Friday, September 26, 2008

Liveblogging the First 2008 Presidential Debate

Hi! And welcome to my liveblog of the first debate between the candidates for President of the United States of America in the 2008 election. If you're new here, welcome! And if you've been here before, welcome back!

You may have previously joined me for liveblogging the
2008 Emmy Awards, (most of) the 2008 Summer Olympic Opening Ceremonies, the 2008 Oscars, Super Bowl XLII, and a 2007 meeting of the Longmont, Colorado, City Council. As you are aware, I'll add stuff LIVE AS IT HAPPENS! at the top of this post, so if you just got here, start at the bottom of this post and read up. Then, frequently refresh this page to get my latest insightful analysis and/or merciless snark.

God bless you, and God bless America.

10:41 p.m. -- I decide to bring the liveblog to a close, and another one's in the can.

10:39 p.m. -- I realize the debate is over, just like that. In accordance with the Commission on Presidential Debates's instructions, I turn off the TV and talk about the debate with Milo.

10:38 p.m. -- An anonymous commenter shares an observation about the pronunciation of "Pakistan." I wildly guess that this commenter is Sarah from Arizona, although I am not sure why I think this. Anonymous? Are you out there?

10:36 p.m. -- Obama doesn't think that people around the world think that America is that beacon of hope that attracted his dad in the '60s. I will say that my experience is that, around the world, folks' opinion of the US is on the decline (comparing Ghana in 2003, Liberia and Sierra Leone in 2007, and India in 2008), but that America is still a touchstone around the world for Opportunity. I tell this to Milo, and he sings the national anthem.

10:35 p.m. -- Obama addresses his heritage.

10:34 p.m. -- McCain remarks -- again -- that Obama doesn't get it. Drink!

10:31 p.m. -- Have we spent any time talking about China so far? I'd say that's a pretty significant foreign-policy issue today, and I don't remember hearing about China in a question from Jim Lehrer...

10:29 p.m. -- Obama: "Al-qaeda is working in 60 countries." Crap! That's bad, man.

10:28 p.m. -- Obama: "We're safer in some ways, but not in others. Biggest threat to the US is a terrorist getting his hands on a nuclear device."

10:27 p.m. -- McCain: "We have to make sure we don't ever torture another prisoner again." (or something -- paraphrase, emphasis mine) So, have we been torturing up until now?

10:24 p.m. -- "What is the likelihood of another 9/11?" asks Lehrer. "Less than the day after 9/11," responds McCain.

10:22 p.m. -- Time for one more "lead question" segment, whatever that means.

10:21 p.m. -- Obama seems to have a lot in common with McCain. How many times has he said, "Senator McCain is right" tonight?

10:20 p.m. -- It kind of feels like the geopolitical name-dropping is over the top. "I can pronounce 'Pakistan' correctly!" "Oh, yeah? Well, I know where South Ossetia and Sevostopol are!"

10:17 p.m. -- Obama does not wish to return to a Cold War posture with Russia. But it's what we did well for lots of years...isn't it? Wouldn't it make sense to go back to that?

10:16 p.m. -- Apparently it is true about the height thing -- if Wikipedia is to be believed.

10:13 p.m. -- McCain: "The average South Korean is three inches taller than the average North Korean." What does this mean? And is it true?

10:11 p.m. -- Over an hour into it, I think they deserve a break. A glass of water or something.

10:08 p.m. -- "Ahmadinejad." "Perestroika." "Kissinger." Maybe McCain's dentures are loose.

10:07 p.m. -- My mind starts to wander. Milo and I talk about what we're doing the rest of the weekend. (Me: church clean-up and the Festival of the Turning Leaves tomorrow, a big day at church on Sunday. Him: laying around, eating salad and rabbit pellets, working on his memoir.)

10:03 p.m. -- Lehrer refers to the time with regard to the rules, which no one seems to have understood from the beginning. Channeling the re-animated corpse of John McLaughlin, Lehrer shouts: "NEW LEAD QUESTION!" (I'm paraphrasing, of course, and I also know that John McLaughlin is not dead, nor is he a re-animated corpse -- if Wikipedia is to be believed.)

10:02 p.m. -- McCain uses the word, "calamitous."

10:01 p.m. -- McCain gets bitchy. "When I'm subcommittee chairman, we handle the issues under our oversight."

9:59 p.m. -- McCain has a bracelet from the mother of a US soldier. Obama also has a bracelet from the mother of a US soldier. Where are these US soldiers getting all these bracelets?

9:57 p.m. -- McCain attempts other pronunciations of "Pakistan," then invokes the name of Ronaldus Magnus, appealing to Dittoheads throughout the nation.

9:56 p.m. -- Obama digs into McCain's "Bomb, Bomb, Bomb...Bomb, Bomb Iran" song.

9:55 p.m. -- Haha, Jon chimes in from Yuma: Pack-ih-STAN, Pock-ih-STAHN/Po-tay-to, Po-tah-to.

9:53 p.m. -- Even if I wasn't already going to vote for Obama already, I would vote for him because he knows how to pronounce "Pakistan" like a citizen of the world.

9:51 p.m. -- Obama mentions the Poppy Trade. I wonder why he didn't mention that that's relevant on account of the opium.

9:49 p.m. -- Lehrer changes the subject to Afghanistan, offering Obama yet another chance to look, sound, and feel more presidential than McCain.

9:48 p.m. -- Obama mentions Osama, and I wonder why we haven't gotten that guy yet.

9:46 p.m. -- Milo curls up right next to me on the floor, which I take as a sign of his willingness to put aside our political differences and be friends. It's like Ebony and Ivory, living together in perfect harmony, side by side on my piano keyboard. (Oh, Lord.)

9:45 p.m. -- McCain actually just said "Two Fourths of July ago..." While probably technically correct, I have to wonder.

9:44 p.m. -- Obama starts talking directly to McCain. I think they should pull out those padded sticks to start hitting each other. Therapeutically.

9:40 p.m. -- Did you see this article earlier today? They accidentally jumped the gun and posted an internet ad that said, "McCain Wins Debate." I kind of think they didn't mean this debate, exactly.

9:39 p.m. -- Julmille, in the comments, questions why veterans > children, in terms of healthcare.

9:38 p.m. -- Obama suggests that what McCain said is hard to swallow. McCain says, for the second time tonight, that he was not elected Miss Congeniality in the Senate. Did he say that before during this debate? Or did he say that in the Diane Sawyer interview? And I really don't think Maverickness is a presidential qualification.

9:36 p.m. -- John McCain is blinking a lot.

9:35 p.m. -- Milo mentions that he and his friends think the fight against global warming is a good idea. You would, too, if you had to wear a fur coat all the time.

9:34 p.m. -- And McCain mentions his own history with global climate change, as an ally with Senator Clinton. Huh-wha? Who is he trying to court here, exactly?

9:33 p.m. -- Obama mentions Iraq. McCain gets all terrorists-and-energy in response.

9:32 p.m. -- Lehrer gets testy because the candidates are not specific enough.

9:31 p.m. -- Obama calls McCain "John." I predict this is the exact moment where the debate heads south.

9:26 p.m. -- I switch to watch the debate on the local Fox affiliate, on account of I do not have cable, and that is the clearest channel at this time. I realize that McCain's tie is really stripey. Honestly, I learned about the "Moiré effect" in high school TV class. Did no one tell the McCain campaign about this?

9:24 p.m. -- McCain uses the word "festooned." Really?

9:22 p.m. -- I notice that Obama has a red necktie on and McCain's is, I don't know, stripey. I wonder what kind of negotiations went into those decisions.

9:20 p.m. -- Dr. Phil Jim Lehrer encourages McCain to address something Obama just said, directly, to his face.

9:19 p.m. -- Milo, my unexpectedly conservative rabbit, scoffs at my seven-houses remark. He is incredulous at my naivete. I apologize to Milo for oversimplifying the complexities of the United States tax code.

9:18 p.m. -- McCain implies that Obama is the out-of-touch, too-rich one who doesn't understand the value of money. (Seven houses, much?)

9:16 p.m. -- Obama: "$18 billion [on earmarks] is important. $300 billion [in McCain-policy tax cuts to big corporations] is really important."

9:13 p.m. -- Lehrer asks McCain about the fundamental differences between his approach to the financial mess and Obama's. McCain calls earmarks a "gateway drug." Pork-barrel spending = marijuana now, I guess.

9:12 p.m. -- Jim Lehrer, more like a marriage counselor than a seasoned anchor, encourages Barack Obama to talk directly to John McCain about what he misses about their relationship what he hopes Senator McCain will do on the financial crisis.

9:11 p.m. -- John McCain invokes a military metaphor, and I lose interest. I spot a huge cricket in my living room and work to de-life it.

9:08 p.m. -- Jim Lehrer tries to start a fistfight between the candidates.

9:06 p.m. -- John McCain does not look well. I wonder if it was a health thing, not the financial crisis, that led him to suggest he'd be skipping the debate?

9:02 p.m. -- Tonight's debate is mostly about foreign policy, I guess. But the audience may not cheer or applaud, except RIGHT NOW! Clap, audience monkeys! Clap!

9:00 p.m. -- Despite Barack Obama's text-message-based advice earlier, I am watching the debates on NBC, not CNN.

8:59 p.m. -- In an effort to be less partisan, I will include commentary from Milo, my minilop rabbit, a notoriously conservative little guy with just the cutest little bunny butt you ever did see. I'll make sure his thoughts appear here now and again.

8:58 p.m. -- Ready for action.

8:57 p.m. -- Snack break. Must fortify with Just Pop In's cheddar popcorn and Diet Coke.

8:56 p.m. -- No. No, I did not invent the word, "blogojournalistic."

8:53 p.m. -- Having no notion of blogojournalistic ethics, I wonder: Do I need to declare that I have donated to the Obama campaign? Or will it be painfully evident in my writing? I also wonder: Did I just invent the word, "blogojournalistic"?

8:52 p.m. -- I receive a bitchy email from Joe Biden, who starts off his missive with, "Now that John McCain has decided to participate in tonight's debate..." Not classy, Joe. Not classy.

8:50 p.m. -- Famous Ole Miss alumni: Kate Jackson (my third favorite Charlie's Angel, behind Jaclyn Smith and Cheryl Ladd) and fictional characters Suzanne Sugarbaker (my fourth favorite Designing Woman) and Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy (my second favorite Star Trek doctor).

8:46 p.m. -- I do some digging into Ole Miss, the University of Mississippi at Oxford. It gets its name not as a derivation of "Mississippi" but from a term of respect slaves used for the wife of a plantation owner -- if Wikipedia is to be believed.

8:45 p.m. -- I lose interest in Diane Sawyer's McCain interview and wonder who the moderator for tonight's debate is. (Answer: PBS's Jim Lehrer)

8:39 p.m. -- I flip over to ABC and see Diane Sawyer interviewing Barack Obama and John McCain (separately).

8:35 p.m. -- I learn there are specific instructions for watching a debate, or at least for hosting a DebateWatch. Like, such as: "Consider making nametags" and "When the debate is over, turn off the television." And I am not kidding. But could they not come up with new questions for the post-debate conversation, rather than recycling the 2004 questions? I mean, I guess not that much has changed in the world of DebateWatches, but we wouldn't go around using the post-debate wrap-up questions from 1984. ("Which candidate reminded you more of Wham! and which candidate was more Bananarama?")

8:27 p.m. -- I do a little homework over at the Commission on Presidential Debates. Why is it and not


julmille said...

His tie is like that of a candy striper.

And why is it more important to care for veterans than it is children?

Jon said...

Re: the "MCCAIN WINS DEBATE!" ad: I wasn't aware there was a scoreboard behind these guys. Now that it's a sporting event I like it even more now!

Jon said...

You say Pack-ih-STAN, I say Pock-ih-STAHN

Jon said...

OMG, North Korea's government is so oppressive the sheer weight of that oppression is making their people shorter!

SSS said...

Or, you know, the malnutrition.

K.T. said...

Wish I had known about the liveblogging event. I would have logged in sooner.

Anonymous said...

the whole pah-key-stahn thing? actually it kind of annoys me. because really, since when do we worry about pronouncing country names correctly? has the o-man started calling it meh-he-co?

just a thought...

Anonymous said...

anonymous is here, but is not sarah from arizona -- though i'm sure she is a perfectly lovely person.

just one of your faithful readers, who wishes to remain, um - anonymous? :)

SSS said...

Sarah from AZ is perfectly lovely, as you suspect.

Welcome! And thanks for being a faithful reader!

Perfectly Lovely Sarah said...

Awwww.... You really don't know me. On that note, check out this awesomely terrible game!