Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Debate

As with the two previous events, I find myself wondering if the talking heads and I watched the same debate. Andrea Mitchell and Pat Buchanan say McCain either won, or had his strongest performance. That's insane. McCain was unfocused to the point of incoherence. He was angry to the point of derangement. He sighed. He scowled. He interrupted. He used every answer to every question as an excuse to attack Obama.

On several questions, he flat out lied. For example, he characterized Obama's health care plan as a Canadian-style single-payer plan. That is flatly false. He repeated the lie about Obama raising taxes on people making $42 thousand. Again, just false. He reiterated the bizarre claim that if only Obama had agreed to a gazillion town-hall debates, McCain wouldn't have called him a terrorist.

And on abortion, he actually sneered about protecting the health of the mother. He said it with finger quotes! What was he thinking? That answer won't just stalk him through the rest of this campaign, it might haunt him for the rest of his life.

Obama was cool and authoritative. He dodged or hedged on a couple of questions. I thought he would have formulated by this point a better response to the question "what would you cut?"

I flat out disagree with Obama on some issues. I do not think the data justify his enthusiastic support for charter schools, for example. And I was surprised to hear adopt the right wing framing on so-called "partial-birth" abortions.

But there is absolutely no question who won this debate. Obama demonstrated once again with most answers that he has thought about the issues and has developed sophisticated policy positions. McCain demonstrated that he had memorized the party line on the issues, and his attack lines against Obama. Obama dominated, in my opinion.

And so far, the instant polls show Americans agree.

From CBS News:

Fifty-three percent of the uncommitted voters surveyed identified Democratic nominee Barack Obama as the winner of tonight's debate. Twenty-two percent said Republican rival John McCain won. Twenty-five percent saw the debate as a draw.
And I can't find a link, but CNN's instant poll gives it to Obama 58% to 31%.

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