McCain – Obama Townhall Debate Instant Reaction
About an hour into the debate, I’m bored to tears. Neither candidate has said anything I haven’t heard before and they’re just reciting canned speeches that are often tangentially related to the questions being asked. Neither are adhering to the rules and Tom Brokaw is exasperated but not doing anything about it.
Thus far, though, it’s a win for Obama in that he hasn’t made any significant errors and McCain hasn’t done anything that’s likely to close ground with undecided voters.
UPDATE: McCain’s answer on the use of force was far superior to Obama’s. He’s set forth a doctrine that’s distinct from both Obama and George W. Bush and the neocons.
Both gave strong defenses of somewhat different positions on Pakistan. I don’t know that either score any big points, though. Obama’s continued pronounciation of it as pok-E-ston probably doesn’t help him much with undecideds. McCain’s Nixonian “I have a plan” but “I’m not going to telegraph my punches” likely didn’t, either.
McCain’s recognition of the service of the Navy Chief was a good moment for him, although not one likely to make much difference in the campaign.
Overall, this was McCain’s best debate performance. It’s conceivable that he won it on “points.” The bottom line, again, though, is that Obama went toe to toe with him and didn’t clearly lose. That’s a win given that he went into the debate with a lead and that McCain’s hoping to win based on superior seasoning.
Update (Steve Verdon): I was listening to the debate and was surprised that a question about the unfunded liabilities associated with Social Security and Medicare came up. Amazingly I thought Obama fumbled badly here. He completely dodged the answer and ended up rambling on about $100 billion in tax breaks to CEOs as if $100 billion will do much to address the funding short fall of trillions and trillions of dollars. Obama was woefully unprepared for that question, IMO. Obama babbling on like an idiot about his tax policy was a complete dodge. Then a few minutes later Obama described out he’d increase spending on health care and most likely the growth rate of health care expenitures. Brilliant.
McCain’s answer was only marginally better, just a fail vs. epic fail. McCain gave some nonsense answer about setting up a commission to look at the problem and come up with a solution. He did note that the problem with Social Security was somewhat manageable, but that Medicare was the 800 pound gorilla in the room.