For whatever it’s worth, messages I got from watching the debate:
Either McCain is highly misinformed about what Obama is saying and voting for and against, or he his advisers think he’s a better spindoctor than he is. How many times did Obama have to clarify, saying, “That’s not true, John.” or, “You and I both know…”? I remember thinking that surely Senator McCain knew the details he was leaving out when he was spinning out accusations; he’s an intelligent man.
I disagree that Senator Obama got thoroughly hammered on foreign policy. He made good points about Iran and Afghanistan. McCain was certainly stronger in this area, but I don’t think that was a surprise to anyone. When Senator Obama talks foreign policy, I sometimes, not always, but sometimes get the feeling that he’s only parroting his advisers. And that’s okay really, because one man can never be an expert on everything; in fact, keeping company with wise counsel is a mark of humility, which is a mark of maturity. However, Obama’s had to correct himself so frequently in this department, I worry a bit about the expertise of those advising him.
McCain’s joke about not being able to reach that far across the isle was great. He had a couple of those moments where he really hit Obama with quick, unanswered jabs. “So let me get this straight,” says McCain when debating about meeting with controversial (to say the least) foreign leaders, “you sit down with Ahmadinejad, he says, ‘We’re going to blow Israel off the face of the earth,’ and we say, ‘No you’re not?’ oh please!” I think these moments gave McCain a legitimate advantage in this first of these presidential debates. However, to be fair, I don’t agree with McCain that having a meeting with these guys on air necessarily legitimizes their message; that seems like false logic to me. The way I figure it, when the world is exposed to the abhorrent ideals of a madman, it isn’t going to to say, “Uh, yeah, that sounds legit.”
Obama uses lists and plans (“Look. I have a plan: number one,… number two,… number three,… number four,…”) while McCain uses anecdotes and key words or labels (“When I was a straight-talking maverick working with General…” Or, “My friends, Senator Obama isn’t just naive and inexperienced, he’s dangerous; he just doesn’t get it.”)
I think the debate was heated and interesting. I think it was close and a true indicator of this race. I’m looking forward to the following debates.