I succumbed and watched this one..from start to finish. And was pleasantly surprised. This one, of the 200 or so “debates” so far, actually hewed closer to the ideal format in which the candidates would be free to ask each other questions and argue.
Bob Schieffer of CBS moderated the debate. Before the event, lefty bloggers raised some doubts about his sense of fairness, since he has been on record praising McCain to the heavens. But Bob Schieffer lived up to his stellar reputation as a journalist and directed the conversation wisely, mostly staying out of the debate and blending in with the wallpaper.
The early minutes of the debate were harrowing for me as an Obama supporter. McCain went aggressively on the attack, and the stupid CNN audience meter went too high for my comfort. “Why doesn’t Obama attack,” I vented in frustration, pacing around the room. The blood pressure went down as the debate progressed. Obama opted to stay above the fray the entire time, forbearing from pointing fingers at Senator McCain’s record even as the opportunities passed him by. Perhaps he was just running out the clock, given that he is leading his opponent in the polls by an average of 6-7 points. Or perhaps that is his natural temperament, calm and unflappable and unwilling to engage in mud-slinging.
As time went by and the debate settled down to familiar territory of talking points, it became obvious that the split screen display is horribly disadvantageous to Senator McCain, who rolled his eyes, sighed audibly ,grinned uncomfortably and managed to look like a jittery teenager when he was not talking.
My impression was that McCain won this debate, mainly because he went on the attack aggressively and happily delivered bare-faced lies without being challenged by his opponent. Imagine my surprise when every single snap poll after the debate gave the debate to Obama. Is the American electorate finally ready for a president who talks to them like an adult?
Oh, but we can’t forget Joe the plumber. Here is the video of the encounter that Senator Obama had with Joe Wurzelbacher. Basically Joe complains that Obama’s tax plan will hurt him, as he makes more than $250000, and Obama tries to reassure him.
Early in the debate, John MccCain completely adopted Joe as the poster child for the middle class(and in his multi-million dollar environment, it probably is!) and from then on Obama and McCain pretty much spent 20 minutes talking to Joe ( contacted later, Mr. Wurzelbacher thought the whole experience of being referenced in a debate was surreal !) I suspect that we’ll be hearing more about Joe than any substantive policy issues in the next couple of days.
Anyway, thank God the debates are over. McCain attempted to attack, Obama played defense. It is probably not going to be a game changer, but the Teevee talking heads will be glad to have something to chew over for a while.
UPDATE: Oh the irony..it appears Joe the plumber is not registered to vote( at least in Ohio) h/t Politico
UPDATE 2: Apparently he is registered..his name is just spelt wrong on the electoral rolls. Voter registration snafu…. in Ohio! Who woulda thunk?