The Debates

This is McCain’s preferred debating weapon:


And this is what he looked like during the debate:

While at the end, this is how Obama looked:


But McCain got a hug in the end…



  1. #1 Betul
    September 26, 2008

    Haha, the last picture just killed me! It should be the theme for the father’s day!!

    What I really know now is if McCain really wants he can change the definition of jerk, forever.

  2. #2 Stephanie Z
    September 26, 2008

    CNN had this weird little approval/agreement meter, split into Democrats, Republicans and independents. The only time the independents followed the Republicans was when someone was talking about how they supported the troops. McCain lost them on Afghanistan. Obama had them talking about the start of the Iraq war.

    Now, if only the unpolled independents follow the focus group.

  3. #3 Webs
    September 26, 2008

    Watched it and didn’t care for McCain’s constant picking at Obama. Also didn’t care for Obama’s statements with no substance. Such as “I care deeply for the troops and they know I love them, so they know I’ll take care of them.”

    Okay, how?

  4. #4 Jennifer Ouellette
    September 27, 2008

    Ah, Greg, your partisan bias is showing. 🙂 Don’t get me wrong, I’m voting for Obama all the way come November. But McCain didn’t crash and burn. Then again, neither did Obama. Neither one really shone — despite the fact that McCain is widely touted as being an excellent debater, and Obama generally acknowledged to be out of his milieu in a debate — so I think it was pretty much a draw, maybe a slight edge to Obama among Independent voters, at least, because I think this shows that for all the “inexperienced” nonsense, he can hold his own against an old war dog just fine.

    That said, it was SUCH a relief to see some actual substantive questions being asked — even if the candidates didn’t always answer them directly. I get it: it’s their biggest forum, they only have 2 minutes each, etc., so they’re gonna make sure to hammer home their talking points.

  5. #5 Mike Haubrich, FCD
    September 27, 2008

    Jennifer – that’s exactly the reason that I don’t care much for presidential debates. They are like joint campaign appearances. I was at a debate party in 2004 and a reporter asked me at the end who I thought was the winner. I pointed to my Kerry lapel pin and asked her “What do you think I am going to say?”

  6. #6 sailor
    September 27, 2008

    I have a feeling Obama knows exactly what he is doing. He did fine tonight and if he feels the polls warrant it, he may up the pressure in future debates. McCain would not look at Obama making McCain seem afraid, and his body language was far from confident. Obama is playing a very careful game here, not taking unnecessary risks. I think he did not pound McCain tonight because doing so might have backfired. He runs his campaign carefully like a future president should.

  7. #7 greg laden
    September 27, 2008

    Also didn’t care for Obama’s statements with no substance. Such as “I care deeply for the troops and they know I love them, so they know I’ll take care of them.”

    You mean McCain here. McCain said that. I was disappointed that Obama did not walk across the stage and slap that man around more. For instance, in this case, Obama could have pointed out that the veterans groups have endorsed Obama, not McCain.

    Jennifer: I admit that I compiled this post during the first ten minutes of the debate and that it was an entirely partisan act. But actually, on further analysis, McCain actually did pretty badly: McCain was supposed to be Mr Foreign Policy to Obama’s vast ignorance on foreign policy. In stead, they came out about even except McCain made to ENORMOUS goofs that you don’t want your president making. 1) he revealed a secret under pressure (that the US has actually been torturing people …. we knew that of course, but those in the inside have never admitted it) and 2) he could not pronounce the name of a foreign leader. Oh, and 3) he classified Pakistan as a “failed state” but it is not. Those errors may not have been as obvious during the debate but these are the kinds of things that will have long term consequences. If he is elected, he will have to explain these things, apologize for these things, fix these things, more than once, and the whole world will be waiting for the next goof.

    More bush, basically.

    Obama and Lehrer were very presidential looking.

  8. #8 Webs
    September 27, 2008

    You are correct Greg, I just re-read what I wrote and meant McCain…

    I think Obama showed people he can hold is own even with little experience in the US Senate. I think McCain came off looking like somewhat of an ass and Obama defended himself well when McCain called him out.

  9. #9 Joel
    September 27, 2008

    One more reason why Obama is wrong for America.

    Eat Crow? Hell Yes, to Win This Election

    If you’ve been an outspoken Obama supporter from the beginning, it’s time to make amends with Hillary supporters you know. Arguing with, or browbeating them to get on board is counterproductive, but showing you’ve come around to respecting Hillary may ease their hurt enough to do the trick. (Even if you don’t mean it. This is politics.)

    Ed Brayton hit the nail on the head – ” I predict that almost everyone who supports Obama will think that Obama won the debate. I predict that almost everyone who supports McCain will think that McCain won the debate. Lastly, I predict that both sides will think the other side is clearly delusional and terribly un-objective in thinking that.”

  10. #10 Stephanie Z
    September 27, 2008

    Joel, you left out the part where Obama is wrong for America. This is about why he’s right for the Clinton voters, even if it takes tact to talk about it.

  11. #11 greg laden
    September 27, 2008

    Ed is right, but with all due respect for him, I can’t give him a lot of credit here for original or insightful thinking. In other words, “duh!”

    There is a way to win or lose a debate, and that could happen, but it rarely dies. The debate is like the qualifying runs or analogous activites for an Olympic game. They all get on the parallel bars and do something good enough to go on to the next round but not hard enough to fall off and lose.

    Every now and then someone falls off and looses.

    What really happens is that things occur during the debates that can be used by each campaign, and we’ll see how that goes. I do think that McCain made three palpable gaffs that could be used against him, and Obama made none. These gaffs of McCain’s are not that big, though, so we’ll see how it goes.

    The WSJ is calling McCain the winner in foreign affairs, and Obama the winner on the Economy, as of moments ago.

    So, Obama wins in the big newspapers. Which no one reads any more, of course.

  12. #12 MartinDH
    September 27, 2008

    I listened to the debate first, and then watched a recording before hearing other peoples opinions. My big complaint is that we were half an hour into the debate before foreign policy was mentioned.

    With audio only, McCain edged out Obama (who, I thought, did a lot better than I expected). McCain’s gaffes and occassional obvious insincerity lost him points which prevented a romp and his last-word tirade didn’t help much. Obama gained points for his knowledge which would stand him in good stead as he builds experience.

    After watching it, I founding McCain’s body language left an impression of a tired old man who could barely restrain his temper. Obama’s appearance was cool and diplomatic.

    A major point for me was McCain’s claim of bipartisanship while only Obama exhibited bipartisan behaviour.

    So…a tie.

  13. #13 greg laden
    September 27, 2008

    Martin: See my latest post. Obama won, it turns out.

    Listening then watching must have been an interesting experience.

  14. #14 Mike Haubrich, FCD
    September 27, 2008

    I guess McCain will be a winner in comparison with George Bush because of the fact that he can articulate a sentence. That’s probably good enough for the Republicans.

  15. #15 Andrew
    September 27, 2008

    I wonder how much McCain’s initial intention to not participate in the debate has affected the outcome.

  16. #16 Ross
    September 27, 2008

    Mike: Maybe, or that could be very scary for them. McCain is just showing off, making sentences and all.

  17. #17 chuck
    September 27, 2008

    “But McCain got a hug in the end…”

    I first saw that as “McCain got hung in the end…”

  18. #18 Elizabeth
    September 27, 2008

    Don’t you think the plane crash scene is in slightly bad taste? Funny? But in bad taste?

  19. #19 greg laden
    September 27, 2008

    Elizabeth: You know, it took me a moment to figure out what you are talking about. That honestly had not occurred to me, at least not consciously. Ooops.

    Not changing it, though.

  20. #20 Virgil Samms
    September 27, 2008

    You mean McCain here. McCain said that. I was disappointed that Obama did not walk across the stage and slap that man around more. For instance, in this case, Obama could have pointed out that the veterans groups have endorsed Obama, not McCain.

    I share your sentiment, but someone who is not a veteran must be very careful in criticizing someone who is a veteran, and a POW, on any issue related to the military. It’s thin ice.

    I liked the part where McCain criticized Obama on the incursions into Pakistan, insisting that you shouldn’t say such things out loud, and Obama returned fire by noting that a) this practice is now current policy for our forces in Afghanistan (as well as being openly reported in the media) and b) McCain had done stupid things like singing “bomb bomb Iran.”

    Speaking as objectively as I can as an Obama supporter, Obama had the edge on the economics questions, and McCain did show more experience on foreign affairs/military issues. However, McCain came across as more hawkish in a dinosaurian, cold warrior sort of way.

    In the closing statement, as a parting shot with no evidential backup, McCain use the line that Obama is inexperienced. I can’t tell you how much I am looking forward to the VP debate.

  21. #21 Virgil Samms
    September 27, 2008

    I noticed how, at the very beginning, McCain talked about how tired he was. I imagine he was doing the traditional lowering of expectations, but grandpa should be careful or people might notice how old he is. At least he didn’t start drooling while on camera.

  22. #22 Azkyroth
    September 27, 2008

    Such as “I care deeply for the troops and they know I love them, so they know I’ll take care of them.”

    Err, I’m quite certain that was a McCain line.

  23. #23 Notagod
    September 27, 2008

    If it was only one plane, it might be poor taste but, he did five correct?

    Maintenance Ace McSame, I think that is what they called him.

  24. #24 Anne Gilbert
    September 27, 2008

    I support Obama all the way. But after watching the debates last night, I think the result was bascially a “draw”. OTOH, people were asked to grade the two of them on CNN. Obama got a B grade, but McCain got a D.
    Anne G