I'm watching it on CNN, where they have one of those line graph viewer-meters. It's interesting to see how the Pubs, Dems and Independents converge and diverge as each candidate makes his point.
A few thoughts:
McCain keeps saying, "What Senator Obama doesn't seem to understand..." in that way you talk about your boyfriend when you're pissed off at him a) for whatever he did and b) for being clueless about why you're mad at him for doing what he did. Or perhaps how you talk to your teenager who at 16 knows all the answers. McCain is saying it so much that I'm thinking it's an intentional attempt to put it in your subconscious.
McCain touted his record as a maverick and then Went There. He said he's proud to have another maverick on the ticket with him! See the viewer meter dip lowlowlow.
Obama has a sarcastic streak that he needs (and so far is managing) to keep in check. When McCain commented that Obama should not have said how he'd deal with Pakistan, that it was imprudent, Obama answered something about, "John, you are on record as discussing the extinction of North Korea and singing about bombing Iran, so I don't know how credible that charge is." It seems bitchy to say so, but at the same time, it kind of needs to be said if McCain is touting his superior judgment and temperament. I assumed the meter would dip across the board, but only for Pubs.
Jim Lehrer keeps trying to have the candidates talk to each other directly, but they--especially McCain--are resisting. It's a total refusal to make eye contact with each other. You can tell these men completely dislike each other. Oh--update--it seems that McCain is refusing to make eye contact with Obama. Obama keeps looking at him and getting nothing in return. Wow. Watch this debate in its entirety. McCain does not look directly at Obama even once. Not very presidential.
The entire time they were talking about the bailout, the three viewer meter lines just flatlined. Which tells me that no one really understands what this economic mess is about, nor do they understand what the solutions might be. Obama listed the 4 things the bailout must have, the 4 things McCain refused to sign onto on their joint statement. Oh wow. Now John McCain says those 4 things have to be part of any agreement.
They're talking about Iran now. Flatlines again. Now they're arguing over what Kissinger said or didn't say. McCain has gone out on a limb stating that Kissinger "my friend for 35 years!" has never said that we should remove preconditions for meeting with Iran. Here's what Kissinger said: "I'm in favor of negotiating with Iran. And one -- (unintelligible) -- of negotiation is to put before Iran our vision of a Middle East -- of a stable Middle East and our notion of nuclear proliferation at a high enough level so that they have to study it." So, are you sure you want to go out on that limb, Johnny Mac?
Russia. Another three instances of "What Obama doesn't seem to understand..." I'm now certain it's a campaign tactic. McCain is winning the Russia round so far. Oh but here comes Barry tying the topic of energy to the reasons for why Russia is resurgent: oil revenues. Now he's saying that McCain voted against alternative energy 20-something times in the Senate. OK, now they're crosstalking.
Last question: how likely do you think it is that another 9/11-style attack will occur in America? McCain is touting his bipartisan effort to implement the recommendations for security after 9/11. He invokes Joe Lieberman. He gets a big jump on the line graph for saying we should not torture. Obama is saying we have to do more with our chemical sites, and that the biggest threat is a terrorist getting a nuclear weapon in a suitcase. The Independent graph line is way up. We also need to focus on Al Qaeda, bringing his point back to Pakistan and Afghanistan, again the graph line jumps. Wants to restore America's standing in the world. McCain says that leaving Iraq will "encourage" the terrorists. Massive line drops, only the Pubs are with him on that. Obama turns to the issue of international debt, how China owns 3 trillion dollars of our debt, how that is an area we've taken our eyes off while we've been obsessed with Iraq. Economy is a national security issue.
McCain just Went There. Says that Obama does not have the experience or judgment to be President. Lines drop. Goes back to the "I love veterans" well. Lines jump. Obama counters that--and this goes to judgment--that he wants to restore the prestige of America that brought his father to this country from Kenya, that made people around the world want to come here. McCain mentions his return home from prison camp and that he knows how to heal the wounds of war, and that is why he should be president.
More once this all sinks in. Oh--it's the CNN panel. Who won?! No one. Why? Because the pundits were bored out of their skulls and bitterly disappointed because no one told anyone that they were no Jack Kennedy. Or as the punditocracy calls it, "a defining moment" or "no major blunders." Surprise: Bennett and Castellanos, GOPers, think McCain won. Begala and Brazile think Obama won. Pubs are saying that "a tie is a win for McCain." Hmmm... That seems like affirmative action to me. David Gergen (god bless him, he's always on point and nonpartisan) disagrees. Says that foreign policy is John McCain's best subject and the fact that he didn't completely take Obama out is not a positive for him. The fact that Obama held his own on this topic is not a big help for McCain.
My opinion? Next time I have a Friday night date with my boyfriend Barry, I hope he leaves his cranky uncle at home.