Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Debate Opinion Roundup

Here's the opinion roundup on the debate last night.

As I said earlier, I can't stand these mind-numbing sound-byte debates. "Hey, in two minutes tell us how you'd save the world, make healthcare cheaper, solve the financial crisis, and make world peace and enforceable law."

Can we please have a real debate, and just let these guys go at it? Moderate for equal time and move on if a subject gets boring, that's it.

How can we possibly have debates this boring when the times are so tense? War on terrorism, Russia violently on the rise, Iran about to get Nukes, Israel's enemies rearming under the nose of the UN, the great financial scare of '08. Geez, can we please, maybe get a little more passionate about all this stuff?

Dick Morris, below, echos my own feelings (my running debate commentary is here):
Why is McCain so bad at answering all of these ridiculous statements from Obama? A Democrat criticizes a Republican administration for high deficits? McCain can't even think to mention that maybe 9/11 had something to do with increased spending?

On to the opinions...

Byron York, NRO: McCain vs. Obama: The Snoozer in Nashville
This was the worst-moderated debate in the history of presidential debates,” one McCain campaign insider told me just moments after John McCain and Barack Obama left the stage at Belmont University in Nashville. “The audience and the American people should feel robbed — that the one opportunity they had to ask questions of the presidential candidates was taken from them by Tom Brokaw.”

eyond McCain’s new plan, and the various instances of alleged ill will between the candidates, there really wasn’t much else that was noteworthy in Nashville Tuesday night. There were no new lines of argument and no gloves-off references to William Ayers, Jeremiah Wright, or any other Obama associates. Before the debate, McCain aides suggested to me that there wouldn’t be any serious fisticuffs because the format wasn’t conducive to that sort of thing. And indeed, there were none. So now, if McCain wants to come out swinging, he has one more chance, at the last debate, scheduled for next Wednesday at Hofstra University in New York.

The Wall Street Journal - What The Candidates Said

Dick Morris: McCain's Missing Punch

John McCain probably won last night's debate on points - but he needed a knockout, and he didn't get it.

His proposal to help homeowners by buying their mortgages was well articulated. He also scored well on entitlements and, as always, emerged ahead on foreign policy.

But Obama dodged and weaved his way out of trouble.

McCain failed to rebut patently absurd claims - like Obama's claim to favor nuclear power, his "plan" to cut taxes on 95 percent of Americans and his charge that McCain would shower CEOs with new tax breaks.

Incredibly, McCain even let Obama get away with lamenting the high deficit.

McCain needed to punch through on two issues, taxes and values: how Obama's policies will crush the economy, and how Obama's core beliefs are far outside the mainstream. He landed a lot of blows last night - but Obama managed to brush them off.

McCain entered the debate nine points down in the Gallup and Rasmussen polls. His performance won't even start to close the gap.

Ed Morrisey, of Hot Air: Both Men Improve; McCain Wins on Points

I thought the town-hall format was a joke, though. Brokaw and his team selected the questions ahead of time and chose the participants, and in the end it just looked like Brokaw had outsourced some of the moderator duties to guest voices.

McCain won, but he didn’t score a knockout by any stretch of the imagination. Is this a game-changer? I think not. It may help narrow the gap a little, but I think the two men are pretty evenly matched in these debates. I wouldn’t expect a knockout in the last debate, either.

Politico, in a subtle and understated way: The Worst Debate Ever

With the country at one of its most interesting—not to mention terrifying—moments in a generation, John McCain and Barack Obama met in Nashville for what was surely one of the dullest and was definitely the least satisfying presidential debate in memory.

How the he** did candidates manage to be so timid and uninspiring at a time when American troops are in two problematic wars, the world financial markets are in scary free fall and the Dow has lost 1,400 points since Oct. 1? This is a moment history rarely sees – and both men blew it.

It would be hard to cook up a duller way of debating than we witnessed last night. The commission allowed the cautious handlers of the presidential campaigns to negotiate a format designed to limit improvisation, intellectual engagement and truth-telling.

The rules were so constraining, it begs the question: why even put a moderator in the chair? Tom Brokaw threw up his hands from the outset, apologizing for the constraints he was under, which didn’t allow him to press on evasive answers or encourage a promising exchange.

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