6pm: One minute to go.
6:05: McCain looks Obama in the eye when he shakes his hand--someone coached him. Shocker! First question's about the economy. Obama's solution: WPA. McCain is talking around the question sort of like Palin. This is not what they envisioned, the Palinizing of McCain.
6:10: McCain: my treasury secretary would be the founder of eBay, Meg Whitman. Seriously.
6:15: McCain launches a broadside at Obama for causing the Freddie/Fanny debacle ("with his cronies"), and Obama starts by ignoring it. Later he goes back with a pointed rebuttal. It raises the question of how much he should engage McCain's unhinged personal attacks. Probably he should ignore the old crank.
6:17: McCain claims to have warned in a letter of the mortgage crisis. That's a letter I'd like to see.
6:21: Obama deftly deflects the question trying to blame both parties for the state of the country. This could be a touchstone he could return to. McCain's response: never mind who's to blame, I'm a bipartisan maverick and I can fix it!
6:28: Priorities. McCain won't list priorities--"we can work on all of these at the same time." Obama: energy independence, health care, education. No waffling. Interesting.
6:29: McCain invokes a spending freeze again. Someone's going to have to hit him on that. It's obviously not just a verbal tic anymore.
6:35: Obama goes into a Carteresque section about saving energy. It lacks only the cardigan. He could have had a JFK moment. Missed it. However, he does come back nicely to say that the spending freeze hits people unevenly.
6:35: Brokaw doesn't like the candidates failing to follow the rules. He's really pissy about it--we seem some distance from Cronkite here.
6:40: Seems like we've gotten into a consistent flow here. McCain is angry and assualtive, Obama is pleasant and open. I've even fallen into the habit of judging each man against his established role. For people tuning in for the first time, I think Obama probably is killing McCain.
6:45: Green question. Not shockingly, Obama crushes it while McCain flails. Another observation: this debate isn't limited to McCain's "strength" (more precisely--the only issue he thinks about), which means there are a great many more potholes for him to fall into.
6:55: McCain seems to be talking about health care. I'd dozed off. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
7:00: "Did we hear the
7:05: Other livebloggers with CNN are saying Obama killed on the health care issue--100% of undecided women had him at the maximum rating. Healthcare!
7:10: Iraq question. Totally boring--we've heard all of this 47 times already.
7:15: Foreign policy has provoked some contentiousness. McCain wants to physically attack Obama. Obama's subtley provoking McCain, and McCain is seriously ticked.
7:20: Fascinating exchange in which there was an alpha male showdown. Lots of dominance behavior from McCain. Obama provokes him because he sees McCain is losing it. (This is during the Iraq/foreign policy section.) Obama looks at McCain mildly, infuriating him.
7:23: A Navy man asks a question. What a set up. I want a UChicago prof to ask the next question. Truth is, I'm tuning out, and I assume everyone else is, too. This debate conforms pretty closely to expectations, which is a huge win for Obama.
After the debate--
NBC "truth squads" the debate. They look at the two men's claim that they saw the mortgage crisis coming. They show a clip of McCain saying he didn't see it coming--in other words, his claim in the debate was a total lie. Obama's claim, that he sent the letter (I posted it yesterday) two years ago. True, obviously, but NBC dings him because they think it wasn't soon enough. What the hell? This is exactly why we read blogs instead of the MSM. They have fully abrogated their responsibility to illuminate events. They are now in pure arse-covering mode ("don't criticize us--buy the Cialis we hawk!")