Saturday, September 27, 2008

Obama vs McCain: liveblogging the debate

In my current state of post-pub tiredness I'm not completely sure whether the debate is starting at 2 or 3am our time. If it's 2, I'll probably watch and try to liveblog it. If 3, then thank you and goodnight.

Game on! I guarantee typos...

here they are! the moderator, whose name escapes me alreayd and whom I'll call Mod, likes the sound of his own voice.

he's called jim. score one to BO already. it's going to mainly be about foreign affairs (that's us) but they're starting off with the whole economy thing.

BO sounding passably 'i-know-about-economic-policy'. aiming for authoritative. kinda getting there. sneaks in a pop about JM's philosophy being to blame.
JM opens with concern about ted kennedy being ill. tlaking pretty slowly, downbeat. trying to sound casual. kinda succeeding.
Neither of them has really said much that i can discern.

JM is blinking a lot.
BO keeps glancing at the camera rather than jim.

JM also apparently warned about corporate greed.
Jim wants them to say whether they support the bailout deal. they're hedging, probably as the deal's not fully fleshed out.
Now jim wants them to tlak to each other rather than make their critical points thoruhg addressing him. it's a bit like an unhappily married couple, asking their son to ask the other parent to pass the salt.

JM has a "fundamental belief". they both think reforms are needed. JM wants less spending. he makes a joke about studying the DNA of bears in Montana. nobody notices. he says he has a pen here to veto bills with but that it's quite old. hmm. anyhting else quite old?

BO says that $300bn is more important than $18bn and that JM's tax cuts would leave people out.
it's funny - JM seems both more hesitant and more self-assured, if that makes sense.
JM mentions some nickname he reckons he used to have. he alone chuckles. he wants to clean things up.
I'm going to slow down a bit. there's more than an hour of this to go. so far deathly dull.

they're having a go at each other's tax plans. BO is not, i think, successfully dumbing himself down. making too much effort to explain things. both staying pretty calm (ie flat) though. JM is looking tired.

BO mentions that China has just had "a space launch and a space walk - we have to make sure our children are keeping pace". huh? oh, he's segueing into soemthing about edukashun.
JM says there was a bad defence contract signed a while back: "we fixed it and we killed it". both?
feels a bit like a cross between chunks of their standard spiels plus semi-random job interview type anecdotes about 'a time when you showed leadership/teamwork/initiative...'

JM wants (pretty much) a spending freeze. except on veterans. he doesn't declare an interest. BO says this is "a hatchet when we need a scalpel".
JM is bigging up nuclear power. arnie vinick, anyone?

onto iraq. JM says he was right all along about strategy. BO says they should have finished the job in afghanistan. JM much more fluent on this.
minor point-scoring off each other.
now BO getting a bit feisty for the first time - JM was wrong about all sorts of things. says the troop surge was a tactic borne out of serial failure
JM giving personal tales of soldiers. says BO doesn't know the difference between a tactic and a strategy.
BO "I absolutely understand the difference between tactics and strategy" - not sure it was wise to say that. bit defensive.

just relaised - both of them hesitate in their speaking here and there - who wouldn't? - but BO's faster, more energised style of speech makes it seem more jerky when he does it than when JM, talking more slowly, does the same.

JM derides BO's suggestion that he might attakc pakistan. BO says that would only be if they needed to hit bin laden. says that warnings about intemperate speech are a bit rich coming from the man who sung a song about bombing iran ('bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb iran' to the tune of 'barbara ann').

JM says he's been voting on military deployments since years ago. he got a bracelet from a dead soldier's grieving mother, and he's honouring the sacrifice.
BO says he has such a bracelet too.
neither of them shows their bracelet.

iran. JM is talking about nukes and existential threats. maybe it's just my being tired but this all seems sooooooooo dull.
JM wants sanctions. BO wants to talk to iran. JM is scornful that BO wants to talk to ahmadinejad, but fluffs the pronunciation. probably why he doesn't want to talk to the guy. oh no, it's about legitimising him by sitting down together. but BO reckons it's worth moving towards trying it. JM ridicules this.

russia. blah blah blah.
BO sounding more assured than he has so far. saying pretty standard stuff though.
JM: "I looked into Mr Putin's eyes and i saw three letters: K, G, B." cute - distances him from bush.
oh god, he's off on another of his travel anecdotes. saying lots of foreign names - well, he must know his stuff.

will there be another 9/11?
JM thinks it's less likely than it was. but we need to have better intelligence and not torture people. and tighter borders.
BO thinks they're safer in some ways. but we need to guard stuff. suitcase bombs are a worry so we need to stop nuclear proliferation. and stop al-qaeda. and restore america's standing in the world.

blather. and it's over.
overall impression:
I saw no notable gaffes, no significant hits inflicted. it never really came to life as a debate. BO had more better lines and spoke with more force, but in terms of overall impression JM seemed surer of his case. neither of them said anything particularly interesting. i'd say either a draw or a narrow edge for JM, but i doubt it's going to change too many minds.

thank you and goodnight.

I am awake again. A couple of instant polls lean toward Obama:

An immediate telephone poll by CNN and Opinion Research Corp found 51% said Mr Obama had won, to 38% for Mr McCain.
A poll of uncommitted voters by CBS News found that 39% gave Mr Obama victory, 25% thought John McCain had won, and 36% thought it was a draw.


Matt M said...

I tried watching it just now on the BBC website, but gave up after about twenty minutes. The presence of a moderator seemed to suck all the energy out of it - as the candidates directed their speeches at him rather than each other, making it far less confrontational than it could've been. I can't help but wonder how they'd come across in a more face-to-face PMQs style debate.

Cassilis said...

My apologies for not staying up after promising to.

I've caught up with most of it now and I'm glad I didn't deprive myself of sleep for it - these debates are rarely live up to the hype & anticipation and I agree with Matt that the moderator and rigid rules get in the way...

Give me Vinnick & Santos anyday....

Cassilis said...
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