Saturday, September 27, 2008

The debate: Morning after analysis

I liveblogged the debate and put up my initial analysis and roundups at the Detroit News last night. Of course, I was spinning hard for Obama but here's my unspun morning after thoughts. Obama did a good job of drawing a pretty bright line between himself and McCain on the issues. I would have liked him to challenge McCain harder on the maverick reformer meme. I thought Obama missed a lot of opportunities to do so.

The best moment was when Obama brought up his actual voting record and McCain almost boiled over. I think if he had pressed harder, we would have seen a McCain meltdown. I'm hoping he's just saving that strategy for the last debate so it will be fresh on the voters' minds when they get to the ballot box.

I've always hated that Obama is adopting the "surge worked" and "Iran is teh big scary evil" themes but I don't really see how he can avoid that and still win over the low info voters. We can only hope that reflects political expedience and not so much his mindset. Not that it's a dealbreaker in comparison with bomb, bomb, bomb McCain.

Biased as I am, I tried to be a neutral observer and I thought McCain came off as mean, cranky, evasive and lost in the past. I don't know how much his inability to make eye contact is going to hurt him. I suspect not much with the low info voters but it was widely criticized in the high info crowd. Obama came off as cool, collected, knowledgeable and ready to lead into the future.

As for who "won" I'm not sure it makes any difference since there weren't any dramatic moments for the punderati to obsess over for the next few weeks. In the immediate response they were pretty much calling it for McCain with the exception of KO and I assume Rachel, although I never caught her response. Tweety was kind of the fence. Initially he was saying McCain but then I saw him later and he was leaning more towards Obama. I read this morning the media are now calling it for Obama. I suspect that's in reponse to the voter polling which overwhelming was going to him.

For myself, I'd say it was Obama's night. He didn't hit it out of the ballpark but McCain didn't score either and this was supposed to be his night to prove his superior foreign policy creds. Obama was a little too wonky but he demonstrated his creds well enough and goes into the next debate on the economy with the advantage. It will be interesting to see if he gets a bump in the election polls from it.

[cross-posted to The Reaction and Newshoggers]

[More posts daily at The Newshoggers and The Detroit News.]

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Anonymous Americaneocon said...

Ha! Cross-posted at The Impolitic!

Cool! I'm not banned by the lily-livered Cernig.

This post is epic fail! The left has conceded McCain's win:

"Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post described McCain as appearing in this debate better than any previous ones. A command of the subject matter and the stage is about as good a critique as McCain’s camp might expect from the MSM. Cillizza also points to the discussion on preconditions as McCain’s strongest moment for hitting Obama on misunderstanding Kissinger. The earlier post from this blog reviewing that point of the debate mentioned Obama’s flaw at redefining ‘preconditions’ as merely ‘preparation’.’ And that the point on Kissinger was likely to bite someone in the backside. Cillizza places the bite on Obama.

He goes on to say Obama’s objective was to link McCain to Bush but suggested many may remember McCain as the one who opposed Bush in the 2000 campaign. While this report from WaPo stops short of declaring a clear winner it obviously gives the lion’s share of positive points to John McCain.

Jonathan Last from the Weekly Standard has a report entitled ‘Fight Night, Scoring Obama-McCain Round by Round’ in which he scores the bout not as a knockout or TKO but a decision giving McCain victory in seven out of eight rounds.

My scorecard says that McCain won the night 7-1, which frankly surprises me. On paper that looks like a rout, but McCain didn’t seem that dominant as it was happening. Certainly there was nothing in the debate that Obama will worry about as having been a big blow. I saw McCain winning the debate pretty handily, but I doubt he scored any larger strategic victory.

At least for the view from this blog a major surprise comes from Josh Marshall at TPM and his account of the debate. WaPo ,above, being fairly even handed and a review from the Weekly Standard giving a weak nod to McCain even with a 7 to 1 score are not ‘wow’ reviews. But cringing before the expected acid bath from lefty Josh Marshall finds the following opening to his report.

My take on this debate was that both candidates made their basic arguments clearly. They stuck to the points they’re making on the campaign trail. Neither of these guys are powerful debaters but both held up well. I didn’t see many real gaffes or mistakes.

I said before the debate started that we should expect some outside the box, over the top antics from McCain. But that didn’t really turn out to be true.

Through most of the debate — as I was live-blogging — I was thinking, Hmm, this is pretty much a draw, about what you’d expect with one person arguing McCain’s agenda and another arguing Obama’s. In that sense, I thought it was largely a tie. But McCain’s whole campaign is based on his supposed superior knowledge and judgment on foreign policy. So I think that’s a problem for McCain.

The mild criticism from Marshall translates into victory for McCain. When has a liberal ever been so non-combative in framing a take on a political event between a Democrat and a Republican. Actually it may be an incredible victory for McCain as Marshall really has nothing over the top impressive he can hang on Obama. But perhaps that was expected since most people agreed McCain is stronger in debates while Obama is addicted to a prompter. That may explain the thus far muted response from the left not wanting to concede that Obama’s only positive was not creating a major gaffe beyond the ‘preconditions’ weakness."

The quote's from Blog @

I know you love - LOVE! - Josh Marshall as the new wave of lefty blog-journalism (even better than Kos, you've argued).

So, I guess you're an outlier, Libby Spencer. That makes my day!

2:31:00 PM  
Blogger rockync said...

McCain struck me as losing his train of thought on several occasions, especially when the question was clearly about the economy and he was digressing about Iraq and war and... it was hard to follow.
I am so tired of his "I was a POW" meme. Yeah, we know, he's an old war horse with great stories more appropriate over cheap beer at the VFW than on a presidential platform. I think everyone has conceded that he can claim kudos for his military service - it is time to move on. The present and future are foremost in most peoples' minds.
Neither candidate gave any specifics for exactly what they plan to do with the current financial crisis and, frankly, the next debates would better serve the American people if they would give more thought and voice to this rather important subject.
Obama kept his cool and stayed on topic most of the time. I think he is on the right track even if he's a little fuzzy on the logistics of opening dialog with volatile nations, especially in the Middle East - who was it that said, "Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer." I think his ideas would be more stabilizing than the McCain war mongering mode.
All in all, neither candidate dominated in this debate and I don't think either one gained much by way of undecided voters, but I'd give the edge to Obama.
I think both sides have realized from the beginning that this would be a tight race and this debate certainly proved that out.

3:02:00 PM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

All the polling gives Obama the win even though there was no fireworks Rocky. I only saw a couple of voter polls going for McLame.

As for what they say -- feh -- they're politicians. You can't believe anything said on the campaign trail. The real tell was in their presentation. The consensus I'm seeing out there is that McCain came off like a cranky old guy and Obama looked more presidential.

I think O did what he had to do, which was prevent McCain from scoring in his best area, ie, foreign policy. He accomplished that. In the end the debates don't have that much impact on the vote anyway. I hear the ratings were low.

3:51:00 PM  

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