"Undermining my electoral viability since 2001."


I actually watched tonight's debate in full down at Humbrews. I would call it a draw overall, which favors Obama. Considering he needed to change the momentum and this was supposed to be his zone, that's good.

TV coverage is somewhat unhelpful to me. It's mostly fluff and drek. The debate itself was pretty interesting though. The format was good in terms of getting into the weeds. I liked that.

Other notes:

  • McCain broached the idea of cutting Pentagon spending. That was the first surprising thing for me.
  • Neither candidate said anything bold or interesting about the Wall St meltdown. The next time I hear someone do the Wall St/Main St contrast, I may go on a killing spree. Such a cliche.
  • Obama does a lot of good things overall. He may not be a zinger kind of debater, but he speaks well. The Kissinger bit was strong. The "you were wrong" was also strong.
  • McCain did a lot better in all the talking-over moments. He doesn't back down. Obama does. That scores points for McCain; it shows him pushing Obama around a bit.
  • Both candidates show that media narratives trump facts: McCain brings up "Iran's Republican Guard" and Obama answers in the same words. Those were the boogymen in Iraq from back in the day, y'alls. Iran's crack paramilitary forces are the Revolutionary Guard.

Overall, it was surprising to me how narrow the terms of debate are here. Reagan is great. You can talk about the "freedom fighters in Iraq" without noting that, uhmmm, those are some of literally the same people who dropped the twin towers. Nobody calls any serious bullshit on the finance thing.


I was impressed with both of them. They both came on strong and never looked completely stupid. I liked Obama more but given my bias I'll call that a draw.

But then you have to layer on this context: Since the premise of McCain's campaign is that Obama is dangerously inept, it's a de-facto edge for Obama just to look equally competent. Undermines McCain's message.

You've got a point there and it seems to be borne out so far. It looks like there's a bit of a bifrucation between the pundits reaction (draw to slight edge to McCain) and the reaction of focus groups and snap polls (which clearly favored Obama). For people who haven't been tuned in very highly, Obama's increase in favorability was pretty big, which suggests that folks have heard vaguely bad things -- or didn't believe the hype -- but like when they see when they actually tune in.

We'll see how the narrative gels over the weekend. McCain's crochety old man attitude is his biggest weakness here. For Obama the danger is, as always, in being skewered for being a vague policial cypher. At this point, the former narrative seems stronger, but that could be my bias as well.

The next time I hear someone do the Wall St/Main St contrast, I may go on a killing spree. Such a cliche.
My blood pressure shoots up every time I hear that. I was muttering about killings, too.