Debate #3 Live(ish) blogging

I know, I know, I’ve been extremely delinquent of late. I’ve been trying to operate on the time-honored principle of if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all … and you can see how THAT’S turning out. Fortunately for you, my class tonight had completely blown off their assignment for today, not the first time they’ve been remiss in preparation, so I lectured them about taking their classes more seriously, gave them some additional homework, and sent them home. Hence: I can watch the debate in (almost) real time – I just have to wait for Mr. Squab to finish putting the Hatchling down and then we’ll crank up Mr. Tivo. Not that I’m expecting any major surprises tonight, but then McCain has gotta be feeling pretty desperate at this point, so you never know.

I like Bob Schieffer. I bet he’s a good Grandpa. Just sayin’.

Well, McCain definitely looks more comfortable tonight than he did at the last debate, but he still isn’t really SAYING anything (or, in fact, he’s saying nonsense: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac did NOT cause the current economic situation). Whereas Obama is being nice and specific, as usual.

Is it just me, or is McCain’s “Joe the Plumber” story coming out of nowhere? Obama: “[Joe’s] been watching some ads of Senator McCain’s.” Nice. Way to not be derailed.

McCain says “spread the wealth around” like it’s a bad thing. Like we’re all gonna be, like, “ooh, COMMIE.” How does he not get that for the vast majority of the public, that sounds like a great idea?

John McCain is going to use a hatchet AND a scalpel. Now there’s an image from my nightmares. Fuck. Again with the damn projector? I think candidates should only be allowed to use any given metaphor/anecdote in ONE debate. Come up with some new material.

Ooh, McCain is getting all feisty. “I’m not Bush.” Unfortunately, this just makes him look more like Grandpa Simpson, not more like a President.

I love how McCain keeps saying that it’s clear that he’s gone against his own party, as if just saying it will make it so. Maybe he thinks he’s a magician!

OK, Schieffer just gave McGrumpy a huge opening to bring up Ayers and ACORN and all … and instead he’s basically saying that, um, his campaign has gone incredibly negative because … Obama wouldn’t agree to ten town hall meetings? Jigga-who? Obama, of course, can take the high ground here, since of course he hasn’t gone anywhere NEAR as negative as McCain. I wish Schieffer would say something here about the difference between Obama’s negative ads, which are going after McCain’s policies, and McCain’s negative ads, which are straight-out ad hominem attacks.

YES! Obama finally calls McCain/Palin out on their freaky, freaky rallies. People that McCain is, apparently, “proud” of. Sheesh.

OK, McC is bringing up Ayers and ACORN … in the same sentence. As a response to Obama’s calling for more civilized discourse. Keep it classy, McCain. This gives Obama the opening he’s been looking for to set the record straight, which he does with a nice, steady, detailed answer.

Interesting question about running mates. I wish Obama would take the opportunity to take a dig at Palin, but of course he won’t. McCain: Palin will be a good president because she understands special needs children “better than any American I know.” I’m sorry, WHAT?!?! Schieffer gives Obama a big opening to slam Palin, and he turns it into a comment on the need for increased spending for issues like autism, which McCain/Palin’s spending freeze would deny. Nice.

Is it just me, or is McCain all over the place in this debate? He’s jumping around so much with every answer it’s impossible to keep track of what he’s actually trying to say. He just went from NAFTA, to Colombia, to the drug war, to Obama’s travel plans in the space of about 30 seconds. And now Obama is Herbert Hoover. WTF?

Obama is doing a nice job giving a concise explanation of his health care plan. McCain … not so much. Fuck. Joe the Plumber again? This is an area where Obama just wipes the floor with McCain’s ass. He clearly is so much more knowledgable about this than McCain, not to mention that McCain’s plan is almost universally acknowledged to SUCK.

McCain says the average cost of a healthcare plan is $5800. Quoth Kevin Drum: “The average cost of a healthcare plan is $5,800? Maybe for an individual it is, but McCain’s $5,000 tax credit is for an entire family.” Good point.

I gotta give Schieffer credit; he’s asking some good questions and really following up. Much better than the previous two debates in my book.

McCain just said he would never and has never applied a “litmus test” for the appointment of a Supreme Court Justice. ORLY? Ezra finds evidence to the contrary.

Thank GOD Obama is coming out so strongly in favor of Roe v. Wade. He certainly hasn’t always been so clear about this, and I’m glad to hear he’s realized that this is an important issue for lots of us voters. Also GREAT nod to Ledbetter. That’s one that McCain should be grilled on at every opportunity. Interesting: When McCain talks about his prolife stance, the CNN graph shows “undecided” women with a very negative response and “undecided” men with a very positive response. I guess we know who McCain is speaking to. (Obama, meanwhile, gets high marks from both groups.)

McCain on education: Throwing money at the problem is not the answer. You will find that some of the worst schools in the country have the most money. (paraphrasing) Me: WHERE? WHERE will you find that? Give me ONE example of a school district with a lot of money and terrible outcomes! Meanwhile, I’m not totally thrilled with the Obama campaign’s apparent decision that it’s OK to diss teacher’s unions … But at least he’s not stumping for vouchers, for chrissakes.

Apparently McCain thinks that Down syndrome and autism are the same thing. Someone should really disabuse him of that notion.

Wrap-up: Neither candidate really blew me out of the water tonight, but overall I gotta call this one for Obama. McCain certainly brought the crank-ass, but his comments were largely incoherent and he seemed much more focused on getting out jabs at Obama than in presenting himself as a compelling candidate for the presidency. Obama, meanwhile, stayed substantive, coherent, and respectful. He didn’t have any explosive or game-changing moments, but then he really didn’t need them: the game is going his way, so he just had to make sure nothing derailed that. And I think he succeeded.

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