Here’s a clip where Joe Biden insinuates that McCain is injecting race into the election (@ around 2:30):
Biden seems to imply that McCain himself is stirring up racial issues as a political ploy, as he follows up the race mention with several recent McCain quotes – none of which implicate any racial issue of course.
Meanwhile, this story was cnn.com’s front page article last night. The piece reads like Obama campaign propaganda. It has exactly one source – a Democratic super-delegate and major union leader, and no data, just a lot of convenient anecdotes.
It is nearly impossible for the Republican party to fight this narrative. All it takes is one idiot at a campaign rally shouting “Arab”. The media reports the anecdote, and suddenly McCain is somehow responsibility for the most uncontrollable sort of stupidity. Undecided voters edge away from his camp and reasonable Republicans become discouraged or embarrassed and stay home, which only makes the crazies stand out more.
It is futile to point out that the Democratic camp’s racist baiting is a distraction, because there are some racists out there, and yes they are bad. Point out that Biden has baselessly insinuated that McCain has catered to racism and he can comfortably correct himself, “Oh I meant his supporters, not him personally.”
Meanwhile, Republicans have to grit their teeth and watch the election of a man who premised his campaign on a break with the divisive politics of the past and a return to substantive issues.
Here is cnn.com‘s current front page as I post this, by the way.
For all the people dying to get my take on the debate (Mom? Dad???) here it is, the Commentarius live-blog of the second Presidential Debate!
Times will reflect CST. I’m getting started late here, so you’ll have to go elsewhere for takes on the first 20 minutes.825- Ok, missed some of the earlier debate. But here’s a summary:
McCain did a good job explaining that Obama wanted drastic increases in expenditures. Before that he missed on his defense of the bailout. He should have started his explanation exactly the way Obama did – explaining that the bailout might be necessary to save the financial system.
Also, Obama called out McCain for saying the fundamentals of the economy were strong, then minutes later said he wasn’t pessimistic and that the American economy was strong. So only Obama can be optimistic?
826- Obama just compared getting off foreign oil in 10 years to going to the moon: “We can do it even if we don’t know how now.” This is what why conservatives are justifiably suspicious of environmentalist policy proposals. Even if the science behind global warming is strong, the science – and the economics – behind the solution is often non-existent.
Now he’s saying oil companies don’t deserve tax breaks. Does he mean the tax “break” they get when the corporate tax rate is reduced across the board? If he were selling a higher tax for oil companies as an emission reducing measure I’d be on board, but he’s selling it as punitive populism: oil companies should be taxed extra because they’re bad.
833- McCain: Earmarks! Obama: economic populism!
834: Obama is hitting McCain’s obsession with earmarks. As I’ve said before, I think this obsession is small-minded on McCain’s part.
I think this is the moment for McCain to call Obama out on the enormous amounts of money that he is going to spend, and the billions in taxes that he is going to levy.
836: I want to hear how many billions, McCain.
837: McCain is doing a decent job explaining how wrong-headed and inopportune Obama’s economic policies are. Too little too late though.
Obama just got cut off by Tom Brokaw. It made him look pretty weak.
839- Obama: I’m only taking money from rich people. Rob the rich with me!
Everyone knows the rich are evil and don’t deserve their money. But if having money makes one such a horrible person, maybe we shouldn’t all be pouring it on our government.
842- This has been a much better debate so far. Much less rhetoric, more policy than the last one. I guess they figure only wonks watch the second debate.
845- McCain defends nuclear power. Good. Obama sells snake-oil economics: “We can make over 5 million new green jobs.” Um… Yes, by raising taxes on all the rest of the jobs and forcing who knows how many lay-offs. 4 million? 6? Subsidies make the economy less efficient, not more.
848- Brokaw complains about time limits, McCain waves arms around awkwardly.
850- Obama takes a question about whether we should treat health-care as a commodity. He explains his complicated and extremely flawed plan without explicitly answering the question. Though you could probably read a no in there…
853- McCain is saying a lot of health care words. He’s not as eloquent as Obama and also doesn’t really answer the question. (The correct answer is yes.)
854- Brokaw notices that McCain has not answered the question. He pins him down and McCain sort… of… says no. “Yes I believe its a right but I’m not comfortable with government mandates.” So you support universal health care but not a mandate, McCain?
Oh, now Obama jumps in and says no explicitly. “Health Care is a right.” There you have it. The battle against the welfare state is lost. Both candidates think that health care is a right that rich people should have to buy for you.
900- McCain: “America is the greatest force for good in the world.” Greater than OBAMA???
902- Talking about Iraq… Nothing we haven’t heard before. Right on the surge v. right from the start, vice versa.
Here is where McCain should step it up and accuse Obama of abandoning people to suffering under the petty tyrants of the world.
904- Brokaw pins them down on the morality of looking away from genocides.
Obama: “When we stand idly by as genocide happens, that diminishes us.” That’s why I find your foreign policy repellent, Obama. I have no faith in your will to intevene. You’ll have at least 4 years to prove me wrong.
McCain misses a big moment. He should have accused Obama of wanting to abandon Iraqis to a possible genocide. Instead he complains about Obama wanting to surrender. Ugh!
909- Question: should we violate Pakistani borders to fight Al Qaeda?
Obama takes the opportunity to slam past military conduct. Bloviates for a long time before saying that we have to be stern with Pakistan. Says we’ll violate borders if we have Bin Laden in our sights. But for that only?
McCain says some nonsense about how we can’t admit publicly that we are going to violate borders. “This turns countries against us.” But by saying we can’t admit it, you’ve admitted it anyway. Weak.
Obama demands a response and uses it well. Calls out how inappropriate some of McCain’s previous behavior has been (e.g. singing “bomb bomb Iran”). You brought this on yourself with your last weak argument, McCain.
915- McCain acts concerned. Whatever.
916- Brokaw asks whether or not we will accept a dictator in Afghanistan. Obama leaves open that possibility in his long answer about tactics. I find your lack of faith in democracy disturbing, Obama. McCain says some stuff about tactics and that “We will succeed”. Ok… so dictator or no dictator? Did I miss the answer?
920- Question about Russia – I missed some of McCain’s answer but he supports aid to Georgia and pressure on Russia. Cool.
Obama says that McCain is wrong, we should give aid to Georgia and put pressure on Russia.
925- McCain has gotten worse as time went on. Every time he dives into rhetoric it gets awkward. When he talks policy he sounds good. Is he just not able to talk policy easily and fluently in this setting, or does he think that the rhetoric sells? The former would be more understandable, I think. Debating in public is tough.
929- Everyone loves Israel. I don’t think we’ve heard any substantive disagreement here, but I wasn’t really paying attention.
930- Tom Brokaw: “What don’t you know.”
Obama ignores the question and starts talking about what he knows: poverty is evil, we can fix it by taking money from evil rich people. Killing two birds with one stone?
932- McCain”I don’t know what will happen tomorrow.” A fair enough answer, and unlike Obama, an actual answer to the question, though not one that converts it into useful information. He also talks about what he knows, which sounds a lot like what Obama knows.
935- Its over… Well this has been the least intellectually strenuous blog-activity I’ve undertaken. Maybe I’ll have a more substantive post on Obama’s health care policy in a little.
Who won? I’m leaning toward a tie… I thought McCain did better for the first half, but had a few bad moments and missed opportunities at the end. But let me look through what I’ve written and see if it tips me one way or the other.
UPDATE: Ok… I’ve reviewed my liveblog. I think I’ve made it clear that I disagree with Obama’s policies, but it would be hard to read a McCain win into what I have written. I think my frustration that McCain didn’t cream Obama comes through more strongly than my appreciation for the decent job he did.
But few people’s opinions will be changed by this debate. We are entering a dark time for the Republican party and for the values that I hold dear. If the last eight years had been better spent, I might not be so disappointed.