September 26, 2008
It would be put well quoting that tonight’s debate “almost wasn’t,” far exceeding my expectations of a full out brawl.
But before I start, in a nutshell, what really occurred the most to me is that there never really was a knockout punch, a home-run swing — a bold statement or attack that either tore off the roof or declared a real winner. There were really more or less small policy jabs, and in that respect I think that Barack Obama came out on top strategically.
A conservative CNN guest commentator put it extremely well, pointing out that in a social sense, there were truly two different people debating — a confident foreign policy candidate who will accuse, accuse, and accuse, and then an intellectual candidate who very acknowledges his opponents rights and points out his wrongs, playing out the debate on the defensive.
Although I am not sure that I agree with the statement on offense and defense, I think that the man raises a very good point — that Obama will win a debate through his policies, not his soundbites.
And this is really where Obama came right off the bat strong, starting by discussing the economic crisis. His first message was ripe and straight to the point, first throwing out the problem and what he will do to fix it, then proclaiming in a more subdued way that his opponent will take a different and less successful path more towards our president. And I also think that he brought out the point of: “Do you want the next four years under a president similar to ours, who is by the way the same person who you give approval ratings below freezing to?”
And I think that the general audience thought a second about that, liberal, moderate or conservative, and make their own decision.
And I think at the same time, McCain felt his grasp slipping. CNN provided a audience reaction poll (it obviously debatable if it is accurate) which showed a huge advantage out of the gate to Obama.
And this was a very decisive moment in the debate.
When the topic switched to foreign policy, I noticed a McCain taking chances. The pinnacle of this was a very bold statement from McCain about Russian President Vladimir Putin, quoting:
“I looked into the eyes of Vladimir Putin, and I saw three letters — a K, a G, and a B.”