In just a few minutes, Barack Obama and John McCain will debate in Nashville for the second Presidential debate of 2008. I won’t be liveblogging, but I’ll chime in with reactions as they come. After the debate, expect the usual spin.
This is make-or-break time for McCain. He’s down in the polls (even though the polls are tending to massively undersample Republicans). The economy is in crisis, and he needs to show he can lead in a crisis. He needs to not only hit back against Obama, but position himself as a viable alternative. That’s going to be a tough job, but if McCain wants to win he’s going to have to do well tonight.
UPDATE: McCain FINALLY goes on the offensive on the Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac issue. It’s about bloody time that he hit on that. He needs to tie Obama to the corruption in Washington tonight.
McCain also needs to hit back on Obama’s outright lie that deregulation is the promise. Europe is having the same problems we are, and they are heavily regulated. More regulations will cause the next crisis rather than prevent it.
UPDATE: I thought George W. Bush could only run twice, but apparently Sen. Obama thinks he’s running against him rather than the guy actually on the stage.
McCain needs to be running against Congress. Remind the people that a Democratic President and a Democratic Congress is a recipe for disaster. Americans don’t need more bipartisanship, they need a government that stops screwing everything up.
UPDATE: McCain needs to stop talking about energy. With gas prices dropping, that’s not the issue it was. McCain needs to hit on 3 things: 1) Corruption in Washington, 2) Corruption in Washington, and 3) Corruption in Washington.
Obama is full of blather, but unless McCain hits back, Obama will get away with it. He needs to hit back, and he needs to hit hard. He’s strong on substance, but that’s not enough for him to win tonight.
UPDATE: Watching Presidential debates is sometimes excruciating for me. Granted, I was never the greatest debater in the world, but if were me up there, I’d have taken Obama to the woodshed by now… why is McCain holding back?
UPDATE: McCain finally hits Obama on taxes, comparing Obama to Hoover. McCain is being substantive tonight, and if he keeps on the offensive he can win this. He’s got an uphill battle, but he’s doing well now. Not phenomenal, and perhaps not as well as he should, but well nevertheless.
Brokaw doesn’t let Obama respond–he’s doing what a moderator should.
UPDATE: Obama’s claim that only a few small businesses make more than $250K seems wrong.
McCain did a great job of reminding the American people that Obama has no record of being a tax cutter.
And bravo to McCain for pushing nuclear power. That’s the truly “progressive” strategy for energy independence.
UPDATE: On the Obama tax plan, even a (financially) conservative estimate is that it would effect nearly 500,000 small businesses. We can’t afford to lose 500,000 more jobs in this country. We can’t afford to lose any more jobs in this country.
UPDATE: Note that in every answer, Obama says that it’s one of the biggest issues. Every answer is paint-by-numbers.
UPDATE: McCain is speaking to small business owners, which is a smart move for him. He’s actually doing a fair job of connecting with the audience, which helps him. Obama’s too-cool-for-school demeanor doesn’t play as well with this format.
McCain should watch his time, though. He’s tending to go long when being short and punchy would be to his advantage.
UPDATE: Obama: health care is a right. No, it isn’t. Unless you want to say that you have a right to the hard work of others. That kind of attitude is antithetical to the very ideas that this country was founded upon.
UPDATE: Obama repeats the same line of BS about Iraq and terrorism. One of my biggest fears about Obama is that in order to show how “tough” he is, he’ll send troops into Pakistan. If that happens, the chances of him provoking World War III is scarily high. If McCain was smart, he’d hit back hard against Obama’s fundamentally mistaken worldview.
UPDATE: Obama: “If we could have stopped Rwanda…” Actually, Senator, we could have. But the same timid Democratic foreign policy you espouse prevented us from doing anything.
UPDATE: As a public service, I’m seriously considering writing a debating manual for politicians. They need one.
McCain hits back on the surge. He’s right on that, but he needs to hit even stronger. What he needs to say is that this is about judgment. Obama does not have the right judgment, and McCain does. McCain’s problem (and Obama’s as well) is that neither knows how to frame their responses.
UPDATE: Ms. Hamm has a very astute question about Pakistani sovereignty. And Obama talks about how Iraq is somehow involved. That answer is bull. If we had never gone into Iraq, it would make no difference. Bin Laden was in Pakistan sometime around December of 2001, long before Iraq.
McCain really needs to call Obama on his B.S. Again, his lack of killer instinct is letting Obama win by default.
McCain hits Obama using Teddy Roosevelt—which is a smart move. He needs to hit on a rather critical point—PAKISTAN IS A NUCLEAR POWER.
UPDATE: If Pakistan is unable or unwilling to take out Bin Laden then we should? Which means that we should—since Pakistan has no way of doing that.
If McCain were smart, he’d ask Obama if capturing Bin Laden is worth the threat of nuclear war. I would love Bin Laden’s head on a stick, but not at the cost of a nuclear exchange over Kashmir.
UPDATE: With a few minutes left, this debate isn’t changing the game. McCain is winning on substance, but he’s not doing enough to get over Obama’s supplicant press. He needed to take down Obama a peg, and so far he’s not done it. Even though Obama is light on substance, he looks just credible enough. McCain needed to cast doubt on Obama’s capability to be President, and I just don’t think he has.
The reality remains: Obama is wrong for this country. His policies are naive at best and dangerous at worst. But McCain needed to make the case tonight, and while he gave us a glimmer of that, he just didn’t do enough.
This race could change, and McCain hasn’t hurt himself. That would be fine if McCain were ahead, but he’s not. Winning on substance tonight isn’t enough to really help McCain.
UPDATE: The retired Navy chief asks a great question, and McCain has a great response. The way he shaked his hand was a nice touch.
Again, however, McCain is strong on substance, but he just isn’t drawing the contrast between himself and Obama.
Obama’s tepid treatment of the questioner comes off as aloof to me. This format really works for McCain—but he just hasn’t been as effective as he should in using the format to his advantage.
Obama’s blathering again, but unless McCain calls him on it, he’ll get away with it. Sadly, that seems to be the story of the night.
UPDATE: Obama had a strong finish, even if the words didn’t mean a damn thing.
McCain’s also had a strong finish. What’s interesting is that only now he talks of his POW experience, and only through allusions. “I believe in this country.” He daes. I’m not sure Obama really does.
A strong finish for McCain. But again, not as strong as it could have been.