September 26, 2008

Obama Implodes in Debate

The McCain camp didn't have to wait until the end of the debate to make a commercial:

Frankly, I think everyone, right and left, was expecting something far different than we saw here tonight.

Barack Obama, credited with being a great public speaker, stuttered frequently, interrupted McCain constantly, and got heated on several occasions. He was on the defensive, got visibly angry at least once, and just wasn't on his game.

I think Obama was expected to win, and McCain had him on his heels time and again.

John McCain won tonight, but in doing so, all he did was do was expected. Barack Obama simply came apart under the pressure, and it was not pretty for any of us who watched it.

If he can't handle a simple debate without falling apart, how is he going to handle a Presidency?

Update: I was reading and commenting at Ace's place during his liveblog, and several people noticed early in the debate that John McCain got inside Barack Obama's OODA loop.


Then Observe.

Then Observe...

Read Whittle for a full understanding of just how powerful this is, but let's be very clear in what occurred: John McCain out-thought Barack Obama early on, and increased that throughout the debate.

I don't pretend to know if John McCain is smarter than Barack Obama, but in their first head-to-head, it was clear that thinks faster on his feet.

Looking back through the campaign season at the various "3 A.M." moments and the candidate's reactions, this doesn't appear to be an isolated event.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at September 26, 2008 09:36 PM

The story will be about Obama resolve and McCain stoicism.

Posted by: ccoffer at September 26, 2008 09:52 PM

Bob, I couldn't watch it cause I had to work but I checked out Powerline and those guys think that at best McCain got a draw. They seem to think Obama pretty much won, especially at the beginning.

Posted by: Capitalist Infidel at September 26, 2008 10:13 PM

That's what I saw too --- but I have the feeling most Democrats saw Obama doing briliantly. So, the question is what did the undecided voters see?

Posted by: Clint at September 26, 2008 10:13 PM

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

I though McCain controlled the issues on the economy a bit better than Obama but the opposite is true in foreign policy. Obama looked more focused. McCain told stories and regurgitated oft heard sound bites. Still, I don't think either can claim a victory over the other. Both did well. The problem for McCain is he is connected to Bush and is behind in the polls. McCain needed a win. Obama only had to hold his own. Obama did that easily. As a side note, McCain's demeanor was a bit condescending and it just didn't go over well. Obama was more likable.

Posted by: algionfriddo at September 26, 2008 10:27 PM

Who expected Obama to win? Foreign policy is the debate where the Democrat is expected to lose, and effectively "wins" if he doesn't screw the pooch.

Posted by: Xrlq at September 26, 2008 10:32 PM

mccain should have gone for bo's throat...

the lesson from this debate: if you throw an attack at obama, his first instinct is to 'flinch' and then obssess-then try and lawyer his way out. most of the attacks were weak, which was lucky for the messiah.

had mccain gone with the money taken by obama from fannie mae, he would have never recovered. The scab will remain fresh for later debates.

mac needs to go with some stronger stuff. don't worry about being seen as mean, the tradeoff of crushing barry for the rest of the debate would make it worth it.

Posted by: paul at September 26, 2008 10:32 PM

The real drama was when McCain was talking Obama was reacting like a kid in grade school, grimacing, making faces and at least once got angry. Obama was calling McCain everything but John. I think that was a ploy to get McCain angry and to react badly. Ploy backfired.

Posted by: Tonto (USA) at September 26, 2008 10:33 PM


McCain's still too nice to go after his opponent's throat. He's an inside-the-beltway guy, and still believes that Democrats will play fair.
The VP debate will be interesting.

Posted by: Trish at September 26, 2008 10:43 PM

Unfortunately, Schmidt's inside Palin's OODA loop. Any ideas on that one?

Posted by: David Warner at September 26, 2008 10:44 PM

I must have watched a different debate- I had decided within the first 30 minutes that McCain had just lost the election. He didn't seem to respond to Obama's points, even when he could have effectively refuted them.
I like McCain, and I'll vote for him, but if I didn't already know a lot about the issues discussed, I think I would be pretty impressed with Obama. I think he came across well tonight, and made his policies sound much more mainstream than I believe they really are.

Posted by: JeanE at September 26, 2008 10:46 PM

"McCain's still too nice to go after his opponent's throat. He's an inside-the-beltway guy, and still believes that Democrats will play fair."

It's crazy, but you are right. No one could stick a knife in somebody and smile like Reagan. Expecting any partisan fire from a guy who probably puts his pant legs on at the same time is too much.

I guess he'll still do...

Posted by: paul at September 26, 2008 10:56 PM

In my viewing, both candidates did a decent job. I give the overall "win" to McCain, but unfortunately for him all Obama had to do was not screw up and that he did. Net effect, IMO, is that Obama retains his lead going into the remaining debates (which are more favorable to him).

Posted by: Emilio Cerra at September 26, 2008 10:58 PM

I ended up feeling more comfortable with McCain. Hard to explain. With Obama, I felt like I was back in college being forced to listen to a lecture I didn't find enjoy. I got the impression that Obama, bright as he is, still has a fairly naieve view of the way the world works.

Posted by: ian at September 26, 2008 11:06 PM

"No one could stick a knife in somebody and smile like Reagan."

Palin can. If her handlers let her run free, the VP debates are going to be beautiful. She can call Biden "Mr. Kinnock - opps, I mean Senator Biden" and turn on the 1000 watt smile, and Biden will come apart.

Posted by: Richard at September 26, 2008 11:11 PM

It's amazing to listen to the spin. I am a registered Independent who has voted Democrat all my life--until this election. I have seen this exact same scenario repeatedly: Clinton was commanding and clearly beat Obama in every debate. Then, the pundits and Obama chorus would start chanting about what a winner he was. The same thing is happening tonight. To me, McCain was the obvious leader, with a depth of knowledge and experience that Obama only pretends. Then I read this:

CNN just conducted an Opinion Research telephone poll. Obama beat McCain by big margins:

The debate: 52% to 38%
Iraq: 52% to 47%
Economy: 58% to 37%
[I tried to post the results here, but the comment won't go through because it must read as spam. The poll showed a clear win for BO. This is in NO WAY intended as a McCain slam--I am proudly voting for him and praying for an Obama loss. I have researched him thoroughly and very worried about him being elected. Unfortunately, the media bias and uninformed voters are a huge obstacle.]

I saw another "focus group" conducted by Luntz in Nevada (on FOX) of undecided voters. Obama won for them too. He was "understanding about the economy and the middle class." McCain was "antagonistic" and "talked too much about his history."

The world is upside down. If McCain does not win this election, the dumbing down of America has reached is nadir.

Posted by: fif at September 26, 2008 11:23 PM

You left out Obama's insufferable smirking and his Goron sighing and huffing!

Posted by: Democrats Are Fascists at September 26, 2008 11:31 PM


consider the source.

Incidentally, I'm a bit tired of these posts that say, "I'm a lifelong this who has always voted as this and now am going to vote as this but now there is this." It doesn't have the ring of truth.

Posted by: Trish at September 26, 2008 11:45 PM

Obama is NOT a great orator.

He just has a great voice. He has a perfect voice, in fact. The type of voice than makes female nipples beam out half an inch.

That is all he is, the perfect voice.

Posted by: Toad at September 26, 2008 11:45 PM


I am a lifelong Democrat, and I'm not supporting Obama. If you don't believe me, google my alias and see what I've written at Balloon Juice, Corrente, The Confluence, or just visit my blog.

Why would I come here to claim I'm not supporting Obama if I really was? To troll???

Posted by: myiq2xu at September 26, 2008 11:51 PM

I didn't say YOU weren't honest. I'm just tired of all the people saying such things, because so many times it isn't honest. It isn't even worth mentioning any more, and can work against you, because it sounds so phony.

Posted by: Trish at September 26, 2008 11:54 PM

Check out:

Jim Geraghty notes some meter he had to measure how Dems, Independents and Republicans reacted to various parts of the speech. Why do most of us not have this feature?

Posted by: somercet at September 27, 2008 12:51 AM

mccain did not win

he talked earmarks over and over and Obama didnt jump on Palin

on foreign affairs his experience didnt help him at all.

Posted by: nick at September 27, 2008 02:03 AM

It does seem like all too often the blogosphere only follows an OA loop:


Sometimes without even the "Observe" part.

That's what I saw too --- but I have the feeling most Democrats saw Obama doing briliantly.

They'd see him doing brilliantly if he dropped his pants and sprayed arugula juice all over the stage. We can't worry about what they see.

Posted by: Jim Treacher at September 27, 2008 02:13 AM

I think McCain clearly dominated. But, that does not mean he won. Very few people are genuinely undecided. They lean one way or the other, and they seek out those things with which they agree. They must be coaxed along, not ordered into line.

GW, God love him, is an abysmal public speaker (though I believe he has improved over time). Can we all, in honesty, agree on this? Both Gore and Kerry dominated him in the debates. But, they came across so personally unlikable, and downright weird, that they actually lost ground.

This is an important point to remember, those of you who think McCain should "get mean". Undecided voters do not share your antipathy to Obama, and will not suddenly have an epiphany and see things your way if McCain becomes overbearing. Tonight, he was a little edgy, but he kept his cool, and he didn't cross the line into unlikability. That is precisely how he needs to play it. There are more debates coming, more time to continue incrementally pushing the voters in his direction. He doesn't need to become the schizoid candidate from hell, like Gore and Kerry did, whipsawing between alternative personalities and ending up looking desperate and pathetic.

Posted by: Bart at September 27, 2008 02:51 AM

Listening to the MSM right after the debate and this morning, they came down pretty hard on McCain and thought Obama did very well. You would never know we watched the same debate. What's troublesome is that regular citizens watching MSM will take in this info and think Obama won. I also feel McCain is not hard enough on Obama, not jumping on him when Obama specifically said he wanted math and science programs when Obama clearly denied those programs funding when he was with CAC. That was annoying that McCain did not jump on that, or on Acorn and the fraud.

Posted by: Krystal at September 27, 2008 07:00 AM

McCain should have hammered Obama from the start over his and his party's connections to Fannie Mae and the other current massive failures.

Everything was in McCain's favor on this, but he let Obama talk about CEOs and failures of the Republicans under Bush to prevent this crisis.

Those were perfect opportunities for McCain.

Obama mentioned CEOs a few times -- McCain should have nailed him with the fact two former Fannie Mae big shots are advisers to Obama's campaign.

McCain pointed out he was for accountability and had taken heat for calling for the heads to roll in this crisis -- he should have added that if Obama knew this crisis was looming, why did he reward two of its prime players with spots on his team...

McCain should have tied this to his leading effort in campaign finance reform.

He should have pointed out how the Dems twice killed legislation targeting Fannie Mae by screaming that the Republicans were attacking poor people and affordable housing -- but now the whole country is being attacked by this crisis.

The media isn't going to dig into these items. McCain needed to get them out there in this first debate.

He didn't....

Posted by: usinkorea at September 27, 2008 07:55 AM

I came away from the debate thinking McCain got destroyed. The biggest concern now is the economy. McCain allowed Obama to pin the blame of the financial crisis 100% on the GOP and Bush. McCain didn't disagree one time. Thats what most Americans saw. John better wake up.

Posted by: Dennis D at September 27, 2008 08:06 AM

Occasional lurker, first time commenter (I think)- everyone keeps busting on McCain for not beating obie wan nobody around the jug ears for his complicity in fannie/freddy and the meltdown.

Uh, I thought this was a foreign policy debate? Yeah yeah yeah, dohbama got in a couple points re: the mortgage crisis, but on the whole he was a twitchy pouty doofus.

Think the next debate is economics, at which point McCain should do the obligatory beat down of this punk regarding the cash he took and so forth.

Relax, people- just because a troop of in the tank nimrods from the media say this mope won don't make it so. The wizard of uhs eats it- it's just a matter of time before enough people realize it and send him back to whining about asbestos.

Posted by: 2Brixshy at September 27, 2008 09:27 AM

From my perspective, McCain got a slow start but in all was more relaxed and likeable and obviously in possession of deep knowledge and experience of the world and politics. Obama sounded too rehearsed and still cannot answer with concise thoughts in a few sentences. Also, Obama has an unfortunate habit of seeming to lift his head up causing him to look down his nose and appear condescending.

As to content, the choice should be clear to the undecided and independent. Are they for big government, socialism, redistribution of wealth and Neville Chamberlin like dipolmacy. Given the young probably don't know enough history to understand this last statement I am wasting my words.

Posted by: loco36 at September 27, 2008 11:00 AM

OK - We knew what the MSM would say; a leopard doesn't change his spots, after all. I think Mac missed some great opps to slam Nobama, but that's what today's video review in the McCain camp will be about... how to improve, sharpen up the stick, bring it BIG at the next debate.

But here's what I want to know: WHO CHOSE THAT STRIPED TIE for him?? Don't they know small stripes like that get wavy and blurry on TV? Was he trying to hypnotize dims?

Please, next time, wear something more solid that has more contrast. I know this seems like a small thing, but with the bajillion ties available to men, surely there are better ones!

(Yes, I know there are larger issues here. Yes, I think he won last night. Yes, Nobama was a disrespectful, stuttering jacka$$. But you know he won on the tie...)

Anyone else share this opinion before everyone jumps on me for being too picky?

Posted by: crazed conservative at September 27, 2008 11:27 AM

Obama imploded himself all the way to victory.

We all know that great presidents don't pay any attention to polls, but they are the only meaningful measure of who won a debate.

And it seems that the polls show Obama to be a pretty clear winner.

I listened to the debate on the radio. When it was over, I thought McCain had done quite well. Then, I watched it. And I realized why the polls were in Obama's favor.

Posted by: Simon W. at September 27, 2008 11:38 AM

Baby Bomber vs post-Baby Boomer

Posted by: chris lee at September 27, 2008 11:40 AM

John McCain won tonight, but in doing so, all he did was do was expected. Barack Obama simply came apart under the pressure, and it was not pretty for any of us who watched it.

I am a proud Conservative and Republican, but I cannot handle BS. The lead of this thread is the same type of political spin that we see from the hacks on TV. McCain didn't destroy Obama. Obama didn't implode. It seems to have been close enough that some think it was a draw and others think one candidate did a bit better than the other. Lets not leave reality when we have this discussion.

Overall I was pretty happy with McCain's performance but one thing made me uncomfortable: a few anemic attacks. When he said that Obama tried to cut troop funding, that was week and Obama called him on it by explaining that both of them voted against funding when (1) there wasn't a timetable (obama) and (2) when there was a timetable (McCain). McCain can't give away his credibility so easily.

Posted by: Jon M. at September 27, 2008 12:56 PM

I'm not sure the video works, but that's just mho. The two men both agree that the house is on fire, but they vehemently disagree on how to put the flames out. I'd hardly call that an "implosion."

Posted by: Dan at September 27, 2008 01:38 PM

Mike(if that is your real name)--

What on earth are you talking about?

Posted by: Trish at September 27, 2008 02:35 PM

Whatever the pre-debate focus was supposed to be, the first series of questions and - what? - a third of the time, the first third, was spent on the crisis, and McCain did not strike as he should.

I don't think he did badly compared to Obama with the talk of taxes and whatnot - the economic discussion overall ---- but he SHOULD have nailed Obama and the Dems on Fannie Mae and the current crisis. That is what the country is scared about, and McCain's not mentioning his best points on that issue in rebuttal to the "Republican greed" idea that is common in the society Obama's camp has been selling --- was a blunder.

He's not mentioning it in the debate will weaken (to some extent at least) future references to it.

Posted by: usinkorea at September 27, 2008 02:54 PM

Boy, you Republicans are living in a dream world.

It doesn't matter what they said- Obama seemed like a president and McCain seemed like a bitter old man.

Your party has spent the last three decades teaching people to vote on the basis of comfort level, and it's about to come back to haunt you.

Posted by: Green Eagle at September 27, 2008 04:04 PM

If McCain doesn't win the dumbing down of America has reached its nadir....?

In case you aren't aware (which you are obviously not to make such a ridiculous statement) over half of the US AND THE REST OF THE WORLD THINK THE EXACT OPPOSITE - that's how in touch you are.

From a Brit - who worries with BILLIONS of people around the world that most of America will do the right thing for once - and keep that gun toting moron and his inarticulate cheerleader as far away from the white house

Posted by: John at September 27, 2008 04:57 PM

McCain lost the debate (very badly at that) right from the first question. He wants to be seen as the true agent of change, but failed to hammer the Dems on Fannie/Freddie and tout his own efforts. Hell, that was THE big gun in his arsenal and he never even drew it out of the holster, much less fired it. And he won't get a second chance.

He could have addressed the bailout bill, saying his return to DC was critical at a time when the Dems were porking up critical legislation.

If you guys think that repeating the same soundbites he's used over the last 2 years are gonna win him the election, you're wrong.

The election will hinge on the economy, and he let Obama walk all over him on that.

Posted by: XBradTC at September 27, 2008 05:13 PM
Posted by Mike at September 27, 2008 02:01 PM

Mike, you are supposed to put "as a concerned Christian conservative voter" before all of that. Weren't you listening to Axelrod?

sheesh, and they say Republicans are dumb....

Posted by: iconoclast at September 27, 2008 06:39 PM

XBradTC, . I think it was smart for McCain not to bring up Frannie/Freddie because his current campaign manager, Rick Davis, received $30,000 a month for 5 years (after McCain's presidency run in 2000. That is a lot worse then Obama getting support from to former executives of Freddie/Fannie.

You also say that McCain should have attacked Dems for proking up the bailout bill. When you saying porking do you mean putting in stipulations that CEOs of failed companies don't get golden parachutes paid for by tax payer money? Maybe you are are refering to Dems requiring that some of the money goes to help main street and people who are at risk of losing their homes and not just these financial giants.

Unfortunately it isn't the Dems who have been holding up the legislation the last few days. It has been house republicans. Negotiations between Republicans have deteriorated into shouting matches. Republicans these days are acting more like democrats. It is embarrassing.

Posted by: Brian at September 27, 2008 06:52 PM

Thanks for your input John. As an American who actually votes in this election and who frankly doesn't give a rat's ass what some smarmy know-it-all Brit jerkoff thinks about this country or its politics, save your clueless stereotyping for when you're at the pub with your rotting teeth soccer hooligan friends eating undercooked semi-food and listening to hideous bands like Oasis. Give us a call the next time you need gun toting Americans to go somewhere in the world to clean up the mess your country's colonial legacy has left festering in the globe like a jolly good sore!

Posted by: Jack Klompus at September 27, 2008 06:55 PM

If the rest of the world supports Obama, then Americans had better do the right thing (once more)and elect that "gun-toting moron and his inarticulate cheerleader." Anything else would be a disaster.
The leader of any nation is supposed to promote the interests of that nation. Any American president who puts the interests of BILLIONS of people around the world ahead of the interests of America is a bad president and a failure as a human being. And if you believe that American interests are in any way similar to European interests--that shows how completely out of touch with reality you are.

Posted by: Trish at September 27, 2008 07:17 PM


If the Republican congressional delegation are not cooperating with their democratic counterparts about the bailout , they may have a perfectly good reason to be uncooperative considering that a part of that 700 billion dollar bailout will be given to ACORN which is not a financial institution but an advocacy group . If we , the taxpayers will be billed for the stupidity of our elected officials and financial institutions , wouldn't it be fair to see why the republican congressmen and women are being stubborn about it .

Posted by: Will at September 27, 2008 07:22 PM


You are right that the Republicans might have good reasons for being uncooperative. However, you are incorrect in assuming the fight right now is between Republican congressmen and democrats. It is in-fighting between Republicans.

I brought up the point not because I disagree with the idea of making sure we end up with a bailout that makes sense, but because XBradTC said:

McCain "could have addressed the bailout bill, saying his return to DC was critical at a time when the Dems were porking up critical legislation."

As a Republican I find myself agreeing that CEOs of failed companies shouldn't get huge compensation packages and we should be looking to help middle-income tax payers too if we are going to help these big companies.

Posted by: Brian at September 27, 2008 07:35 PM

I think that maybe McCain was working on just being civil. Look at the sneaky stuff that Reid
and Obama and other democrats pulled on him at
the White House! Obama was the cause of the mess
in the White House meeting and Reid acted like he
wanted McCain there and then wants him to leave?
And I am sure Obama was in on it, why else did he
call McCain at that hour and say they need to do something!!! I would be mad and that is what they wanted out of McCain at the debate...

Posted by: Evie at September 27, 2008 07:43 PM

I cut out a stinging criticism of Brian until I read a couple of comments down.....then I realized the point of difference was different ----

The pork talked about isn't the CEO bailouts, its the 20% going to the very type of advocacy groups who helped lead the "affordable housing" euphoria that got the whole nation into this mess --- rich, middle class, working class, and poor....

Protect main street from losing their they bought they couldn't afford by getting loans at a time when government was pressuring banks to lend to them and liberal lawyers were suing them for not giving out enough.

THAT is what got us into this crisis. And it was a democrat-led effort.

Hint: Affordable Housing also means you should be able to afford it ---- if you can't, you lose it.....

Posted by: usinkorea at September 27, 2008 07:48 PM

Good point Brian

Posted by: Mike at September 27, 2008 08:33 PM


You've been reading Deepak Chopra again, haven't you?

Posted by: Trish at September 27, 2008 08:53 PM
You are right that the Republicans might have good reasons for being uncooperative. However, you are incorrect in assuming the fight right now is between Republican congressmen and democrats. It is in-fighting between Republicans.

you need to read up on the situation some more. The House Democrats need the House Republicans to provide some cover for their graft. House Republicans are, for some odd reason, finding enough spine to say no.

So tell your boys to vote in the package they like. No Republicans required.

Posted by: iconoclast at September 28, 2008 01:37 AM
McCain should have hammered Obama from the start over his and his party's connections to Fannie Mae and the other current massive failures.

That's best left for the next debate. Doing that while the negotiations were still in play could have screwed the House GOP out of getting the concessions they wanted. That said, there's plenty of evidence and plenty of information that is on the record which hangs this disaster around the neck of the Congressional Demorats and their cronies at Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac. Maveric should frame the basics of it and force Obama to respond to them. Then, he should refer viewers to go to his website where the "Burning Down the House" and other videos of Congressional hearings on the matter are made available.

McCain has a big, big hammer here and Obama has trapped himself with his "Final verdict on the failed economic policies of George Bush, which John McCain has supported" rhetoric. McCain needs to spike that back over the net and down his throat. If he fails to do so, then he's not all that interested in winning this thing or doing right by the American people.

Posted by: Pablo at September 28, 2008 10:18 AM

I would prefer having got the note out in the first debate since hitting early is often best. I can give space to Pablo's idea about needing enough good will with Dems right now for the deal...

Ultimately, it seems clear it is going to take a big effort by the McCain people and Republicans and blogs and talk radio and others to get this story out the way it should be out.

Rev. Wright should have taught us that the media is going to go to great lengths to protect Obama. Not only will they refuse to report a story - when it begins to gain too much attention among average voters despite their boycott -- they will quickly pump out messages of defense for Obama - defending him on the issue in a variety of ways.

And they won the Rev. Wright issue among the masses.

Time is short. Obama and the press can easily define the current crisis as a Republican one.

That is why I wish McCain had pulled the trigger.

The media is not going to bandwagon this.

This is not Clinton at the start of his lame duck period with the Lewinsky Scandal.

This is the media after two Republican Bush victories and 8 years of Dems not controlling the White House.

The media is now openly a progressive activist NGO.

Getting the word out has become very hard. Republicans need to start mentioning Obama's ties to Fannie Mae board members and the Dem nature of this crisis --- every time someone sticks a microphone in their face.

Posted by: usinkorea at September 28, 2008 12:51 PM


I do have to correct you on one thing.
Clinton was never a lame duck. A lame duck is a person who has LOST an election, but is serving out the remainder of his term. Clinton never lost a presidential election.
Remember this when the MSM start calling Bush a lame duck.

Posted by: Trish at September 28, 2008 10:10 PM

Bob - I notice an absence of 'teleprompter' jokes in your laughable review of Friday's debate. Funny - you had one in the post just below. Guess Obama can do okay without a teleprompter, eh?

Posted by: D. Aristophanes at September 29, 2008 12:38 AM