Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Live-blogging the last Obama vs. McCain presidential debate

Keep reloading for live updated commentary.

9:01 - Starting.

9:02 - Oh yeah, this is the "domestic policy" debate.

9:03 - A forced, perfunctory "good to see you again" from McCain to Obama, after McCain's been roundly criticized for his supposedly contemptuous demeanor toward Obama.

9:07 - I'm finding it impossible to focus on the recitations of their policy prescriptions. Does this stuff really sway anyone? ... Ah, this is more like it: a story about Joe, a plumber.

9:09 - Obama says, looking at the screen, "95% of ya out there will get a tax cut." This kind of thing seems to have been pretty effective: surprisingly, more voters think McCain than Obama will raise taxes on "people like you."

9:13 - The last 5 or 10 minutes have been all about Joe the Plumber. Apparently he's the new Joe 6-Pack.

9:17 - My mom says: "Generally, Obama seems much more fluid and complex, and McCain is wooden and overprepared, unwilling to react on the spot."

9:19 - McCain is back to his trusty "overhead projector" distortion from the second debate.

9:20 - McCain whips out a scripted attempted at a strong moment: "Senator Obama, I am not President Bush. If you wanted to run against President Bush, you should have run against him 4 years ago." [UPDATE: Here's the clip.]

(Note: quotes in this post are approximate, since I'm typing in real-time.)

9:22 - Obama boasts that he hasn't "made [himself] popular with environmentalists."

9:25 - Good question from Schieffer (after listing inflammatory quotes from both campaigns' ads): "Are each of you willing to sit across the table and say to each other's face what your campaigns have been saying?" McCain says he "regret[s] some of the negative aspects of both campaigns." Oh, and it's all Obama's fault for not agreeing to more town-hall debates.

9:27 - For the first time in the debates, McCain is bringing up Obama's breaking his pledge to accept public funding. "You broke your word."

9:28 - Responding to McCain's comment that Obama has spent more money on negative ads than any other campaign in history, Obama says: "100% of your ads have been negative!"

9:31 - Obama brings up the McCain fan yelling, "Kill him!" in the middle of a Palin speech, with no response from Palin.

9:33 - Ah, a twist! Obama is the first one to bring up Ayers, albeit allusively: "pals around with terrorists."

9:34 - McCain speaks out against "very unacceptable" t-shirts at Obama rallies.

9:36 - "Mr. Ayers has been the centerpiece of Senator McCain's campaign for the last 2 weeks." Obama gives the full-fledged defense of his association with Ayers -- excellent.

9:45 - Best word of the night: "cockamamie."

9:51 - McCain admires Obama's "eloquence." How nice of him. Kind of like Obama praising Palin for being a "capable politician."

9:53 - McCain is back to the "he doesn't understand" line against Obama, this time about Colombia trade policy. Obama: "Actually, I understand it pretty well ..." Oh, but how can that be? He's never traveled south of the border!

9:57 - Ramesh Ponnuru over at the Corner gives a snapshot of the conservative response to the debate: "A couple folks here have been saying that McCain is doing better than in the previous two debates. I wish it were true, but I just don't see it."

10:00 - McCain is back to the "fine" that he railed against in the previous debate. "He'll fine you!" McCain needs to know whether you'll fine Joe! Obama responds, looking straight at the camera: "Joe, if you're out there [!!!] ... here's your fine: zero!" McCain is taken aback. [UDPATE: Here's the clip.]

10:07 - McCain incorrectly says that Obama voted against Justice Breyer.

10:08 - The same old question about whether they'd apply a litmus test to Supreme Court nominees. The answer is always no.

10:12 - Obama: "If it sounds incredible that I would vote to withhold life-saving treatment from an infant, that's because it's not true."

10:16 - The last question is about education. That means it's time for both candidates to tell you how fundamentally important education is and how passionately they feel about it, and then proceed to sway not a single voter based on their education policies.

10:23 - McCain is frankly surprised that Obama didn't pay more attention.

10:26 - I know I'm going to base my vote on whether the Washington, DC school superintendent supports vouchers or charters -- aren't you?

10:27 - The closing statements.

10:28 - McCain has been stumbling over his words like crazy tonight.

10:28 - "There's a long line of McCains" who have served their country. That's the first time I've heard McCain invoke his aristocratic lineage. Is that really going to win over many voters?

10:31 - McCain to Obama right after the debate: "Good job! Good job! Good job!"

10:40 - That's it. We're almost there.

My mom, listening to the closing statements, says:

McCain sounds over-rehearsed and he stumbles over many things. He says "abased" for "based." I think he knows he hasn't done enough tonight. He hasn't rattled Obama, not enough anyway. Obama is doing his final statement now. It's not particularly interesting, but it's filling the space, and we're probably not listening, because we know, he's survived the final ordeal. He will be our President, I think, and I think they both know that.