FINAL THOUGHTS: BIG KNOCKOUT PUNCH, but for the wrong guy.
10:31PM - Obama's got this thing completely by the tail, here. Completely.
10:30PM - Obama getting to go last is a huge moment, too, because by tomorrow that could well be all that anyone (who's still watching) remembers. He's emoting, he's connecting with the audience, and he MEANS it.
10:29PM - McCain would be coming up with a halfway decent closing statement, except that he's not running as a Democrat. And the "trust us" line is going to be parsed for exactly what it was, yet another "spooky boogeyman" line.
10:28PM - "My friends" is how McCain opens his closing statement? We need a new direction?
10:26PM - How many times tonight has McCain interrupted Obama, and how many times has Obama interrupted McCain? And the voucher pivot on the seats in DC, is great.
10:25PM - I don't know about anyone else, but this event can't be over soon enough for me -- Sarah Palin is going to do something to fix Autism, okay. I got it.
10:23PM - Obama's answer about "interest groups" is another amazing moment in this debate, and Obama has had a lot of them. How many has McCain had tonight? Enough to turn this entire. ten-point margin around? Well, he's still got seven minutes.
10:21PM - I'm sure McCain's answer on the education question was... well... interesting -- but nobody here in my room heard the first word of it because we've stopped caring what McCain thinks or says about ANYTHING. If that's happening in a politico-junkie room like this one, I have to believe that he's lost a lot of people out there with this performance tonight.
10:18PM - Education really is the number-one issue in this country, folks - and if you're sitting at the other end of this blog thinking "you're only saying that because you're a teacher," then let me offer the friendly amendment that I've got a front-row seat on what's been happening, too. And it's not good. Obama starts with a pro-NEA answer, and wraps it up with a great punch-line about... wait for it... turning off the fucking TV.
10:16PM - Did McCain just use air quotes on the subject of protecting the health of the mother in a complicated late-term pregnancy???
10:14PM - No exception for the mother's health and life is a good line, but he still voted "present" and, at this moment, looks more like John Kerry than a President running for reelection. And what happens? McCain lets him completely off the hook by sitting there huffing and puffing.
10:12PM - It's true that Obama voted "present" a great many times in the Illinois Legislature and I thought the Republicans would hit Obama over the head with those votes all summer and fall -- the fact that they didn't is pretty astonishing to me. Obama's got a great pivot and delivered it perfectly: "It's because. It's. Not true."
10:11PM - I just looked up and said, "Obama looks like he's running for RE-election as President," and everyone in the room -- everyone, both stripes -- blurted out "YEAH!" all at once.
10:09PM - Obama looking like The President, again. How ironic that Obama is the guy who looks so much more Presidential, and McCain looks so "unsteady at the tiller." Obama shows that he's unafraid to tread on the abortion stuff, which will cost him a vote or two in the persuadable middle but makes him look a lot tougher than a patented, John Kerry, weenie-type answer.
10:08PM - A friend of mine just leaned over and pointed out that McCain just set the entire base on fire, once again, with his pledge to be neutral on the judiciary--and the only people who are impressed with his answer are people who aren't going to vote for him, anyway.
10:07PM - Will Roe v. Wade play with anyone? I don't think so -- the only people it would have, already know about Obama's "above my pay-grade" answer from Saddleback.
10:06PM - Obama will not let McCain get away with trying to put the fine back into Obama's mouth, and the USCofC endorsement is a great pivot.
10:05PM - Did McCain just say that Joe would pay a fine under Obama's plan, a minute and a half after Obama said that Joe WOULDN'T? Gosh, you know, I almost feel sorry for the old coot, at this point.
10:04PM - McCain's $5000 really does come from taxed health-care benefits, it really, really, really does - and if McCain says it doesn't, the mainstream media is going to pounce all over it.
10:02PM - Obama has said repeatedly that the small businesses don't have to pay the fine, and McCain was too pissed off at the last debate to listen. That little moment right there, folks, is your 2008 Presidential Election, period.
10:00PM - Putting health-care records on line isn't going to play, and the physical fitness stuff isn't going to get funded. Obama's going to leap all over the $5000 credit, and by the way, Joe The Plumber just turned into a drinking game, at least in my room.
9:58PM - Obama talking about health care is a can't-lose for us, precisely because none of the usual knocks against blue-state health care plans actually apply to Senator Obama's plan.
9:55PM - We're back to "without preconditions" again? The whole "I just recited to you" line got an ENORMOUS howl from the entire room the entire room, even the Republicans, since it suggested that Obama had the temerity to listen to McCain's summary of pro-Columbia points and still had his own opinion.
9:53PM - Obama is on shaky footing with the "I understand it pretty well" line, but once again McCain's reaction is the only thing people will remember tomorrow. Oh, by the way, Obama's pivot to Peru and energy and cars is winding McCain up like a watch. Will there be anyone left in the country who isn't at least a little bit afraid of McCain, by the time this evening's event is over.
9:52PM - McCain is over-playing the drilling thing, but I forgive him for that because it's all those guys have. His answer on Columbia is more Presidential, but is anyone still watching?
9:51PM - Obama is getting a lot of traction on the free trade issue. And Ohio is watching.
9:49PM - No percentage, from McCain. Obama will play it conservatively but he doesn't want to commit himself to something that could be used against him in four years. The "borrow seven-hundred billion dollars from China and send it to Saudi Arabia" is a great line, because that's exactly what we're doing. He sounds Presidential (with plenty of "uh's" thrown in), but he's really closing the deal. NAFTA should be a vote-getter for Obama in Ohio.
9:47PM - A specific number for the percentage of our dependence on oil? McCain wants to eliminate our dependence on oil in four years? Wow.
9:45PM - Did the universe just trade places with another one I've never seen before? There's a united Iraq right now?
9:44PM - "That's gonna be up to the American people" is another great answer by Obama. He's hitting this just right.
9:43PM - She's a reformer? Sarah Palin is a reformer? Has John McCain been cryogenically frozen for the past week, while the rest of us have been reading the Troopergate report?
9:42PM - Will McCain say "Joe the plumber" again???
9:40PM - Hey, did I say that our moderator had a right-wing bias? Apparently not a Sarah Palin fan, is Bob. Will Obama take the bait? No, he'll use the chance to say great things about Joe Biden and not say a word about Sarah Palin. Perfect.
9:39PM - McCain is going down in flames here, folks.
9:38PM - Obama's "who I associate with" line is terrific because it makes him look so Presidential, plus the whole "says more about your campaign than it does about me" is a terrific zinger.
937PM - Obama is going to bury this Ayers thing, and McCain is really going to regret this deal he made with his right flank, since Obama is going to handle it so well.
9:35PM - Obama sensed that the public was getting sick of this particular argument, and pivots expertly--he knew exactly when was the right instant to stop pressing it, to avoid looking passive on the one hand, and beating a dead horse on the other. And how does McCain respond? With the Ayers thing and the ACORN thing--but Obama's facial expression tells me he's completely ready for it.
9:34PM - Is John McCain going to actually stand up and start screaming, right in the middle of this event? He's proud of those people who shouted "kill him"? No, wait, here's a news-flash, he's going to obfuscate the question of who shouted what, and what kind of hat they were wearing.
9:33PM - Obama isn't afraid to say "Kill him" which is a great moment on the night, and will score huge points. The fact that Obama is going straight to the heart of the matter instead of dodging it the way, oh, I dunno, John Kerry might have.
9:31PM - I really don't think McCain is going to win the "who's negative" contest. People don't want to hear this from the guy who said that his opponent wants to teach sex-ed to kindergarteners.
9:28PM - 100% of his ads have been negative is a great line because it gets people scouring McCain's ads, looking for one that isn't negative -- and there aren't any. Obama is nailing this town-hall thing, too, which is preposterous. For McCain to use the town-hall debates as his excuse to run slam-ads is really outrageous.
9:27PM - McCain is going to make Obama out to be the bad guy in this campaign? That's not going to play -- and besides he hasn't said "Bill Ayers" one single time. He's playing to catch Obama off-balance, but that's not going to work because Obama isn't going to be off-balance.
9:26PM - Moderator brings up the Ayers thing. A move that won't win *HIM* any new votes, but I guess we have to live with it. All eyes are on McCain, and what does he do? Compare himself to Barry Goldwater? And his opponent to Kennedy?
9:25PM - McCain is going to break the rules, talk over the moderator, and, truly, none of it is making him any votes. He looks really bad, tonight. Really. Bad.
9:23PM - Obama was totally ready for the "name one instance" business, and then re-loads on this $42,000 thing, though I wish he hadn't used the word "disputed" when he meant "discredited."
9:22PM - If I were Obama, I'd be inclined to let McCain just keep right on talking.
9:20PM - I had a pretty-big computer lock-up (long story short), but in the meantime McCain has truly flailed on the question of what would he cut. His answer went on a long time and didn't answer the question. Now he's going on with this $42k tax-hike, which has already been completely debunked.
9:14PM - Our moderator is slanting this thing in a conservative direction but that's to be expected; he's a conservative. It's a replay of his partisanship in '04, but I'm sure the Obama people are ready for it.
9:11PM - McCain is hitting on some old buzz-phrases and some old hot-button themes, and they're going to ring hollow given the current state of the economy. Obama is trying to thread a needle here, but it's McCain who's looking out of touch.
9:10PM - I know we're just getting started, here, and it's dangerous to say too much too soon, but at the moment this whole affair is looking like McCain's worst night. It's almost painful, to watch this.
9:09PM - Did McCain just say "fifty percent of small business income is paid by small business?"
9:07PM - As in both previous debates, Obama starts out a little uneven -- dare I say, a little nervous? -- but McCain bails him out of it by looking positively WEIRD, sitting next to him. I've never seen him look this creepy, and that's saying something.
9:05PM - McCain repeats his pledge to take all the junk off of private bank balance sheets and transfer it to the government. The conservatives don't like this idea (not just Secretary Paulson), and if McCain is reaching for his "Mavericky" image of days gone by, this is a terrible issue to do it with, precisely because he'll actually shed voters from his right flank.
9:03PM - McCain looks bizarre tonight, what's with those wide-open eyes? I don't remember that from the first two debates (though, to be fair, I do remember the rambling).
9:01PM - ROUND ZERO GOES TO...
Once again, McCain looks very reluctant to be there -- which would make this three out of three.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
FINAL THOUGHTS: BIG KNOCKOUT PUNCH, but for the wrong guy.