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October 7, 2008
Live blogging the presidential debate
Join us for instant reactions to the town hall forum meeting of Barack Obama and John McCain.
Rules of the game
Tom Brokow has selected 14 questions from the 80 "uncommitted" voters who constitute the audience and 6 from the 6 million questions submitted over the internet.
In other words, he really is asking the questions and this is so much choreography for dummies.
Chris Wallace who's explained this format to us says he knows what order these questions will be asked and to whom. It isn't clear if the candidates know this.
As for the uncommitted voters, pardon my jaundiced eye but I doubt any informed person could be truly neutral at this point.
Obama: Crisis is the "final verdict" on the last 8 years. Clever. Canned.
McCain: "You go to the heart of America's worries." Bring heart into it. He comes off much warmer than BO.
He has a plan to fix America's problems Obama wants to talk about issues, and apparently McCain is ngoign to oblige him with a contrast of his plan with Obama's big tax hikes.
Of course, Obama answers the first question about the economy by repeating the refrain that Bush policies, supported by McCain-and deregulation-caused the problems.
No mention of the role of Democrats in Congress compelling Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to purchase and mortgages to unqualified people; no mention of the Community Reinvestment Act; no mention of groups such as ACORN that pressured banks and S and Ls to give mortgages to people unqualified to hold them.
McCain could have used this as a tack to point out this timelines and these osurces of problems-instead he went off on a tangent about energy independence. He did get better as his answer rolled out but could have been a bit more specific.
Warren Buffett as Treasury Secretary-that would be a surprise. Obama likes to link himself to Buffett-he does it quite often.Meant to reassure us that he does not share the far-left leanings of many of the people he was closely associated with for the past 20 years.
McCain attack Obama and his cronies. Named at least one name. C'mon! Bring in Barney Frank and Chris Dodd and Franklin Raines.
The first question dealt with how each would handle the citizens hurt by the economic downturn. Obama is for nonsense like cracking down on CEO's and major federal spending.
McCain says only someone who inspires trust and confidence can do the job suggesting he does. He would make the centerpiece of his plan energy independence;reducing govt spending and would stabilize housing prices by having Treasury buy up mortgages on homes which had lost great value and renegotiate the mortgages for the residents. (He was unclear on the details and it seemed at first he was talking about elderly homeowners but he may have been talking about something more expansive and I missed it.)
Good-finally, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and their Democratic enabler targeted by McCain-stay on this-please Senator. Don't make it a one-off answer. Come back to it. Name some names. Barney Frank is not in the Senate-why not mention him.
BO didn’t mention JM in his welcome, but did preface his answer to the credit crunch solution by laying down tired and counterfeit leftie deregulation smoke about its cause. McCain, who did welcome BO, is clearing the smoke – something the ticket needs to do more of – name names. Fannie and Freddie are, indeed, at the root, and the Dems are up to their lying necks in it.
Of course, Obama blames deregulation: not Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. McCain should say that if Fannie Mae and Freddie did not open the floodgates for these bad loans by guaranteeing them, there would never have been a market for them. Fannie and Freddie created this market for toxic mortgages.
McCain has to go back to Fannie and Freddie and explain how the system works
This is exceedingly tedious. I don't know if it's the format or the questions Brokaw has picked.
Obama and McCain both said they are condfident the economy will recover,,Obama would emphasize an entirely new regulatory system which, inter alia, would coordinate our financial system with that of other countries.
McCain says if we can stabilize housing prices the great American worker can pull us out of this.
Obama looks back-when George Bush came into office, when George Bush came into office. Who are the Democrats going to blame if they control the Senate, House and the White House. Yes-you know-George Bush.
Investments and spending cuts. Obama is cutting more than he is spending. Where did this come from? Why do I feel that is not truthful.
McCain has been a consistent reformer. Good for McCain to bring this up and mentioning how he works across the aisle. Casts Obama as someone who has never took on anyone in his own party. Good.
I do wish McCain would veer off the issue of earmarks-I think we got that the first debate.The overhead projector for the planetarium that McCain mentioned. That was an earmark of Obama for Adler Planetarium-one of the causes of a big contributor of Obama who serves on the board of Adler.Marc Sheppard:
Now that a question challenged him, suddenly there’s a lot of blame to go around. National Debt increase? Hey Barry, how about the two wars? How about 9/11? How about you Dems raising the debt ceiling with almost every pork-ridden bill you pass (including the so-called “bail out”)?
Hey John, first chance – Back to Fannie and Freddie!Thomas Lifson:
BO is doing a good job sounding cheap. And he took advantage of McCain's punt on prioritizing.
In ten years, we will not be free of Mideast oil. Obama is a fantasist.
If he got to earmarks he might have mentioned the big one to Michelle's employer and her uncle..oh well.
McCain says we can deal all at once with reforming the entitlement program (hints benefits will have to be cut for future retirees); energy (noting all these new projects will increase employment) and health care though he adds few details.
Can Obama answer any question without bringing up George Bush? That would be a challenge. McCain should talk about looking forward and not backwards-worked for Palin.
Obama says he will support offshore drilling, nuclear waste storage. He has been a oradblock in both those areas.
Obama says Washington has to show we have good habits about spending. What? A guy who earmarks 1 million a day talks about the need for good habits. When will he go on the wagon. Oh....I forgot-he did when he started his Presidential run. As a State Senator, he earmarked away-millions to his good friends back here-Pastor Wright, State Senate President Emil Jones-who made his record by tacking Obama's names on bills he did not do the heavy lifting on (New Yorker magazine http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/07/21/080721fa_fact_lizza?currentPage=all
The candidates are debating how best to get us to sacrifice.
Obama says we have to cut govt spending (but later says not too much) and sneaks in class envy demanding rich people pay more and not live "so high on the hog" when others are poor.
McCain is insistent on leaving taxes alone and increasing tax credits for children and health insurance..and cutting spending drastically.
The question was personal sacrifice for the betterment of the country. McCain addressed earmarks and federal spending in general. Obama started talking fantasy fast energy independence, then began talking a JFK style individual service, but ultimately returned to class warfare tactics. He must think he has a real winner with this Robin Hood crap.
I agree with one of the comments. Brokaw is just allowing Obama to go on and on-taking up too much time. McCain seems to be following the rules. Ahh...yes..Obama and the rage against the plutocracy, Wall Street titans (the ones giving him millions in campaign contributions). How about going after Obama's good buddy-George Soros-master hedge fund billionaire whose hedge fund is registered offshore and almost invisible to US regulators?Marc Sheppard
Only a small percentage of small businesses make over 250K a year? What’s a small business to Obama, a lemonade stand? Clueless. This man will destroy small businesses in America.
Medicare and social security. Obama says he can't promise he'll deal with this in first 2 yrs as Brokaw asked but wants to deal with it in first term===can't deal with it without dealing with tax structure (Lots of blather and jive but clearly he'd just raise taxes)
McCain uses question to note that these are complex and difficult issues and requires someone who can reach across the aisle which he can.
He reminds the audience that Obama voted to raise taxes 94 times.
Yes. McCain brings up nuclear power-as a green issue, as a jobs issue, as an economy issue. All true.
Energy --McCain was quite good on nuclear energy . Brokaw now asks a ridiculous question about govt r and d on energy. McCain notes that he has fought time and again against pork barrel energy bills--and Obama vted for them.
He is enthusiastic and compelling on drilling offshore and doing it now..
I wish I could be more positive, but McCain is not shaking up Obama enough. He is trying to be too moderate. Sigh.
Obama obscures McCain's health care plan. There are serious problems with the employer-based health care system-Obama raises it up as the end all and be all, the holy grail. McCain would not deregulate health care protections. McCain wants people to be able to shop for their insurance across state lines and not pay high insurance premiums because of oddball mandates that some states impose on their insurance companies that increase the cost of premiums.
Audience to Obama --should health care be treated as a commodity?--opening for Obama to go on about burdens..Yaps about health care being amoral commitment .Lots of "creative "suggestions to reduce costs of existing insurance (what about tort reform? No word on that. What about the legislature not directing what has to be covered? Not a word).
More facile nonsense .
McCain Need to make it more efficient and community clinics and health centers..But fundamental difference with Obama--he wants govt and mandated insurance coverage by employers and by parents for their children.
McCain has more sensible ,attractive suggestions--cross state insurance, and tax breaks to cover premiums.
Need to give people choice.
The difference between the authoritarian statist and the more libertarian more free market candidate is clearest in this exchange.
While McCain needs to stop buying the alarmist bravo sierra -- his nuclear and more drilling pitches were good. However, with both of them talking about the manmade emergency of manmade “Climate Change,” that’s unfortunately about all that palpably separates the two on the subject. McCain walks a black/green line that ticks off the right and only partially appeases the left. Not sure how it sold tonight.
Now insurance companies are cheating people. Mandates are a big problem and increase the cost of health care -often for ridiculous "treatments". People should be able to purchase the policy that fits them the best. They need to shop across state lines to find those policies and not be restricted to purchasing insurance from their own states. This has nothing to do with insurance companies "cheating" people.
Is there any business that Barack Obama does not view as being filled with "cheaters"? The community organizer view. Oh...he makes noises about the prototypical "small business" but likes to bash businessman as cheaters.
Obama is delivering his sound bytes very well, in general. I am afraid he is looking much better than McCain to a majority of voters.
Obama we're spending too much on Iraq which has resources of its own and because we are spending so much there --a country which had nothing to do with 9/11--we can't go into Darfur
So Obama attacks Delaware for having laws that let credit card companies basically "cheat" people. How does the Senator from MBNA (a major credit card company) Biden feel about that considering he was instrumental in passing laws that benefit credit card companies at the expense of consumers?
Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11 and we never got Obama. He said we’d be greeted as liberators. Yawn.
I’m so sick of hearing about the fiscal surpluses in Iraq – McCain should point out RIGHT NOW that were we to partake of that bounty, Obama and his ilk would be the first to scream – “AHA! SO it WAS all about the OIL!”
Lame segment from the great orator.
Obama says we have to stop genocide. That was not his view last year:
The AP reported it this way in July 2007:
"Presidential hopeful Barack Obama said Thursday the United States cannot use its military to solve humanitarian problems and that preventing a potential genocide in Iraq isn't a good enough reason to keep U.S. forces there." .
Part of our national interest is to prevent genocide --we can't go everywhere--that's why it's important to work with out allies.
We could be doing stuff their if we could mobilize an international force.
McCain:If we left when Obama wanted to leave in Iraq we'd have brought our troops home in defeat. (Should have noted we'd have left the place open for genocide)
Somalia--talks about how the expansion of the mission there ended in disaster.
Have to temper decisions.
I agree with Tom. Obama is coming off well-at least if you are an uninformed voter and just rely on rhetoric rather than record. Unfortunately, that seems to be the case. Obama is doing well; McCain is coming off a bit stiff and awkward.
McCain is going on the poffensive on foreign policy, and pointing up BO's ridiculous amaterir statement on invading Pakistan. He is scorign points.
On foreign policy it is impossible to give a full take on how idiotic Obama is. An absolute foreign policy dunce .
McCain--Obama says he wants to announce he's going to attack Pakistan--Of course that turns public opinion against us there and makes cooperation difficult. He gives Obama a history lesson on Afghanistan and the significance to us of Pakistani cooperation. We need to help Pakistan get into Waziristan and clean it up--but we need to talk softly while we carry a big stick.
Obama is double-talking on his Pakistan invasion threat. Some people are stupid enough to buy it, I suppose, but this can't help.
Is the tide turning?
Rats! McCain didn't take Obama apart on the double talk.
McCain was making an off the cuff humorous remark about Bomb bomb bomb Iran. In the same way, Reagan was "caught" testing a microphone by joking about bombing Russia in 5 minutes. That was a joke; as was McCain's remarks about Iran. Obama's remarks about sending forces into Pakistan were serious; Obama is mischaracterizing them and he knows that-will listeners?
C. Edmund Wright:
Obama just stepped in it....comparing McCain singing Bomb bomb Iran and threatening North Korea with his call for attacks on Pakistan. Uh, Mr. Obama...North Korea and Iran are
NOT ALLIES of ours. Apples and oranges.
C. Edmund Wright:
I think Obama's too-cute-by-half pronunciations...Pok-E-ston and Toll-E-bon make him sound like his middle name must be Hussein or something....and
I love the KGB line about Putin's eyes. Too bad Mr. New Tone saw differently.
I’m afraid I agree with you, Thomas. Given the polls and the somewhat short time, we need a knock out soon, and tonight appears another lost opportunity. Not only does Obama look MUCH more comfortable in his skin, but McCain only landed a few jabs during the round which should have showcased his strength (Mideast military strategy). On to the rewarming cold-war --- hope John has a haymaker up his sleeve.
Question on Russia--McCain shows confidence and depth of knowledge .
Obama:Obama phumpfs around and mostly agrees with McCain. He is clearly winging it. Picks up a little steam but we need to anticipate challenges before they occur, he says..Says we "rushed into Iraq"..back on that numbskull notion that we should have "got" Osama first..Not impressive.
C. Edmund Wright:
Give Obama credit, he is all for spending the American tax payer's money all over the world.
If Obama, the all knowing all seeing all sensing god of the vapor could "see around the corner" in April on Russia, why did it take him three days to get it right once they
invaded Georgia. I guess that seeing around the corner thing is easier for him than looking straight ahead.
And apparently Obama needs to google KGB...if in fact he can use a computer.
C. Edmund Wright:
Who told Obama the Russian Georgian thing was about oil? Maybe Sarah Palin?
C. Edmund Wright:
I do not like these "what if" scenarios. These "what ifs" do not happen in a vacuum, but they are asked in a vacuum.
However, I love McCain blowing the "United Nations security council" out of the water in his answer. And nice segway into the "no preconditions" issue.
Great by McCain to personalize his answer to the questioner. Not normally a good idea, but it worked here.
Obama just said that our energy independence would put the squeeze on Iran. Does he have any clue how oil markets work or just how little American money winds up in Persian hands? Better living through Obamanomics.
Barack Obama seems to believe that not talking to Iran and North Korea during the Bush years led them to set up cascades of centrifuges. Everything is Bush's fault. This is silly. Those nations developed centrifuges and their nuclear progrmas for their own hegemonic purposes. Those programs started long before Bush came into office.
McCain needed to do brilliantly, and he only did pretty well. The last 30 minutes were far better for him than the first hour.
BTW, the comments have been wonderful. We have great readers.
C. Edmund Wright:
I knew Obama would manage to turn around the "what you don't know" question into a "what I do know" answer. The arrogance of this man is breath taking.
McCain's answer is better. The line about "countries we hardly know on the map" line is good and accurate. His seg into the tough times and knowing what it's like to fight
is not bad either.
Question from audience what don't you know and how would you learn it?
Obama uses this to riff on his humble backgrounds..and how we are now all poor and hungry and will we be able to make it without the change The One will bring with him .
We don't know what unprecedented challenges we will face here and around the world. We will be talking about countries most of us couldn't find on a map today.
Talks about how he lived thru dark times and keeping hope and courage and love in tough times..Says he believes in America and its future..Asks people to give him another opportunity. In tough times you need a steady hand at the tiller.
C. Edmund Wright:
I heard it from health care on. I thought McCain had some nice moments on health care and more good moments on foreign policy than Obama. From the Fox News panel and from previous comments
on this panel, I am thinking McCain did not tie Democrats to the economy as well as he needed and could have. Kristol slamming Brokaw on turning the "town hall" debate into a standard debate.
Thanks to everyone who participated: bloggers and commenters.