Patterico's Pontifications


Exceeding Debate Expectations

Filed under: 2008 Election — DRJ @ 6:52 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

It’s worth remembering that last night’s debate was supposed to be about foreign policy and national security, an area that is considered to be McCain’s strength, but a third of the conversation focused on domestic economic questions.

For that we can thank Jim Lehrer and his expanded debate definition, apparently for this one debate only, that foreign policy and national security includes any question about the global/US economy. [NOTE: To all who claim that because the US economy is so big, anything we do affects the rest of the world and that makes the US economy a foreign policy matter … I agree, at least in principle. And if that’s your criteria for these debates then I expect several questions in the domestic policy debate about foreign affairs, since anything we do affects the rest of the world. Of course, that won’t happen and that’s why last night’s debate was unfair to McCain. C’est la vie.]

Therefore, when pundits say Obama was generally competitive with McCain on foreign policy and thus he exceeded expectations so he won, keep in mind that some of that debate also included questions on the economy and voters view that topic as Obama’s strength.

Similarly, keep in mind that McCain was generally competitive with Obama on the economy and thus he exceeded expectations so he won, too. Confused? Me, too, but perhaps that’s one of many reasons why the polls and pundits are all over the place on this debate.

What I do know is that the Vice Presidential debate will be Thursday, October 2, at Washington University in St. Louis, MO. The moderator is PBS’s Gwen Ifill and the debate will cover domestic and foreign policy.


26 Responses to “Exceeding Debate Expectations”

  1. McCain said he wanted accountability in Washington. SO do I. I want a floor vote on the bailout so that if the economy goes south we know who to blame. If there is no floor vote, then we should blame Pelosi and Reid for their failure to hold Congress accountable.

    MartyH (928d75)

  2. From Chicagoans Against Obama.

    First Presidential Debate on September 26, 2008 Breakdown:

    McCain = Statesman
    Obama = Political Science Professor

    McCain = Leader of Action
    Obama = Ponderer of Action

    McCain = Man of Humility
    Obama = Man of Arrogance

    McCain = Reformer, Agent of Change For The People
    Obama = Corrupter, Agent of The Fat Cat “Old Boys Club”

    McCain = Quietly Accomplishes Great Things
    Obama = Boisterously Takes Credit For Others Work

    McCain = Service To The Country
    Obama = Service To Self

    McCain = As POTUS will bring the US out of Economic Crises
    Obama = Demise of the USA

    … For Obama, There’s no place like home.

    Vermont Neighbor (a066ed)

  3. My own impression was that each one spewed out their campaign talking points whenever they opened their mouth, and that it was both boring and (to me) a draw. McCain lost a few points because he was rude, or at least unpleasant, to Obama, whenever possible. Obama lost a few points because he acted rather wimpishly in response to McCain’s rudeness.
    So that evened out all around.

    Of the two people who referred to the debate in my presence today–one, a relatively non political type(second generation Hispanic originally from New York), found it so boring he fell asleep in the middle; the other was anti-McCain before the debate, but thought it boring and that neither was clearly superior to the other last night. She’s looking forward to the VP debate solely for the entertainment value Gov. Palin might provide. (She has no respect for Palin. “If Katie Couric can make you look bad, you’re hopeless” were her exact words, and she went to paint Couric as the queen of softball questioning.)

    kishnevi (bd6c91)

  4. The Palin-Biden debate will be very important although expectations for Palin are low. If she does well, that will be very important. If she does poorly or it is a draw, the effect will be minimal. If she does very poorly, that will hurt McCain because it will reflect the MSM theme that she is unprepared.

    The bailout package will be important. I really think that the Republicans should not sign on if the bailout is bad.

    Mike K (155601)

  5. 2-If Obama is the man of arrogance and McCain is the man of humility, then why was Obama the only debatee willing to admit when he agreed with McCain?

    paul s (c313be)

  6. kish

    I’m really confused, where was McCain “rude”?

    He referred to Obama as “Senator Obama” while Barry tried the “John” thing to get under his skin. Barry continually tried to interrupt and step on McCain’s talking. Barry got visibly peeved and did the “finger” thing often.

    McCain was nervous at the start, but I thought he did well and finished very strong. My beefs with McCain is not calling O on his obvious lies (the missile defense thing was an obvious one, also the 95% tax cut).

    I think McCain was rather soft on O, considering that Ayers was never brought up and McCain only challenged one of the most liberal Senators in the Senate on that record and let O posture as a moderate throughout.

    Darleen (187edc)

  7. Darleen, he was, pretty much, rude to Obama for the entire 97 minutes of the debate. You can be rude in tone of voice and body language while still mouthing respectful phrases.

    kishnevi (bd6c91)

  8. Any hard attack on Barry would be countered as racist. So maybe JM had to step lightly. The matter of Ayers needs to be brought up.

    The Obama lies within the debate can be handled in upcoming McCain ads. Of course, that’s not a debate setting.

    I thought the stunt of calling him John was especially rude since this is a Senator who served his country and under extreme circumstances. It’s a generous stretch anyway to call Obama Senator. Almost a technicality when you look at his lack of accomplishments and the nonsense he pulled to win the seat.

    Vermont Neighbor (a066ed)

  9. I cointacted McCain, my two Senators and Congressman requesting a floor vote on the bailout prior to a market meltdown so we know who to hold accountable. If there’s no floor vote before a meltdown, then I will blame Pelosi and Reid. They hold the majority, it’s their job to lead.

    MartyH (928d75)

  10. I am not a big fan of addressing one’s betters by their first names either, but I can understand the tactical reasoning behind Obama’s referring to McCain as “John.” I think it is an attempt to suggest to the voting public that he, Obama, is a peer of McCain, not some sort of upstart snot-nosed kid from Chicago ward politics who is way out of his league. I also have a feeling that lefties like the whole informality thing better than conservatives do. I remember all of my classmates’ hippy parents would have us address them by their first names, even when we were in grade school. My parents always had my friends address them as “Mr. ____” and “Mrs. ____.”

    JVW (75c535)

  11. I don’t know if I would call it “rude” as much as disrespectful or dismissive. McCain’s opinion of Obama is, “You just don’t understand”. That is more polite, I guess, than saying you’re an outright liar.

    SNL just had a spoof on the debate. Among things I found too true and interesting:
    Obama had special tax provisions for Chicago city workers.
    There was the questioning of the amount of money earmarked for “Tony Rezko Hush Money”
    When Obama criticized McCain for supporting Bush “McCain” replied, “Support Bush? I undercut him every chance I could get, that’s why I’m not liked by Repubs., they know they can’t count on me when they need me most”.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  12. Typical Vermont Neighbor – sitting on the fence again :)

    EricPWJohnson (c00a5d)

  13. Debates are meaningless nothing but a bunch of bs questions that no one gives a direct answer to. Can anyone please list Obama’s achievements. I don’t think I have heard of anything of significance that he has ever done.

    Bigjohnson (096976)

  14. JVW, those are good points. It makes him sound more or less equal. I just keep hearing Hill and Bill, always referring to him as Senator Obama. Everyone does, except the quickie blog ads that play up his first name.

    Eric, I guess I need to be nice to Obama. I’m really never nice to the guy. I’ll send Michelle some fresh fruit in the morning! I know they want my vote but I’m afraid it ain’t gonna happen.

    Vermont Neighbor (a066ed)

  15. JVW, I forgot to add… Maybe winning over Undecideds, who will view the matter as totally okay… or potentially disrespectful.

    Vermont Neighbor (a066ed)

  16. I’m not going to watch Thursday. I can’t take it–it’s like watching the ice skating finals in the Olympics dreading someone will fall.

    Hope the handlers let Sarah be Sarah!!

    Patricia (ee5c9d)

  17. Philly MD: I thought SNL didn’t do too bad in providing a little balance in that debate sketch – and it still managed to have some humor. Although I am dead set against the nude debates – particularily in HD!

    The Palin/Biden debates definitely has the best entertainment potential of them all, with a virtual gaffe machine on one side and on the other the great unknown…

    Bob Loblaw (6d485c)

  18. You can be rude in tone of voice and body language while still mouthing respectful phrases.

    Specifics, kish. See, I can point to Barry’s attempts at interruption and stomping over McCain’s answers. It was Barry doing the finger thing. Give me a specific of “rude” body language.

    I watched it and I didn’t see McCain walk over and deck him, no matter how much Barry was trying to figure out a way to needle him.

    McCain looking towards Lehrer the whole time? Well this wasn’t a townhall meeting, so why pretend to the audience it was anything other than a dual interview with Lehrer?

    Darleen (187edc)

  19. “McCain looking towards Lehrer the whole time? Well this wasn’t a townhall meeting, so why pretend to the audience it was anything other than a dual interview with Lehrer?”

    They were supposed to address their responses to Lehrer.

    davod (bce08f)

  20. Darleen, I think it was very rude of McCain not to stop talking when Obama was interrupting.

    Xrlq (62cad4)

  21. Give me a specific of “rude” body language.

    Did you see how he kept sighing and rolling his eyes? No wait, that was Al Gore. I’m not seeing it either. maverick showed some frustration at times but less so than Baracky.

    Darleen, I think it was very rude of McCain not to stop talking when Obama was interrupting.

    That’s true. It almost looked like he wanted to hit Baracky in the fist with his face. He’s such a meanie.

    Pablo (99243e)

  22. Putting a little historical context to the dabate and the campaign in general. This is very much like the 76 election where the republican brand was so desimated by the nixon administration. Ford the obviously more qualified candidate, and moderate lost to Carter, though Carter did not seem quite so niave and liberal on the campaign trail. Again, we have a very liberal candidate with no obvious accomplishments that is currently leading in the pols primarily due to bad republican brand.

    Joe - Dallas (d7c430)

  23. I fault McCain for not looking at Obama, at least when Obama was speaking. It made McCain look uninterested. Both candidates should have looked at and addressed each other, as the debate format was intended for them to have a discussion.

    I fault Obama for referring to McCain as “John.” In a formal setting, he showed a lack of respect. It was very grating on my ears … moreso than his constant stuttering.

    aunursa (5daa82)

  24. I don’t mind the constant stuttering or verbal tics. It does show a stretch for answers, and some of the answers are pretty terrifying. But everyone seems to want perfection in delivery. The usual victims aren’t as bad as their critics say: Gore, Quayle, Barry, Palin (recent-), Hillary… The usual idols aren’t as awesome as purported: Barry. He actually sounds like a Care Bear to me.

    Between pols, it’s the non-verbal cues that make an impression, such as scratching with the middle finger (at Hillary).

    Vermont Neighbor (a066ed)

  25. DRJ–

    Does this mean that other countries affect Interstate Commerce and we can regulate them?

    Kevin Murphy (0b2493)

  26. Darleen, he was, pretty much, rude to Obama for the entire 97 minutes of the debate. You can be rude in tone of voice and body language while still mouthing respectful phrases.

    Not enough bowing, scraping, and fawning, right?

    Rob Crawford (b5d1c2)

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