses Obama of not being able to admit when he's wrong.


I was glancing at various liveblogging from time to time during the debates, and it's interesting to see the reactions from bloggers like Ann Althoue and Stephen Green vs. the dKos homepage.  [Sidebar: "JSMIII is running away from Bush like a fat kid away from a vegan birthday party."  wtf, Kossacks?]

From very early on (even before I started glancing at liveblogs) I felt like no one watching was gonna be convinced of anything they didn't already believe.

I'm sure there will be mad amounts of fact-checking from the Internet, but I think someone watching who didn't already have allegiances would come away with the impression that McCain has a long track record in the legislature and is talking substantively, whereas Obama more has nice ideas and some rhetoric.

I like the moderator.  Pushing them to actually answer the questions.

Edit: Ian's take:
Obama won the debate hands down. McCain won relatively easily on content, except the undecided 20% don't decide on content unless there's a major gaffe. They care about persona and style and body language. McCain was AWFUL -- he came across as the grumpy old grandpa no one wants to talk to at Thanksgiving, even though he's really smart and has a zillion stories. Obama came across as confident and much more of a person you'd like to hang out with. Same dynamics as Kennedy-Nixon 1960 and the first Gore-Bush 2000 debate, the one that lost Gore the election (even though he handily won the debate on content).
Edit2: FactCheck.org on the debate

And Brad DeLong quotes Frans de Waal:
A confident alpha male chimpanzee would never show studied indifference. I have seen such behavior only in males who were terrified of their challenger.... A self-confident alpha male just approaches his challenger and sets him straight, either by attacking him or performing a spectacular display of his own. No avoidance of eye contact: he takes the bull by the horns. It rather is the hesitant or fearful alpha male who avoids looking straight at the other
Tags: issues: u.s. presidential race: 2008, people: h: ian, this is [your] brain on

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