Hello there! If you're the type of political junkie who wants to relive every minute of the debate (we know you're out there!), you've come to the right place. Kevin is liveblogging over at his place, and the whippersnappers of the DC bureau, Nick Baumann and Jonathan Stein, are holding it down here. Excessive? Only if you hate America. Enjoy!
9:14: The big news early on is John McCain's proposal to buy back home mortgages. This would be enormously expensive, obviously.
More shortly. Reportedly, this is not new.
9:16: McCain refuses to say Phil Gramm is the next treasury secretary. That's right: foreclosure Phil. Who, we all know, will actually have the post. Instead, he suggests Meg Whitman, the eBay CEO.
9:18: Obama: I see you Meg Whitman and raise you Warren Buffet.
9:20: Did you know McCain suspended his campaign?
9:20: McCain attacks Obama for Fannie and Freddie, calling them the "match that started this forest fire". McCain has many Fannie/Freddie connections, as Mother Jones has documented. His campaign manager, Rick Davis, was paid by Freddie until August.
9:22: Check out the parallel live blog at Kevin Drum. He's on his game tonight.
9:23: Obama mentions that the national debt is now over $10 trillion. In related news, the national debt clock is broken.
9:25: Senator McCain works with Joe Lieberman! In related news, no one likes Joe Lieberman, not even his constituents.
9:27: $860 billion in spending will buy an awful lot of "overhead projector(s) at a planetarium in Chicago, Illinois."
9:29: Health care, energy, entitlement reform: Brokaw says to rank 'em. McCain says do all three at once. Why is he able to do that? Because he's really old. He remembers Tip O'Neill. He also says he's "reached across the aisle" to work with Ted Kennedy and Russ Feingold.
9:30: Obama acts like an adult and says "we have to prioritize." His answer: Energy is #1, Healthcare is #2, and Education is #3. Where is ending the war in Iraq?
9:31: Our first question from the internet. 78-year-olds know how to use the internet? Why can't John McCain? The question is essentially "What are you going to ask Americans to sacrifice?" McCain says spending programs. Also, "overhead projector" gets mentioned a second time. not on anyone's debate bingo card. What a shame.
9:32: McCain counterattacks against Obama's priority-setting, saying "yes we can" do all sorts of things at once.
9:33: Obama mentions 9/11, and talks about Bush's call for Americans to "Go out and shop." He calls for the development of "Clean Coal" technology. Ergh. Clean coal is often known by its real name, "coal".
9:35: Obama explains that earmark-cutting won't pay for McCain's tax-cutting.
9:37: McCain: Obama wants to raise taxes. Despite the fact that Obama would cut taxes for 95 percent of working Americans.
9:40: Obama uses the entitlement question to correct McCain on his tax plan.
9:42: McCain: "Hey, I'll answer the question."
9:43: Here's Drum on this section. He's pretty good. "McCain: 'Social Security isn't that tough.' Well, that's true enough. But on Medicare, McCain thinks the answer is a commission. Hmmm." Commissions to the rescue!
9:44: McCain's strategy is clear tonight: lie about taxes. And, uh, that's it.
9:45: Tom Brokaw is on the highest horse EVAH. He wants America to know he, and only he, is playing by the rules.
9:46: McCain wants you to know he supports nuclear power to deal with environmental issues. Obama says Al Gore's "climate crisis" isn't just a problem: it's an opportunity.
9:47: McCain clings to nuclear as the only place on renewables (which are popular) that he is more forward-thinking than Obama. Unfortunately, Obama has negated that by saying he supports nuclear energy if it is safe and clean. And Obama hits wind, solar, and all sorts of other goodies. he has a lot more to say on this front. Green economy and so on.
9:50: McCain: Drill baby drill!
9:51: McCain is wandering around behind Obama making hand gestures while Obama talks about health care. Obama explains his plan briefly and then attacks McCain. "What one hand giveth, the other hand taketh away."
9:54: McCain reminds people he wants to give them a $5000 refundable tax credit for health benefits and allow them to cross state lines to buy health care. Here's ThinkProgress on why McCain's plan won't work.
9:56: McCain says health care is a "responsibility." Obama says it's a right. There's no reason his mom should have been arguing with insurance companies over her treatment in the last days of her life.
9:59: McCain: "The challenge is to know when to go in and when not." Um, what about the decision to go into Iraq?
10:01: Everytime McCain mentions his stance against sending marines to lebanon, 40% of the voting public says, "huh?"
10:03: Obama takes McCain's setting him up on a tee on the Iraq issue and knocks it out of the park. "I don't understand," says Obama. We need the money here, he says. Obama is very smart to tie Iraq to the economy and spending. Talk about message discipline.
10:05: Did Brokaw just ask about the Obama doctrine? Doesn't he read Spencer Ackerman? Obama says not addressing genocide "diminishes us."
10:07: Iranian influence would have increased? News flash: it did.
10:09: McCain is sticking to his bold anti-Holocaust stand.
10:11: Obama says we coddled Musharraf in Pakistan. Also he pronounces the name of the country correctly.
10:13: Obama says killing Osama bin Laden and destroying Al Qaeda should be our number one national security priority.
10:15: McCain adds Teddy Roosevelt to the dead-guy list of references he has made tonight. He also says we drove the Russians out of Afghanistan. Which is questionable, as a matter of history. Tom Hanks drove the Russians out of Afghanistan.
10:16: Obama mentions McCain's history of bellicose statements. That includes "bomb bomb bomb Iran" and "Next up, Baghdad!" Really hitting the "McCain is unstable" thing.
10:17: John McCain has a secret plan to get Osama bin Laden. Just like Richard Nixon and his "secret plan."
10:18: Brokaw appears to have bailed on the town hall format. He is asking his own questions. Maybe he got so pissed that the candidates weren't following the time limits that he said, "F*cking thing sucks. We'll do it live."
10:19: First mention of John McCain's biggest hero, General Petraeus.
10:20: McCain's best answer of the night. It's on Russia. He says we're not going to have another Cold War, but Putin's still a bad guy.
10:22: Obama says we have to "see around the corners" and "anticipate some of these problems" with Russia et. al. ahead of time.
10:24: McCain good on Russia again. For people who were afraid he would start a new Cold War, this was probably pretty reassuring.
10:26: John McCain has stopped using his microphone. We can hear him just as well! They were fake all night long!
10:27: McCain shakes the hand of a questioner, a veteran. The question was whether he would commit troops without security council approval to defend Israel if it was attacked by Iran. Obama says he would never provide "veto power" to the UN security council. On this question, McCain is hot—"we cannot allow a second holocaust," and so forth. Obama is cool. Iran getting a nuke is a "gamechanger in the region." We must "use all the tools at our disposal" to prevent such a thing from happening. McCain is supposed to own national security, but I wonder which approach people really want.
10:36: What don't you know, and how will you know it? Obama says most of the time he "learns it" by asking Michelle. "It's never the challenges you expect, it's the challenges that you don't." Then he segues into his closing statement/bio. "The question in this election is are we going to pass on that same American dream to the next generation"?
10:38: McCain says what he doesn't know is what "all of us don't know": what's going to happen, at home and abroad. Pretty much what Obama said. Then he, too, segues into his closing statement: "I know what it's like"... i.e., "I'm like you." The "great honor of my life" was always to "put country first." Then Obama steps in front of Brokaw's prompter.
Wrap-up: Even David Brooks thinks Obama won this one. (Maybe he'll use this photo booth to fist bump Obama.) Everyone thought McCain would hit Obama hard in this debate, since he's lagging in the polls and he supposedly needs a game-changer. Yet, no Ayers and no Wright. No serious attacks of any kind. And Brooks highlights the steadiness of Obama, which is emerging as a central theme in these final weeks: "He has a calmness and a fluidity," Brooks says. "It's not hard to imagine him being President." (And yes, we're the only people in America watching post-debate analysis on PBS.)
10:50: We're closing out this post. Check future posts for more analysis.