This time it's the Town Hall format. McCain began by making a dig at Obama: "Senator Obama, it's nice to be at a town hall meeting with you." Which is the ongoing bee in his bonnet, that Obama wouldn't sign on to engage in a format that benefited John McCain.
Okay, McCain is good at this. Obama needs to warm up. They are discussing the economy, of course. McCain is claiming that "Obama and his cronies" are responsible for the economic mess. Obama starts getting traction by saying, "you don't want to hear politicians point fingers," and then started giving a real answer.
I honestly don't know how this is going to play out. I think McCain will take it, because this is his format, just as Obama would take any format that involved inspiring oratory. I'm not going to blog on each question because so far they have all been essentially the same question, a la: "What is the bailout, what's in it to help me?, and why should we trust you?"
The big question is whether McCain will go all William Ayers, and then whether Obama will go all Keating Five on McCain in return. Stay tuned.
McCain just asked Brokaw to repeat the "three priorities" he listed in a question. Oops. It doesn't look good if you can't keep three items straight. He's looking at his notes. A lot.
"What sacrifices will the American people have to make?"
McCain: Need to eliminate some programs. Says he saved $8 million on a tanker deal for the defense department. Says something about Obama wanting an overhead projector for the debate. I know I'm biased, but McCain has no ability to deliver a cut in a gracious way; he just sounds nasty. Obama has gotten in some digs of his own, but his delivery is far less ugly.
McCain is repeating the lie that Obama wants to raise taxes, as if he is going to raise them on the average American. Now he's saying Obama's tax policy will hurt small business. He's touting his $5000 health care tax credit.
Here's the question on Medicare and Medicaid. Brokaw wants a date for Congress to reform these programs.
Obama is going to take on entitlements in his first term. Segues back to tax policy to address what he says are McCain's misrepresentations of his policy.
McCain says it's not hard to reform social security at all. He doesn't say how, however. Now, for Medicare: a commission. Now he's repeating the lie that Obama's voted "94 times" to raise taxes. Everyone and their fucking mother knows that is not true. It's just not true. How can this man repeat lies like this with no shame?!! Integrity my ass.
On to the environment...Long talks by each candidate. Now a ridiculous question from Tom Brokaw, one of those Either/Or questions that require the candidate to accept the premise of the question.
On delivery: McCain loves his "my friends." Obama loves his, "aaand..." Palin loves her "also," and Biden loves his "let me repeat that."
Now a question on health care. While Obama is answering, McCain is walking forward and making some kind of hand gesture out in to the audience. Quite weird behavior.
McCain's answer: He says to put health records online. I say we start with yours, John! Make it public already! :) Now he's touting his five grand proposal. I'm not the person to blog about this impartially, me being a person who would be uninsurable in the McCain Health Insurance World. I've been without health care and with a pre-existing condition, so you will not see me at any time supporting "the market" solely controlling health insurance. Hells naw!
Military experience question/how can America be peacemakers with economic constraints. "We don't have time for on the job training, my friends," is the gist of his answer. Obama turns the "I don't understand" jab around to say he doesn't understand why we invaded a country that had nothing to do with 9/11. We don't have the resources or the allies to do what we need to do.
What is the Obama Doctrine? What is the McCain Doctrine for intervening militarily where our national security is not at stake? Obama: Who would not have intervened in the Holocaust? It's our moral obligation, but recognize that we can't be all things to all people or be everywhere, which is why we need to have the leadership to bring allies into the fold to do the work where we can't. McCain says he will bring our troops home with victory. "Again, I know those situations. I've been in them all my life...I won't take them lightly."
A really tough question about unilateral action in Pakistan, ignoring its sovereignty.
Obama will send non-military aid, and yes, he will take out bin-Ladin and al-qaeda if Pakistan is unable or unwilling to do so. Now McCain says that Obama has just said he'd "attack Pakistan." That's hardly the same thing. McCain is flatlining on his answer to help the people of Pakistan turn against the "cruel Taliban." The rest is a youtube video. McCain says "the point is that I know how to handle these crises." Obama requests a rebuttal and uses it to smash McCain. McCain's rebuttal tries to smash Obama. Comes back to his military record. I think a lot of "old folk" will think Obama was disrespectful of McCain because he brought up "bomb bomb Iran."
Question about Afghanistan and how to reorganize our military strategy there. Oh! It's the battle of the Generals! Obama quotes General McKiernan. McCain quotes General Petraeus.
Again, I just don't know how this is playing out. I'm so disgusted by McCain that I can't tell if I think he's not doing as well as expected simply because I don't like him. Maybe one of you independent/undecideds can help me out.
Question about Russia now. McCain is so good on this issue. He's really good. I don't agree with his policies, but he's good on this topic in terms of delivery. Obama is respectable in this question. Are they the Evil Empire? Obama: They have undertook evil acts and they have nationalistic tendencies that should concern us. McCain: Maybe.
Would you commit US troops to protect Israel from Iran, or would you wait for the United Nations security council to approve?
McCain: Obviously we'd protect them. Iran is acquiring nukes; it's a problem. Now he's bringing up the "without preconditions" thing about Obama. Wants to impose sanctions, teaming with allies to "abridge their behavior." Um, Senator McCain? THAT'S CALLED DIPLOMACY!! Obama: unacceptable for Iran to have nukes.
Last question. From New Hampshire. A good one! "What don't you know and how will you learn it?" I won't do the answers justice, I fear. Obama is answering instead (taking a page from Palin) what he DOES know: American dream, his humble beginnings, single mother, grandparents raising him, still got to go to the best schools and that is the story of America. Good choice because it has turned into his closing statement. McCain doesn't know what we all don't know: what is going to happen in the world. Knows what it's like to...all metaphors for his prison time. Finishes with Country First.
Alex Castellanos on CNN just had the comment on the night: "I learned tonight that McCain wants to buy everyone a house, and Obama wants to give everyone free healthcare, which is remarkable for a nation that's broke."
Apparently, which I missed, McCain called Obama "that one." And apparently that is bad. I didn't catch it, and believe me, as you have no doubt figured out, I'm all over any error McCain makes. ;) I didn't pick up on it. But that may just be because it's clear that these men don't like each other, so a "that one" accompanied by a sneer is not necessarily outrageous coming from the head of a campaign that implies Obama is a terrorist. Your mileage, however, may vary.
UPDATE: Wow. Just saw a recap. I DID totally miss that whole exchange! I must have been peeing at the time. Wow! McCain sounds like my mum circa 1979 referring to me as she was recounting my misdeeds of the day to my father when he came home: "and guess who got a note sent home from school saying she talks too much and runs the risk of getting an Unsatisfactory in Conduct? That one." Oh, JohnnyJohnnyJohnny. Does derision come naturally to you? As Palin would say, "God bless 'im."
Okay, now to the CNN focus group. Here's where I get pissed at stupid Americans. They are upset that they didn't hear enough details to answer their questions. Okay. MORONS. The candidates have outlined their positions. Potentially you own a computer? Potentially you can find a website? GO AND READ THE FUCKING CANDIDATES' WEBSITES TO GET YOUR FUCKING DETAILS!!! Or, you could just keep complaining that the candidates didn't answer YOUR specific question in the format of a wide-ranging 90-minute debate. Give me a break. If you don't know the details of their plans by now, then you have not done YOUR due diligence as a voter in this democratic society. At this point, if you don't know who you will vote for, you either don't like either candidate (fair enough, darlings!) or you are waiting for Barry or JohnnyMac to come knock on your door and spoon feed you precisely the answer you're looking for. News flash: they won't. Do YOUR job as an American voter and stop blaming the candidates for not being specific on a TV show.
UPDATE UPDATE: CNN, which I usually can't stand, has decided not to cover the "spin room" at the debate site. These are the rooms where the campaign hacks try to turn a disastrous performance into a post-debate coverage victory. I always hate the spin room coverage, wondering why any TV channels bother. Well, I always have the uncontrollable urge to kiss Anderson Cooper, but when he said "we're not going to do it, because it's frankly just not worth it" I almost licked the TV screen in gratitude. Call me, Anderson!