DrunkBlog: First Presidential Debate

6:42 PM | Comments (0) | by T.R.

What's that? We're a baseball blog?

Tonight TMS brings you what we hope is the first out of four presidential and vice presidential debates, naturally in live (drunk) blog format. Now, calm down, do not make assumptions of left or right leanings on TMS. With the exception of Lingering Bursitis's Super Tuesday coverage, we have been nothing but bipartisan on our blog. But the smells of autumn are filling our nostrils; the leaves are changing, post-season baseball is upon us, and yes, the first Tuesday in November actually means something this year.

And guess what? The Cubs-Brewers matchup is also on ESPN tonight. We'll start with a little Cubs commentary and then switch over to the debate at 8:00 pm CST.

Obviously the economy will weigh heavily on the proceedings tonight. Not sure where you stand yet between Obama and McCain? If your pocketbook is your guide, check out www.electiontaxes.com, where accounting professor Jeffrey Gramlich of the University of Southern Maine and his team have put together model where you can estimate how Obama and McCain's tax proposals will affect you.

Cubs/Brewers
(Too lazy for time stamps)

Why do the Brewers keep hitting walk-off homers? Hopefully we can suppress them this weekend so the Mets win the Wild Card. Surely those words will come back to bite me in the ass.

Back to back singles by Fontenot come and go without punishing the Brewers in the top of the first. Not sure how long I can really keep tabs on the Cubs. Too much drama in Mississippi.

Pre-Presidential Debate
(Again, too lazy for timestamps)

I've teased enough with the Cubs coverage. Time for the politics. So, after the debate, Biden is the guest commentator on MSNBC. Alright, I'm not breaking any new ground saying that MSNBC leans to the left. Of course, then I flip to Fox News and Karl Rove is on, so that might as well be a wash. I wonder if Sarah Palin is hitting any of the news channels afterwards, or if they have her bound and gagged in Joe Lieberman's basement.

Cubs Note: Home run by Edmonds puts the Cubs up 1-0. So is he still secretly working for the Cardinals?

So Palin is now being hammered even by conservative columnists. Will she bail off the ticket? It's possible. Two weeks ago, the Democrats were probably praying for her exit. Now however, the Republicans may be looking for an exit strategy. Both sides of the aisle can agree: Sarah Palin does not perform well in interviews, or probably any facet of campaigning that isn't entirely scripted. No one would cry foul if she bowed out for family reasons.

Cubs Note: Wow, Fukudome just doesn't play anymore. Is he happy in the U.S.? I have a sinking feeling that both sides could work on voiding his contract so he can go back to Japan. Am I reading too much into this? RBI double for Jason Kendall, and the Brewers have tied the game 1-1 in the bottom of the second.

Back to the debate. Ten minutes till game time. The punditry is rabid.

So apparently the McCain campaign put an ad on the Wall Street Journal website that said: McCain Wins Debate. Note that this ad was put on the site before McCain had even committed to going to Mississippi. Seriously? Who's running this campaign? Sarah Palin?

Enough of the preamble. Game time.

First Presidential Debate
(Time stamps? Stop it, no)

Jim Lehrer is our moderator.

The financial recovery plan is the first question. Obama goes first. Wait, is he African American? He's rattling off the four criteria which Congress must meet with the recovery bill. He states, as usual that the crisis we are in is due to the last eight years and McCain's willingness to go along with those economic policies.

McCain starts by talking about how great it is that both sides of the table are coming together to negotiate the recovery bill. Honestly, he just talks about how Congress is working together. He provides no suggestions as to what the bill should consist of, and tells Americans that this is the beginning of the end. He adds at the end that we need to break our reliance on foreign oil. Interesting.

Each candidate has a little discussion time on the topic. Both discuss accountability in this economic train wreck. McCain assures us that those irresponsible will be held accountable. Obama breaks out the Wall St./Main St. differential, appealing to those in the bottom rungs of the ladder. McCain obviously agrees, and stresses again that the workers are the fundamentals of the economy.

Possible slight edge to Obama for being a little more specific on this question.

The follow up by Lehrer is "what will you do specifically as president regarding the economy".

McCain begins by rehashing the earmarks and government spending. Keep in mind that earmarks account for less than 1% of federal spending (taxpayer dollars), though it has tripled in the past five years. McCain also says that he will veto every spending bill and make their names famous.

Obama agrees on earmarks and lobbyists and special interests. Obama sharpens the criticisms by saying that $300 billion in tax cuts will happen for the rich in McCain's administration, as opposed to the $18 billion saved in squashing earmarks. McCain comes back with the fact that Obama requested nearly $1 billion in earmarks himself over three years before running for president. Obama reiterates that earmarks are of course a problem, but they are not the key problem that will save money for working class America.

McCain discusses his intent to cut the business tax that is currently 35% in the U.S., compared to a contry like Ireland where it is 11%. He wants tax cuts, and challenges Obama's definition of the word "rich". Obama says that if you make less than $250,000 per year, you will see not a dime of raised taxes under his plan, and that 95% of Americans will receive a tax cut.

Again, to this, McCain brings up spending and earmarks, my friends.

Honestly, Obama is being fairly direct, with examples, and McCain is smirking a lot and using awkward analogies. We're also being told that McCain's pen doesn't work.

Lehrer asks what plan Obama and McCain would have for meeting the goals of the bailout. Obama tallies off health care, education, renewable energy. McCain focuses on cutting government spending, by examining every agency, yet boosting military spending.

Lehrer is to the point, criticizing each candidate for not giving specifics. Kudos to Lehrer for pressing the candidates.

McCain has cut spending during his time in the Senate. As Huell Howser would say, "that's amazing!"

Ah, Obama makes his first reference to McCain voting with Bush 90% of the time. Everyone take a drink!

McCain tells us for the second time that he has "never been voted Miss Congeniality" on the Hill. He also reminds us that he's a Maverick, and is proud to have a Mrs. Maverick along his side (Palin).

The next question is over what we have learned from the Iraq War. McCain begins by assuring that we are winning in Iraq and the surge has obviously worked. Obama's rebuttal begins with his vote to not begin the war in Iraq. We are spending $10 billion per month in Iraq. Hey, two months of that would pay for all of our Bridges to Nowhere!

Obama praises the surge and its success, but reminds McCain that the war started in 2003, not 2007, and that the surge cannot make up for the mistakes of the last five years. McCain takes Obama to task for not believing in the surge strategy, and accuses Obama of cutting funding for troops. Obama, after McCain settles down, clarifies that he voted for funding for troops on the bill that included a timetable, but would not vote on the bill that did not include the timetable. McCain, not interested in leaving Iraq, naturally voted for spending along with Bush without a timetable.

Lehrer moves on to Afghanistan. Obama says we need more troops on the ground there, turning McCain's "strategic" comment back at him. McCain admits that they left Afghanistan too early and it serves as a lesson for history. McCain is not ready to threaten Pakistan, yet wants the people of Pakistan to assist in the same type of surge that was successful in Iraq.

McCain likes to tell stories. He's filibustering by telling stories of military families he's met on the campaign trail. That was his reply on what to do with Iran.

Some mothers of fallen soldiers say, "please make sure my son didn't die in vain", while other mothers say, "please don't let another mother go through this". It works both ways. Drop the canned shtick please.

Specifically from Lehrer: the threat from Iran to the U.S.

McCain: it is a threat to Israel and the region for Iran to have nuclear weapons. He wants to prevent another Holocaust, and promotes his fabled League of Democracies. A "second Holocaust". Ahmadinejad has had harsh words for Israel, but invoking his nonsense is a scare tactic.

Obama: there would be an arms race in the Middle East. Tougher sanctions are needed, but we will need the support of countries that trade with Iran, like Russia. Hard diplomacy is needed. Isolationist efforts have increased efforts by these countries to acquire nuclear weapons.

McCain says that Obama will legitimize the actions of dictators by not setting conditions before talking to them. Obama says that direct diplomacy must be attempted, and points out that Henry Kissinger, one of McCain's advisors, agrees that . He stresses the difference between pre-conditions and preparations in these discussions.

The topic of Russia.

Obama: Russia is a threat to the peace and stability of the region, naturally. The next president needs to face Russia with a unified alliance and reaffirm the fledgling democcracies in that region. We can't return to a Cold War structure with Russia. They deserve a sharp response from the world community.

McCain: Russia's agression is not acceptable and we will not see another Cold War. He recognizes that the energy pipeline had a lot to do with the conflict in Georgia, though he needs to acknowledge that our false support led to Tskitishvili provoking the military attack in South Ossetia. Both sides really agree on the matter of Georgia/Russia, it's just a nitpicking "who denounced the attack first" debate.

Obama brings this topic back to energy independence for our national security. McCain thinks drilling offshore is a temporary relief. Note to all: you will not see that oil for 10 years.

Last quesiton: Will there be another 9/11?

McCain: We are safer now, but not entirely safe. He has worked across the aisle on 9/11, which he damned well should have. We still need to do a better job in interrogation and never torture again. We need to work closely with our allies and he can work with them better than Obama.

Obama: Naturally we are much safer in many respects. We can do better, and we need to rebuild America's respect across the globe. He gives props to McCain for tackling torture.

McCain once again goes back to the Iraq well and says that Obama does not understand what is at stake in that war. He says we cannot have a timetable for withdrawl of our troops.

Obama pulls bin Laden out of his hat. Too much focus on Iraq, not enough on China, our domestic economics, health care, etc.

McCain ends with a fairly convincing tone regarding Obama's lack of experience, and errors in judgment, and that McCain himself is ready to lead. Obama paints a rosier picture of America and closes with a more fanciful picture of where he came from and what he might do for America.

Summary
The advantage has to go to McCain. Obama conceded way too much to McCain, saying that the senior senator was right on numerous occasions. The McCain camp will take advantage of that. McCain was a bit of an asshole, a curmudgeon and condescending toward Obama. It remains to be seen how Independents will react to that. In the end, I think McCain closed the debate stronger, putting Obama's leadership into question more in the last five minutes than he did in the rest of the 90 minutes. Obama may have looked more professional and presidential, but McCain, with all that he's been through this week, came across as well as he could have hoped for. Tie goes to the runner?

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