Friday, September 26, 2008

Overall First Impressions on the First Debate

Executive Summary: *Yawn*. Overall a rather boring debate, no real zingers or winners or gaffes. On the whole I think Obama won slightly on presentation and demeanor, McCain won on subject matters. Obama will benefit more because he had more to gain.

Random observations:

1. Where was Mccain's lapel pin?

2. Obama looked into the camera many times, McCain not even once.

3. McCain seemed agitated and passionate, Obama cool as a cucumber. I think both could have done better in going the opposite direction.

4. Obama did very well on Iran I thought. McCain did better on Russia.

5. Obama really blew it at the end when he didn't respond to McCain's accusations and all the "I heart veterans" stuff. No mention of the GI bill? Why not?

6. Obama clearly was trying to shift the discussion to domestic issues.

7. McCain seemed skittish but overall in control. I'm not sure if voters wondering about his recent behavior will be comforted more by the latter or worried more about the former.

8. Obama was confident and that should reassure some who were concerned about his ability to hold his own on these issues. He was nothing like what he was at Saddleback.

9. McCain spoke in old talking points far too much. In fact, when he said "Let us win" in his bracelet story, I said it along with him because I have heard it so many times.

Bottom Line: Both did fine but the net edge IMO is slightly to Obama simply because Obama had a lot more to gain here than Mccain did. There are millions of voters who want to vote for Obama but were concerned about his abilities and this should make many of them feel a bit better. This won't change any decided voters' minds either way.


Leila said...

Hey, excellent liveblogging (very detailed)! I'm at work and couldn't watch it first hand. Thanks!

BaseballCoach said...

Obama did better than I expected, but I still give the edge to McCain.

Obama refused to answer question about where to reduce spending because of the bailout. McCain proposed eliminating $18 billion earmarks, possible spending freeze, fixed-bid government contracts to end spending overruns.

Disagree that Obama did well on Iran. Fact Check -- he was wrong on Kissinger's position on talks with Iran. Obama cannot escape the fact that we said that he would meet unconditionally with Ahmadinejad. McCain's argument that this would lend credence to Ahmadinejad's hatred for Israel was on the money.

Obama spoke with confidence on foreign policy, but McCain called him out on his naive positions -- constantly reminding the audience that Obama "does not get it." Obama's only good argument here is that he opposed the war in Iraq. Otherwise, he was wrong on the surge, he was wrong on direct talks with Ahmadinejad, he was wrong to initially put blame on both Russia and Georgia, he was wrong to publicly announce that he would go into Pakistan, he was wrong not to have visited Iraq or hold meetings with General Petraeus, and he was wrong not to hold meetings of his subcommittee.

Notice how no matter what area of the world came up, McCain spoke of visiting that region of the world, and understanding the intricate relationships among people in that area. Obama could not offer anything to match. And McCain had many more anecdotal stories to complement his positions.

Obama probably wins the discussion on tax cuts, because McCain failed to make some key points. He should have asked Obama how he can cut taxes on 95% of Americans, when 40% of all tax returns pay ZERO in federal income taxes (Answer: Obama would actually provide them with a credit -- they would get money back from the IRS even though they did not pay any income taxes. IMO this is a redistribution of wealth and a form of socialism).

McCain also failed to point out that when you raise taxes on businesses, they merely pass those taxes onto the consumers in the form of increased prices. So, raise the taxes on McDonalds, and the price of a Big Mac goes up.

Finally, the subtle Home Run of the evening -- in McCains final response, he compares the rigidity of Barack Obama, and his failure to change his position on some things (e.g. the surge), to the same quality in George Bush. Likening Obama to Bush. Ouch,

anj said...

Actually O was right on the Kissinger stuff. "ABC News' Rachel Martin Reports: Former U.S.Secretary of State Henry Kissinger today told an audience in Washington, DC that the U.S. should negotiate with Iran "without conditions" and that the next President should begin such negotiations at a high level."

BaseballCoach said...

"... and that the next President should begin such negotiations at a high level."

But not at the preseidential level, which is exactly what Obama said he would do in the primary debates. Back then, Clinton and Biden said he was naive. And tonight, McCain said the same thing.

BaseballCoach said...

Kissinger says McCain was right

"Senator McCain is right. I would not recommend the next President of the United States engage in talks with Iran at the Presidential level. My views on this issue are entirely compatible with the views of my friend Senator John McCain. We do not agree on everything, but we do agree that any negotiations with Iran must be geared to reality."