Posted by Curt on 26 September, 2008 at 9:14 pm. 33 comments already!


I think McCain looked great while Obama, while reducing the uh’s and ah’s, looked just ok. It was apparent throughout the whole thing that McCain dominated him, especially on foreign policy. Obama was good at putting out the prepared boilerplate economic positions but still got his ass handed to him by McCain. I’ve never been a huge McCain fan but he showed me tonight he is the most ready to become President of the United States.

Oh, and lets not forget the gaffes….

Here is Obama trying to get a “me to” moment in by referring to a troop bracelet he wore, but didn’t know the name of the soldier on it:

This one is a doozy. He said during the debate that the level of diplomacy he would show to Iran and company would not be Presidential. Big problem, his site says different:

Diplomacy: Obama supports tough, direct presidential diplomacy with Iran without preconditions.

And has said as much during interviews:

At A September 2007 Press Conference, Obama Confirmed That He Would Meet Specifically With Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Question: “Senator, you’ve said before that you’d meet with President Ahmadinejad …” Obama: “Uh huh.” Question: “Would you still meet with him today?” Obama: “Yeah, nothing’s changed with respect to my belief that strong countries and strong presidents talk to their enemies and talk to their adversaries. I find many of President Ahmadinejad’s statements odious and I’ve said that repeatedly. And I think that we have to recognize that there are a lot of rogue nations in the world that don’t have American interests at heart. But what I also believe is that, as John F. Kennedy said, we should never negotiate out of fear but we should never fear to negotiate.” (Sen. Barack Obama, Press Conference, New York, NY, 9/24/07)

Here’s the video of the exchange:

Oh, and what would Kissinger say? Here he is tonight:

Senator McCain is right. I would not recommend the next President of the United States engage in talks with Iran at the Presidential level. My views on this issue are entirely compatible with the views of my friend Senator John McCain. We do not agree on everything, but we do agree that any negotiations with Iran must be geared to reality.

There are other gaffes and falsehoods Obama uttered, like the fact that Obama said al-Qaeda was not in Iraq prior to us invading. Complete and utter falsehood, but what do you expect when you get your talking points from KOS.

Or how about this on Pakistan:

OBAMA: Nobody talked about attacking Pakistan. Here’s what I said.

Uh, riiiiight:

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said Wednesday that he would possibly send troops into Pakistan to hunt down terrorists, an attempt to show strength when his chief rival has described his foreign policy skills as naive.

Paul Mirengoff hits the nail on the head:

“I agree with Senator McCain that. . .” vs. “What Senator Obama doesn’t seem to understand is. . .”

At the end of the day, those two oft-repeated phrases sum up tonight’s debate. McCain was the teacher; Obama was the promising but somewhat disappointing student — the one who knows lots of facts but ultimtely doesn’t quite get the big picture

In reaching this verdict, I don’t want to give the impression did Obama did badly. To the contrary, I think he debated quite well for the most past. Certainly, his performance should end the mantra of certain critics that Obama can’t handle himself without a tele-prompter. The problem for Obama was not his performance; his problem was that once McCain got past his dreadful first “round” of the debate, he excelled. McCain was more knowledgeable, more to the point, keener on the attack, and (above all) deeper than Obama.

The reality is that, when he’s in form, McCain is deeper than just about anyone. Recall his debates with Mitt Romney (and a cast of thousands). Romney was articulate (probably more so than Obama) and knowledgeable. But McCain had an octave that Romney just couldn’t reach (though Giuliani did at times). McCain hit those notes frequently tonight; Obama couldn’t reach them any more than Romney could.

Ed Morrissey:

Substantially, McCain also bested Obama on both economics and foreign policy. On the former, it was most apparent when Lehrer asked both candidates what they would cut as President after the bailout package passes. Obama could not bring himself to commit to one single cut, and instead talked about all of the funding he wanted to create for pet programs. McCain noted that he has long championed spending reductions and proposed a spending freeze on all but the most vital programs. When challenged on this point, Obama refused to say whether he would accept a freeze.

Lastly, some very fast work from the McCain camp:


More reaction:

ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos: “These guys came to play on each other’s turf. It was really surprising to me is that John McCain came in here with a disadvantage on the economy. Barack Obama had a big advantage, yet I think [McCain] spent the 30 minutes very effectively pounding home the points that have to control spending and earmarks.” (ABC News’ “Vote 08: The Candidates Debate,” 9/26/08)

Stephanopoulos: “I thought other interesting stylistic differences, John McCain, good on emotion, good on establishing emotional connections with his stories.” (ABC News’ “Vote 08: The Candidates Debate,” 9/26/08)

MSNBC’s Pat Buchanan: “John McCain clearly won this battle on points. He was aggressive all evening long. He was very tough. He constantly portrayed Barack directly and indirectly as sort of weak and indecisive and inconstant making these statements. He also had a most powerful, emotional moments. I think that Wolfsborough story and that 640 guys re-upping in Iraq, and that woman giving him that bracelet–I think those things reached the heart and the gut. I will say this about Barack Obama. He did what he had to do in the sense that he came off as a tough fellow, a counterpuncher who would stand up to John McCain, and I think he helped himself in that regard, but overall I really think John McCain came off as the winner of this debate, but I go directly to Chris’ point.” (MSNBC’s “Presidential Debate,” 9/26/08)

The New York Times’ David Brooks: “I think McCain was sharp and experienced.” (PBS’ “Post-Debate Analysis,” 9/26/08)

MSNBC‘s Norah O’Donnell: “He [McCain] had a good night on the very issue of taxes and spending.  He did seem to dominate the first 30 minutes.” (MSNBC’s “Presidential Debate,” 9/26/08)

National Review Online‘s Jim Geraghty: “From where I sit, McCain had a surprisingly strong night.” (Jim Geraghty, “A Surprisingly Strong Night For McCain, While Obama Energizes His Base,” National Review Online‘s “The Campaign Spot” Blog,, 9/26/08)

Geraghty: “But the overall message of the night was clear – McCain is smart, familiar with the issues on a striking level of detail, knows what he wants to do: ‘I don’t think I need any on the job training. I’m ready to go right now… I know how to deal with our adversaries, and I know how to deal with our friends.'” (Jim Geraghty, “A Surprisingly Strong Night For McCain, While Obama Energizes His Base,” National Review Online‘s “The Campaign Spot” Blog,, 9/26/08)

WSJ’s Sue Davis: “Obama To McCain: You’re ‘Absolutely Right'” (Susan Davis, “Obama To McCain: You’re ‘Absolutely Right,'” The Wall Street Journal’s “Washington Wire” Blog,, 9/26/08)

CBS’ Jeff Greenfield: “I also think that McCain in the section on foreign policy also gave a strong performance when he said we can’t snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.” (CBS News’ “Campaign ’08 Presidential Debate,” 9/26/08)

NBC‘s Tom Brokaw: “That was the most distinctive difference obviously once we got into the area of national security. John McCain bored in on Barack Obama. He’s been reading the same polls we all have. There are grave reservations in most of the polls about whether Barack Obama has enough experience and whether he’s qualified to be commander in chief. And tonight Senator McCain went right after that vulnerability in Barack Obama.” (NBC’s “Presidential Debate Coverage,” 9/26/08)

The Politico’s Jeanne Cummings: “When we moved into foreign affairs, clearly john McCain hit his stride. It is his strength, and he showed, demonstrated that he is quite knowledgeable.” (PBS’ “Post-Debate Analysis,” 9/26/08)

ABC News‘ Rick Klein: “9:12 pm CT: … This is another area where McCain is in his comfort zone. He’s having a long discussion on the preconditions line.” (Rick Klein, “Live Debate Blog,” ABC News,, 9/26/08)

Klein: “9:20 pm CT: Meaty discussion on Russia — with lots and lots of Russian names for McCain to pronounce. If people care about this, McCain looks strong.” (Rick Klein, “Live Debate Blog,” ABC News,, 9/26/08)

The Atlantic‘s Marc Ambinder: “10:19: McCain’s strong on non-Iraq foreign policy issues.” (Marc Ambinder, “The Debate: Liveblogging IV,” The Atlantic‘s “Marc Ambinder” Blog,, 9/26/08)

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