E's DEBATE NOTES
[My notes as I took them.]
First impressions. McCain looks weird -- eyebrows jumping, eyes wide, and blinking a hundred times a minute. Where's a body language expert when you need one.
McCain begins the bumbling immediately, speaking of Freddie Mae (sic) and the decline in home ownership (he meant home prices or values; the rise in home ownership is the problem).
Obama promises a tax cut for 95% of Americans, and him saying it makes it true. Never mind that less than 95% of Americans pay taxes in the first place. I don't understand why McCain never points this out, since it makes the claim mathematically impossible.
McCain is the worst speaker of all time.
As poorly as McCain made the point about Joe the Plumber, Obama's argument that the wealthy "can afford to pay a little more" is thoroughly unAmerican and ought to scare more people than it seems to, but 95% of Americans might prefer to stick it to the Man.
On the deficit. . . What are you going to cut back on?
(McCain should say: We know from previous comments that Obama will cut back on defense.)
Obama: Americans are going to have to curtail their spending. (It's not my problem, it's your problem. So I can't be blamed when you fail.)
Obama: artful dodge.
Follow up: Which programs will you cut?
Obama: The ones that should be cut. More artful dodge.
(McCain should point out that Obama didn't answer the question tonight but has answered it before.)
McCain: Spending freeze.
Follow up: What will you cut?
McCain: Marketing assistance program. (Whatever that is.) Subsidies for ethanol. Tariff on imported sugar based ethanol from Brazil. Sweetheart deals. Line item veto. Earmarks and pork barrel bills.
Obama: No across the board spending freeze. Gotta have a lengthy partisan review first. Which will begin after I get all those government worker votes.
McCain: "I am not President Bush. If you wanted to run against President Bush, you should have run 4 years ago." (Should have added, "when Sen. Kerry got beat by proposing all the same liberal policies that you are proposing now.")
McCain: When have you ever stood for something?
Bob: The campaign has turned nasty. Will you say those things to his face?
(McCain should say: The truth must prevail.)
McCain: Obama ducked my request for a dozen town hall meetings. Had he accepted, the tone could be different.
(Should say: It's not whether the statements are negative but whether they are true. And then repeat the litany.)
Second mention of Joe the Plumber, to good effect.
McCain: Note that Obama did not repudiate John Lewis' comments.
Obama is a smooth talking dodger. On Fox the Dodgers will lose. Everywhere else this dodger will win. Like Clinton, he is admired for his ability to not answer a question.
McCain sticks up for the "great Americans" at his rallies, and points out that his supporters are far more civil in general than the rabid lefties at Obama's rallies.
Obama calls to end the character smears. (Because he has the most to lose.)
McCain responds with mentions of Ayers and ACORN.
Obama has a tell. Every time McCain hits him squarely with accurate barbs, Obama smiles broadly and looks down. It says "you are correct and I know it."
Obama responds to his relationship with "Mr. Ayers" (that was a long time ago, there is no formal relationship today) and ACORN (they have nothing to do with us). Bob, to his credit, lets this go on a bit. McCain asks the press for full disclosure. Yeah, good luck with that. Obama resents the implication that "my associations are troubling." Thank you, that is a good way to put it, and yes, they are. And by the amount of time you just spend recasting them, you clearly know that they are damaging if reported honestly.
Who will you bring into government?
Obama begins touting the merits of Joe Biden. Good opportunity to check the game.
McCain is proud of Sarah Palin. (Should say: She's actually done stuff. What has Sen. Obama ever done? All he does is talk.)
Is she qualified?
(Should say: More qualified than he is.)
McCain finally gives examples of Biden's poor judgmetn in the Senate on major policy issues. He points out that Obama answer to everything is to spend more. Good points.
Energy. By how much can we reduce foreign oil imports?
Obama: You can't drill your way out of the problem. (Code for "I don't dare upset the environmentalists.")
(Should say, "But we can try.")
Bob is doing a good job of letting them talk and staying out of the way.
E6, 4-0 Phils, second and third, one out.
McCain wants to increase production. Obama wants to decrease consumption.
Maybe I am the only American who doesn't care about this issue. Ballgame. . .
Three errors on Furcal in one inning. 5-0 Phils. I've been listening to the Phillies broadcast because McCarver went on about Furcal's terrific arm in Game 1 or 2 when he made a throwing error on a routine play. McCarver is useless. The Phillies broadcast team, meanwhile, was actually sharing valid insight by discussing how Furcal has a tendency to make the hard plays and blow the easy ones, as he went on to do again tonight, sending his team down the tubes.
Obama: Large businesses "can afford" fines for not complying with his health care mandates. The "average family" wins, and only the big evil corporations pay, as they should, for they are big evil corporations.
Lots of references to Joe the Plumber. I heard him on the radio today and am glad to let him speak for me tomorrow on every station that will have him.
McCain: Obama wants government to decide. I want Joe the Plumber to decide.
Bob: What of abortion and the Supreme Court?
McCain: Let the states decide. I'm a federalist.
McCain: Elections have consequences. I've voted on competence and qualifications. He has voted (no) on ideology. I'll have no litmus test.
Obama: Abortion is a moral issue, so let the courts decide it. My judges will need to be sensitive to the real life issues of average people.
McCain hasn't said "my friends" all night. You CAN teach an old sea dog new tricks!
Education. We spend more and more for ever worse results.
Obama: This has more to do with our economy than anything else. (Except energy, which he said earlier had more to do with our economy than anything else.)
Obama: Early childhood education. (A terrible, terrible idea if you ask me. Kids don't need to be in school at age 3 and 4.)
Obama: Bad results are the parents' fault. (Because it can't be the teachers' fault, they vote for me.)
(Should say: Apply free market principles to education. Tax credits for private tuition.)
McCain: Choice and competition. This is working in New Orleans. (Which is true. Katrina closed all the schools and they are recreating the school system for the better.) Fire sucky teachers. Reward good teachers. Promote Teach for America. (Yes! This is a good program that asks young teachers to give two years out of college to teaching disadvantaged kids.)
Should more federal dollars be directed to the schools?
Obama: Yes. Much more. Bush sucks.
McCain: No. Just spending more money removes the opportunity for creative solutions. We have the most expensive education system in the world and it's not working. It cries out for reform. (And by the way, I'm a reformer. Note I haven't said maverick all night.)
McCain: These are difficult times. America needs change. No more Bush. I'm a reformer and have broken repeatedly with the GOP. (Not with "my party.") Health care. Education. Government spending. Can you TRUST US as stewards of your money? Examine my record. I've always put Country First, like my daddy and my granddaddy. Vote for me.
Obama: These are tough times. Bush is a big loser. Failed policies of George W. Bush. We need change. You know you can trust me. We need to cut taxes, give health care and college to everyone. Energy. Higher wages for the middle class. It requires everyone to sacrifice and serve. Vote for me, I'm on your side. It's about the children.
McCain left a lot unsaid, as he always does, but he was pretty good tonight. He needed to land some blows without looking desperate and I think he achieved that.
There's your debate in short form.
The big winner was Nike. Joe the Plumber was wearing a Nike t-shirt when he spoke to Obama. Nike somehow manages to be everywhere.