DEBATE LIVEBLOGGING....Here it is. The main event. Obama vs. McCain. Is your skin tingling? Are you drunk yet?
Wrapup Am I off base, or was this one of the most soporific presidential debates in a while? Frankly, I didn't think either one of them did very well. There was way too much rambling, and way too few sharp points. Overall, McCain was more lively than Obama, but if the point of the debate was for Obama to show that he could hold his own on national security, then count it a win for Obama. I wouldn't call him a big winner, but he certainly did at least as well as McCain, and that might have been all he needed.
Of course, within a few minutes I expect conservatives will all be telling us that McCain was simply brilliant tonight. Absolutely masterful. I expect many repetitions of McCain's talking point about Obama being naive. If they say it often enough, they figure eventually everyone will agree with them.
10:36 McCain says directly that he thinks Obama is unprepared to be president. Was that a good move? Or too much?
10:32 Why does Obama keep starting to make a good point and then suddenly veer off to something else? He was about to make a good point about the danger of overfocusing on Iraq, but suddenly he's off on China, then healthcare, then the economy, then veterans affairs. Shouldn't he instead drill home a point about winning in Iraq requiring that Iraqis themselves take responsibility for their own security? Or something. But finish the point, in any case.
10:29 Obama supports missile defense? I didn't know that.
10:24 Todd Gitlin notes that Obama looks at McCain and reacts to him, but McCain stares rigidly ahead and refuses to make eye contact with Obama. Weird.
10:22 McCain is really driving home two themes: (1) He's visited everywhere and met everyone, and (2) the world is full of threats, threats, threats. Will his constant repetition of these things wear on people? Not sure.
10:17 Obama had some opportunities to drive home his point on preconditions, but I'm not sure he did. Conversely, McCain's little burlesque about sitting across the table from Ahmadinejad while he insults Israel was demagogic, but it might have been effective.
10:07 Obama says the Iraq war has made Iran stronger. That's a good point, and maybe one that a lot of viewers don't understand. But he didn't really make the sale.
10:04 According to the audience-o-meter, even Republicans didn't react to McCain's reference to "existential threat" and "second Holocaust."
9:52 Decent answer from Obama about what we need to do in Afghanistan in Pakistan. Things are picking up a little bit.
9:39 McCain: I hate President Bush. I'm a maverick!
9:34 How did we get on nuclear power plants? Wasn't the question about what programs they'd cut because of the cost of the Wall Street bailout?
9:31 This is just excruciatingly boring.
9:27 Obama just said we have to free ourselves from dependence on Mideastern oil. I think that's one of our bingo squares. Hooray!
9:25 McCain is kinda rambling now.
9:22 If the audience-o-meter is any indication, these guys are putting the entire country to sleep.
9:20 Hmmm. Obama has decided to refer to McCain as "John," not "Senator McCain." Good idea? Or bad?
9:19 McCain: Spending is bad. Earmarks are evil. Gateway drug. DNA of bears. Yada yada yada. Obama: Senator McCain is absolutely right. But....tax cuts for the wealthy. CEOs! 95%! McCain: Earmarks! I'm the sheriff! Sigh.
9:13 Come on, guys. Let's pick up the pace. So far this isn't even as interesting as a stump speech.
9:08 Wow. McCain actually had the balls to say that House Republicans "decided to be part of the solution to our problem"? That's chutzpah.
9:07 John McCain is feeling better tonight. Why? Because Republicans and Democrats are sitting down together to work on our financial crisis. You could have fooled me....
9:05 What is that weird line at the bottom of the CNN screen? Instant audience reaction, it seems. Is that really necessary?
9:02 Ah. "National security" includes the global financial crisis. Glad to get that cleared up.
8:59 Apparently the French conduct better debates than us. Sheesh. We're losing our global lead in everything.