Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Attacks Disappointing, Humor Lame

A CBS snap poll of uncommitted voters and CNN's quick poll said most thought Barack Obama won tonight's debate with John McCain.

McCain did better on domestic issues this time than he did in the first debate, but Obama held his own there. McCain's foreign policy answers, particularly his "victory with honor" reply, weren't particularly effective for a guy who is always touting his credentials on such matters. I don't think McCain ended with a clear advantage in this encounter, so a win for Obama or a draw that's as good as a win for him is probably a reasonable assessment.

In pure debating terms, though, I was disappointed in all the attacks each made when they were asked about various issues. If I could speak to them, I think I'd say, "Ultimately, I don't think we want to know what you're against as much as we want to know what you're for. I think you can highlight the differences you have without resorting to the darts both of you threw at each other for much of the evening. And please, guys, stop trying to crack jokes because neither of you are very good at making or delivering them."

One thing I found interesting watching C-Span after the debate was that McCain couldn't get out of there fast enough when it was over. He departed about two minutes after the debate ended according to the clock C-Span ran in the lower right-hand corner of their transmission. Obama and his wife Michelle were there for over 20 minutes afterward. Both had functions to go to I'm sure, but apparently McCain couldn't take being around the "common man" Gallup questioners for too long. It wasn't a town-hall debate, but I saw the same thing in person 16 years ago when George H.W. Bush left quickly following the St. Louis debate while Bill Clinton hung around to meet people, listen to them, answer questions, give autographs and take pictures as Obama did.

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