# Presidential Debates

Obama-McCain debate open thread

I’ve been hoping for weeks that Barack Obama would find some way to get under John McCain’s skin during the first presidential debate. In less than an hour we’ll see what he’s got.

I have to believe Obama walks onto the stage with a huge psychological advantage. McCain’s ridiculous stunts this week failed to achieve any favorable outcomes:

1. He failed to demonstrate any ability to handle a crisis. Instead, he looked like an uninformed hothead, saying he would fire the head of the Securities Exchange Commission, when the president has no such authority. Later in the week, he admitted that he had not read Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson’s bailout plan, even though it’s only three pages long.

2. He failed to deliver a deal on the bailout. On the contrary, it looks like McCain’s presence in Washington was detrimental to the negotiations.

3. He backed down from his promise not to attend the first presidential debate unless a bailout deal had been reached. One thing I’ve learned from parenting is never make a threat if you are not willing to follow through.

4. He failed to delay the vice-presidential debate by getting the first presidential debate rescheduled for October 2.

5. Tracking polls and key state polls are not moving in McCain direction. Instead, Obama now has a five-point lead in the tracking poll average, his largest of the campaign.

Debating is not Obama’s strong suit, but McCain has to be feeling more pressure tonight after his disastrous week.

I’ll watch the repeat later tonight. Meanwhile, this is an open thread for any comments related to the debate, the bailout, or the state of the presidential campaign now.

UPDATE: I caught part of the first half. McCain landed a punch regarding Bush’s terrible energy bill. Ouch. Of course Obama can’t say the truth, which is that he (and other good Democrats such as Tom Harkin) voted for a bad energy bill because it had subsidies for corn-based ethanol and coal.

However, then McCain made a big deal out of being for constructing a bunch of new nuclear power plants. Are Americans for more nuclear power? I’m not sure.

SECOND UPDATE: Listening to most of the second half on the radio, I feel Obama has done very well. However, I regret that McCain hasn’t made any big gaffes or unpresidential comments, from my perspective. I think he is wrong about a lot of things, but I doubt that a typical uninformed voter would see through his rhetoric.

I don’t like the way McCain keeps saying Obama is naive, doesn’t get it, etc. That seems like a talking point the right-wing noise machine could hammer mercilessly for days. It’s of course false, but when has that stopped them before?

On the plus side, over at Daily Kos georgia10 posted this:

If you’re watching the debate on CNN, they have a “dial” reaction chart on the bottom of the screen.  If the audience likes what the candidate is saying, they dial up and the lines go up. If they don’t, they dial down and the numbers tank.

Generally speaking, independents (and obviously Democrats) are registering far more positives for Obama than McCain.  Indeed, at certain points, the numbers among indys have taken a nosedive when McCain sets forth Bush’s his policy proposals.

I also thought Obama did a great job of repeatedly pointing out how the Bush administration dropped the ball on getting Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan because we’ve been focused on Iraq.

THIRD UPDATE: I missed Obama’s closing statement but caught part of McCain’s. Again, I am concerned that he was able to keep on talking about his record of bipartisanship and/or opposing his own party when necessary. I feel that makes it hard for Obama to characterize McCain as George Bush’s third term.

I don’t think Obama hurt himself tonight at all, but I am afraid McCain may have helped himself.

On the other hand, since Obama is leading, perhaps it’s good enough for him to have turned in a solid performance with no big mistakes.

Let’s hope the vice-presidential debate shines a spotlight on McCain’s habit of making rash decisions without thinking things through.

FOURTH UPDATE: CBS snap poll of uncommitted voters finds 40 percent think Obama won, 38 percent think it was a tie, and 22 percent think McCain won.

Obama won the CNN snap poll as well. I was particularly struck by the some of the subgroups: huge gender gap, with McCain doing slightly better among men but Obama crushing McCain by nearly 30 18 points among women. Amazingly, CNN respondents over 50 thought Obama won by a 48-40 margin. That’s McCain’s strongest age group.

FIFTH UPDATE: Daily Kos user Eileen B pointed me toward this clip. When Obama makes fun of McCain for not knowing who the leader of Spain was, McCain says, “Horsesh*t.”

I was listening on the radio and didn’t catch this. Will the media pick it up?

Or was McCain saying, “Of course?”

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