Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Afterthoughts on the Second Presidential Debate

Two men, one debate, and one blog post from me on the debate.

- Did Barack Obama answer more than 2 or 3 questions directly? From the opening question to the last question, I noticed he talked a lot, but rarely addressed the question asked of him. This made him look defensive. And the fact that he used every question to launch into a pre-programmed talking point from a stump speech made him look like he was afraid to think on his feet. You might be able to get away with changing the questions in Toastmasters, but in a Presidential debate, you actually need to talk about the subjects presented.

- The town hall format worked in John McCain's benefit. From the outset, he got up, walked over near the person who asked the question (when it wasn't someone from online), and talked to them. Obama didn't initially, but then did it after McCain did. From a public speaking standpoint, such a move made McCain seem more interested in the audience, like he was trying to make a personal connection with them. His tone of voice also aided this. While Obama was talking at the audience, McCain was talking to the audience.

- For the most part, Tom Brokaw kept a tight leash on the candidates, letting them talk and reminding them of the rules. And when Brokaw showed a little leniency to Obama by letting him respond to one of McCain's responses, he showed leniency to McCain to allow him time to respond to Obama's response. Gwen Ifill could learn a thing or fifty on debate moderation from Brokaw.

- Speaking of rules, did you notice the number of times Obama wanted to break the rules of the debate by asking to respond to McCain's statements? The candidates agreed to the rules, and after being admonished a couple of times for going over, McCain really tried to follow the rules, but Obama didn't. And, rightly so, Obama got shut down most of the time. Not a good sign for Obama.

- Obama made some big blunders last night, but one of the biggest ones was focusing so much on George W. Bush. By focusing on the past, he allowed himself to be mired in the past without giving much time to talk about what he was going to do to fix the situations he blamed on Bush. As easy as it is for Leftists to do, not everything can be blamed on George W. Bush. You guys were just as guilty as Bush, if not more so on economic issues.

- Once again, Obama tried to paint the subprime mortgage and bank failures on the lack of regulation promoted by President Bush. But we've seen the facts, and the lack of regulation was promoted by Democrats like Barney Frank, Maxine Waters, and others. And who called for tighter controls on Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae? George W. Bush and John McCain. So, Senator, just how is it Bush's fault that the Democrats in Congress rejected regulation?

- Just where are the news networks finding these "independent voters" they poll after the debates? Many of them gave the nod to Obama as winning the debate because they felt he answered the questions. The only way you could make that statement is if you weren't paying attention or if you were in the tank for Obama.

- I listened to Sean Hannity and a number of conservative friends of mine about how McCain needed a knockout punch last night in order to win, but that's not quite right. Remember, there is one more debate, and if McCain went out loaded for bear in this debate, what would he do for the third debate? Repeating the same lines from the previous debate won't help him win, as we saw from Obama. Instead, I think McCain's using Muhammad Ali's "rope-a-dope" strategy, letting Obama hit McCain for a while before McCain gets started. This strategy seems to work because Obama's first two debates have been weak, so he didn't land too many rhetorical punches before getting tired. This leaves McCain with an opportunity to not just nail Obama on his plans, but to introduce a primary campaign concept: Obama's judgment is not good for the country.

As far as who I gave the nod to, this one was easy. John McCain ran away with the debate. He put Barack Obama on the defensive from the outset and Obama floundered as a result. This was not Obama's best showing, and we'll see whether it hurts him in the polls. By my scorecard, the Obama/Biden ticket is 0 for 3 in debates, which means the media will have to figure out a way to turn an embarrassing loss into a near victory before the next debate.

Three down, one to go.

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