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US Republican presidential nominee Senator John McCain (R-AZ) reacts to almost heading the wrong way off the stage after shaking hands with Democratic presidential nominee Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) at the conclusion of the final presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, October 15, 2008.

REUTERS/Jim Bourg (UNITED STATES) US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION CAMPAIGN 2008

John McCain scored the zinger of the night with, “I am not President Bush. If you wanted to run against President Bush, you should have run four years ago.”

But his performance in the third debate was, in fact, incredibly Bush-like, mirroring Bush’s signature stubbornness — especially on Iraq — by doubling down on a failed strategy.

McCain’s reliance on angry, negative, personal attacks on Obama — including the pathetic Ayers smear and ACORN “destroying the fabric of democracy” — has been an unequivocal failure, with the poll numbers to prove it. But instead of course-correcting, McCain doubled down tonight — coming across as angrier and meaner than ever before.

This debate wasn’t decided on the arguments being made. It was won on the reaction shots. Every time Obama spoke, McCain grimaced, sneered, rapidly blinked, or rolled his eyes. “He looked like Captain Ahab, again and again going after Moby Dick,” John Cusack told me. “Or an animal caught in a bear trap. He even seemed pissed at Joe the Plumber.”

The angrier McCain got, the more unruffled Obama appeared. It was like watching a split-screen double feature — Grumpy Old Men playing side by side with Cool Hand Luke.

McCain’s contemptuous reactions were so intense and frequent, they’ve already been turned into a YouTube video. The disdain McCain feels for Obama was unmistakable. It’s as if Obama is not just blocking his way to the White House, but robbing him of his destiny.

By contrast, every time McCain was on the attack, Obama was smiling. And the nastier McCain got, the brighter Obama’s smile became. It was the non-verbal equivalent of Reagan’s disarming “There you go again” — and it served to underline McCain’s need for anger management. The angrier McCain got, the more unruffled Obama appeared.

It was like watching a split-screen double feature — Grumpy Old Men playing side by side with Cool Hand Luke.

McCain was frantic — as though he was running out of time, which he is — throwing everything he had at Obama, logical connection between thoughts be damned. In one memorable answer, he brought up Colombia, quickly jumping from free trade, to drugs killing young Americans, to hostages freed from Colombian rebels, to job creation.

Colombia also brought out one of McCain’s most sneering reactions, chiding Obama for never having “traveled south of our border” — a jaw-dropping line of attack from the man who chose Sarah “Just Got My Passport” Palin as his No. 2.

Another head-scratcher: McCain’s claim that “talking about a positive plan of action to restore this economy” is “what my campaign is all about.” Really?

This is another way in which McCain’s campaign mirrors Bush’s handling of the Iraq war: not only doubling down on a failed strategy but also engaging in an endless search for an underlying rationale.

McCain’s spirit at the beginning of the debate quickly curdled into a desperate rage.

McCain’s campaign was all about experience — until he picked Palin. It was all about putting country first — until he picked Palin. It was all about the success of the surge — until everyone from General Petraeus and the authors of the latest NIE made it clear that victory in Iraq exists only in McCain’s and Palin’s stump speeches. It was all about William Ayers — until voters rejected that line of attack. It was all about national security — until the economy collapsed.

Now it looks like it’s going to be all about Joe the Plumber — and Sarah Palin’s “expertise” on autism. Note to Sen. McCain, check out Palin’s record as an advocate for special needs kids. She may understand their problems “better than almost any American that I know,” but she sure isn’t making their life easier in her state. (Is it any wonder McCain choked on the words as he referred to Palin as a “bresh of freth air”?)

Another note to McCain: If your mentioning Hillary Clinton three times in the debate was an attempt to win the hearts of women, putting women’s “health” in air quotes and labeling it the concern only of “extreme” pro-abortionists was not a very good way to close the deal. He can kiss those women — and those pro-choice swing voters — good-bye.

McCain’s spirit at the beginning of the debate quickly curdled into a desperate rage. And looking at the post-debate insta-polls, one thing became crystal: for voters, a lot of anger doesn’t go a long way.

Obama closed by promising to “work every single day, tirelessly, on your behalf.” McCain closed by just sounding tired — exhausted by all the unleashed fury.

Source: HP

Politico

I can feel it coming in the Ayers tonight, oh Lord !!

McCain’s meant to kick some butt – at tonight the last debate – which is to cover domestic and economic polity – though I’m not sure how convincing the average voter that a tax cut for the very wealthy is going to help them – especially since the last one didn’t work.

Tonight is the last presidential debate, and the stakes are highest for John McCain — he’s on track to finish off the season with three strikes. The Arizona Republican has been heightening expectations for a fight. Before last Tuesday’s debate he made a similar move, suggesting to a crowd that he would “take the gloves off.” (He didn’t, and by many accounts the debate was not only “boring” but another win for Obama.) Tonight is McCain’s last chance to close the widening gap between him and Senator Obama. By McCain’s own predictions, it would seem that only a knockout win will do the trick. Read below for McCain’s two major pronouncements: that he’ll “‘whip’ Obama’s “you-know-what” and that it’s “probably ensured” he’ll bring up William Ayers tonight.

Source: HP

Another predictable debate which noone won can only be good news for Barack Obama who needs only not to lose to winGerard Baker, US editor in Nashville, Tennessee

If John McCain’s supporters were hoping that Tuesday night’s second presidential debate would turn back the Obama Tide that has engulfed their campaign in the last two weeks they will have been disappointed.

It was a flat, unmemorable affair, a matchsticks-on-the-eyelids struggle to stay awake, a predictable canter through the now familiar fields of the fading 2008 presidential election landscape: the financial crisis and the economy; health care; energy; taxes; Iraq; the war on terror; Afghanistan, Iran.

Some of the exchanges, it is true, were sharper than in their first debate two weeks ago. Senator McCain, behind in the polls, swung a few times and landed a blow or two on the glass jaw of his opponent. But this was not a debate in any meaningful sense of the term. It was once again an alternating recitation of standard campaign lines.

Senator Obama – you may be shocked to hear – promised tax cuts for working people; universal health care, an end to financial deregulation, the winding down of the war in Iraq, a renewed commitment to the war in Afghanistan and an America that is liked by the world. Senator McCain – in case you hadn’t heard – is a Republican who will continue the failed policies of George Bush.

For his part Senator McCain insisted he was – wait for it – a reformer who would reform Washington, end corruption on Wall Street, drill for oil, win the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and robustly defend America’s interests. Senator Obama, he gravely reminded the audience, could not be trusted because he didn’t have the experience or the judgment.

One expects candidates to get their points across in these debates. But real debates involve thrust and parry; contention and objection; point and counterpoint. This had none of those necessities. And neither candidate was properly challenged by the moderator, Tom Brokaw, the superannuated NBC News Voice of God, to explain the trickier elements of their observations or square the contradictions in their claims. The town hall format, in which a few regular Americans in the auditorium (and a handful from outside via the internet) asked mostly bog-standard questions failed to break the gnawing predictability of it all.

Before the debate there had been much discussion about whether Senator McCain would use the occasion to repeat some of his campaign’s recent attacks on Senator Obama, specifically whether he might raise the spectre of some of the Illinois Democrat’s questionable associations in his past. Senator McCain has a reputation as a bare-knuckled fighter when he’s down, and given the parlous state of his campaign with less than a month to the election, it was thought he might take the lunge.

But in the event the Republican left the gloves on. There were no references to William Ayers, the 1960s lefty terrorist with whom Senator Obama evidently has a not-fully-explained past entanglement. Nor was there any time – on this occasion – for the volcanic Jeremiah Wright, Senator Obama’s professionally aggrieved preacher and mentor.

Instead, Senator McCain tried to duff up his opponent by what might be called Marquess of Queensberry Rules. In the financial section of the debate he got in a few good jabs over the Democrat’s support over the past few years for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two mortgage behemoths whose bloated expansion, with the willing support of Democrats, is at least as much to blame for the current crisis as any supposed capitalist rush to deregulation. And he cheekily compared him to Herbert Hoover, the Republican widely credited (if that’s the word) for the policy errors that led to the first Great Depression.

Probably the only moment of real surprise in the whole 90 minutes came when Senator McCain, explaining how he and his opponent had voted differently on an energy bill, referred to Senator Obama as “that one”.

It produced a slight wince of disapproving dismay in the media watching hall, the sort of response you might evince when someone gently belches at a dinner party.

But, like that little betise, it was gone in an instant. The debate quickly resumed its lumbering path towards bedtime. Even a final bright question from the internet that asked the candidates to say what they didn’t know and how they might learn it quickly became an excuse for another predictable recital of stump speech talking points.

In short, as with the first presidential debate two weeks ago, and the vice-presidential contest last week, no-one won this bout.

All of which is good news for Senator Obama. Thanks to the financial crisis that has erupted in the last three weeks , the Democrat has opened up a commanding lead in the polls that will surely now – less than four weeks before the election – only be undone by some terrible error on his part, or some unimaginable breakthrough by Senator McCain.

The Illinois senator is now in the position of a golfer who is dormie three in a matchplay tournament. If he doesn’t lose, he wins. And he can even afford to lose a couple of holes and still be in command.

Source: Timesonline UK

Immediately after the debate, Wolf Blitzer goes there: “It’s apparent to say that Sen. McCain has some disdain, I think it’s fair to say, for Sen. Obama. That was very apparent throughout the course of this debate.”

Source: HP


Watch full debate here

A good debate, McCain tried his usual lines of attack but Obama was prepared. What we could most take from it – was the differences between the two men. The McCain style is to attack almost without looking and the Obama style – to gather the facts and make a solid advance given a broad view of factors.

McCain was undoubtedly more respectful to Obama – bar a couple of incidents most notable – when he referred to Obama as ‘that one’. It seems to be slowly sinking in that Obama is for real – and not only is he there as McCain’s challenger – but also what Obama says and thinks has gravity with the American public.

I thought McCain got off the a running start and looked for a moment like – he was 40 years younger (maybe thirty yrs) – but that soon dried up – and I was honestly worried about McCain’s health – he appeared pent up – shaken and sometimes out of breath – that it really brought home his frailty – but more it had the effect of making him look desperate and even begging.

Obama clearly wants to take America along another vein – and it is not at all clear that McCain wants to do the same – instead he seems to be a man who is bolstering himself on what he knows already – and where he has been – and added to this McCain seems to be ignoring – the atmosphere of change – that is sweeping the world – in the environment, foreign relations to name a few. Where McCain seems to be looking to put the old puzzle together better – Obama seems to be gathering the pieces to put together a new puzzle. That’s change – whereas what McCain seems to talking about is an alteration.

Obama is saying it may be necessary to use aggression – but under his administration – he would use every effort – including diplomacy and gathering the support of our allies – to avert ever having to use such force. When Obama talks about aggression – McCain attempts to make it look as though he is being reckless – not only has Obama’s ideas been copied by the Bush administration – both making cross border attacks into Pakistan’s lawless border – and in dealing with Iran.

Obama used his segments wisely – to clearly lay out a broad a plan as possible – over scoring points – he seemed to be more focused on relaying his message in the most positive and direct way as he could. McCain was also clear on many points – but this was lessened by the fact that he was maybe looking for a punch up or a dust up – in the end McCain did not show himself at all superior. And that matters in a debate.

As for scoring points – Obama comes across as being more measured – and through this his brilliance comes out. He starts off his segments – kind of like the water that comes onto the shore – first the water is by your feet and next you know – it’s up to your knees. That’s Obama’s style. And one of the best examples of this was when he talked about energy and the need to come together – to effect change.

McCain’s style seems very – us and them – and then ‘them’ is made in to a target – them could be Barack Obama and them could be Russia – but it is almost as if he still flying the plane – as a naval bomber – and has to solve the problem via bombing. And he portrays himself almost as the man who knows how to bomb – but more there is a phantom army in support of his efforts. He has been in the Senate for many years – and he says I know how to catch Bin Laden – and another thing he frequently says is I know how to win a war. And what is Russia, for McCain – it’s the KGB – over an evolving nation – that most in Europe would attest to. And how he plans to deal with it – in his short answer – it seems would be like going back to the good old days – or pure aggression between the two nations – US and the USSR, over the reality of a far more open Russia that looks very different today.

With McCain’s shaky health – and Palin’s pursuit of trigger happiness – I would be worried about this line of attempt to deal with the problems we face with Russia.

Another part of the debate focused on healthcare and taxes. On taxes McCain seems to have switched direction on that one – telling Obama – in gambling man’s style – that maybe he would not lower taxes for the rich /those making over $250,000/yr. That’s when Obama retorted – that the Straight Talk Express has lost its wheel. If McCain has changed his mind here – then he agrees with Biden – in this economic environment that kind of expenditure on the rich – is unpatriotic – as it is the poorer people who need money more in tougher times. And goes directly in the face of what Palin has been yelling on the stump.

All in all it was clear that Obama – has become more adapt at debating McCain – one of the highlights was when he said – McCain keeps saying I don’t understand – yes I don’t understand how we could have gone to war – in Iraq when Al-Qaeda was in Afghanistan.

The first Presidential Debate kitted off tonight between Sen. John McCain and Sen. Barack Obama.

A skilled Barack Obama held his own – against the more experienced but narrowly focused McCain.

McCain attempted to use his campaign stump – condescending phrases to outline his superior judgment on matters – but found it very difficult to undercut Obama’s steady focus and confidence.

McCain looked authoritarian at times – and almost fossilized – age can be accounted here – though it is more John McCain’s frame of mind – which could seem frozen in the past. Particularly when McCain says he looked into Russia leader Putin’s eyes and he saw three things K G B – then quickly added that he doesn’t think we should go back to the cold war – which is not what he said in his speech – at the GOP Convention.

Barack Obama called it – looking at it through the prism – of Iraq – and then he broadened that and said that we need to have wider diplomatic focus – as for example China is now beating the US at their own game.

While McCain talked about – utilizing allies in Europe for war – and if like Spain there is some difference (over Iraq) – he is prepared to cast them aside – even a NATO ally – Barack Obama talked about bringing in European allies together to negotiate – with thugs for example in Iran – and if America needs to attack – then it comes down to a consensus – and the US military doesn’t have to virtually go it alone – but more – Barack Obama believes respecting our allies – and something he has talked about before – on hearing their allies concerns – and taking those into account as a part of US foreign policy.

When the US goes it alone – and it appears that no one else can have any input – then you end up with situations like the already suspicious Russia becoming aggravated – and then worst – the new alliances which form out of that aggravation – such as the partnerships with Venezuela – and the lack of full support on Iran by Russia.

America with all its military capability can’t come off looking like the aggressor. With the either you’re for us or you are against us – black and white US diplomacy – which McCain still holds on to with regards to Spain – you can’t build allies – you are going to make enemies anyway – there is little that can be done to please the Iranian leader or satisfy Hugo Chavez – but building as broad a base of allies can’t be overlooked. In addition it restores America’s image in the world as it comes across looking fairer – with the added benefit of more people sharing a similar view.

Obama sees a chance to use America’s influence – not only as a police force – around the world – (and I might add concentrating only on those areas which have to do with oil and gas) – but to extend America’s influence by seeing more investment in improving people’s everyday lives – like in areas of education so that more children have the chance to go to school (and the eradication of malaria in places like Africa) – around the world.

Here’s Obama undoing McCain’s bluff-it style – where he uses his age to promote confidence in is judgment even though he could be completely wrong – Obama should be wary of McCain’s over confidence – where he appears to have it under control – likely he doesn’t – as Obama showed in the following clip.

John McCain confidence on issues – belies his lack of foresight – Obama takes advantage

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