8:03- McCain says Americans are "hurting and angry...and they're angry." Is McCain projecting his own anger at Obama & the media, discussed in recent weeks, onto the American electorate as a whole? Does this count as populism?
8:06- Once again, as in the first debate, it is Obama who relies on the formulaic "worst financial crisis since the Great Depression." I'm no enemy of the comparative study, but I think formulaic language weakens the electoral intellect.
8:08- Excellent! McCain goes directly to Obama, "Joe looked to your tax plan..." Is McCain telling the truth? Obama has that "Oh, John, you're not telling the truth" smile on his face. Whose plan will really lower taxes on Joe the Plumber?
8:11- Whoever is correct about the tax plan, McCain is certainly wrong about "class warfare" and "spreading the wealth around." McCain is openly defending the rich, "Why would you want to raise taxes on anyone."
8:13- McCain says, "We're talking about Joe the Plumber" and seconds later he defends the rich again by supposing that no one should pay for the goals of America.
8:14- Obama is not getting his point across.
8:16- Obama will go through the federal budget line by line and eliminate programs that don't work... and then he makes a distinction with "programs that we need." Sounds like a shield to not cut any programs to me. I'm going to hold President Obama to this one.
8:19- McCain is strong tonight. He's going to the mattresses on spending. But there's that "planetarium" line again. It's so much more than "an overhead projector." Has anyone ever been to a planetarium? Anyone know how awesome they are? Would we have NASA without current NASA engineers and physicis
8:22- "Senator Obama, I'm not President Bush. If you wanted to run against President Bush, you should have run four years ago." That is a stake in the heart.
8:23- Obama is right about clean coal technology making him unpopular with environmentalists. Check out my post below about Entergy's plan to convert the Little Gypsy plant to clean coal.
8:25- "I've got the scars to prove it."
8:25- "Senator Obama, your argument for standing up to the leaders of your party isn't very convincing."
8:26- Here's the moment, "Will you say these things to the other's face?"
8:27- McCain takes on John Lewis?
8:28- McCain takes on Obama on the issue of spending, and very effectively. He has Obama in his hands, working him like putty. Accuses him of not standing up to the leaders of his own party, then calls him out for not taking on John Lewis. This is not racism and this is not race-baiting. This is McCain winning the debate.
8:31- McCain accuses of Obama for airing "attack ads" that attack his policies. That is not an "attack ad." That is an ad. Attacking the policies of your opponent is the point of any campaign.
8:34- How will McCain respond to the "palling around with terrorists" line?
8:35- Obama did not accuse soldiers or soldier's wives of anything.
8:35- Why won't Obama just answer McCain's accusations with truthful statements? He's trying to unite. He wants "to disagree without being disagreeable." McCain is having none of it. He brings up Senator Clinton again, which is subtly undermining of the Obama candidacy. He comes to ACORN (see Wesley Peart's post below). What does Obama say?
"Bill Ayers is a professor of education at the U. of Chicago. Forty years ago, when I was 8 years old, he...committed despicable acts." He lists the rest of Ayers' associates from that very same board. Will anyone listen already?
"ACORN is a community organization. They were...paying people to register folks... The only involvement I had with ACORN, I worked for them, along with the US Justice Department...on the motor voter act."
And Obama brings out his real associates. This is a much more successful tack. Will this be an uptick for Obama?
8:41- Schieffer leaves the door open for more ACORN/Ayers questions later.
8:44- "...what they call the lower 48." Oh, that's cute, isn't it? Sarah Palin is from Alaska!
Those people haven't been involved in the political process because they don't care enough about politics. They think that everything will be alright and that their vote doesn't matter. They aren't involved now because Sarah Palin is running. They're involved now because someone told them that a black Muslim terrorist was running for president.
8:47- Schieffer just nixed Obama's response! Did anyone else see Obama try to respond, but then frown as if Schieffer had just denied him the chance? I certainly did.
8:49- McCain is doing a fantastic job tonight. Where has this John McCain been for the last two months?
8:50- I get the sense that Obama's energy policies aren't getting through. I saw $2.99/gal gas today. He isn't bringing anything to McCain. And McCain is able to sit there and keep smiling while he readies the next barrage of attacks.
8:52- McCain parses language, really going for Obama's strong spot. No one denies that Obama is a great orator. But McCain is delivering a career performance. This is going to make the next three weeks a lot tighter. No more clear sailing for Obama, if the rest of the country agrees with me.
8:55- "...we can create 5 million new jobs." Finally Obama gets back to the economy.
And McCain brings back the "negotiate with terrorists" meme, albeit inserting Hugo Chavez in place of Mahmoud Amhadinejad. Then compares Obama to Hoover. I don't think those comparisons strengthen McCain's hand at all.
8:58- Obama, speaking directly to the camera, explains his health care plan. I know a lot of people who have been waiting to hear this, and who have needed to hear it from Obama himself. And he's honest about spending, looking to the long-term benefits. Why not add some dig about, "So Americans can still enjoy health care when they get to be Senator McCain's age."
McCain returns to "my old buddy...Joe." That was very Larry David-esque in its delivery. McCain misrepresents Obama's position, then apologizes, then looks absolutely shocked - shocked! - when Obama corrects him. That was laying it on pretty thick. McCain knows he is winning but he's getting arrogant.
9:03- Obama really doing well to speak directly to "Joe" while defending his plan against McCain's mischaracterization.
9:04- When did Obama just try to redistribute the wealth? Obama just said "no fine." If the American people "will receive more money" under McCain's plan, isn't that also redistributing wealth? McCain is simply not telling the truth about Obama's health care plan. It isn't about "fundamental differences between [their] policies," it is about McCain telling untruths about Obama's plan.
9:07- "All I wanna do, if you've already got health care, is lower your costs. That includes you, Joe." - Obama
9:08- McCain states, "I'm a federalist." Let's look into this one.
9:09- McCain suggests that Congress give up its prerogative to confirm or deny judges because "elections have consequences." If those consequences are that the president gets his/her way, what is the point of Congress? The last thing the federal government needs is more expansion of executive power.
9:12- Will McCain lean on executive power again in the face of Obama's reasonable propostion to help the branches cooperate? No, but he takes on abortion in a real world context after refusing to do so in the judicial context.
9:13- McCain admonishes Obama for his vote on treating fetuses that survive abortions, but what about torture? Why did McCain vote to allow the Bush Administration to torture enemy combatants? Obama pretty much took the wind out of McCain's argument on this one. The law to protect unborn fetuses was on the books. Gotta check on this one, though.
9:18- Really just noticing the CNN "Audience Reaction" graph, but Obama's talk of education is making the red Republican line skyrocket! Go Peace Corps! And suggesting that parents "put away the video games" and exercise responsibility made the graph drop dramatically. Is this simply a case of the graph operating at a different delay than the video and audio we're seeing on the screen?
9:24- Did McCain forget Michelle Obama's name? Just because vouchers failed in Washington, D.C. isn't an epitaph for the entire concept. For one, look at the Washington, D.C. gun policy. They aren't exactly beacons of freedom in the civic government of our nation's capital.
9:25- Q: Is it right to use autistic children for political ends?
9:27- What does the mayor of Washington, D.C. support when it comes to education policy? My immediate sources say the appearance is that the mayor supports education wholeheartedly, making many appearances at presentations and programs at local schools.
9:29- Can we trust Obama? Looks like McCain's strategy hasn't changed at all. He's proud to serve, he'd be honored, and you can't trust Obama.
9:30- Formulaic language ("worst economic crisis since the Great Depression") once again.
9:31- Interesting how that red Republican graph was high on several occasions when Obama was speaking. I would not put it past the GOP to have coached their audience so no one could accuse them of being the same sorts of people who have been showing up at McCain-Palin rallies.