Get ready! I'll be live-blogging tonight's debate in this post, so keep reloading for live updates.
UPDATE: The debate:
The New York Times not only has the full video, but also lets you search for any phrase, see a graph of when the phrase was said (and by whom), and jump right to that phrase in the video.
My pre-debate analysis.
Other live-bloggers (greyed-out links are obsolete):
- The Stump (The New Republic)
- The Corner (National Review)
- ThinkProgress (by Matthew Yglesias and others)
- Talking Points Memo
9:02 - Starting!
9:06 - McCain walks over to the man who asked the first question and gets surprisingly close to him. He's pacing and self-consciously shifting his body position as mediocre actors often do.
9:10 - I can't remember seeing another debate with such an awkward note-taking set-up. I feel sorry for McCain having to reach over to that tiny table next to him.
9:11 - Yikes, McCain walks over to Obama and stands right in front of him while giving his answer.
9:15 - Obama gives a much more thorough answer to the man who asks how the bailout is going to help him.
9:16 - Strong moment from Obama: Brokaw asks, "Are you saying the economy is going to have to get worse before it gets better?" Obama: "No. I am confident about the economy."
(Disclaimer: since I'm doing this on the fly, the quotations in this post aren't necessarily verbatim, but I'm trying.)
9:19 - Obama grants an audience member's premise that both parties share the responsibility for the financial crisis.
9:20 - Obama: "I'm proposing more spending cuts than spending."
9:22 - McCain, showing his nervousness: "I have voted against excessive spending and outrageous." Outrageous what?
9:24 - McCain name-drops my old Senator (from when I lived in Wisconsin), Russ Feingold -- the actual "most liberal Senator" (besides Bernie Sanders).
9:25 - Josh Marshall asks: "Can't we have the angry McCain?"
9:27 - Obama will eliminate everything that doesn't work and make sure that everything that does work works even better. Sounds great!!
9:29 - McCain is really going after the anti-overhead-projector vote.
9:30 - I'll give McCain credit: he's probably giving the most impassioned, empathetic performance he has in him.
9:30 - Cringe-inducing word choice from Obama: "A lot of you remember the tragedy of 9/11..." He can safely assume we all remember.
9:34 - I think the town-hall format is flattering to both of them. Obama can be underwhelming in the conventional debates because he's soft-spoken (completely different from his speeches), so the more intimate, informal setting puts him in a better light. And everyone knows McCain loves town halls. Since the race is a zero-sum game, anything that "helps" both of them actually helps Obama and hurts McCain.
9:37 - Brokaw inappropriately refuses to let Obama rebut McCain's allegation about Obama's tax policy.
9:39 - Jon Cohn (not to be confused with me) says that CNN's instant graph of voter reactions to the debates seems to show that McCain's attack on Obama for excessive spending -- McCain's signature domestic issue -- got no response.
9:44 - We already heard from both candidates on nuclear power at the first debate, but McCain apparently thinks we need to hear more. At the first debate, Obama clearly said he's never been against nuclear power. (And he just said it again in this one.) So McCain knows he can't get away with outright saying Obama's against it. But he takes a more nuanced and sarcastic approach: "Senator Obama says he's for nuclear power but it has to be 'safe' ... or something like that..."
9:55 - Tom Brokaw asks: "Is health care in America a privilege, a right, or a responsibility?" Are single-word multiple-choice answers in a presidential debate simplistic, patronizing, or ridiculous?
10:01 - Obama reprises McCain's attack on him from the first presidential debate: "There are some things I don't understand..." [UPDATE: A theory.]
10:06 - Mickey Kaus says:
McCain rails against Obama's "$860 billion" in proposed "new spending," yet he just said he wants the government to buy up all the bad mortgages in the country, give all homeowners new purchase prices and protect them from their ill-advised decisions? Sounds expensive.[UPDATE: McCain changed that proposal within 48 hours after the debate.]
10:10 - A woman in the audience essentially asks both of them whether they agree with Obama's famous comment that he would order unilateral strikes against al Qaeda in Pakistan if necessary, which would seem to put McCain in an awkward position: either he doesn't answer her question, or he contradicts himself. He doesn't answer the question. Predictably, he takes the opportunity to falsely claim that Obama is in favor of "attacking Pakistan," which prompts a huge grin from Obama.
10:14 - Obama: "McCain wants you to think I'm green behind the ears ... he's somber and responsible ..." McCain: "Thank you very much!"
10:15 - McCain's defense of singing about bombing Iran: "I was joking with a veteran." That's why it helps to understand how the internet works -- if you're a presidential candidate, you are never just talking to someone; you're talking to America. And if you say things like that, you'll be talking to the world, because people around the world are going to see it. And they're going to draw their own conclusions without getting the benefit of McCain explaining it away with "context."
10:21 - Good point over at TNR:
McCain vows that he'll get bin Laden because "I know how to get him." If that's really the case, maybe he could just tell Bush when he gets home tonight? That would save some time.10:24 - Brokaw: "Is Russia today an evil empire?" McCain: "Maybe!"
10:26 - All of the first 3 debates have included the phrase "stinking corpse."
10:27 - Obama needs to be coached to stop beginning so many of his answers with dead air while he thinks of what to say: "Uhhh ... ehhh ..."
10:29 - The last question "has a certain Zen-like quality, I'll give you fair warning. 'What don't you know, and how will you learn it?'" Obama: "Here is what I do know..." He's pulling Sarah Palin's trick from the VP debate: "What's your greatest weakness?" "Well, let me tell you about how experienced I am!"
10:34: Worst breaking-the-fourth-wall moment: Brokaw to Obama and McCain: Hey, you're blocking my teleprompter!
10:35 - It's over. In my pre-debate blogging earlier tonight, I wrote:
I assume McCain is going to flail away, trying to throw a bunch of guilt-by-association slime over Obama in a desperate attempt to avert electoral disaster.I'm glad to know I was wrong.