9: 05 And we're off...
This time I'm going to change the rules a bit, befitting the changed (town hall) format of the debate. Since the debate revolves around audience questions, I will post questions pertaining to the debate (and then proceed to answer them).
Q: How soon before I yawned and nearly dozed off?
A: 28 minutes.
Q: Does McCain do better in town hall settings?
A: Yes, and no. McCain has maintained that he prefers town hall formats - so the pressure is on him tonight for that reason too. His first answer is interesting in his body language, engagement of the questioner and audience. He's clearly going for that connection, with his body language, using first names repeatedly etc. The problem is he sounds like he's lecturing a bunch of kids.
I would like to think McCain's potshots at Obama would alienate people- it came across as churlish, unfair and petty. But the 'talking heads' are baying for blood and so maybe this works. Shudder.
Obama tried not to sound too professorial but he can't help it- he's just too smart to deal in sound bytes. He clearly has a disadvantage in this sort of setting- his voice and demeanour work better in bigger, grander settings than more intimate ones.
Q: Did the town hall setting work?
A: No, not at all. It was intensely annoying that the candidates didn't get to rebut the arguments- the 'discussion' after questions was just another related question. It left the first speaker (Obama) with no chance to address the charges (read blatant lies and misrepresentations) leveled at him- and he was then forced to take time from his next answers. Two thumbs down.
Q: How annoying was Tom Brokaw's repeatedly telling the candidates to stick to time?
A: Very. First of all, they're politicians, they're going to talk- get used to it. Secondly, what's more important? Flashing lights or a detailed discussion and an opportunity to discuss things with some degree of nuance. Two thumbs down Mr. Brokaw.
10:18 Brief hope when the candidates tried to change the rules but no, Mr. Brokaw held firm and forged ahead...
Q: Most annoying thing about Obama?
A: Barack, was I not clear enough last time? Stop saying you agree with McCain and that he's right. He will just spin it in egregious ways..he actually did so tonight when you called him responsible. ..you know what they say about nice guys.
Q: What was the most enraging thing McCain said?
A: Sigh....how many hours do I/you have?
1. First of all, what is with the sarcasm, Johnny? "I've got some news Senator Obama, the news is bad". This from the man who claimed that the fundamentals of the economy were strong as wall street was collapsing??
2. Casually proclaiming that giving up veterans programs would be one of the sacrifices he would ask for? Are you kidding me?
3. 'My friends'
4. The numerous (rude and ludicrous) pot shots at Obama- 'that one', really?
5. The bad jokes
6. Calling himself the 'cool hand'
Q: Stupidest moment?
A: Came at 10: 15 So let me get this straight Mr. McCain, you won't telegraph that you'll get Bin Laden but you'll announce that intention in the debate. Hmmm...what's the flaw in logic there?
Q: Best part of watching the debate?
A: Live blogging while reading other live blogs and reactions. Best comment of the night goes to my friend Patrick "Damn it, McCain I'm not your friend" Amen, my...um...pal.
Q: Best Question?
A: The one about Pakistan, the one about sacrifices the candidates will ask for, and the last question 'What don't you know?'
Q: Best Answer?
A: Obama on Iran- intelligent, clear, within the bounds of American discourse.
Q: Worst Answer?
A: McCain on the 'sacrifice' answer. Made no sense at all. For sheet tediousness, Obama's energy policy answer.
Q: Best closing statement?
A: Pretty even actually. Both end well- with large statements and stories of humility.