Liveblogging! Debate 2




25,000 emails! Some of these have to be winners. Brokaw says he has a “long list” of “excellent questions.”

Allen Shaffer: Economy. BARACK: “Worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.” “Failed economic policies.” “Bush.” “McCain.” Rescue package was “step 1.” “Cracking down” on CEOs. “Middle class needs a rescue package.” McCAIN: Allen “goes to the heart” of America’s worries. “Energy independence.” “Keep Americans’ taxes low.” “Stop this spending spree.” “$10 trillion debt.” “Reforms.” “Home values of retirees’ continue to decline.” Will have Treasury “buy up” bad home loans. “Is it expensive? Yes.” But home loans must be “stabilized” before we can “get America working again.”

Discussion! Who instead of Paulson? McCAIN: “Not you, Tom.” Not… much… laughter. “Someone America identifies with.” Like Warren Buffett, Meg Whitman. Who? eBay. Oh, we relate. “Inspires trust and confidence” — lack of same is the problem. Also: “greed.” OBAMA: “Warren Buffett.” “Wages and incomes have flatlined.” “Middle class tax cut.” “Not enough time with their kids.” “Senator McCain is right.” Oooh, they’ll make a new ad!

SO FAR: McCain is Little Mary Sunshine, Obama the anti-Bush candidate.

Oliver Clark: Bailout? McCAIN: “Rescue.” “Main Street was paying a very heavy price.” “Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac… betcha you may never have heard of them.” O rly? “Obama… cronies… loans they could never pay back… Democrats in the Senate… resisted any change…. money and campaign contributions…” But we will “stabilize.” Again, Freddie and Fannie, McCain stood up. OBAMA: “What’s in the rescue package for you?” Then what “frozen up” credit does — schoolhouse rock. “I’ve gotta correct a little bit of Senator McCain’s history.” Deregulation, not me. “He is a deregulator.” Obama “wrote to Secretary Paulson…” They never wrote back! “McCain… keep on deregulating.” Fannie Mae reform “wasn’t his [McCain] own bill…” Plus McCain had an advisor who was a lobbyist. But let’s not play the blame game.

Discussion! Getting worse? OBAMA: “I am confident… help ordinary families. McCAIN: “Depends on what we do… stabilize the housing market… get rid of the cronyism… letter a group of Senators and I…” See, he has letters, too.

SO FAR: So this is the negative campaigning stuff, we guess, tied up with a shiny bow and wrapped in bunting.

Teresa Finch: How can we trust you? OBAMA: “I can understand… you’ve got a family budget… Washington doesn’t do that.” Bush, again. Debt “almost doubled.” While “no one is completely innocent,” Bush budgets are the problem, and McCain voted for them. “Gotta reform health care… can’t keep on borrowing from the Chinese… spending cuts.” McCAIN: “The system in Washington is broken… I have been a consistent reformer… reaching across the aisle… climate change.” Obama, conversely, has “never taken on his leaders.” He suggests she see the National Taxpayers Union and such like. Obama “voted for every increase in spending… nearly a billion dollars in pork-barrel… overhead projector…” Where’s the snail darter? “Get middle Americans working again.

Discussion! Priorities? McCAIN: “Reform.” Retirement won’t be as it was. Have to “reach across the aisle.” Tip, Reagan, Joe Lieberman, all of the above, clean coal. “We can take on this mission… we can do ’em all at once. OBAMA: “Prioritize… energy we have to deal with today.” “Iran… benefiting from higher oil prices.” “Ten years time… free of foreign oil.” JFK. “Health care is priority number two.” Then education. Then McCain’s giveaways to “big corporations,” etc.

SO FAR: I take a shot, you take a shot. But we both have programs!

“Fiora from Chicago” via internet. Sacrifice? McCAIN: Eliminate some programs. “I’ve taken on” defense contractors. I’ve saved money! “Not the overhead projector…” God, give it a rest, old man. “Spending is going to have to be cut… spending freeze.” But what sacrifice? “Not done behind closed doors.” Great. Sacrifices? Doesn’t like Obama’s priorities. “We’re not rifle shots.” ?? “We can get ’em all done.”

OBAMA: “9/11.” ? “All America came together… opportunities that was missed… ‘Go out and shop.'” That Bush, what an asshole. “Energy… start thinking about how we use energy… explore… 68 million acres that we’re not using…” What, do we drill? Sacrifices? “A fuel-efficient car…” With what money? “Effort from each and every one of us… doubling the Peace Corps… involved in their community…” Oh, so the kids will sacrifice. Good, it’ll teach the little shits.

Discussion! Easy credit? OBAMA: “Washington,” “got to show that we have good habits.” Earmarks are $18 billion; McCain gives tax cuts to CEOs. “That’s not sharing the burden… tough to ask the teacher… to tighten her belt…” Not for using a “hatchet” to cut but a “scalpel.” McCAIN: “Nailing down Senator McCain’s tax proposals… like nailing Jello to the wall… Herbert Hoover.” McCain’s a happy warrior! “Small businesses… Senator Obama’s secret that you don’t know…” What, he’s a Muslim? No, taxes on small businesses, which will be ruined. “Let’s not raise anybody’s taxes, my friends.” Will double tax exemptions. And give a refundable health care credit.

Brokaw won’t let Obama respond.

SO FAR: Sacrifices are never so popular as tax cuts.

Some other guy, filtered by Brokaw: the “ticking time bomb” of Social Security. OBAMA: “Not going to solve… unless we understand our tax polices… Straight Talk Express lost a wheel on that one.” Ooooh, burn! “Tax cut on 95 percent of Americans.” Let me repeat that! I don’t think ya heard me! “$250,000 a year.” Hey, we make less than that! OK! “He wants to give the average Fortune 500…” Forget that, get the tax program right.

McCAIN: “I’ll answer the question.” ‘Cause Obama didn’t. “My friends, we know what the fixes are..” Yes? “Gotta sit down across the table.” That’s some magic table! “Medicare’s gonna be a little tougher.” Two tables? No, “a commission.” Oh Jesus. “Too many lobbyists…” Again, Obama is/will increase your taxes. “I have cut spending… my vision of the future of America.”

No follow-up.

SO FAR: Back to the old days: I’ll cut taxes. Oh no you won’t!

Ingrid Jackson: Environmental and stuff. McCAIN: “Tough economic times.” Oh oh. “Joe Lieberman and I… we kept the debate going… danger of greenhouse gases.” He likes nuclear power. “Safe and it’s clean.” Obama, mumble mumble, doesn’t like. “Clean up our climate, battery powered-cars!” Gets this hushed tone, as before, like he’s telling a bedtime story. OBAMA: “This is not just a challenge, it’s an opportunity… new energy economy… five million jobs…” Now he’s Little Mary Sunshine. Compares this to the computer revolution — needs “investments.” “Senator McCain and I actually agree on something” — can’t use that in a GOP ad. But McCain has been around a big long time! Also he likes to drill. Obama, though, thinks we can’t just “drill our way out of the problem… working with the private sector… innovation.”

Discussion! “Manhattan-like project” or “100,000 garages” to fix energy? McCAIN: “Development,” then turn it over to the private sector. “That one,” meaning Obama, voted with Bush and Cheney and his oil company buddies! But he does love oil — it’s “vital,” it’s gotta be drilled — voice hushed again: he loves doing that. COPD?

SO FAR: If everyone’s seen The Rainmaker, maybe they’ll like McCain’s “big rain a-comin'” approach. Or if they love oil.

Lindsey Trella: Health Care? OBAMA: “If you’ve got health care already… you can keep your plan.. cut your premiums.” Sounds lovely. “Computers.” Oh, we like those. “McCain has a different kind of approach… tax credit.. tax your employer-based credits… also strip away the ability of states…” Oh, right, he mentioned “pre-existing conditions” earlier. If this too much reasoning for American voters? McCAIN: “Really identified one of the challenges… do all the things that are necessary… put health records on line…” Wow! We’re living in the future! “He starts talkin’ about government… mandates… if you’re a small businessperson… Senator Obama will fine you.” Wah, I don’t want fines! And McCain says we can go across state lines! When we’re running for our lives, we’ll want to take our health care with us. “Hair transplants… I might need one of those myself…” Oh grampa… “Obviously small businesspeople want to give their employees health insurance…” So we don’t need to make sure of it.

Discussion: Responsibility? McCAIN: “Every American citizen,” sure, but “government mandates,” we don’t need that, it comes with fines. OBAMA: “Right for every American… people are going bankrupt.” Yes, but you like fines. “Arguing with insurance companies…” Oh, yeah, there’s that. “50 percent tax credit.” We like credits. And he’ll treat children — McCain voted against a children’s health care program! Fines? “Crack down on insurance companies.” Also he explains the problem with the state-to-state thing — legal shopping against “the consumer protections you need.”

SO FAR: You could say Obama is defensive, but his defenses are very good.

Some other guy: Peace-making? McCAIN: Strong economy, strong military… “heard a lot of criticism… America is the greatest force for good… the challenge is to know when the US can benefit the outcome of a crisis… our most precious treasure… someone with the knowledge and the judgment…” That’s me, John McCain! I was a POW! “My record… marines to Lebanon… Bosnia, Kosovo… Obama was wrong about Iraq and the surge… short career… does not understand.” What an asshole. OBAMA: “It’s true there are some things I don’t understand… invading a country that had nothing to do with 9/11…” And he cruises on this — after all, it’s a gimme. Mentions the money it’s all costing. Needed at home. “All the wonderful things that Senator McCain says we should be doing…” Ha! “Strains” of the current policy prevent us from doing something in Darfur.

Discussion! Congo, Rwanda. Obama doctrine? OBAMA: “Not always national security… moral issues at stake…” Hypothetical about the Holocaust, compares to Rwanda. “Genocide… ethnic cleansing… diminishes us… part of our interest… but understand there’s a lot of cruelty… can never be everywhere all the time…” That’s why we have allies — Darfur has African troops. “We could be setting up logistical support.” McCAIN: “If we had done what Senator Obama wanted done in Iraq…” Things wouldn’t be as great as they are now. “Obama would have brought our troops home in defeat.” And spit on them! “Do whatever we can to prevent genocide… tempered with our ability… a cool hand at the tiller…” Somalia was bad, McCain knew. Also Lebanon. Loves the troops, too. “Never again.” Sarah’s jumping up and down at home, waving her Israeli flag.

SO FAR: Is biography a compelling argument when you’re usually wrong?

Katey Ann: Pakistan? OBAMA: “Difficult situation… because we made a bad decision… we got distracted… bin Laden” in Pakistan. Where, exactly? So we have to go to Afghanistan. “We can’t coddle, as we did, a dictator… encourage democracy in Pakistan… if we have Osama bin Laden in our sights… we have to act.” Okay, this is Kerry territory. McCAIN: “My hero is a guy named Teddy Roosevelt… Senator Obama likes to talk loudly… says he’d like to announce that he would like to attack Pakistan.” WTF? “We drove the Russians out — the Afghan freedom fighters — ” Uh, this is a little thick, John. “General Petreus had a strategy… same fundamental strategy that succeeded in Iraq…” So what happened? “Get them to work with us… not threatening to attack them.”

OBAMA: “Nobody called for an invasion of Pakistan.” Repeats what he said before. “Bomb bomb bomb Iran… annihilation of North Korea… on to Tehran… the kind of policies that undermine us…” McCAIN: “I have supported those policies… I was joking with a veteran… I know how to handle these crisis… by saying he would attack Pakistan… I’ll get him! I know how to do it!” Why didn’t you tell Bush how to do it then? “But I’m not gonna telegraph my punches.” Oh.

BROKAW: Afghanistan? OBAMA: “Iraq… Withdraw our troops in a responsible way… desperate for more help… when I met with President Karzai… we want a democracy in Afghanistan…” McCAIN: “Petreus… will set the tone… it is the same overall strategy…” So we’ll be there forever, then. “We have to have the same strategy… Obama still fails to admit that he was wrong… same kind of strategy… happening in Iraq today.” So, more of the same. “Honor and victory.”

Some other guy: Cold War? McCAIN: “Russia’s behavior… outside the norms… petrodollars… I warned about Vladimir Putin… repressed liberties…” So what to do? “Moral support for Georgia… there are penalties.” And these are? “International pressures.” Uh huh. “Economic, diplomatic, and others.” OBAMA: “Can’t just provide moral support… Poles, Latvia…” What to do? “Financial, concrete…” Where does that come from? “Anticipate some of these problems… I put out a statement…” What, not a letter? Said Georgia situation was unstable. “We tend to be reactive… rushed into Iraq… that had cost us dearly… much more strategic.” Also, reduce energy dependence, reduce power of “petrodollars.”

BROKAW: Evil empire? OBAMA: “Evil behavior.” McCAIN: “Maybe… if I say yes, that means that we’re reigniting the old Cold War… Georgia… energy… we can deal with… firm and determined United States.”

Terry Sherry: Israel? Iran attacks? McCAIN: “Thank you for your service.” (He was a petty officer.) “We obviously would not wait for the UN Security Council… Iran on the path to acquiring nuclear weapons… threat to the stability of the entire Middle East… what would you do if you were the Israeli?… Obama, without preconditions…” Why is that an issue? “Pressure on the Iranians… tough sanctions… League of Democracies… abridge their behavior… we can never allow a second Holocaust…” OBAMA: Also honors service, etc. “Cannot allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon… we will never take military options off the table…” No veto power to the UN. “Use all the tools at our disposal… if we can work more effectively with other countries to tighten sanctions on Iran… prevent them from importing the gasline… putting the squeeze on them… it may not work, but one of the things that we’ve learned… we have a better chance…” President Bush ignored diplomacy and look what happened.

Internet question: “What don’t you know and how will you learn it?” OBAMA: Michelle “could give you a much longer list.” Than what? “I know that I wouldn’t be standing here if it weren’t for the fact that this country gave me opportunity…” We don’t understand. Scholarships, scrimping, food stamps, went to the best schools etc. “Are we gonna pass on the same American dream to the next generation… lost their healthcare…” What about the question? “Do the same things that we’ve been doing…” Maybe someone else is supposed to learn something. McCAIN: “What I don’t know is what all of us don’t know…” Which is, apparently, everything. “We will be talking about countries that we don’t know…” Hmmm. “I have spent my whole life serving this country…” Well, there goes that question. “Keep one’s hope going in difficult times… comrades reach out to you… I believe in this country… I’m asking the American people… steady hand at the tiller.”

CONCLUSION: McCain followed his advertised strategy, which was to question Obama’s credentials. In this format, however, Obama was allowed to answer the questions. We wonder if anyone’s mind was changed?