Politico: Worst Debate Ever?

Politico is up with a piece on last night’s joint press conference (otherwise known as the second presidential debate.) Politico piles on the overwhelming sentiment from last night, that the debate and its format were garbage. Generally, I agree with the article, but they’re defense of Tom Brokaw I would have to disagree with…

It’s not Brokaw’s fault. Or Jim Lehrer’s…

To lump Brokaw’s performance in with Lehrer’s is absurd. Brokaw threw his hands up from moment one. Refusing to jump in at the first whiff of a talking point was indeed at Brokaw’s discretion. Jim Lehrer set the tone early in the debate by pressing the candidates to answer what they would change in light of the economic crisis. While they may have dodged giving a totally direct answer, the tone was set for the night and a real debate took place. 

Brokaw was certainly at a disadvantage with the town hall format, but rather than fight for his fellow questioners he was content to sit back and allow the candidates to recite the talking points we’ve heard before. Moreover, in his “discussion” periods rather than get a simple clarification to something already said, Brokaw would ask candidates to compress BOTH of their answers to a window of a minute or less. That would have been OK. But he would ask open-ended “coffee talk” style questions:

Russia: Evil Empire Yes or No?


Name the Obama Doctrine, name in the McCain doctrine, in 60 seconds please so we can get to section F’s question. It was a bad format and the candidates were primed with stock answers, but Brokaw dropped the ball.


Game over, or Game changer?

Before McCain and Obama do battle one more time, it will be interesting to see what has a more lasting impact on the electorate after tonight, the debate, or yet another 500 point drop in the market. Does it matter at this point what McCain says? It’s no secret that the recent economic woes have done much to dismantle his party’s hopes for another term in the oval office. Clearly, McCain will need to pull off a miracle tonight to change the direction of this election, so let’s wait and see. Tune in for plenty of post debate discussion here on ThinkPop.

McCain is a Quack when it comes to Iraq

Watching the debate, it is abundantly clear that John McCain still doesn’t get it. To listen to him talk about excessive spending while wholeheartedly supporting a war which is straining our economy makes me want to put my foot through my television. While we’re on the topic of excessive government spending, we burn through billions of dollars in Iraq every month. I would also remind you that this is a war which was poorly planned and based upon lies and propaganda that to this day have yielded no weapons of mass destruction. I never thought Obama would be able to go toe to toe with McCain when it came to foreign policy, but after listening to both men it was clear that Obama would use better judgement in the use of American military forces. The mark of a excellent commander and chief is not measure in only his ability to lead during conflict, but also in his ability to use proper judgement when deploying our military in the first place. What was your take on the Iraq/Afghanistan portion of the debate? Drop me a line in a comment.

The Fix asks: Who will blink first

In his wag the blog post last night, Chris Cilliza, better known in some circles as The Fix sets up the following:

The decision yesterday by John McCain to suspend his campaign in order to deal with the financial crisis on Wall Street and Barack Obama‘s refusal to follow suit creates an old-fashioned political showdown.

At issue is whether tomorrow’s presidential debate — scheduled for 9 pm at the University of Mississippi in Oxford — will be held.

McCain has said he would like the debate to be postponed, suggesting,according to Fox News, that the planned vice presidential debate next Friday in St. Louis (Mrs. Fix’s hometown!) be used instead as the inaugural presidential debate.

Obama expressed his desire for the debate to go forward during an impromptu press conference in Florida yesterday. “It’s my belief that this is exactly the time when the American people need to hear from the person who in approximately 40 days will be responsible for dealing with this mess,” said Obama. “Part of the president’s job is to deal with more than one thing at once.”

The lines now formally drawn, we wait to see which side blinks first. It’s the sort of political staring contest that so rarely happens these days in politics because the stakes are simply too high…

And the question:

…we want to hear from you on whether Obama, McCain or neither will blink first in this current showdown, and, as importantly, why.

Never one to back down from a challenge, I thought I’d answer here on thinkPOP. In hopes that one day, our lowly little blog can aspire to the heights of the beloved Fix. On to the answer!

I don’t see this as a presidential staring content. McCain has already given himself a mighty big out. His camp has basically said that McCain won’t miss the Friday debate unless no legislative resolution has been reached by congress by Friday. Since most people in Washington seem to think a deal will be reached by then, McCain’s not risking much. 

Also, while McCain would love to play this as a presidential-looking move to executive power brokering in Washington, the truth is the cameras will be in Mississippi, and a thousand talking heads across the networks yammmering about Barack Obama standing ready to speak to the American people is a net loss for McCain. It begs the question, if a candidate is in Washington to look presidential, but no networks are there to broadcast it, does he win any electoral votes?

I fully expect McCain to be there. The more interesting thing to me will be to see how the debate, which was supposed to be on foreign policy shifts in tone or content to accomodate what’s on everyone’s mind…the economy. Also, leading into the debate (and possibly during) can McCain’s spin that he wanted to go back to Washington to solve this problem beat Obama’s spin that a President should be able to do two things at once.

Obama: Hell no, debate is a go!

In a decidedly forceful statement, he wants a debate and he wants it as scheduled. From the NY Times Caucus Blog: 

“It’s my belief that this is exactly the time when the American people need to hear from the person who in approximately 40 days will be responsible for dealing with this mess,” Mr. Obama told reporters here Wednesday afternoon. “It is going to be part of the president’s job to deal with more than one thing at once.”

“There are times for politics and then there are times to rise above and do what’s right,” Mr. Obama said. He added, “If I can be helpful, then I’m prepared to be anywhere anytime. What I think is important, though, is that we don’t suddenly infuse Capitol Hill with presidential politics.”

Obama’s assertion that presidents should be expected to do more than one thing at a time, was a deliberate swipe and McCain’s grab at looking more “presidential.” It was a clear forceful statement justifying debate at this moment. 

I’ll be interested to see if Jim Lehrer and the Presidential Debate Council alter the planned topic to conform with public interest this close to the debate.

McCain Seeks to Delay debate

The Washington Post reports Senator John McCain is asking to delay Friday’s national foreign policy debate so he and Senator Barack Obama can head to Washington and attempt to solve the legislative deadlock between the executive branch and congress.  Its a brilliant stroke and a political trap. If Obama says yes, then he is playing into McCain’s attempt to look presidential on the economy. If he says no, then McCain can say Obama would rather be talking about solutions than actually creating them. McCain’s announcement is curiously timed, as President Bush is issuing a statement tonight on the subject. If this is in lockstep with the White House it would be a glorious political coupe, but I doubt it’s that coordinated.  So is this a genuine move for leadership or a political ploy? How should Obama respond?