This series began during the endless debates of the primary season and was motivated by the question I ask every time:
"There are plenty of bloggers covering the debate live tonight, but is anyone covering the live bloggers? DWSUWF rushes in where other, more sensible bloggers, fear to tread. "We select a variety of bloggers from across the political spectrum, and live blog their live blog efforts. I don't know who we will include, but we will start with some bloggers we have used before, include Daily Kos, and Cynic's Party from the left, VodkaPundit or Ed Morrissey at HotAir, look to either David Weigel at Reason or the Atlantic's Megan McArdle for a libertarian point of view and 2008 Central, Ambivablog, or Donklephant as a centrist blog. As usual I will likely guess wrong about which blogs to monitor and will be scrambling for substitutes once things get started. Refresh your browsers for latest content once the debate is underway.
2008 Central.net: "The format: two podiums. Sections of the debate will include introductory statements of two minutes, followed by five minutes of debate between the candidates. It’s a really nice format."
Reason - David Weigel: "The first important thing to remember about John McCain and Barack Obama is that tonight will be the first time either has debated a truly credible opponent from another party. Barack Obama won his 2004 Senate race by slapping around Alan Keyes, who insisted on answering every policy question by screaming "Jesus! Jesus!" into the microphone. McCain has only sweated in one election, the 1992 Senate race that followed the Keating Five scandal, and in the end he trounced Democrat Claire Sargent by 25 points."
Cynics' Party: "Well, it’s T minus 55 minutes and counting until the first Presidential debate commences, and the big news is that John McCain has in fact decided to show up."
Ed Morrissey at Hot Air:"It’s going to be a busy evening for this blogger. In addition to live-blogging the first Presidential debate of the general election, I’ll make three radio appearances as well with good friends."
Andrew Sullivan at the Daily Dish: "Obama has to look presidential and make no obvious mistakes. I think all he needs at this point is to pass the commander-in-chief threshhold. Like Reagan had to in 1980. And then if it breaks, it probably breaks big - big enough, one hopes, to overcome the race-based five point margin that will always have to be subtracted from his total."
DWSUWF - The fish is going on the grill. Planked on cherry wood.
I Thought This Debate Was About Security?
Meagan McCardle @ The Atlantic: "Sudden switch to the economy, not surprisingly. My first thought is that I don't understand why the moderator is letting McCain and Obama talk about their budget proposal as if there is a snowball's chance in hell that they will be enacting any of these plans. They won't. The current crisis has blown any chance of big spending plans or tax cuts. Even without the bailout package, America's tax revenues are going to look pretty anemic next year. As goes Wall Street, so go income taxes."
Greg @ Cynics Party: "Lehrer starts with question on the economy. Obama gets to start to explain where he stands on it. It’s a defining moment in our history: we could have a president we like! Oh, no wait, that’s not what he meant. He meant that the economy is f*cked and that McCain is a bad choice. I’m just paraphrasing here."
2008 Central: "Funny moment: Obama refers to McCain saying the fundamentals of the economy are strong, and Lehrer makes him say it directly to McCain, who jokes that he could hear Obama the first time. McCain’s response: “We have fundamental problems in the system.” It’s pretty ridiculous, given his comments about the fundamentals of the economy. He finishes with an ode to the American worker that Lenin could have written. Time spent talking on this: directly even. To the second."
Amba @ Ambivablog:"So far neither of them has said anything exceptional. We must take care of the homeowner, the little guy. America's a great country. We need more responsibility. "
Miss Laura @ Daily Kos: "Now McCain attempting to paint himself as a friend to American workers. Pfft. The entire night would not be time to debunk that ridiculous assertion. McCain returns to his "veto pen" schtick, though this time he doesn't attribute his pens to Reagan."
Weigel @ Reason Hit & Run: "Obama names the root of the crisis: "A verdict on eight years of economic policy." He's hitting a safe partisan note, counting on everyone to trust the guy with the (D) after his name to right the ship. McCain, because he's got the (R) after his name, praises the drama of both parties "coming together." "And yes, I went to Washington." But he's miffed that the House Republicans weren't being heard."
DWSUWF: You would not believe how good that salmon was.
Earmarks, Spending, Earmarks, Taxes, Earmarks
Meagan McCardle @ The Atlantic: "I cannot address all the patently untrue things that McCain and Obama are saying, but I must protest when Barack Obama claims that people are going bankrupt because of health expenses. There is no evidence to suggest that this is a widespread phenomenon. The Eliabeth Warren study purporting to show that amazing numbers of bankruptcies were caused by medical problems was, to put it politely, garbage; she broadened the definition of a "medical bankruptcy" far beyond that used by the bankrupts themselves, including things like gambling problems. The overwhelming causes of bankruptcy are divorce and job loss; even the medical bankruptcies are, the experts say, a problem of income loss rather than medical bills."
Greg @ Cynics Party: "Barry O has to defend himself on earmarks because McCain came right at him. Obama takes it to the bigger picture: McCain’s tax cuts for the rich. Does anyone care? Probably not. So far, this is really boring. If I wasn’t frantically typing, I would probably turn it off and cruise for some porn instead. Apparently, earmarks are absolutely the most horrific things to come from Washington. “It corrupts people,” he says, shocked. It’s kind of cute the way he’s obsessed with talking about the one thing he’s kind of good at."
2008 Central: "McCain wants spending under control. Talks about earmarking as a gateway drug. The joke about bear DNA doesn’t get any laugh. He holds up a pen to veto and says “this one is kinda old.” He’s making the old person jokes himself. Yeesh. McCain criticizes Obama for making earmarks. Obama agrees that earmarks are abused, and often by lobbyists. Obama says earmarks cost 18 billion, but McCain is proposing 300 billion dollars worth of tax cuts to the rich. Obama is working overload to relate to the common man."
Amba @ Ambivablog:"McCain says Obama suspended earmarks only after he was running for president. He didn't see the light McCain becomes animated saying his career has been devoted to fighting this. Obama: "Eliminating earmarks alone is not a recipe for how we're going to get the middle class back on track" -- "the people who are strugglin'."
Georgia10 @ Daily Kos: "We're about 18 minutes in, and testy McCain begins to peek out. Obama is being relatively aggressive (compared to previous performances) and doesn't let McCain run with false numbers ("I don't know where he gets those figures") McCain tries to defend his tax cuts by claiming that Ireland business pay less taxes. He calls out Obama on his definition of "rich." But Obama explains that if you make less than $250,000, your taxes won't be raised by a dime."
Bob Barr @ Reason: "[Response to McCain's "corruption" remarks.] Where is the DOJ? It is the one branch of government that has a legitimate purpose and a system and a way to protect the peoples' resources and rights. Typical Washington. He's saying that the best way to help that worker is to take that worker's money and create more regulation.He speaks out against $17 billion in earmarks, and then votes for a trillion-dollar buyout."
Justin Gardner @ Donklephant:"Obama is detailed. McCain is shaky. John will have to right his ship soon or risk losing this thing."
DWSUWF: After dinner - enjoying a '96 Hafner Cabernet. Earmarks are legalized bribery. It has to stop. It is not about the percentage of the budget. It is all about corruption.
Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran - Oh My!
Meagan McCardle @ The Atlantic: "Barack Obama just stated that meeting with crazy authoritarian leaders without preconditions "doesn't mean you invite them over for tea." Coffee, perhaps. An afternoon lemonade. But no tea for Ahmadinejad until he stops with the nuclear weapons nonsense!"
Greg @ Cynics Party: "McCain says that Obama helps terror by talking about withdrawal! Hooray! Now lets talk about Afghanistan. Even Jim Lehrer wants to punch these fuckers in the face. Yes, do something in Afghanistan Obama says. More troops, poppy trade, deal with safe havens in Pakistan. How will McCain argue with that? Why, he’s going to make Obama into a war hawk, of course! He’s reckless! Not like you, John McCain!"
2008 Central: "Obama gives his own McCain quotes, including greeted as liberators and history between Shia and Sunni, leading it into a question of judgment. McCain says Obama does not understand the difference between a tactic and a strategy. McCain says Obama refuses to believe we are winning. He describes a strategy that sounds a whole lot like a tactic. It’s a strange distinction. McCain talks about Obama not funding the troops. Obama knocks it down quite easily, actually, saying that McCain and him both voted against bills for other reasons, and talks about at length about Afghanistan. McCain talks more about the surge and Petraeus, and says he knew the surge would succeed this much."
Amba @ Ambivablog:"McCain- The next president of the U.S. will not have to address the question of whether we should have gone into Iraq. He will have to address how we leave, when we leave, and what we leave behind. Obama said the surge would not work. Now he's conceded but still says he would oppose the surge if he had to decide that today! Obama didn't go to Iraq and never requested a meeting with Gen. Petraeus. Obama - But Biden did."
Trapper John @ Daily Kos: "BHO reminds America that McCain jokingly sung about bombing Iran. That's irresponsibility, my friends. JSMIII: Oooh, the Bomb Iran thing stung. McCain responds by talking about all the wars he supported. I'm feeling a POW coming on . . . . . . the ashes of their fathers and the temples of their gods. McCain's bloody love of "beautiful fatalism" is scarily evident."
Bob Barr @ Reason: "What commander on the ground ever doesn't want more troops? That's the point. They always want more troops, that's the nature of a commander. Both of these people are doing what Bush did, when it's not convenient to answer hard questions, they raise the flag of patriotism and say, "Oh, it's for the commanders on the ground." What goal is not being met by not having more troops on the ground in Afghanistan? If it has to do with shoring up Afghan troops, that's not the U.S.' responsibility."
Justin Gardner @ Donklephant:"But fair enough that McCain can claim more “I was there” experience. You’re right. But I think what we’re talking about now is present day judgement. And I simply think that Obama has a better gauge on the reality of today."
DWSUWF: Net net. Obama was right and McCain was wrong in 2002 about occupying Iraq. McCain was right and Obama was wrong in 2006 about the surge. Looking back, it is a wash. Looking forward, Maliki has taken this issue out of the presidential election, as the elected government of Iraq has determined that we are mostly out of Iraq by 2011. There is no meaningful practical difference in what we will do in Iraq or Afganistan based on who is president in 2009. It is even possible, maybe probable, that McCain will be more effective in reducing our military posture in Iraq sooner. Moving to a single malt scotch - Laphroiag quarter cask.
Meagan McCardle @ The Atlantic: "Obama's position on Georgia is that . . . we should give them $1 billion to rebuild their economy. My position on global warming: a federal program to make sure everyone has an adequate supply of little umbrellas for their tropical drinks!"
Greg @ Cynics Party: "So, this thing is almost over right? Like 7 more minutes? Russia? Georgia? Let me explain what needs to happen with that situation: Ahmadinajad wants to wipe the state of Israel off the face of the earth."
2008 Central: "McCain tries to hammer home that Obama doesn’t understand foreign relations, saying Obama’s first statement only called for restraint on both sides. McCain says he looked into Putin’s eyes and saw KGB. Not sure about that one. Talks about concern over resurgence of the Russian Empire. Says that Russia is in violation of the cease fire agreement. Obama tries to give a better framing of his position on Georgia, but widely agrees with McCain."
Amba @ Ambivablog: "McCain - Obama first said "both sides ought to show restraint" -- "a little bit of naïveté there." It was about the pipeline from the Caspian. He lets it be known that he has spent a lot of time in Tbilisi and has been in Abkhazia. "Watch Ukraine. This has a lot to do with Ukraine, with the Crimea . . ."Obama mostly agrees, but says McCain has misrepresented his initial reaction."
Miss Laura @ Daily Kos: "McCain's pre-debate focus grouping must have said that the words "naivete" and "doesn't understand" work better than the old standby "inexperience." Anyone kept count? Shoot, he's accusing Obama of not understanding things that even Sarah Palin probably understands."
David Weigel @ Reason: "Both men are comically full of themselves. The McCain history of the world, as we know, is of him summoning the wisdom of the great men and spider-sensing his way out of problems. Obama remembers every personal insult: "I was called naive!" for wanting to meet with foreign no-goodniks... "The average South Korean is three inches taller than the average North Korean!" is one of the best things that's ever been said in a debate. Overall McCain sounds conversant and Obama sounds like an analyst. Exactly what you'd expect."
Justin Gardner @ Donklephant:"Will McCain mention Palin’s experience with Russia. :-)"
DWSUWF: I dunno. Obama seems a bit defensive. Expectations make Obama the heavy favorite. Tie goes to McCain.
Concluding ThoughtsAndrew Sullivan @ The Atlantic: "A masterful performance tonight, I think. Obama's best ever debate performance. McCain was fine, but it's wrong for him to attack his opponent at the end. And then he gave a slightly rambling defense of his experience. I give Obama an A - and I give McCain a B."
KurtGodel @ Cynics Party: "It shouldn't have gone this many rounds. McCain should be on the canvas bleeding from his ears at this point."
2008 Central: "That ends the debate. I’m going to ponder grades, but Lehrer gets an easy A. Well done."
Amba @ Ambivablog: "Someone said "This race just got tougher to decide on." I agree. Obama gave a considerably stronger performance than I anticipated. He was forceful, confident, and knowledgeable. The difference is that his knowledge seems more thought-out and conceptual while McCain's is canny and experience-based. "
Kos @ Daily Kos: "The consensus seems clear: This was McCain's turf. He needed a solid victory, and he didn't get it. At best, it was a tie. And with the next debates focusing on economic issues, McCain will be in hostile territory."
VodkaPundit @ Pajamas Media: "Now that it’s almost over, may I at long last say … “oh, the humanity!” - OK, I’ll give you a real close now. Obama strikes me as a modern Chamberlain, praising his (oh-so-transient) “peace with honor.” McCain, however, comes across as “peace when we’re done kicking you ass and not one moment sooner.” And since this was ostensibly a foreign policy debate, I give the win to McCain. Oh, and one other thing — Obama is still talking as I write this. But he’s spending his last answer angling for the European vote, which does nothing but reinforce my point."
Gerry F @ Donklephant:"Obama, I thought, did well in the last 2/3 of the debate, but there were some moments where he was clearly frustrated that McCain had taken control of the debate and he could not wrestle it back. Even when he had good points, his presentation lacked the force of McCain. Even when McCain was lying/misleading, Obama was unable to or refused to call him out on it. For a junior senator, he did quite well, but McCain was the victor here."
Ed Morrissey @ Hot Air:"If Obama expected the old man to be too tired to debate properly, he is surely disappointed tonight. McCain kept Obama on defense all night long, made Obama lose his composure, and maintained his own in a very presidential performance. This one is a clear win for McCain."
DWSUWF: I am going to sleep on it. And have another drink.
Technorati tags: Barack Obama, libertarian, 2008 election ,John McCain, debate, Democrat, Republican.