Saturday, September 27, 2008

Post Debate Coverage

As promised, it was my duty to watch tonight's debate and come back with a brief report on where I saw tonight's debate in it's weaknesses and strengths so I jotted down some notes as it went on and they are as follows:

-Jim Lehrer is quite possibly the worst, most confrontation-seeking host I've quite possibly ever seen. I'm very disappointed in the style that he moderated the debate. He could have executed more restraint over McCain who most times looked like "Mr. Wilson" ['You kids stay off my damn lawn'] from the Dennis the Menace comic strips more often than he did. His authority wasn't respected. It was frustrating and at times I left the room for a few seconds as my anger boiled over. I know Tim Russert isn't here but footage of him and why he was so damned great can be easily found and should be homework for all these guys given the opportunity to referee an argument between two guys, one of which is to become the next leader of our country. We're talking about someone to officiate a discussion of epic proportions, we're not looking for some mildly disinterested father whose needed to mediate an argument in the backseat of a car between two quarreling siblings on their way to vacation. Piss poor job.

-If I'm being honest Barack Obama lost the first thirty minutes to John McCain on the tax arguments and government spending arguments. No two ways about it. I'm not equivocating who is right/wrong on the policy or substantive points but strictly on the merits of debate, stylistically and rhetorically McCain had Obama on his heels. I would have to award that round 10-9 to McCain. The next thirty minutes found Obama on better footing on foreign policy and how it pertains to judgment in Iraq and how we need to go forward in Afghanistan and potentially Pakistan. Obama beasted McCain out of that debate and it wasn't close. I give that round to Obama, 10-8. The last half hour was really a toss-up of mostly of jarring insults and over the top disposition that was obviously meant to project self-confidence and assuredness but overall showed a fundamental lack in class and dignity. That aside, I thought the last round was a draw. I'd be inclined to say Obama won by decision overall as it wasn't a knockout but it just happened that when the time expired Obama had a point more than his competitor.

-McCain was a lot more knowledgeable and intelligent than I ever recalled him being but then again you don't just stumble upon the presidential nomination of a major party in the United States being mediocre so perhaps that was naive to think he wouldn't have come prepared and polished.

-Obama was very respectful and was a complete gentleman to a person I saw tonight that was neither of those two things and also deserving of none of the courtesy he was given. I suspect that wasn't lost on the millions of people who watched the debate, either.

-I think if this debate was a football game you'd say that the ball was at the fifty yard line and for an hour and half nobody got a first down. No team scored on any breakout runs or converted any long throws. There were only modest gains tonight and the ball was advanced only a few yards at any given time of the night. I'd say though, in the frame of the election overall McCain needed some kind of momentum changing event tonight as the American pendulum had been swaying more forcefully in Obama's favor and it was his job to blunt that in Mississippi and I'm not convinced he did so in the event of a tie Obama wins the larger narrative.

Anyway I'll have some polls tonight before I go to bed to see what America thought and more importantly who they saw as the winner of tonight's exchange.

Stay tuned.

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