Jen, I’m not so sure we’ll get a retraction. This might just be another one of Obama’s real-time impromptu policy shifts to the Right.
Posts For: October 15, 2008
McCain brings up the past Obama votes on Infants Born Alive and partial birth abortion. He is right on the facts. Obama responds by lying — he says there was already a law for lifesaving treatment and that it would endanger Roe v. Wade. He lies with such ease and such calm it is startling. He then makes a gaffe by saying he would support a ban on late term abortions if there was an exception for health and life of the mother. No, he doesn’t! I’m sure we’ll get a clarification in the hours that follow.
Obama dishonestly says that it’s not true that he voted to withhold life-saving treatment to a baby who survived an abortion. He is being completely dishonest here.
McCain promises that there will be no litmus test for nominating federal judges regarding their stances on Roe v. Wade. It’s a remarkably honest statement coming from a Republican candidate–a pro-life candidate no less–as it does nothing to help his tenuous standing with the conservative base.
Schieffer brings in Roe v. Wade in a far more sophisticated way than any reporter I’ve heard: would you nominate someone who disagrees with you on this issue. This is a very nuanced question. I think McCain, on the facts, has the upper hand here: he voted for Ginsburg and Breyer, but Obama, in lockstep with the left, voted against Chief Justice Roberts. So Obama simply talks about Roe and equal pay rather than his demonstrated ideological rigidness. Schieffer should have pressed him to answer the good question.
McCain actually gulped on this one: would he consider appointing judges who supported abortion rights? He didn’t handle this well. Now Obama is stating the standard pro-choice line, and he’s doing it in a calm and reasonable way. Let’s see if McCain brings up the born-alive legislation, which Obama opposed in Illinois. Obama is the extremist on abortion, not McCain.
Over at FOX they seem a bit glum — making the point that McCain didn’t really drive his message home or make a sustained, coherent attack. The Luntz group has a mixed reaction, but those who shifted their loyalties went for Obama. (Wait, they were supposed to be undecided?! Hmmm.)
McCain certainly had moments but perhaps conservatives were looking for not just a nice showing but a knockout blow. Not tonight.
McCain has tried tonight, and in the past, to try to make Obama’s health care plan sound like Hillary’s. It won’t work because it isn’t true, as Obama explained pretty clearly. The real line of attack is that Obama’s plan does nothing to control costs. In Massachusetts, where employers are forced to provide health insurance, costs have soared. Almost every decent health economist recognizes that, but McCain has never developed this argument. Instead, he has relied on the more pedestrian argument of trying to tell us that Obama wants socialism.
…and this is by far his strongest performance. Ever.
McCain finally gets around to the Hoover analogy — trade protectionism and higher taxes. It is a good and accurate one, but like many arguments not the most forcefully delivered.
I can’t tell if this helps him or it seems kind of preposterous (like when a character in a scripted comedy does it), but it’s odd.
…with Colombia is opposed by Obama because, he says, of attacks on trade-union leaders? McCain tries to get in a good dig by mentioning that Obama wants to meet without preconditions with Hugo Chavez — but he doesn’t say who Hugo Chavez is, and then mentions the terrorist group FARC without explaining that FARC is a Colombian terrorist group. Which means the tens of millions of Americans listening have absolutely no idea what he was saying.
I know most Americans don’t care about the Colombia Free Trade Agreement, but McCain was very good on this. And Obama is bringing up the canard that labor leaders are being targeted in Colombia with no prosecutions. Violence against union leaders is down, not up. And judges and others in the justice system have been among the chief victims of assassinations in Colombia.
McCain rightly picks up on Obama’s wishy-washy stance and argues we could do that now. He also comes back strongly on the Colombia Free Trade agreement. It is an effective argument, one of his better ones. Missing? The latter is a function of his dependence on and subservience to Big Labor.
Alas, McCain can only talk about energy policy by talking about drilling. That’s it. Obama doesn’t really have much of a plan himself, but he is able to list three things he would do. He sounds more organized, more thoughtful, and not at all reckless. The problem is that McCain is running on experience and soundbites, which isn’t enough.
Schieffer basically just asked the candidates to “pick a number, any number.” It’s a question that begs for obfuscation. My suggestion: the candidate that gets closest to the realistic figure without going over plays in a Showcase Showdown.
Obama has made the pledge again that he will make us energy independent in 10 years. And he manages to talk about everything but nuclear power, the one source of energy that might make that dream a reality.
McCain says sure he’s qualified but then points out his record of bad ideas. Digs at his “cockamamie” idea about dividing Iraq. Maybe his best answer.
So far, this debate has been unprecedentedly confrontational and personal, and will surely be portrayed as such in the media and in post-debate spin. It will be noted that McCain attacked Obama on his associations with an ex-terrorist and a voter fraud organization, as if this should not be expected.
But in actuality this debate has been incredibly tame. The previous two were so tame they were almost unwatchably boring. The back-and-forth has been calm and barely peevish. No low blows. No sharp jabs. No derisive insults. By historic standards, this debate is a paragon of civil discourse. It probably won’t be presented as such.