Scoring the Second Obama/McCain Debate

On a night when he had to change the dynamics of a presidential race he's losing, John McCain wandered all over the place during Tuesday's presidential debate, both figuratively and literally. Sometimes walking around to no purpose as Barack Obama spoke, McCain even had the bad luck at the end of blocking the camera, an Abe Simpson moment that separated moderator Tom Brokaw from his teleprompter.

As the faltering economy dominates the election, McCain continues to struggle to put together a steady message that provides comfort to concerned lower- and middle-class voters. Instead, he sprang a dramatic new proposal on the world without laying any groundwork first. Last time around, he proposed a spending freeze. Tuesday night, he offered to buy up all bad mortgages in the country:

As president of the United States, Alan, I would order the secretary of the treasury to immediately buy up the bad home loan mortgages in America and renegotiate at the new value of those homes -- at the diminished value of those homes and let people be able to make those -- be able to make those payments and stay in their homes.

A visitor to Workbench recently derided me as a "socialist," a term that may never be less effective than it is today when directed pejoratively at a liberal. The U.S. just took over our largest insurance company and made a $700 billion bail-, er, rescue of our largest banks. Now the Republican candidate in the race wants to take ownership of hundreds of thousands of American mortgages, a massive aid proposal that could keep Americans in their homes at the cost of a ginormous new bureaucracy. The party of small government has become the party of all government. President Bush is one guayabera shirt from being Fidel Castro. Now if we could just get our right-wing socialists to bail out uninsured Americans the way they rescued unscrupulous Wall Street bankers.

Barack Obama and John McCain debate in Nashville, Tenn.Because he doesn't develop his ideas -- throwing them out as recklessly as he chose Sarah Palin -- McCain can't sell them in a manner that engenders confidence in his ability to carry them out. As Obama spoke about the need to help middle-class people, McCain instead referred twice to how we have to "buy up these bad loans," a phrase that took CNN's wired-up undecideds straight to their unhappy place.

McCain said "I know" 16 times during the debate, but he often didn't follow through and explain how he'd exhibit his knowledge in practice. Americans just have to take his word for it. This was most clear on the subject of Osama Bin Laden. "I'll get Osama bin Laden, my friends," McCain said. "I'll get him. I know how to get him. I'll get him no matter what and I know how to do it."

Like President Nixon's secret plan to end the war in Vietnam, McCain has a secret plan to get Bin Laden. If he knows how to get him, why hasn't he told Bush?

I don't think Obama was great during the debate, but he did a much better job of addressing economic concerns and criticizing the fiscal recklessness of President Bush. He repeatedly tied McCain to a Republican administration that was handed a budget surplus and will scurry from office leaving the nation desperately in hock to China:

When George Bush came into office, our debt -- national debt was around $5 trillion. It's now over $10 trillion. We've almost doubled it.

And so while it's true that nobody's completely innocent here, we have had over the last eight years the biggest increases in deficit spending and national debt in our history. And Sen. McCain voted for four out of five of those George Bush budgets.

The transcript shows that McCain has gone another debate without once using the term "middle class." (On the plus side, he didn't use the term "maverick" either.)

Obama has now won both debates, according to the media's polls and focus groups, and I think in part it's due to the Democratic Party's well-earned reputation for being stronger on the economy. Nobody's buying the idea that today's borrow-and-spend Republicans are better than yesterday's tax-and-spend Democrats.

But another reason for Obama's success is the reassuring consistency of his message. He's not reaching for gimmicks and distractions all the time, trying to win news cycles with sideshows about lipstick on a pig and the new trumped-up nonsense about palling around with terrorists. If we need "a steady hand at the tiller" in tough times, as McCain said last night in his closing statement, there's only one candidate in that race. On issues and temperament and ideas, McCain's constantly on the move.


I love how McCain likes to bring up his record of bipartisanship .... Yet he won't even reach across to shake Obama's hand after the presidential debate. No class what so ever

The last election Bush said his base was the "haves and have mores" this is how we got to where we are now. That comment lost my Republican vote. McCain while better than Bush is still on the same side.

McCain's comment of buying bad mortgages is just erratic and not fully thought through - who is going to pay for it? And how do you cut taxes and wildly increase spending. Excesses will result in troubled times and suggesting to repair such excesses buy spending more excessively is not a solution.

KYLE wrote: >>"Yet he won't even reach across to shake Obama's hand after the presidential debate. No class what so ever"

It looks to me like they are shaking hands?

I love the surplus comments. When Bush came into office there was crazy money being thrown around the stock market (just like the housing market in recent years). People were making money hand over fist. Then Bush gets into office and gets to feel the stock market disaster created (or at least allowed) by Clinton.

The thing with the US government as well as the state run governments within the US is that they have fiscal discipline. When they make chunks of money in times of prosperity they increase spending and the size of government. When bad times hit, like the 70's late 80's, and now they want to raise taxes so they can continue to spend freely. Unfortunately, it doesn't matter who gets elected the tax and spend policy will always exist. The US government can't even come up with a bailout, rescue plan, whatever you want to call it without filling the bill with more wasteful pork. Look at the bill ... tax credits for appliances, money to movie studios, hurricane relief ... what the hell!

Face it, if you aren't a politician or a director of a publically traded company entitled to free money from taxpayers you're gonna get hammered!

McCain again easily won the debate because Obama didn't say anything that anyone could believe, all Obama could offer were "JUST WORDS."

Obama has no experience or voting record to suggest even he believes what he is saying. You believe him at your own risk. Well and the risk to all other present and future citizens of our nation losing their precious, hard won freedoms.

But then again maybe those freedoms as embodied in the U.S. Constitution are "just words" to you.

And McCain has a voting record to contradict 90% of what he's saying lately.

As usual, I'm voting for the lesser of two evils come November.

Then Bush gets into office and gets to feel the stock market disaster created (or at least allowed) by Clinton.

Bush didn't run up $5 trillion in new debt because of the dot-com bust. He did it by cutting taxes as he was starting two wars and massive spending on programs like his prescription drug plan. Instead of making the nation pay for its wars, he shoved the debt on future generations and borrowed the money.

The comment about "JUST WORDS" is complete BS. All ANY politician offers is just words. You just hope they are not lying when they get in office.

As far as I know, neither one of them has turned in a detailed policy document for the REAL keepers of society (or regular Americans), the technicians (i.e., accountants, economists, etc), to go over and tell you if it is real of fake. So all we have to analyze are the words.

From where I am sitting, Obama's words are more detailed, calm, and generally better presented. McCain has had a front row seat from all of his "experience" and involvement, see Keating, in fraud like this. So why didn't you, and your Republican cohorts, do anything to avoid this? You should have gotten off your dusty duff like Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich and screamed bloody murder!

And all that blather about "freedom" wasn't it YOUR conservative party that over saw the largest intrusions into "freedom"? TSA, Patriot Act, warrantless wire tapping, suspension of habeus corpus, indefinite imprisonment, etc...

Just get over it neo-cons and say it together, "I can't vote for a black American no matter how qualified, even while these rich elites ram it too me good 'cause at least the shaft is a from someone who looks like me." Ahhhh. Get that weight off of your chest and this will all be easier. Then you won't have to concoct BS about freedom, liberty, and experience. Then you can enjoy your mono-racial gatherings without the burden of trying to be PC using code words like "Joe Six-Pack", "Evangelicals", "Blue collar working class", and just say white like me!

Agreed. About a half dozen times McCain said "I know how to do it!" but then never offered us any details. "I know how to catch Bin Laden!" he declared, making us all wonder... Why haven't you shared that with your President for the last 7 years?

"And all that blather about "freedom" wasn't it YOUR conservative party that over saw the largest intrusions into "freedom"? TSA, Patriot Act, warrantless wire tapping, suspension of habeus corpus, indefinite imprisonment, etc..."

Your ignorance amazes me. It is thoughts like yours that got us "America" into the 9/11 attacks with the "touchy feely, everyone has to be treated the same" thoughts. Hiding your head in the sand will only leave your rear-end exposed for yet one other kick. I suggest you do your research on how for eight years in the Clinton Administration allowed these attacks to go on against Americans without a flutter of a finger.

You know, I don't think McCain is such a bad guy. It's funny, but the kind of guy he's been over the years as the Senator from Arizona is not the same guy we've seen toddling around trying to trade barbs with Barack Obama. This John McCain, we'll call him John Wayne McCain, is swaggering around and bumping into himself so often that he sometimes looks like a candidate for the Senile Superfriends. (Wonder Twin Powers...ACTIVATE! Shape of, a REPUBLICAN! Form of...a WOMAN REPUBLICAN!!)

Anyhoo, John McCain proper appears to actually be a smart guy with good intentions, but John Wayne McCain is a dick. He's constantly on the attack, because he's losing the fight, and he's all over the place - both literally and metaphorically. Don't hate John McCain, pity John Wayne McCain, the shriveled little Presidential hack that America deserves, but doesn't really need right now. Frankly, after eight years of Republican farce, having McCain in office for the next four would probably be poetic justice if it wouldn't mean the complete and utter economic destruction of our country. Properly, he should go down with the sinking ship, but if Captain Obama is to take the helm, at least maybe we have a chance to flounder to safety. We'll see. Rough seas ahead.


"Bin Laden Determined To Attack In The U.S."

That was the title of the Presidential Daily Briefing that Republican Bush ignored.

Number of meetings called by Dick Cheney's Terrorism Task Force prior to 9/11? Zero.

It's easy to affix the blame in that case.

Who'd have thought we'd be longing for Ross Perot in 2008? Neither of these guys should even be nominees, much less president. Obama's so crooked he makes Nixon look like George Washington, and McCain's about 10 years past being up to the job. As much as I'd enjoy a saucy librarian president when McCain strokes out on day 47, I'd really prefer any kickass captain of industry (not a suit that devours money like that f*ck from Lehman Bros., but someone who's actually successful) at the helm over these two gimps. Is Jerry Jones available?

"Yet he won't even reach across to shake Obama's hand after the presidential debate. No class what so ever"

Yeah, he should have leaped over and done that - oops, I guess those Vietnam War injuries didn't magically go away when he was in Obama's presence.

Are you intentionally trying to recreate the "McCain doesn't use email" ad debacle from last month?

"I can't vote for a black American"

You know, when someone accuses me of being a bigot like that, it just reminds me why I never want bigots _like you_ to have anything to do with our power structure. I got beat up back during my high school years merely for having black friends. I stood up to actually fight for civil rights on many occasions over the last half-century, at actual risk to my own life and health. I ended relationships with people - including family - because they were bigots (this is harder than facing up to strangers, not that you'd know).

I don't want to vote for Obama because of his social and political views, his terrible past associations, and his lifelong connection with the Chicago political machine (still incredibly dirty, even when compared to the imaginary depredations of the Republican Party that lives on in Democratic mythology). The massive amount of still-unknown sections in Obama's background is just the icing on the cake.

And YOU have the gall to accuse me of not voting for Obama because he's black?

Another part of that report...
"After U.S. missile strikes on his base in Afghanistan in 1998, bin Laden told followers he wanted to retaliate in Washington, according to a -- -- service."

Funny how you don't want to blame Clinton - the President who tossed off a bunch of randomly-targeted cruise missiles at bin Laden and inspired him to come up with the 9/11 attack plans... in the face of recommendations by his military staff that we should send in a couple of small teams to kill the SOB for sure.

But another reason for Obama's success is the reassuring consistency of his message. He's not reaching for gimmicks and distractions all the time, trying to win news cycles with sideshows about lipstick on a pig and the new trumped-up nonsense about palling around with terrorists.

Well, other than the part about Obama palling around with unrepentant former terrorists, which he happens to have done for years, you're partially right. And he's all about distractions from his role in the Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac disaster, which is notable if only for the incredible amount of money he took from their lobbyists in a very short time. And from his unbelievably suspect fundraising, which in any decent society should get him thrown in jail, instead of being not even f*cking asked about. So other than those three areas and a bunch more, he's not into distractions and sideshows at all.

On the other hand, there's this. Which is pretty much impossible to argue with.

William Ayers is a distraction from real issues. If we're going to play guilt-by-association, which works against any politician, Sarah Palin's husband belonged for years to a secessionist party in Alaska. The group's founder hated America in language just as extreme as the soundbites of Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Just this week, it came out that John McCain went to bat for a former state trooper who murdered a black marcher during the civil rights era. Sarah Palin attended anti-Semitic sermons by an African evangelist.

Personally, I think every day McCain spends on Ayers is another wasted opportunity to catch Obama in the polls. Aside from the diehard Republicans, voters don't care about crimes committed 40 years ago by a '60s radical. It's trivia. Voters don't even seem to care that much about McCain's role in the old Keating scandal, even though it's directly relevant to today's financial crisis.

People care about who these politicians are today and where they'd lead the country.

I hope the McCainiacs never stop talking about Ayers! Swing votes don't give a cr*p about who served on the board of a charity (a charity, for God's sake!) with Obama - they care about the fact that they're losing their houses & jobs. The more McCain doesn't address the real issues and focuses on this so-called "character" stuff that the middle 20% who decide elections don't care about, the further he slips in the polls.

I pray to Jesus that McCain latches onto Ayers and doesn't let go all the way up to Obama's inauguration.

The Ayers/Dohrn issue speaks precisely to where Obama is today. He didn't just share a zip code with the guy, he shared, and shares, a worldview. That worldview informed the disastrously failed Chicago Annenberg Challenge Ayers started and Obama administered, and it will most certainly inform Obama's presidency should we all be that unlucky.

It's not just that he had/has the relationship, but that he knew he had to lie about it. And he does, if he wants to be Prez.

The Keating scandal is relevant. So is Obama's Fannie/Freddie history and his shady fundraising, which is a huge story but seems to inspire almost no interest in the mainstream media.

All of this stuff is relevant. The willingness to ignore it and to embrace a candidate whose stated economic policy plans are demonstrably the exact opposite of an effective solution to the country's economic problems is puzzling to say the very least. Why is Obama getting a pass from so many on so much?

Yesss! Thank you! PLEASE keep talking about Ayers!

McCainiacs should be starting every sentence with "I feel your pain, 20% swing-voter group... and here's how McCain will fix it." So every time you begin a sentence with "20 years ago, Bill Ayers was a douchebag..." you lose another swing voter to Obama.

So please don't ever ever ever stop talking about Ayers!

I don't regard Barack Obama's experience in educational charities in Chicago as being particularly relevant to how he'd lead the country today. Maybe those efforts were unsuccessful or misguided, but that's small potatoes. I judge Obama by the policies he has proposed during this campaign and the way he's acted throughout the tough Democratic primary and the general election campaign. His temperament has been consistent and he doesn't go for gimmicks, even when his campaign is in rough spots.

I also judge Obama by the massive campaigning effort that he has inspired and organized. I've been called five times in the last three weeks by Obama volunteers, both to see if I want to donate and to urge me to canvas neighborhoods and make phone calls. In the 23 years I've been old enough to vote, I've never been contacted this often. He's got an amazing ground game.

If Obama wins, it will be because he has motivated millions of Americans to donate to his campaign and hit the streets and phone lines in support of it. I expect him to do something as president that Bush never tried -- leading by persuasion. Sometimes leadership is getting people to buy into your ideas, not just imposing them as the Deciderer.

I think Obama has the potential to be one of our greatest presidents. I used to think McCain had the potential to be a good one, but the erratic and reckless decisions he has made lately, including the choice of a noob like Sarah Palin and the campaign-suspension grandstanding, make me doubt his competence. I was really hoping this election would be one with two candidates I could live with.

McCain suspending his campaign was sooo worth it...
Dow 7000!

national review writer and son of william f. buckley. endorses senator obama.

Interesting!!! I haven't pulled up your site for many, many months and I find Missy, Wissy, AKA Lisa still controlling the blog.....

AND -- I haven't seen any increase in your contributors. You really know how to remain mediocre.

I know all your liberal/leftie/demmies have claimed the election of an unqualified campaign offering in your basket check/out -- but -- when Mr. Berg's motion to "view" BO's birth certificate is gaveled admissible -- what will you do then????? Have a nervous breakdown????

Even if BO wins -- he can't serve -- because the election will be found to be a fraud. The RNC will keep it in court and President Bush will stay in office under Marshal Law....


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