Hat tip to the inestimable The Rude Pundit for what I’d like to hear. A great prologue.

I suppose I’m just curious to see if shit-heel politics will be on display tonight, and in the longer run, still will work among the huge swaths of moron-Americans who still think Bush is doing a good job, or (admittedly a smaller slice) who consider the country on the “right track.”

John Cole brings some sorely needed HST into the discussion, here. My conclusion, and I trust myself about this, is that McCain is “all in” even when it comes to his character and reputation. Old, in this case old and ambitious people at some point stop giving a shit about stuff like that. McCain is notably not a terribly religious man.

Six minutes to go.

All right, here we go:

Thanks for hosting, blah blah blah.

First question. Immediate financial help for old folks. “Bailout.”

Obama: Failure of GOP politics. Make sure the bailout works. Crack down on CEO’s. AIG spent $400,000 post-bailout. Tax cuts for middle class, help for homeowners, infrastructure improvements. Lame, says this voter.

McCain: Energy independence. Keep taxes low. (Surprise!) $10T debt. Half to China. “Reform, prosperity, and peace in the world.” Kumbayfuckingya. Buy bad loans. Expensive, “my friends,” (surprise!) but it will create jobs. Not Bush’s economics!

Also lame.

Who should be The Economy Man? McCain? I don’t know. Should be trusted. Warren Buffet? Good answer. Meg Whitman. CEO of a successful company called E-Bay.

Obama, on Treasury Secretary: Buffet, good. Others good. Key is that we can’t just help those at the top. Boilerplate economic realities, 95% population tax cut. McCain right.

Question: What about the bailout plan helps me?

McCain: “Rescue,” not bailout. I suspended my campaign! *stop to laugh* Economy will recover. Sure! When? Fannie and Freddie, Obama’s fault. I stood up to F&F. Uh-oh. McCain sure does have a lot of campaign advisors with F&F roots. Still, good job by McCain pending Obama’s answer. Also, must “buy up bad loans.”

Obama: Speaking to Oliver the questioner about the immediate impacts of the bailout. Fairly good direct answer. On to Obama’s response to McCain. Deregulation. McCain loves deregulation. Obama called the crisis too, he says, and I would imagine he could prove it. No call on the lobbyists? Oh, here it comes. Bill never got passed. Lobbyists, but not enough. Pivots back to the question.

Tie. Boring so far.

Follow up: Is it going to get worse before it gets better? Obama: Epic fail! Yes, it will! But he can’t say that, I suppose. Correct answer: “Yes, it will.” McCain: Depends. Strong answer. Special interest, cronyism, blah, blah, blah. We can fix it. Best in the world, us American workers! Go, America!

Question: How can we trust either of you? Both parties got us into this. GREAT question! Obama: I get it. You were responsible, we weren’t. Lot of blame to go around. History: Surpluses when Bush took office. National debt. Good answer. Over the last 8 years pathetic economic policy. Spend money on health care. Spend money on energy. (Should use the word invest.) Oops! Just did! Pretty good.

McCain: System broken, I’m a reformer. McCain-Feingold. Lieberman. (Oops?) Obama never takes on the Dems. Obama is a big liberal big spending liberal, big spender. One BILLION (uh, compared to $700B we just gave the banking industry?) in earmarks requested by Obama. “I know how to do these things.” How?

Follow up from Brokaw: Order your priorities. McCain: All three. (Good answer!) Uh-oh, retirees are going to have to take the hit. “I know how to do that.” Lieberman again. Not sure he wants to keep going to that well. “All of the above.” All national security related.

Obama: We have to prioritize like a family does. Quotes Nashville gas prices. National security. Invest in alternate energy. We can do it. Invokes JFK. Not bad. Health care #2, bad for everyone, business and family included. Education included. Fights about McCain. Earmarks. I don’t like them either. $300B tax cut to corporations from McCain. “Money out of the system.” Not bad.

Inadvertent HUGE delete. Sorry.

Shit. I would have to make an immediate call that my delete was a live-blog killer.

I’ll try to go more general.

Obama on alternate energy. McCain votes against alternate energy. Drilling. 3%/25%, if you don’t know what that means you’re an idiot.

McCain is doing fine tonight. Since he hasn’t fell off his chair, or hurled any shit at Obama, he’ll be declared the winner by our Media Man.

I really think McCain needs to drop the “my friends” thing.

Question: Health care as a commodity?

Obama: Tough one. Moral commitment. Health care wonkery. Borrrringgg! Right in terms of policy, wrong politically. Goes after McCain’s policy. Uh-oh! U.S. Chamber of Commerce says McCain’s policy is stupid! Even *I* didn’t know that.

McCain: Tax cuts! The Republican answer to all problems! Government sucks! Fines! Parents! He’ll FINE YOU! Fear, loathing, hate! McCain’s health care proposal is a disaster. Joke! Didn’t go over.

Obama: Should be a right. Right on.

Good answer.

Question: Foreign policy. Economic strain vs. peace-making.

McCain: Challenge. (Indeed.) Greatest force for good ever! We’re peacemakers! (Huh? Tell it to the Afghans or Iraqis.) Judgment. Experience. I know how to win wars. We’re good. Obama wrong. About everything. Rookie. No time for that.

Obama: Teeing it up and hitting it far. This one is a no-brainer. Obama wins this question.

Brokaw interjects: Moral foreign policy doctrines.

Obama: Moral issues at stake. Genocide could be the line. Can’t be everywhere all the time. Darfur.

McCain: My friends. Christ. Iraq, timeline, another softball to Obama. My friends, AGAIN. Victory! Honor! Requires a cool hand at the tiller! If there’s one thing we know, it’s that McCain is a cool hand! Still, it will work in moron-America.

Good non-answer. I know how to stop genocide. LOL.

Question: Pakistani sovereignty. Tough deal, and that’s me talking. Not sure how to go, personally.

Obama: Doing OK on this one. AQ stronger. Reverse course. End war. Change policies. Pokistan! The righty bloggers will go crazy! Put pressure on Pakistan. Take Osama out. Good answer to the moron base.

McCain: Hero: Teddy R.! “Walk softly and carry a big stick!” McCain won’t attack Osama if we know where he is? McCain carries an awfully big rhetorical stick, if I may, and I wonder about how it relates to his personal stick.

Obama forces a follow up: Good answer. I said “IF” the Pakistani’s won’t cooperate. “Bomb bomb bomb Iraq!” Ooooh. Ouch. Hurt McCain on that one. As we say in my personal life: “Good comeback.”

McCain forces another follow up: He understand sending people into harms way. Once again, “he knows.” Two questions. How does he know what it is like to send people into harms way, and why hasn’t he shared his secrets of getting Osama with the Administration?

Obama doing OK, too, all in all.

McCain: General P. rules and rocks! Obama is sometimes right, too! We have to have the “same strategy.” The surge worked! Goddamnit! Get off my lawn!

Question: Russia, apply pressure, without starting another cold war.

McCain: We won’t start another one, even though he kinda did. Putin is a crazy person. Good call. Looked into his eyes and all. The Bush method. “Moral” support for Georgia. Invite them into NATO. (Yikes!) Oh, by the way! “Allies!”

Obama: Anticipate. Kind of one of my life rules, so automatically a good answer from this voter’s perspective.

Pretty “substantive” debate, all in all.

Yes or no answer: Obama flubs it. So does McCain: “Maybe.” Depends.

Question: Retired Navy chief. Both like Israel. Iran attacks Israel. Stupid question, no brainer. Both will say, in effect, “yes.” We’ll handle it without U.N. permission.

Duh. How did that one get through?

Both: “Yes.” More complicated than that, but yeah, “yes” was the answer. McCain did a lot of dodging, Obama will, too.

I don’t care if Iran has nukes, because the “diplomatic” solution is simple: Use them and you’re gone. No longer an “ancient” culture. No longer anything but a nice shiny piece of glass in the Mideast, with some mutants hanging out. Take your chances.

I hate the politics of this. Obama is doing what he needs to do, politically. Just not rationally.

Question, last question, Zen-like, says Brokaw: What don’t you know, and how will you learn it?

Obama: Good answer so far. Immense challenges, no one knows what will happen. Unexpected challenges. Stump speech. Advantage, McCain. Best to get this one last.

McCain, last word: McCain can’t predict the future. Comforting. Another stump speech. Knows what dark times are like. Did I mention I was in a prison camp? Good answer, politically.

He believes in this country. Good to know. “Country first.” My fucking ass. Your Palin pick ruined that.

Thank the FSM, it’s over.

Talking Head time, the important part. This is where the votes lie.

May have to switch from MSNBC, if Gregory still talks. He’s a dick.

I can’t see how this one changed anyone’s mind. The Talking Heads will change that.

Matthews: Gets it wrong already. McCain brought up Buffet, not Obama, as Matthews states. All in all, though, it’s obvious Matthews prefers Obama.

Simple Meta Question: Does America want to hear “my friends” for the next 4 years? It might mean more than you think.

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