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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.


thelorax thelorax 9 years
Obama looked like a sniveling, whiny little boy pouting in the corner. McCain had him on the defensive most of the time - and I have to say that I expected it to be the other way around. Obama is an amazing speaker when he's scripted, but make him think on his feet and he stumbles. I agree with Citizen, though - I was dismayed at McCain's dismissive answer RE: the bailout deal.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 9 years
chiming in super late here, but the debate really is going to be viewed through different eyes, depending on who you were going to vote for in the first place, it has alot to do with personal opinions. That said, I dont think anyone "won" really. I would have been really drunk if i had stuck to my drinking game words coming from obamas mouth.
LeChatonNoir LeChatonNoir 9 years
Not everything is a matter of opinion.
kelsen kelsen 9 years
Wow....I guess I must be reading this whole thread differently, because I found it to be a respectful and interesting discussion of the debate. Of each their own opinion.
LeChatonNoir LeChatonNoir 9 years
Excuse me, everyone. I have been reading posts and seeing comments like "McCain and Obama have come out about even" and I was just wondering if you were watching the same debate. I am a bit disturbed by the level of denial of those posting, regardless of their opinion. I think it is incredibly obvious that McCain has no integrity by objectively watching and listening to him speak on behalf of his experience and his opinions; he could barely speak in full voice (his voice even wavered a couple of times) and could not make eye contact with Obama-- this man was afraid. Afraid of explaining and defending his ideology when he doesn't have the experience he always talks about to back it up. He is a corrupt individual simply because he has not admitted to himself that he's running a campaign on bullshit, a man who almost canceled his appearance in the debate because he feels much safer regurgitating a pre-written speech with catch phrases than answering real questions in real time. Obama did not give the amount of thoroughness in his answers as America would like, but he had to spend much of his time responding to McCain's childish attacks. In all, I am disappointed that from what I have read, no one who posted is willing to admit that McCain is a joke. Who and what are you defending, people?!
sonya-ina sonya-ina 9 years
McCain was completely disrespectful to Obama. He looked at him maybe once (when they shook hands in he beginning) throughout the entire debate. Also, I think it's GREAT Obama agreed with McCain on a few points, even though the McCain camp is already using that against him. He has A LOT more tact than McCain. Honestly, the vibe I got from McCain while watching was "I'm a disagreeable and grumpy old man." He had no energy and his answers were completely boring and at times completely irrelevant. Obama on the other hand, handled his answers with tact and zeal -- He knew what he was talking about and carried himself well. I don't know about you guys, but that's the kind of energy, spirit, and knowledge I want in the White House.
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 9 years
I know I'm a day late and a dollar short but my reaction to the debate was BOOOOOORRINNG! Although the questions were kept from them their answers at least to me seemed scripted. There was no fire not passion. I was disappointed.
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
Actually, I almost couldn't. Why couldn't they wait until a commercial? OK, enough silliness. I'm off to bed. :wave:
fuzzles fuzzles 9 years
...and you could only hear the shrill whistles of the refs. ;)
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
Well, I gotta admit that there are very few women I can stand to listen to. Most likely because when they are talking to me it's a complaint of some sort, like I don't pay them enough attention. At least that's what I think they were saying, I wasn't really listening. You see, the game was on, and it was the 4th quarter, and the score was close.... ;)
fuzzles fuzzles 9 years
Dave, I'm telling you, it's all about the lipstick. It effects voice pitch, as well as perception.
Adrenalynn75 Adrenalynn75 9 years
That about sums it up UD. ;)
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
OK, so I will refine what I've always thought. Left don't like SP, right don't like HC, and independants don't like either. Sound better? :rotfl:
hope2be hope2be 9 years
I'm neither left or right right now and I actually like both women! Imagine that! :lol: But voice-wise, yeah, both have pretty grating reminds me..of ... MOM (esp. when she's nagging me). :D
Adrenalynn75 Adrenalynn75 9 years
I can't stand either woman's voice!
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
It's funny (in a non-humorous way) that the right can't stand Hillary Clinton's voice, and the left can't stand Palin's. Any theories?
Ginger Ginger 9 years
Thanks for mentioning that Dreamsugar. I was wondering if I'm the only one who finds Palin's voice really grating. It will be interesting to see how she manages under pressure. Of course I'm just guessing that she will feel the pressure when she's can't "get back" to the debate with some follow-up research to the things she doesn't know. But it's also possible she's really too clueless to think it's a problem if she misses a few answers.
True-Song True-Song 9 years
jill, I think that was a huge tactical error on the part of the McCain campaign. If they hadn't kept her out of interviews, we wouldn't be so hungry for them, so eager to pick them apart. I mean, Biden has made a lot of what people are calling gaffes, but it's not making the news because of the simple rule of supply and demand: the campaign has created a scarcity of Palin access, so she's in high demand.
hope2be hope2be 9 years
I wonder why Palin is kept away myself. I'd like to know more about her too. AS FOR quick polls, etc. There's a reason why I hate polls. It was 2004. I was feeling desperate because I really really wanted Bush out of the office (I've never been a Republican supporter) :p I was so sure that Kerry would replace Bush, because according to the polls he won the debates by a pretty good margin then his rating went up as well. And yea, I voted for Kerry and at that time I remember working for this guy who's a Republican and how I actually boasted that Kerry is a surefire winner. It was a shock for me that he didn't win, after that day, the polls kind of pissed me off. But then again, time is different, so I dunno what to expect from the upcoming election since it seems like it's pretty close race right now.
jackiehenry jackiehenry 9 years
I watched the debate and I thought Obama did a wonderful job. In the beginning McCain looked a little disoriented to me...I also liked the "bomb, bomb,bomb Iran" zinger that Obama brought up. However, I cannot WAIT for the Biden/Palin debate on Thursday! Must see TV...
dreamsugar dreamsugar 9 years
:rotfl: just kidding!!!!!! OBAMA freaken ROCKED IT and showed that he could hold his own. He clearly won last night. John got in some zingers but his anger showed and he didn't look at Obama once. Ok - maybe once. To me McCain looked like the snob - not looking at Obama as if to say you're not in my league. I can't wait until the VP debates (if I can survive Palin's voice)!!
dreamsugar dreamsugar 9 years
I'm changing my vote!
Jillness Jillness 9 years
WOW! I just read that Biden has done 100 interviews since being picked as VP...compared to Palin's 3 interviews. How can citizens understand what she stands for if she doesn't try to get her opinions out there?
hope2be hope2be 9 years
None of them has an experience as a president :lol: because none of them has been one :lol: Right now, they're applying for the job, presenting their resumes and going on such public interviews :D I really think it should go further/deeper than the 'charm' factors, or 'age' or 'race' or 'religion,' to decide whoever should be in office... I'm not going to compare Palin to Obama in regards of foreign policy. She's not running as president, although it's an important part of the job (for either President and VP) but I do think she's going to have a tough time against Biden who has had superior experience in foreign policy this upcoming debate. She will have to rely on her education rather than personal/professional experience without looking like she's quoting textbooks or whatever their advisors have taught her. And Biden also must watch out to not antagonize her too much that it'll backlash on his team while making it clear that he's the superior one in this (so it's a no no for him for patronizing and antagonizing). Then again, Biden's gaffes (he did make some funny comments, in the past few weeks that I think would've 'killed' Palin if she had said what he said) haven't been much of a discussion compared to Palin's, so it may not matter if he goes for her full throttle ;) Whatever approach he'll take, it should be very interesting to see. I have a feeling thought, despite everything, I'm not going to discount her out yet. I heard that she was pretty tough on debates during her run to become a governor (although she didn't come out looking great during Couric and Gibson interview). Funny. My fiancee whom I suspect to have a crush on her is very excited to see Palin/Biden debate :lol: more so than last night's debate. Thanks for the response, TS. I'm curious on how the 'bail out' talk will come out because I'm probably making my decision later on based on their 'role' on this. It's not about who's going to support or not support the bill, but that's just me. A naive and confused voter :lol: Right now, both candidates kind of have similar rating in my head :)
True-Song True-Song 9 years
from MediaCurves held a focus group, and while Democrats and Republicans broke along party lines, independents gave the edge to Obama on every segment: 61% of independents said Obama won, compared to 39% for McCain (”tie” wasn’t given as an option) Independents rated the segment on Russia as Obama’s best, giving him the edge 66.7% to 33.3% Independents rated the segment on government spending as Obama’s worst, giving him the edge over McCain 53.4% to 46.6% I've only seen polling that calls it a tie or that shows Obama as the clear winner with undecideds/independents. Do I have Obama goggles on? Anyone seeing anything else?
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