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Analysis of the First 2008 Presidential Debate

Debate Rebate: Our Reactions to the First Presidential Debate

Did you watch? Were you with us all commenting? If not, don't worry, here's the whole transcript of every word of the first presidential debate. Want to know what Liberty and I thought of the whole event? You're in luck!

First of all, Jim Lehrer did an excellent job. His ruthlessness and tenacity to get the straight, specific answer he was looking for, especially in regard to the economy, made his presence incredibly valuable. McCain stayed very consistently on message, railing against wasteful spending and solidifying his position against it. In terms of conflicts abroad, McCain's personal experience inside of Iraq gave him practical credence during the the segment on the wars, though Obama was very well prepared for it academically. I loved that McCain acknowledged history in terms of Afghanistan and the trouble caused by leaving the region before the job was finished early on, and he was clearly well focused on what needs to happen militarily in a global sense.

To see the rest of my thoughts, and what Liberty had to say,


McCain hammered home naivete over his institutional memory and experience and it stood up against Obama's admittedly impeccable preparation. The direct head-to-head did get tense at times, but they managed to keep it in a constructive arena. With moderator Lehrer springing a no-holds-barred, "are we facing another 9/11?" question toward the end, I think of all the elections, Lehrer may have just won "Supreme Moderator for All Time." McCain wrapped it up cosmically saying, "I know how to heal the wounds of war... I know how to treat our adversaries." As for a winner? Both candidates stumbled at times, did their jobs at others and both brought a serious A-game.

Tonight the candidates clarified, as well as muddled, their positions on many issues. On the introductory question about the $700 billion bailout plan, Barack Obama offered a numbered list of conditions he would require in an acceptable plan, while John McCain said "sure," he would approve the negotiated bailout. It seemed that after suspending his campaign, McCain would have clarified his position.

As for the designated topics — foreign policy and national security — McCain and Obama emphasized their respective strengths: the surge and tough talk on Russia and Iran for McCain and foresight on the folly of an Iraq war, and strong, but smart diplomacy for Obama.

Overall, McCain somewhat effectively painted Obama as naive, while Obama attempted to prevail as a cautious, informed leader. As for the punches, I think Obama's landed some hard ones; he called McCain out on discussing North Korea's extinction, and bomb, bomb, bomb, Iran. According to my super-scientific reading of the CNN audience reaction graph, Obama seemed to have higher marks with all groups while he spoke, but what do you think?!

The opinions expressed here are those of the authors, CitizenSugar and LibertySugar, and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Sugar Inc.


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