If this were a truly legit debate, 2nd parties would be allowed to participate. Bob Barr and Ralph Nader are nowhere to be seen (to name a few).
As it stands now, you will be seeing a family discussion with about 3 degrees of difference between the two candidates. Held in Oxford, Mississippi. Ole Miss.
"Hotty Totty, Gosh A Mighty,
Who In the hell are we?
Flim Flam Blim Blam,
Ole Miss, by Damn !"
(I Went there for 3 semesters.)
Here goes, Jim Lehrer has asked where the candidates stand on the financial giveaway to Wall Street.
Obama thinks we should move swiftly (before we realize we're getting ripped off) and we should move wisely (contradiction in terms, if you're talking about giveaways). He blames it on 8 years of failed economic policies from the Bush administration, disregarding the long standing role of Fannie and Freddie.
McCain opens with some crocodile tears over Ted Kennedy. McCain says he feels bad about things, but he feels better because The Mommy Party and The Daddy Party have agreed to sit down and work out the problem (kinda like when Mom and Dad went to counseling). Obama has offered some concrete things, numbered and orderly. McCain seems foggy.
Lehrer invites them to go at each other, kinda like when the counselor let Mommy and Daddy hit each other with pillows.
Obama says we've got to solve the problem short-term, and we've got to intervene. We need more regulation.
Lehrer asks if McCain will vote for the plan. McCain says he probably will. He warned about the Fannie and Freddie abomination in waiting, just like everyone else. He tells about Eisenhower writing two letters before the Normandy invasion. He says the Securites and Exchange Commission Chair should resign, just like Ike would've if the Normandy invasion had failed. McCain says he'll hold people accountable.
Obama contrasts Wall Street and Main Street. He wants to look at things that made ordinary Americans do worse than Wall Street.
Lehrer tries again to get the Mommy and Daddy Party representatives to talk to each other, not to the cameras. Obama isn't doing it.
McCain is looking at the cameras and Lehrer, not Obama.
(Sigh....these two aren't going to talk to each other. They're sticking to their talking points and stump speeches. Can this marriage be saved?)
Lehrer asks McCain if there are fundamental differences between what he and Obama would do to get us out of the financial crisis (Short Answer: NO).
McCain speaks truth when he says that Republicans have spent money like drunk cowboys. He speaks truth when he says that earmarking is a "gateway drug". He goes off again on spending 3 mil on taxpayer money to study bear DNA in Montana.
He's going to veto every spending bills that come across his desk.
He accuses Obama of spending 1 million per day as Senator. McCain finally shows some gumption.
Obama agrees that earmarks have been out of control. He says lobbyists and special interests are responsible, but only for 18 billion. He says McCain has proposed 300 billion in tax cuts for rich people and CEO's. (In all honesty, if you're going to cut that much in taxes, they're the only ones you can cut that much from.)
Obama is starting to stammer a bit. The earmark thing hit him hard, I think.
McCain hits back again on the earmarks. Says it's a systemic problem. He's hitting again on 800 billion in new spending on new programs. He wants to cut spending and keep taxes low.
Obama calls Bullshit on that one. He wants to cut tax breaks on people who send jobs overseas, is for a good healthcare system. He says the original point is that we should spend money wisely, Obama speaks truth when he says that eliminating earmarks will only take care of a small part of the problem.
Lehrer wants Daddy to talk directly to Mommy.
McCain says the business tax in the U.S. is the 2nd highest in the world. HE BRINGS UP IRELAND'S INCREDIBLY SUCCESFUL LOW TAX RATE ! ! ! (See a book called "The Pope's Children" on this topic). McCain says there's a lot more than 18 billion in pork barrell spending out there. There are 2,000 special deals out there. McCain says he wants every family to have tax cuts for health care. Double the dividend for dependent children in America. The worst thing we could do is raise taxes right now. Gets in something about wanting to know Obama's definition of "rich".
Obama says if you make less than 250 K, then you won't see a tax increase. Business taxes are high, but they have a ton o' loopholes, meaning that our businesses pay some of the lowest taxes. (Hell, they're getting what they've bribed their representatives to do....)
Obama says McCain intends to tax health benefits. Says McCain thinks the market can solve everything.
McCain: This is the difference between walking the walk and talking the talk. Mentions an energy bill that was a Christmas tree of goodies for all concerned.
Both of these guys are different from their previous performances within their own groups. Barack is much more relaxed here than he was against Hillary.
They're going back and forth about who has given away the most to the rich, and taken away the most from the poor.
Lehrer asks about the financial bailout. "As president, what are you going to have to give up because of this 700 billion dollar rescue plan?"
Obama ain't gonna give up anything. He says some things will have to be "delayed". He's not answering the question. He's going off on energy independence. Giving up things is an anathema to The Mommy Party.
This is why these debates are a total farce. Lehrer should interrupt, and say "Barack, WHAT WOULD YOU GIVE UP BECAUSE OF THIS GIVEAWAY TO WALL STREET?"
McCain: We've got to cut spending. It's hard for Obama to reach across the aisle from that far to the left. MCCAIN SAYS HE WOULD CUT OUT ETHANOL SUBSIDIES. He would cut out "cost plus" contracts. (Amen). We've got to get cost overruns out of control. McCain is winning this round, just because he was willing to put Iowa at risk by saying he'd cut out the ethanol subsidy.
Lehrer says none of that is enough. He presses Obama. Obama says we need to invest in energy to decrease independence on foreign oil. He goes off into lobbyists shaping medicare legislation. (Amen, Brother Obama). He wants to list every dollar of spending to see who is promoting each piece of spending. (I like it.)
McCain proposes a spending freeze on everything but defense, veterans, and entitlements. (Heck, what do we NOT think of as an entitlement?)
Obama says McCain is using hatchet when we should use a scalpel (WHEN WE'VE GOT A 9.6 TRILLION DOLLAR DEBT???? HELL, USE A CHAINSAW.)
McCain avoids a dig about Iraq, by talking about foreign aid being mis-spent. We can create a ton o' jobs with nuclear power plants. JOHN, YOU DON'T OPEN NUKES TO CREATE JOBS. YOU DO IT TO ELIMINATE THEM ! ! !
Lord have mercy, I'd forgotten why I stopped live-blogging these things.
Obama says we probably won't see anything back from the 700 billion any time soon. And in 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.
McCain wants to be sure we don't hand the healthcare system over to the Feds, the people who can't deliver "Sports Illustrated" to East Fort Worth on time.
(They're not really saying anything. I'm going to get some beer out of the fridge...be right back.)
More talk about who voted for what. No one mentions when they voted for what. They just throw this crap at each other, and Lehrer doesn't demand specifics. He lets them get away with being vague.
McCain says he's got a good maverick (Palin) with him now.
Lehrer asks about the lessons of Iraq. McCain says you can't have a failed strategy. The surge, the surge, the surge, victory with honor. Consequences of defeat: more Iranian influence, sectarian violence, etc. Petraeus, Petraeus, Petraeus.
Obama says there's a fundamental disagreement. Obama says he opposed it from day one. Obama says we've spent over 600 billion over there. We took our eye off the ball. Iraq has a 79 billion dollar surplus (truly one of the great WTF? facts of our involvement over there.)
McCain: next Prez is going to have to decide how and when we'll leave. McCain is going off on how he and Obama disagreed on The Surge. Obama is chair of NATO in Afghanistan committee, but hasn't had a hearing yet.
Obama is proud of his V.P. selection, Joe Biden. Explains how the system works. He's proud of the troops and Petraeus. He explains how the surge is a tactic design to contain damage of the previous four years of the war. The war we shouldn't have gotten into. He's nailing him on the WMD's. McCain is staring off into space with a slight grin, reminiscing about Hanoi.
McCain says Obama doesn't know the difference between a tactic and a strategy. Tells anecdote about speaking to the troops. The troops said "Let us win. We don't want our kids coming back here".
Both sides aren't debating each other. They're just trying to strengthen their base. Kind of interesting to watch.
McCain says Obama voted to cut off troop funding. Obama says it was timetable oriented. Refutes the timetable vs. strategy dig. Obama is giving more McCain quotes. Blah blah blah, more quote references.
McCain interrupts with Petraeus and Bin Ladin agreeing that Iraq is central to any conflict.
Lehrer goes into Afghanistan. More troops?
Obama thinks we need more troops there. The situation is getting worse there. Fatalities going up. 2 or 3 additional brigades need to go to Afghanistan. There was no Al Qaeda presence in Iraq till we got there. Press the Afghans to be sure the government is working for their people. Gotta eliminate the opium poppy trade. Stop them from playing footsie with Pakistan.
McCain says we made a mistake when we helped Afghanistan drive out the Russians, only to let the Taliban take over. He's not prepared to threaten Pakistan. He's spanking Barack over his willingness to attack Pakistan. The policy that Obama condemned in Iraq is the only one that will work in Pakistan. HE'S GOT FAITH IN PETRAEUS. Petraeus, petraeus, petraeus.
Obama denies wanting to attack Pakistan. He wants Bin Ladin. And if he's in Pakistan, so be it. Takes some shots over McCain's "Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran" jokes.
Barack is holding his own really well here. McCain should be kicking his butt on Foreign Policy, and it ain't happening yet. I'm looking forward to the fact-checks on this debate.
McCain tells about disagreeing with Reagan about invading Lebanon. But he supported first Gulf War. Supported going into Bosnia/Serbia/Kosovo. Said we should convert Somalia force from peacekeeping force to peacemaking force. Anecdote about wearing a soldier's bracelet, and promising that the soldier's death was not in vain. Anecdote about parents not wanting defeat.
Obama says he has a bracelet too. They both have bracelet stories. The troops have performed brilliantly. We took our eye off Afghanistan and the 9-11 perps, and we went into Iraq. You don't muddle through this type of thing.
McCain: You might think Obama could've gone to Afghanistan. He's been there. He knows what the security requirements and needs are.
Lehrer: McCain, what about Iran?
McCain says if Iran gets nukes, it's an existential threat to Israel. We can't allow a second Holocaust.
Obama believes that Saddam's Republican Guard was a terrorist organization. Iraq and Iran were enemies, now Iran's inflence is growing. We can't tolerate Iran with nukes. You could set off an arms race in the middle east. We need some cooperation with Russia and China.
"Reason" magazine is sponsoring a Bob Barr event, where he's answering these questions at the same time as the two Bipartisans. I wonder if it's more interesting than this.
McCain slams prez of Iran (I'm not going to try to spell his name on the run) for anti-semitic remarks in the U.N. this week. He slams Obama for being willing to meet without pre-conditions.
Obama says he'll talk with anybody he damn well chooses, as long as it'll help keep America safe. Brings up Kissinger stating that we should immediately meet with Iran, and Kissinger is now a McCain advisor.
Obama is doing really well on all this. McCain should be totally dominating. Not happening.
McCain gets in a dig about Obama's "Yes We Can" seal of the president. He emphasizes that you can't sit down with a nutcase like (the guy whose name I can't spell) when they're calling Israel a stinking corpse. Trust but verify.
McCain is trying to make too much over Obama's willingness to sit down without preconditions. That doesn't resonate with anybody outside of the Domestic Corps. Give up on it.
Now they're going on about what Kissinger would and wouldn't say.
Lehrer: Barack, how do you see Russia?
Obama: Our entire Russian approach has to be revamped. They're a threat to the region. What they did in Georgia was unwarranted. We need a unified alliance. We have to affirm the fledgeling democracies in that region. HE SAYS GEORGIA SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO ENTER NATO. MISTAKE. WE HAVE NO BUSINESS ATTACKING RUSSIA IF THEY ATTACK GEORGIA. We can't have a Cold War posture r.e. Russia.
Obama is coming across as knowledgeable and smooth and eloquent. McCain is coming across as someone primed with talking points. Obama is not necessarily accurate, but that's not what this is about.
McCain: Russia committed serious aggression against Georgia. They're fueled by petro-dollars. Putin is KGB. We need to help our friends and allies. This is about the oil pipeline running through there. He's going on and on without a structure or a mental outline of the point he's trying to make.
Obama agrees with most of what McCain says. Says we should've objected more forcefully. We have to anticipate some of these problems. Obama warned (September last year) that Russia was up to no good. Russia is all about the petrodollars. We need to increase offshore drilling. But we can't drill our way out of this problem. Solar, wind, clean coal, etc etc etc. McCain voted 23 times against solar, wind, and biodiesel.
Lehrer: There's time for one more.
McCain: I call bullshit on Obama's last statements. Offshore drilling will help relieve our energy requirements. Jabbering back and forth about who supported what, and when they supported it. This is the most cross-talk we've had so far.
Lehrer: What is the likelihood of another 9-11.
McCain: Much less than after 9-11. We're a much safer nation. He worked with Joe Lieberman to find out what happened, and fixed it.
Throws Bush under the bus.
He's bipartisan, reached across aisle. We need trained interrogators, no torture. Work closely with allies. America is safer today than it was on 9-11. We still have a ways to go. The aftermath was the biggest re-organization of government since we started the Defense Department.
Obama: We're safer, but still have a long way to go. Biggest threat isn't an airborne nuke, it's in a suitcase. We need more help from our allies. We have to understand that the way we're perceived is important. He will restore America's standing in the world. He gives McCain credit on the torture issue.
McCain: brings up a Reagan era thing about Star Wars that very few people remember. He says all would be lost if we follow Obama's plan of setting a timetable for withdrawal.
Obama: over the last years, this administration, including McCain, have been focused on Iraq. We still don't have Bin Ladin. We owe China one trillion dollars, and they're raising hell all over the world. We've weakened ourselves by focusing so much on Iraq. We're spending 10 billion a month on Iraq. This hurts healthcare, science, technology. We haven't funded veteran's care. We have put all chips in on Iraq. We're not talking about losing the war. We're talking about a broader strategic vision.
McCain: I've been in on every challenge we've faced in the last 20 year. Obama hasn't. Plus, Obama is wrong a lot. MCCAIN COMPARES OBAMA'S STUBBORNNESS TO THAT OF BUSH? McCain says he's got the unique background for this job. Ready to go right now.
Obama: My father came from Kenya. Wrote letter after letter to come to the U.S. It's where you could make it if you tried. But we've declined since then. Now, we're going to invest in education, in how ordinary people invest in our dreams.
Lehrer: Last Call
McCain: when I came home from prison, I worked on veterans affairs. I know how to heal the wounds of war.
Lehrer: Get ready for the V.P. debate on October 2nd. Washington University in Saint Louis.
Obama won it, unless fact-checkers come up with inaccuracies. McCain did ok, but wasn't as smooth. But it's not going to change a thing. Bipartisans are still going to be running the show.