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October 8, 2008

Obama WINS 2nd Presidential Debate!

 Barack Obama won last night’s ‘Town Hall’ unequivocally, clearly, indisputably! It wasn’t even close. McCain looked shaky, uncomfortable and uncertain. Obama seemed fit, energetic and commanded the stage. At times, when McCain moved around he almost looked lost.

 In addition McCain did nothing to change the dynamic of the race and change it is what he fervently needed to do. Before the ‘Town Hall’ Team McCain said they were taking the gloves off and would assault Obama on his character – McCain did not even lay a glove on Obama on the character issue – I guess he knows the hate he spews while campaigning is crap.

I am shocked and perplexed that McCain did NOT mention how he would help the middle-class; not even ONCE! He has no plans on how he would help the majority of Ameicans – no plans!!!

McCain was very repetitive – he repeated almost verbatim full sentences about Putin and other issues that he said in the first debate. McCain looked very old last night; he used old lines and tried to use old tricks. Yawn.

   When McCain called Obama “that one” he seemed dismissive and it simply looked and sounded bad. McCain came off like a grumpy old curmudgeon.

 Obama’s entire demeanor was perfect. He was relaxed but serious, confident without being cocky and detailed enough without delving deep into the abyss of policies. He sat on the stool and looked comfortable, confident and cool.  Yup, cool.

 McCain in contrast was clumsy and he looked miserable. He said “my friends” waaay too often (22 times) and made weird gestures. McCain had no game.

Obama did well on foreign policy, particularly on an Iraq answer towards the end when he hit McCain firmly on the chin: “Senator McCain, in the last debate and today, again, suggested that I don’t understand. It’s true. There are some things I don’t understand. I don’t understand how we ended up invading a country that had nothing to do with 9/11, while Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda are setting up base camps and safe havens to train terrorists to attack us. That was Sen. McCain’s judgment and it was the wrong judgment. When Sen. McCain was cheerleading the president to go into Iraq, he suggested it was going to be quick and easy, we’d be greeted as liberators. That was the wrong judgment, and it’s been costly to us.” Ouch!

The second best moment of the debate also came from Obama. McCain walked right smack into Obama’s gloved fist and almost knocked himself out when he talked about “speaking softly” with an ally like Pakistan. Obama responded by saying: “Now, Senator McCain suggests that somehow, you know, I’m green behind the ears and, you know, I’m just spouting off, and he’s somber and responsible.” McCain interjected: “Thank you very much.” Then Obama moved in for the kill: “Senator McCain, this is the guy, who sang, ‘Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran’, who called for the annihilation of North Korea. That I don’t think is an example of ‘speaking softly’. This is the person who, after we had — we hadn’t even finished Afghanistan said, ‘Next up, Baghdad’.”

  One thing that especially stood out to me was what happened AFTER the debate. Sometimes what a person chooses not to do is as important as what they do.

Instead of walking toward Obama to shake his hand, McCain instead walked to the audience and started shaking hands with people in the audience – peculiar. I’ve never seen that at the end of a debate before.

 Obama started to approach McCain and backed off allowing McCain to continue what he was doing.  When Michelle and Cindy came on stage for a few minutes it seemed that McCain had again forgotten how to behave politely especially in public when the eyes of the world was watching him.  McCain seemed scornful of Obama and he avoided Obama’s offer of a handshake by instead handing over Cindy to Obama so that Obama shook Cindy’s hand, not John’s.  Wow, how discourteous.

 The most idiosyncratic thing though was when John and Cindy disappeared out the hall – they were gone; it’s like they vaporized into thin air – they were no where to be found almost immeadiately after the Town Hall ended.  Damn, how unmannerly!

 The Obamas stayed in the hall and graciously talked with the audience, shook hands and took lots of pictures for about 30 minutes.

John McCain has no diplomacy skills. He’s like a child who pouts because he didn’t get his way. Is this the person we want trekking around the world meeting with America’s friends and enemies to regain America’s status in the world? I think not!

Sometimes what a person doesn’t do is more important and telling than what they do.



October 7, 2008

Presidential Debate #2: Let’s Get Ready To Rumble!

 Armchair quarterbacks at home all believe that we know how to debate much better than Obama and McCain does. We’ll be hurling epithets at the television screen when our candidate misses an opportunity to verbally mangle his opponent or launch a one-liner that will soar the politician into the Lloyd Bensten Hall of fame:

One thing is certain: folks watching the debates are tough!

Does either Obama or McCain have an advantage?

On the surface, it can be argued that McCain has the home-field advantage. The town-hall format is something he prefers and has demonstrated much skill in.

The format allows for direct questioning of the candidates by the audience. 

How to win

So what are the keys to victory?  Much like when Terry Bradshaw and Mike Ditka outline what each team must do in this hallowed and sacred part of the year known as Football Season, two armchair political quarterbacks will analyze what must be done at tonight’s debate.

In the ‘D’ corner:

Chris Lehane is a Democratic strategist, frequent television commentator and former staffer in the Clinton White House.  He provided:

O’s Five Principals of Combat

1.  Error free ball:  The trajectory of this campaign will not change unless O makes a real mistake that plays into a negative storyline (inexperience, elite/arrogant). And the history of presidential debates is that they usually alter the fundamentals of a campaign only when a candidate makes a major mistake that plays into a negative typecast. Thus, no mistakes on something that matters.

2.  Counter-punch like Muhammad Ali: Ali, one of the greatest heavyweights ever, knocked out big punchers like Foreman, Norton, and Frazier by counter-punching. Like Ali, Obama needs to hit back when McCain attacks, because voters absolutely want to know that the person in the Oval Office will stand up and fight for them, and because McCain’s chin will be exposed when he bull-rushes Obama.

3.  Be Michael Coreleone and not Sonny or Fredo:  Obama can’t be like Sonny and go in swinging away without a real plan and he can’t be Fredo and not fight back. He needs to be Michael – smart and shrewd in taking on his opponent.

And being Michael in this debate – and campaign – means homing in on a character compare-and-contrast focused on “who do you trust to make the right economic decisions for you and your family.”

Trust on the economy is where Obama wins when he counter punches – it is the cut above McCain’s eye that he should just pound on at every opportunity (as Biden did in the VP debate).

4.  It is Oprah, not a Harvard vs. Yale debate:  The public watches these debates to get a sense of the character of the candidates. Voters are not scoring it like a Harvard versus Yale debate, but watch it the same way they would watch Oprah.

Given that it is a town-hall style debate involving direct interaction with the audience, the premium on connecting in terms of a candidate’s character is even higher than in a moderated debate.

Candidates have made mistakes in the past that badly hurt them – not just because of what they said – but how they looked. Bush Sr. at his watch; Nixon’s darting eyes; Gore sighs.

5.   You don’t have to win: Obama does not have to win in a conventional sense. He just has to avoid doing anything that changes the fundamentals of the campaign. Thus, don’t let a need to win the debate lead to Obama being “hot” or “out of character.”


October 5, 2008

2nd Presidential Debate: Tom Brokaw Is A Blatant John McCain Supporter – Will He Be A Fair Debate Moderator?

 The second presidential debate is scheduled for next Tuesday, October 7 at 9PM EST/8PM CST.

The debate will take place at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee.  The debate will be in the Town Hall format and questions will be taken from the audience and some from the internet. 

Participants in the town meeting will pose their questions to the candidates after reviewing their questions with the moderator for the sole purpose of avoiding duplication. The participants will be chosen by the Gallup Organization and will be undecided voters from the Nashville, Tennessee standard metropolitan statistical area. During the town meeting, the moderator has discretion to use questions submitted by Internet. 

The host will be Tom Brokaw of NBC who is a John McCain supporter. Mr. Brokaw has said that over the summer he had “advocated” within the executive suite of NBC News to modify the anchor duties of the MSNBC hosts Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews on election night and on nights when there were presidential debates. Brokaw thought that Olbermann and Matthews used their time on air to engage in ‘commentary’. NBC said earlier this month that the two hosts would mostly relinquish their anchor duties to Mr. Gregory, while being present as analysts during debates and special election coverage.

Brokaw also said he has conducted some “shuttle diplomacy in recent weeks” between NBC and the McCain campaign.  His mission, he said, was to assure McCain’s aides that — despite some negative on-air commentary by Mr. Olbermann in particular — Mr. McCain could still get a fair shake from NBC News.

On the Sunday, September 28 edition of Meet The Press, Tom Brokaw moderated a debate between McCain strategist Steve Schmidt and Obama strategist David Axelrod on topics ranging from Iraq to the Wall Street bailout which Axelrod seemed to win. At the end, Tom Brokaw did something unusual, he opted to give himself the last word and told the audience:

“In fairness to everybody here, I’m just going to end on one note. And that is that we continue to poll on who’s best equipped to be Commander in Chief, and John McCain continues to lead in that category despite the criticism from Barack Obama by a factor of 53 to 42 percent in our latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. Gentlemen, thank you very much. “

In fact, the latest NBC poll actually has no question about Commander in Chief. It turns out that Brokaw was referring to a poll taken weeks ago – right after the Republican convention and well before the September 26 national security debate. In each of NBC’s last two polls, Americans chose Obama over McCain so Brokaw was being quite dishonest.

Brokaw is very blatant and bold with his support of McCain; can he be a fair moderator?

Also read:




Obama/Biden 2008!



September 20, 2008

Vice Presidential Debate Shenanigans – Thursday, October 2 at 9pm EST

 The McCain campaign has insisted that the Thursday, October 2 debate between Sarah Palin and Joe Biden have shorter question-and-answer segments than those for the presidential nominees. With this format there will be much less occasion for impromptu direct exchanges between Palin and Biden.

 McCain advisers said they had been concerned that a loose format could leave Ms. Palin, a relatively inexperienced debater, at a disadvantage and largely on the defensive.

The bickering and power struggle was chiefly between the McCain-Palin camp and the nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates which is sponsoring the forums.

Commission members wanted a relaxed format that included time for follow-up questioning and challenges between the vice-presidential candidates. Last week, the Commission rejected a proposal from advisers to Palin and McCain for few if any free flowing or flexible interactions. Advisers to Biden say they were comfortable with either format.

 A commission member said that the new agreement on the vice-presidential debate was reached late morning Saturday. It calls for shorter blocks of candidate statements and open discussion than at the presidential debates.

Both campaigns see the four debates as pivotal moments in a presidential race that is not only extraordinarily close but also drawing intense interest from voters; roughly 40 million viewers watched the major speeches at the two parties’ conventions.

 While the debates between presidential nominees are traditionally the main events in the fall election season, the public interest in Palin has proved extraordinary, and a large audience is expected for her debate debut.

The negotiations for the three 90-minute debates between Obama and McCain were largely free of any power struggle. The Obama and McCain campaigns have agreed to an unusual free-flowing format for the three televised presidential debates which begin this Friday, September 26. Teams Obama and McCain agreed to one substantive change to the format originally proposed by the debate commission, giving them two minutes apiece to make a statement at the beginning of each segment on a new topic.

Schedule of debates:

Friday, September 26, 2008: Presidential debate with foreign policy focus, University of Mississippi, Oxford, MS

 Thursday, October 2, 2008: Vice Presidential debate, Washington University, St. Louis, MO

 Tuesday, October 7, 2008: Presidential debate in a town hall format, Belmont University, Nashville, TN

 Wednesday, October 15, 2008: Presidential debate with domestic policy focus, Hofstra University, Hempstead (L.I.), NY




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