Thursday, October 16, 2008

Live Blogging The Third Obama-McCain Debate

Notes from tonight.

7:58 p.m. And for the first time this election season, I’ve made it on time. In fact, I made it early. We’ve been watching “America’s Next Top Model” for the last 25 minutes, and I’ve been quite dismayed to see that approximately two of the women are actually hot enough to be models.

7:59 p.m. As I type this, Five Thirty Eight is giving Obama 354 electoral college votes (remember, you need 270 to win). Insofar as national polling is concerned, Obama is generally up between 7 and 15 points. In other words, he’s got everything to lose, and McCain’s got nothing to lose.

8:01 p.m. I think they chose this Bob Schieffer fellow because he makes McCain look young.

8:02 p.m. Hey, they’re sitting!

8:03 p.m. The first question is on the bad day Wall Street had, and how each candidate’s proposal to fix the issue is better than the other’s. Obama has come out quite wonky and policy-ish.

8:08 p.m. McCain comes back to the tax issue, claiming that Obama will raise taxes and make it harder for small business to employ people. Obama quickly corrects the record, and repeats his 95 percent/$250,000 line.

8:11 p.m. Jesus. Are we still talking about this “Joe the plumber” character? Unbelievable.

8:13 p.m. McCain says no one’s taxes should be raised. “Why should anybody’s taxes be raised?” he asks. Maybe because the deficit is a few gazillion dollars?

8:14 p.m. And the budget just so happens to be the next item on the agenda. I really hope Obama connects this question to McCain’s previous asinine statement.

8:15 p.m. Just noticed McCain scribbling some notes furiously. Hey, he’s left-handed! When’s the last time both candidates were left-handed? Come on, trivia fiends. Get me answer to that one.

8:20 p.m. It took 20 minutes for Obama to connect McCain to Bush. He, and his campaign, have been so brilliant in hammering that message home.

8:21 p.m. Oh, snap! McCain finally figured out a riposte to the Bush comparison. “If you wanted to run against President Bush, you should have run four years ago.” Nice.

8:23 p.m. Man, Obama really is the perfect combination of thinker and speaker. He’s just an outstandingly talented politician. In two minutes, he first refuted McCain’s charges against him, outlined some policy proposals, once again tied McCain to Bush, and did in all without saying “um” or “uh” or “er”.

8:25 p.m. A question on the tone of the campaign. McCain expects us to believe that the campaign is tough and dirty because Obama refused to have town-hall meetings with him. Really? Town-hall meetings? That’s why you’re calling him dishonorable and claiming he “palls around with terrorists”? Town-hall meetings? He also goes on about his hurt feelings, making it seem like Obama’s campaign has been the dirtier politician in this campaign. Since Obama can’t say it on national TV, let me: John McCain, please go fuck yourself, you lying fucking cunt.

8:33 p.m. McCain just seems like an old, cranky fool. He’s losing it. Obama, on the other hand, is so calm, it’s eerie. You can’t rattle the guy.

8:36 p.m. Mccain brings up Ayers and ACORN. He’s going down swinging, that’s for sure. Obama handles both issues deftly. Cool, calm and collected. Brilliant. He points that the people he actually associates with are people like Warren Buffet on the economy, and Joe Biden and Dick Lugar – a Republican – on foreign policy. Great touch there, showing who the people are that have and will influence his thinking. He turned an attack on his associations into a strength.

8:40 p.m. Ooh, fun! A question on running mates. Obama sounds proud of Biden, running through his expertise on foreign policy, the fact that he’s not forgotten where he came from, and his considerable legislative accomplishments. When it’s McCain’s turn, he claims “America has got to know Sarah Palin.” Really? She’s been in the public eye for six weeks, hasn’t had a press conference yet (and never will) and has had all of three interviews on TV (one of them with Sean Hannity).

8:47 p.m. A question on when the candidates expect America to be no longer reliant on foreign oil. McCain says within four years, America would not import oil from the Middle East and Venezuela. Obama says ten years is a more realistic goal, and has a very comprehensive answer on energy, oil, and related issues.

8:52 p.m. McCain is such an angry guy, it’s not funny. Temperamentally, there really is no comparison between these two.

8:56 p.m. On to healthcare. Obama solid as hell, nicely encapsulating the problem and his solution. He’s much better at debates now than his earlier performances against Hillary and the other Dems. Practice makes perfect, yes?

9:01 p.m. Obama corrects McCain’s mischaracterization of his healthcare, making him incredulous. He also points out that McCain plans on taxing healthcare benefits.

9:03 p.m. So far, Obama has owned McCain. He makes it through the next 27 minutes, I think he’s home free.

9:06 p.m. On to Roe v. Wade and litmus tests for Supreme Court appointments. McCain says he’s never had a litmus test, and never sought to impose his ideology for judicial appointments. Obama also claims he would not use a litmus test, but that he agrees with Roe v. Wade, and argues that the right to privacy should not be subject to state referendum as the federalist McCain would have it.

9:12 p.m. Abortion is boring.

9:12 p.m. Wait, that last entry came out wrong. I didn’t mean it the way it sounded.

9:14 p.m. Obama is so brilliant, it’s not funny. I mean, he’s so good at going through a list of his thoughts, item by item, carefully and lucidly. He’s so goddamn intelligent, he really is. I’m sorry I sound gushing, but this guy belongs in academia, not in politics.

9:19 p.m. Obama says he’ll give college students a $4000 credit every year in return for some sort of community service, whether it be military service, the peace corps, or some sort of community service. What a fantastic idea – it’s a real University of Chicago economist-y plan, giving the notion of incentives a central role.

9:23 p.m. I have to say, Obama has fucking steamrolled McCain in this debate. He’s been on an even keel the whole time, but more importantly, he has a rational, level-headed, and sound response to both real-world problems and McCain’s asinine comments.

9:26 p.m. Closing statements. McCain was pretty solid, and closed on an emotional note, saying he’d be honored if Americans gave him an opportunity to continue his service to the country. Obama concentrates more on the challenges and sacrifices needed to get out of the present crises America finds itself.

9:31 My closing note: it was a feisty debate, more in-your-face, and I think Obama creamed McCain. Unless they find a dead white girl in the trunk of Obama’s car, this race is done.


naqiya said...

hahahaha! brilliant last words ahsan. i watched the debate in a bar in ny and people were going ape-shit, booing mccain. he made it so easy to make fun of him.

honestly, if mccain wins, i'm moving. i cant deal with four more years of "joe sixpack," "my friends," "maverick" and sarah moose-killing palin

Ismat said...

Just for fun. I think the unicorn is simply brilliant :)

na said...

The last time both candidates were left-handed would have been in 1996 with Clinton and Dole. Dole, it might be mentioned, was right-handed till he lost the use of his right hand due to injury in WWII.

So it seems I have a lot of free time (about 10 minutes on Google)and found out that Reagan, Bush 41, and Clinton were all left handed (20 straight years!!!). What's creepier is that Ross Perot is lefty as well which means in '92 and '96 all three candidates were left-handed.

Omar said...

"Unless they find a dead white girl in the trunk of his car"

Somewhere out there....Karl Rove is reading this and scribbling away furiously...

bubs said...

Who cares that you thought Obama won the debate? I bet Joe the Plumber would have given it to McCain.

AKS said...

I think Obama's answer regarding Bill Ayers was a little evasive, but expertly done. I don't think you can fault him for that, he's a politician who wants to win and challenging McCain on this issue doesn't help him

All in all, Obama was a class act.

And I think my mom has a crush on him, even though she's scared of him - thanks Hamid Mir for saying "Obama wants to invade Pakistan."

zeyd said...

Totally agree about Obamas eerie coolness. Reminds me of King Viv in that regard, except without the swagger.

AKS said...

@ zeyd

The sporting figure analogies seem to be catching on. Over at Fox, James Pinkerton says that "Obama reminds me of Dr. J. — Julius Erving, the basketball player. A cool cucumber."

shariq said...

"I’m sorry I sound gushing, but this guy belongs in academia, not in politics."

Seriously?? With all due respect I'm glad he chose politics and its not even close.

Ahsan said...


You're not alone. At least one SNL star agrees with you. (


Haha thanks for that. It's clear you weren't lying when you told me about your schedule.


Hahaha let's hope not. Although it would be kind of cool to have Satan himself reading out blog.


Don't think he was evasive at all on Ayers. I thought he was very solid and took care of business. The best thing about that answer was not the substance but his mannerisms when answering it: he wasn't defensive at all.


He's more Duncan than Viv.


What I meant to say is that he has an academic's spirit and mind, especially in his ability to be logical and go through mental lists without missing a beat. He responds to questions the way people do at workshops and conferences, it really is uncanny. But yes, I agree with you: I'm glad he's in politics now.

Shariq said...

Thanks for the clarification - I see where you're coming from now. Its actually been fascinating to see the transformation from him being too professorial to the all-round accomplished candidate he is now.

I was actually thinking of Duncan! Its just that his lack of charisma and constant whining made me hold back. How about Chris Paul? Came up against the odds, confidence without arrogance, makes his teammates better.

Uzi said...

Nice post.

I am afraid however that the next president will just end up being a fall guy for an economy out of shape. Its going to be a tough four years for any person in America and the one person that will take the hit for it again and again will be Obama, perhaps meaning that in the end, he will not be able to change much fundamentally (which is what we are all hoping for, right? Lastint, fundamental change?) at all since his governemnt will be dealing with more pressing issues all throughout his term.

That is assuming that he does win of course, and that he's already chucked that dead white girl off the Brooklyn bridge and it didn't land on a passing-by barge.

Ahsan said...


Maybe, maybe not. I feel like at SOME point, the economy is bound to pick up in the next 2-3 years. Put differently, right now the only way to go is up. If/when that happens, the President will get the credit (whether it's deserved or not is another question entirely).

For the record, I really don't believe in the power of one man being able to institute "lasting, fundamental change." It's a nice catchy slogan, but I'm afraid it's also a pipe dream.