Saturday, September 27, 2008

Debate #1

I think McCain did reasonably well to be honest, no major screwups.

He was really shaky during the first forty minutes or so, rambling on about spending and earmarks, and showing very little understanding of the root causes of the financial crisis. And he's very vulnerable on the corporate tax cut issue.

On foreign policy, I think McCain scored whenever he referenced his long career and experience travelling the world and meeting foreign dignitaries, but Obama delivered a strong defense of negotiating with hostile states, and my personal favorite moment of the entire debate was when he outlined the many predictions that McCain got entirely wrong on Iraq (my second favorite was when he ridiculed McCain's refusal to say he'd meet with Spain's prime minister).

On temperament, I think Obama won easily; he was cool and collected through the entire thing, while McCain was often irritated and often seemed to be barely containing his rage while Obama was talking.

It's been said that McCain really doesn't like Obama personally, and (like Hillary) views him as an inexperienced upstart who shouldn't even be on the same stage as him, and I think some of this came through tonight, as McCain often seemed condescending (apparently he couldn't bring himself to even look at Obama). I honestly don't know how voters will react to it.

I guess it's a win for McCain in that, after the chaos and craziness of the last few days, he at least assured voters that he hasn't totally lost his mind. But if all Obama needed to do was demonstrate competence on these issues for the benefit of undecided voters, it was a very good night for him.

(Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Associated Press)

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