Presidential Debate – Take 2 (Observations)

I’ve been at a loss how to blog about the debate tonight.  Why?  Well, the purpose of The Liberal Crab is to provide some insight and guidance into political issues that may not be so obvious and is supported by demonstrated facts.  The key is ‘insightful’ and ‘no so obvious’.  First, I think the pundits got it right tonight.  Second, they got it right because it was extremely obvious who won, what was the strategy of each candidate, and how effective they were at delivering their message.  So, rather than put the whole debate into a single context, these are some of my observations:


  • “That One” will live on through the campaign.  In the constantly cycling news business, it’s difficult to really fully understand what that will mean (i.e. impact).  But, there is already a racial tinge to this race and a comment like that can be exploited by Obama supporters.  Coupled with the very dangerous Palin rhetoric, it may be very negative for McCain.  However, I do not believe it was said in a racial manner, rather it was a bit of McCain’s famous anger boiling over.  Some in the media have claimed it was just McCain being jocular, but you certainly can see his tone had changed during that response.  It’s clear he has disdain for Obama and he’s done a good job pinning that back for the most part, however at times it will spill out – such as not shaking hands or looking at Obama.
  • I never thought I’d ever say this in my whole life – but I agree with Pat Buchanan (gulp, am I going to an evil place for saying that?).  It was with regard to an observation I made during the debate.  The McCain campaign has gone after Obama hard about Ayers and these other ‘radical’ people/groups.  On stage, Obama seems so above it.  I was looking at Obama respond question and it hit me, I am thinking “Really?  Ayers? Wright? ACORN?”  His persona doesn’t match the McCain rhetoric.  Ties or no ties, Obama looks presidential and an independent rational thinker – not someone with close ties to these radical people.  That’s a huge benefit to Obama as he faces another week of this mudslinging before the next debate.
  • I think McCain did about the same job he did in the first debate, but I thought Obama did much better.  His answers were even more directed at the middle class and he showed more confidence on foreign policy (although I do believe McCain was stronger on foreign policy).  Obama was extremely prepared to respond to McCain’s attacks.  Quite frankly, I was surprised that McCain didn’t have better return fire.  I actually told my wife before the debate I thought McCain would win the because he’d have a good counter punch to Obama’s responses. 
  • It is becoming very evident to me that, in a lot of ways, Obama is two moves ahead of McCain at every turn and he sort of leads McCain down the path (the expression I keep hearing is rope-a-dope).  When McCain went negative last week, Obama was ready with a website that he didn’t just create over night.  When McCain attacked him about being too much of a saber rattler, Obama was ready.  He was premptive on some of McCain’s attacks which took the teeth out of McCain going on the offensive.  This man is a brilliant campaigner and his staff is doing a tremendous job.
  • He is starting to become Clintonian.  His responses are chosen correctly for the moment.  He’s got Clinton’s ability to talk and think at the same time.  That’s much harder than it seems.  Most of the time, the responses have been preprogrammed into the candidates.  But, like Clinton, I think Obama’s responses are directed by the environment, the way the question was phrased and makes whatever additonal points he wants to tie in.  He seems to have the ability to work a room like Clinton.  He stayed a good 1/2 hour after the debate to continue talking.  Paul Begala, one of Clinton’s campaign managers even pointed out that Clinton would have stayed in the debate hall until he convinced his toughest critics to vote for him.
  • My early warning signs were telling me some of the negative campaigning was just starting to work slightly.  I think this performance tonight did two things.  First, it continued Obama’s upward trajectory that appeared to be plateuing and probably will lessen the impact of the ‘radical’ arguments for McCain, at least for a few days.  At this point, that’s all Obama needs – to bleed time off the clock.
  • Obama was relaxed (and credit my wife for the observation – I don’t think he picked up his pen once the whole night).  McCain was pacing, his warmer persona seemed forced, and his jokes really fell flat.  It appeared that Obama was really the better one in this format.
  • I thought Brokaw did an ok job.  I thought the questions were very superficial and very similar to what we have heard before.
  • McCain’s new mortgage plan seemed to be a bribe for foreclosure voter’s votes.  
Overall, it was a positive night for Obama.  I’d be concerned in the third debate.  McCain needs to bring everything to the table.  Expect him to throw out more policies.  At this point, he has nothing to lose.  He will say whatever he needs to build support.   Pundits claim that the first two debates favored McCain and the next will favor Obama.  Don’t believe it for a minute.  Both will be prepared and will be who executes better.

One Response

  1. good observations. Mccain is not coming off well in debates. It makes me wonder why he would have ever wanted to have town halls with Obama. Maybe he doesn’t realize that Obama was so collected and smart. Obama is intelligent in campaigning similiar to Bush, Bush has been a horrible president but he can campaign with the best of them plus the ground game may destroy Mccain unless conservatives come out for him in droves like 2004 but I just don’t see it the same since I used to be one of the conservatives that would come out and it seems Obama will be getting my vote.

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