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Author Topic: NC: Barack Obama wins second presidential debate over John McCain in a snoozer  (Read 1244 times)

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prfsr

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View from overseas:

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/toby_harnden/blog/2008/10/08/barack_obama_wins_second_presidential_debate_over_john_mccain_in_a_snoozer

Barack Obama wins second presidential debate over John McCain in a snoozer

Toby Harnden US Editor

The first presidential debate was fairly finely balanced while the vice-presidential debate between Sarah Palin and Joe Biden could have been argued either way. But tonight wasn't even close. It wasn't that John McCain was awful or made any mistakes but that he did nothing to change the dynamic of this race, which he's losing - and change it is what he emphatically needed to do.

All the snap polls indicate that Obama won - the Frank Luntz focus group on Fox, the CNN focus group, the CNN national poll (54 Obama, 30 McCain), the CBS national poll (Obama 39, McCain 27). So what will we take away from an evening that was, as I noted during the proceedings, pretty tedious:

1. McCain was hamstrung by the format. He didn't manage to bring up the names Bill Ayers or Tony Rezko and afterwards his advisers ruled out that he would raise Jeremiah Wright. To have brought up Ayers or Wright would have menat going off on an obvious tanget from a question - a big risk that Mccain probably had no option but to refrain from doing. Steve Schmidt, a senior McCain Adviser, indicated that Ayers would come up in the next debate. But by then it might be too late. Bottom line: McCain did not lay a glove on Obama on the character issue, his opponent's main vulnerability.

2. When McCain called Obama "that one" he seemed dismissive of his rival and it looked bad. To risk being seen as demeaning him when there are obvious racial sensitivities with a black candidate was not wise. I don't think for a moment McCain was being in any way racist. Rather, he came across as a grumpy old man - it was a senior moment. Here's what McCain said: "By the way, my friends, I know you grow a little weary with this back-and-forth. It was an energy bill on the floor of the Senate loaded down with goodies, billions for the oil companies, and it was sponsored by Bush and Cheney. You know who voted for it? You might never know. That one." I think he meant to say something like: "Do you know which senator voted for it? Not this one - that one." but he fluffed it.

3. Obama did well on foreign policy, particularly on an Iraq answer towards the end when he said: "Sen. McCain, in the last debate and today, again, suggested that I don't understand. It's true. There are some things I don't understand. I don't understand how we ended up invading a country that had nothing to do with 9/11, while Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda are setting up base camps and safe havens to train terrorists to attack us. That was Sen. McCain's judgment and it was the wrong judgment. When Sen. McCain was cheerleading the president to go into Iraq, he suggested it was going to be quick and easy, we'd be greeted as liberators. That was the wrong judgment, and it's been costly to us." It was the best moment for either candidate.

4. Afterwards, the McCain spinners were complaining about the moderator and the format of the debate - a sure sign they felt their man hadn't done so well. Rick Davis, McCain campaign manager, tlked about "voters scowling" at the candidates and Charlie Black, chief strategist, noted that there were only 11 audience questions in 90 minutes when there could have been 17 and said that Tom Brokaw should have "got out of the way". In contrast, Team Obama was almost serene. David Axelrod, Obama' chief strategist, was waxing lyrical about how "the wheel of history is turning".

5. McCain seems disdainful of Obama and that's not a good thing to show so openly. Check out this video of how he seems to avoid Obama's offer of a handshake, instead palming him off to his wife Cindy.

6. McCain was very repetitive between the first and the second debate, offering full sentences tonight (for instance about Putin) that were almost verbatim what he said in the first one.

7. Obama has perfected a manner in hese debates that is relaxed but serious, confident without being cocky and detailed enough without being wonky. It's serving him well. McCain's manner of delivery, in contrast, is clunky and he sees very tightly wound. He said "my friends" far, far too often. Obama's manner helps undermine McCain's message that he's "not ready".

8. There were few moments of actual connection between the candidates and the audience and the best one came from McCain when a man introduced himself as a former Navy chief. McCain said: "I want to say, everything I ever learned about leadership I learned from a chief petty officer. And I thank you, and I thank you, my friend. Thanks for serving." Then he walked over to him patted him on the back and shook his hand. McCain probably had the vast bulk of the veterans vote sewn up but he may have got a few more with that.

9. The second best moment of the debate was alos Obama's and McCain walkd right into it when he talked about "speaking softly" with an ally like Pakistan. Obama said: "Now, Sen. McCain suggests that somehow, you know, I'm green behind the ears and, you know, I'm just spouting off, and he's sombre and responsible." McCain interjected: "Thank you very much." Then Obama moved in for the kill: "Senator McCain, this is the guy who sang, 'Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran', who called for the annihilation of North Korea. That I don't think is an example of 'speaking softly'. This is the person who, after we had -- we hadn't even finished Afghanistan, where he said, 'Next up, Baghdad'."

10. McCain looked very old tonight. Obama seemed fit and languid and commanded the stage. At times, when McCain moved around he almost looked lost.

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dhruvdeepak

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mccain really looked like he needed a cane. really stiff and struggling to move
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In the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in a clearer light, and what is elusive and deceptive resolves itself into crystal clearness. Our life is a long and arduous quest after Truth.
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vincent

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Yes. And that derogative remark "that one" pointing at Obama said it all.
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