Sunday, September 28, 2008

US Presidential Debate #1 | BBC NEWS

Obama, McCain square off in first debate

"All things considered, it's about a draw"
~ Matthew Yglesias, Think Progress

Synopsis: US presidential rivals Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama have attacked each other over foreign policy and the economy, in their first debate.

Mr Obama said a $700bn (£380bn) plan to rescue the US economy was the "final verdict" on years of Republican rule.

He said Mr McCain had been "wrong" on Iraq and tried to link him to President Bush. The Republican senator described his rival as too inexperienced to lead.

Neither landed a knockout blow but polls suggested Mr Obama did better.

An immediate telephone poll by CNN and Opinion Research Corp found 51% said Mr Obama had won, to 38% for Mr McCain.

A poll of uncommitted voters by CBS News found that 39% gave Mr Obama victory, 25% thought John McCain had won, and 36% thought it was a draw.

Both campaigns claimed victory, with Mr McCain's team saying their candidate had shown a "mastery on national security issues" while Mr Obama's aides said he had passed the commander-in-chief test "with flying colours".

Tens of millions of Americans were expected to watch the debate on TV, with only about five weeks to go before the 4 November elections. (Source: BBC NEWS | Americas | US rivals spar in first TV debate)

McCain Obama shake after debate


Yes, the debate was a technical draw. The thing about that, however, is subjectively the debate will thus be a win for the Obama camp. Why? Because this was supposed to be the debate that John McCain won. It's his strength. And there is no doubt he has experience in issues of foreign policy. The loss is given that Obama held is own and, overall, appeared more Presidential than McCain.

McCain was wise to try and hammer the "naive" point, however he did it to an almost patronizing degree, which came off as him losing his composure. However, any time he attacked Obama, the Illinois senator corrected him making McCain seem divisive and out to spin the facts. Unfortunately for McCain, he did not notably correct Obama on any attack against the Arizona senator thus legitimizing the Democrat's authority on the facts.

McCain was right to focus on "the surge", but that's about all he could say in terms of the "War in Iraq". As well, Obama was able to one-up McCain pointing out that the decision-makers on the strategy there essentially agree with his plans for future military action in the region (basically that Afghanistan is the real battleground). McCain was at his best when explaining the fragility of the situation there, but did not follow that by appearing the most prepared to handle the matter. In fact, Obama nailed him on handling delicate matters citing McCain's "Bomb Iran" song. However the junior Senator then gave away that advantage overemphasizing how wrong McCain was in his decision to go to Iraq rather than solidifying points that not only his past but his future judgment regarding the "War on Terror" have been most wise.

In terms of foreign policy overall, McCain was able to parade his experience but Obama matched that with foresight, unveiling that even the Bush administration is starting to enact policies that the Democratic Presidential nominee championed throughout his campaign while McCain leans toward the failed ways of the past. They also argued different points of the fact that Kissinger did promote talks with Iran without preconditions (Kissinger later said "non-presidential" talks - something the Bush administration is currently pursuing).

In terms of economic policy, the debate kicked off with that, which is inevitable given the situation. Neither candidate could comment on whether they were going to vote for the bill that was out at that time, however Obama laid out four core principles he thought should be in the bill. The third debate between them will address the economy more. Obama will be going into that debate as the stronger candidate given that McCain has previously acknowledged his weakness on economic issues. And given the fact that the new economic bailout bill is (according to Sen. John Kerry) founded around the principles Obama laid out in the debate and supposedly better for the American taxpayer.

I've been reading a lot about people being disappointed with the first debate, but this is how debates always are. As well, they are MUCH more subtle than people seem to remember every four years. As they should be, both candidates know better than to shoot off at the mouth and sink their campaign. In fact, a portion of this election will come down to who can keep the most level head and restore America's relationships across the world. Surely we've seen what a faux maverick can do in the White House.

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