Jim Lehrer has a decent question - to try to find out how this financial bailout would affect their spending plans if they were elected president. Neither of them really answered it. We won't get there with cutting waste and earmarks. Cutting out taxcuts for the richest people in the country wouldn't make up the shortfall either.
When John McCain talks about cutting wasteful spending in the bureaucracy, how does he think that he will get a Democratic Congress to go along with that?
McCain needs to stop using the "Miss Congeniality line."
Good for McCain to say he'd cut ethanol subsidies. I guess he's given up on Iowa.
I wonder if John McCain really means it about the spending freeze idea. Or was it something that he just thought of at that moment? I'd like to hear more about that.
McCain had a good counter to Obama's argument that he showed better judgment six years ago in opposing the war in Iraq by pointing out that that will not be what the new president has to confront but rather how we will go forth in Iraq. Obama countered that McCain likes to pretend that the war started in 2006 and ignore all the bad leadership on the war before that. But McCain had been pushing for a surge for quite a while before that.
Did Obama just say that Al Qaeda is stronger than ever? What proof is there of that?
When challenged about not having held a single meeting of his subcommittee on NATO, Obama's response was that Joe Biden was holding enough meetings and he didn't have to. Weak.
Both guys talk tough about Pakistan, but how are they going to really force Pakistan to go along with their plans. I was thinking that Obama was giving a strong answer on how he'd do in Afghanistan, but McCain's answer was a lot more authoritative sounding. But Obama got in a good dig about how McCain's "bomb Iran" song wasn't all that presidential and prudential sounding.
If Obama thinks it was a mistake to "coddle Musharraf," what would he have done after 9/11 with Pakistan?
McCain had a strong answer detailing times when he opposed military actions in the past. And he's right to point out that there is a connection between what we are doing in Iraq and how that will affect what happens in Afghanistan.
We had the battle of the bracelets. John McCain told a story he often tells on the campaign trail about a mother who gave him a bracelet and told him to not let her son's death be in vain. Obama chimes in that he also has a bracelet, but then seems to look down to remember the name of the guy on his bracelet.
Of course, it doesn't help that McCain stumbles on Ahmadinejad's name. But he is good in explaining why we shouldn't be sitting down president to president to talk to Ahmadinejad. Though it's not correct to say that Reagan wouldn't sit down with a Soviet premier until Gorbachev introduced glasnost. The problem was that the premiers kept dying on him before they had a chance to meet.
McCain is correct to point out that there is a difference between having meetings of our diplomats and their diplomats and a meeting of the presidents.
Why are we having a debate about Henry Kissinger? Who cares?
McCain hits Obama on his first response to the Russian invasion of Georgia and calling for both sides to show restraint. McCain was absolutely correct that that was a very weak reaction and that it took Obama several tries to get his position correct. Obama tends to give nice-sounding responses when asked a question about foreign policy but then McCain is able to answer and his answers are much more substantive and knowledgeable.
Ooh, dag. McCain just compared Obama to Bush in his stubbornness in failing to acknowledge his mistakes on the surge.
Obama refers to his father writing letters from Kenya to come to the U.S. because he knew that no other place on earth would allow people to succeed. But didn't his father return to Africa after getting an education and fathering a son? He apparently wasn't coming here to build a life and succeed. And people still come here from all over the world to study. People want so much to immigrate here that they risk death in crossing the borders. So I don't think anyone can argue that people no longer want to come to America because of Bush policies lowering our image in the world. It's a total non sequitur.
Overall, I think that McCain came across as more knowledgeable and forceful on foreign policy. It was about a tie on the domestic issues. However, I think Obama did sufficiently well for people to call the debate a tie. I don't think there was any major gaffe. Obama might have looked weak in trying to defend his gaffe from a year ago about meeting with dictators without preconditions, but I think the American people have absorbed that gaffe and don't care about it either. Obama was on the defensive and McCain scored more points. He was reduced at the end to just parroting that he agrees with McCain. We didn't hear McCain say he agreed with McCain.
But if there isn't one major gaffe or good funny line, people will probably think that they both did sufficiently okay. And since Obama is in the lead now, he probably will hold his lead.