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A High-Stakes Debate
Senators Obama and McCain at the second presidential debate. (AP)

Senators Obama and McCain at the second presidential debate. (AP)

They called it a “town hall” debate in Nashville, but in many ways it looked more like a dance. Two contestants, running through their steps.

Obama unflappable, cool. McCain passionate, on the attack. The polite town hall audience looking more than a little shell-shocked by the economic hurricane blasting the world outside.

Everything is on the line here. The election, with the days ticking down. The economy, with markets quaking.

The country’s future, with McCain and Obama battling to frame the challenges their way.

This hour, On Point: As the world reels, the debate in Nashville.

Guests:

Jake Tapper, senior national correspondent for ABC News. You can read his live blogging on last night’s debate on his Political Punch blog.

Joining us from New York is Bob Shrum. A veteran Democratic strategist, he has worked on eight presidential campaigns, beginning with George McGovern’s in 1972, and was chief strategist for John Kerry in 2004. He’s the author of “No Excuses: Concessions of a Serial Campaigner.”

Joining us from Los Angeles is Dan Schnur. A leading Republican strategist who has worked on four presidential and three gubernatorial campaigns, he was director of communications for John McCain’s 2000 presidential run. He is now director of the Institute of Politics at the University of Southern California.

Bill Schneider, senior political analyst for CNN. He is also a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a contributing editor at the Los Angeles Times, National Journal, and The Atlantic Monthly.

More links:

CNN has the transcript of the Nashville debate, and C-SPAN offers the full video on YouTube, here:

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  • jeff

    I was disappointed by both men.
    McCain was so out of touch and uptight.

    Obama came across as very calm and controlled and McCain seemed to me to want to expolde.

    However not one of them addressed the current financial crisis with any reality. This was disapointing.

  • AV

    It was not a debate. It was an opportunity for tweedledum and tweedledee to repeat their stump speeches and their talking points from the first debate with similar exchanges.

    What a shame, and what a loss for the American people.

  • Joe B.

    I was very impressed by the answers given by Sen. Obama. He was clear and concise. He looked very pesidential.

  • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

    I agree Joe. Obama speaks in sentences and paragraphs, starts and finishes thoughts and seems to understand issues in nuanced ways. This isn’t always a winning hand (Stevenson, Carter) but Obama has much more charisma than either of them.

    I think the interesting question is: had McCain run the campaign he ran in 2000 and chosen a smart, centrist running mate, what would the race look like now?

    It looks like McCain and Palin are going to implode in negativity and I hope/pray that the days of Atwater style campaigns are over forever.

  • jeff

    They did not address the current financial crisis!

    What is going on here, they bailout AIG and the jerks that run that company go to a SPA and spend over $400,000 pampering themselves on our dime.

    The CEO of the banking branch that brought AIG down is getting a million dollars a month in severance pay while good hard working Americans have lost almost all their retirement funds. This was not addressed. Nor was the reality that McCain’s health care plan is joke.
    If your single you get $2500, a family gets $5000! is he kidding? Does he think we are that stupid that we the people are going to take this crap?

    I was disappointed, very disappointed.

  • Sam

    I thought both did a good job and that McCain had the slight advantage because he went after Obama effectively on taxes and healthcare and introduced the new mortgage plan that will no doubt take up many headlines in the next few days.

    Interestingly, on the post debate coverage I watched on PBS the consensus seemed to be that it was a close debate but McCain won. In all the polling I saw Obama had an edge though. I can’t help but wondering how much of this has to do with the fact that it might not have mattered what McCain did or didn’t do because there is so much anger geared at Washington in general and Republicans in particular right now. I tuned out for the last thirty or so minutes of the debate and then tuned back for the post debate coverage so maybe there was a gaffe I missed.

    Finally, I think as one of the commentators nailed it on the head the american people were the biggest winner these are two of the best and brightest candidates we’ve had in a long time and they gave us a thoroughly substantive debate. Obama seemed to lighten up his “four more years of Bush” mantra and McCain as he has in the other debate and in his acception speech refused to go into character assaninations. Despite all of the negativity of the campaign so far this was a thoroughly positive moment for both sides.

  • Nate

    Not much of a debate, a debate with opposing views and arguments that support those views that is. On 10/02/88 the League of Women Voter’s 14 trustees voted unanimously to pull out of the debates, and on October 3, they issued a press release including-

    “The League of Women Voters is withdrawing sponsorship of the presidential debates … because the demands of the two campaign organizations would perpetrate a fraud on the American voter. It has become clear to us that the candidates’ organizations aim to add debates to their list of campaign-trail charades devoid of substance, spontaneity and answers to tough questions. The League has no intention of becoming an accessory to the hoodwinking of the American public.”

    Its strange to me that our presidential debates have become a pundit playground, first a day or two of what the candidates will talk about, what they will avoid, how they should act, do or not do. Then the ‘debate’, followed by a couple days of ‘did they or did they not act as we predicted’. With expert opinion on every matter around every corner, citizens are being lead by their hand into a world where thinking is interpretation are obsolete.

  • Joe

    I think it’s unfair to say that neither candidate addressed the financial crisis.

    We got here because of trickle down, supply side, voodoo Reaganomics. That economic philosophy has dominated conventional wisdom for almost thirty years. It’s prioritized the few wealthy over the many middle and working class Americans. It’s prioritized wealth over work.

    We need to go back to an economic philosophy that favors more Americans, rather than the elite few. We need an economic philosohpy that favors work and production, rather than dividend checks and speculation. We need an economic philosophy that values people over corporations.

    The past three decades, Reagan’s Legacy, have been dominated by a top down philosophy. We need a president with policies that help the least among us, a president focused on lifting the entire country up, rather than a select few.

  • http://singingstring.org msd

    Comments on the debate:

    Brokaw was TOTALLY biased against Obama–no journalistic integrity there, and too much of his own “entertainer” personality interjected at all times– what a contrast to the first two moderators!

    What was with the constant pandering to McCain, even to the point of laughing at the guy’s jokes in stark contradiction to the rules of “deportment” he himself outlined?… He displayed consistent passive-aggressive behavior towards Obama, cutting him off, scolding him, kissing up to McCain. So much so it was highly distracting–but very revealing of the truth.

    McCain (grrr with that “my friends” nonsense)…well, his friends (and puppet-masters) are the extremely wealthy who have plundered the country through the Republican tax cuts and as profiteers in a corruptly-run, unnecessary (and seemingly eternal) war. And as for “spending” — the Republican legacy is of spending, especially war spending (McCain’s glory in war is appalling to behold) and debt, debt, debt. Look at the record! Republicans = debt.

    Funny, I remember Democratic administrations as leaving us with…hmm..what was that? …oh, yeah….SURPLUSES.

    Obama was dignified and projected quiet intelligence and thoughtfulness.

    McCain…stuck in the past and stuck on himself and just plain old in thinking as well as in physicality.

    Tonite was a complete travesty, badly run by an inept and mumbling Republican tool (Brokaw)–who did a great deal himself to build up a “war mentality” before the first gun was aimed in Iraq .

    I could say more but I’m so disgusted I can’t write anymore.
    Yikes.

  • Aaron

    Can we have another option?
    Pretty Pleeaaaasssee?

  • Chris J

    When Oliver (an african-american young man) asked McCain (initially) what will the “Wall St. Bailout” do for people he knows, McCain’s answer was “…we’re going to have to stabilize home values, and that way, Americans, like Alan, can realize the American dream and stay in their home.” Alan happens to be the older white man that asked the previous question.

    Conversely, Obama included Oliver in the American dream when he told Oliver we should “…strengthen you as a home buyer, you as a homeowner, and not simply think about bailing out banks on Wall Street.”

    The difference in these responses is indicative of why McCain is not fit to be president. He is incapable of relating to Oliver, so much so that he didn’t even try. I doubt his response would have been any different if Sing, Juanita, Tong, Enrique, Shaniqua, or any other non-white middle-age (or older) person had asked that question. That is not the world we live in today. Maybe the real answer to the war on terrorism and many more of this countries ills is to get ride of leaders who think like McCain.

  • Judith

    I’m an Obama supporter who felt that he did far better in this debate than the first one. In the pbs commentary afterward, there was discussion of Obama’s greater fluidity in dealing with the issues in comparison with McCain. I also saw greater physical fluidity — McCain cannot help his war injuries, but to me, his age revealed itself in his movements and therefore I felt that the Town Meeting format did him a disservice. Standing behind a desk concealed some of his stiffness which was very apparent last night and maybe something that Americans will note subliminally.

    I also thought that he was condescending not only to Obama, but in a reply in which he said You probably never heard of Fannie or Freddie until this crisis. On what grounds does he assume that? The “my friends” business put him squarely in the old pols camp in my mind — in conradiction to his message of being an outsider running on a platform of change.

  • Drew

    McCain lost my vote and Obama sealed his vote for me when, in response to the question “Is health care a individual right or a responsibity?” McCain calls it a responsibility, Obama believes it is a Right. And so do I.

  • Andy in Cambridge

    My wife and I agreed that John McCain looked fragile, physically speaking. I can’t help but believe that this will affect his electability.

  • Wadell

    Why on earth are we so committed to having these debates moderated by journalists that don’t identify with the entire electorate. Brokaw, although I like him seemed to steer the debate into this boring lecture like event. It would have been better to have had a younger moderator who was cognizant of the youth culture, blogging, networking and the like. We wonder why young people aren’t engaged and still hold onto Baby boomers as our so called respected journalists. Lehrer, Brokaw, and Schieffer should be commentators. Anderson Cooper, George Stephanopolous, Campbell Brown, Alison Stewart or even Bill Hemmer would have given a more youthful feel to the event.

  • Steve Hogan

    I think both missed an opportunity to clearly state that things will get worse before better…but things will improve. Then they need to call the American people to action … similar to FDR when he asked for the help of the American people. The American people need to be brought into the equation as part of the solution. I think Obama came close to this and needs to head in that direction. I think that Obama is gaining with respect to Americans becoming comfortable with and trusting in him.

    Even if energy independence can’t happen in 10 years…I think it’s important to throw out challenges that we need to strive for. Sounds like FDR and JFK.

    Great show…I enjoy listening to the various ideas expressed…always food for thought.

  • Jared

    I think both guests are making good points – I know they represent different political groups but I think they’re doing a great job of calling it as they see it – Great guests!

  • AV

    Wow, Tom Ashbrook was so dismissive and borderline contemptuous of the caller who mentioned CPD controlling the debates, and opening up the debates to third-party candidates. So much for democracy.

  • Carrie

    “You have to feel sorry for John McCain.” Bob Shrum

    Because? The world didn’t stay the same everyday until he was elected? Because he didn’t get his way? Because he isn’t capable of giving a coherent answer on the economy? Because he chose an albatross named Palin to hang around his neck? Because he comically “suspended” his campaign to do nothing? Because he will lie, blatantly, just to win?

    Any other INSANE reasons I should feel sorry for a candidate who is, plain and simple, unable to react to the world in a way that connects with voters?

    By the same reasoning should I feel sorry for “W” or the administration because the WMD didn’t present themselves?

    Please Mr Shrum! Please!

  • Wadell

    Okay, this is amazing to me and strictly an observation. Obama has won more primary votes than any other candidate in history. He is leading in national polls. He has changed the electoral map by all accounts and seems to be on his way to making history. These are just the facts regardless of political leanings. WHY IS IT THAT NO COMMENTATOR CAN FIND IT IN THEMSELVES TO SAY THAT THIS MAN WON THE DEBATE? I think this is hilarious! All of the comments are stemmed around “McCain needed a home run and didn’t swing the bat, he needed to score a knockout punch but didn’t connect. They say, McCain has gone negative but it hasn’t moved his poll numbers. But NOBODY will say that this man is actually the better candidate, unbelievable.

  • AV

    Wadell, shush. You’re not allowed to analyze the situation on your own – just follow and regurgitate what the “pundits” and “experts” on TV and radio say. There’s a reason they are called “experts” – who can tell us what exactly the voters are thinking, because they have mad mind-reading skills. :) :)

  • Christine

    I was a bit more impressed with Sen. Obama since the last debate. I feel (this time around) he has an actual plan, if he’s elected.

    McCain played the military card an awful lot and said much of what we’ve already heard from him.

  • Kathy

    I have to comment on a misinterpretation that I just heard on On Point regarding Obama’s tax cuts for those taxpayers with less than $250,000 in taxable income. The operative word here is “taxable”. The caller was self-employed grossing more than $300,000 and felt that he is above the $250,000 threshold and would therefore see an increase in his taxes. You don’t pay tax on your gross business income – you pay tax on the net business income. I am guessing that he has legitimate business expenses to offset some of this income (as most business’ do). Therefore it is very likely that his small business does not net more than $250,000. Please – let’s get the basic facts straight! This should have been corrected on the air.

  • tina rhode

    Hello, in response to the listener (owner of a small restaurant business) who commented this morning about the tax implications for businesses who make less than $250,000, and that Obama was out of touch with that low figure, I took that comment by Obama to mean the net profit made after sales and expense are accounted for, not the sales amount. thanks.

  • John Petesch

    Kathy,
    I too wondered about this point. I, however, because of hi argument, assume the caller lied and is not really a small business owner… how could he not be familiar with expenditure write-offs when his business is well established enough to gross over 300,000 annually? Probably some Republican dimwit trying to sway a couple of voters by calling in with a ridiculous and incorrect observation.

  • Sam E.

    “Okay, this is amazing to me and strictly an observation. Obama has won more primary votes than any other candidate in history. He is leading in national polls. He has changed the electoral map by all accounts and seems to be on his way to making history. These are just the facts regardless of political leanings. WHY IS IT THAT NO COMMENTATOR CAN FIND IT IN THEMSELVES TO SAY THAT THIS MAN WON THE DEBATE? I think this is hilarious! All of the comments are stemmed around “McCain needed a home run and didn’t swing the bat, he needed to score a knockout punch but didn’t connect. They say, McCain has gone negative but it hasn’t moved his poll numbers. But NOBODY will say that this man is actually the better candidate, unbelievable.”

    Well it’s very possible one candidate could be better than another candidate and lose an individual debate.

  • Kathy

    Thank you John – I was more concerned actually that there was no attempt by the host to correct this gross mininterpretation of Obama’s tax plan. Shame on him! There is enough mis-information out there. Pay attention people!

  • Kathy

    I think that Obama was the obvious winner of the debate. He gave clear answers to questions. McCain gave an array of statements, but little concrete solutions. I also was appalled by Senator McCAin, who was asked a question (sorry I can’t remember what the question was) and pointing at Senator Obama and saying with disdain, “not that one”. As though he was not worthy of being called by his name. I find McCain’s personality to be very unappealing. He is sarcastic, dour, abrasive and I think he would be poorly suited to be President. I think of him as a man with a short fuse, ready to explode at something or someone. He would not wear well with the American people. Another irritating thing he does is constantly refer to his listeners as “my friends”. A real fake.

  • L. Hagen

    The restaurant owner that called in worried about his tax situation under Obama’s plan because his revenue exceeds $250,000 needs to know that tax has never been levied on receipts (other than sales tax.) Income tax is levied on NET income, not his restaurant’s total inflow. If he is barely covering the costs of operating his business, he will not show an income in excess of $250,000 and will under Obama’s plan enjoy a DECREASE in his tax burden.

  • http://www.pnart.com Peter Nelson

    Can we have another option?
    Pretty Pleeaaaasssee?

    What makes you think you don’t have any other options?

  • Wadell

    Sam E., I agree, but my observation was regarding the fact that nobody viewed him as a winner of the debate, only that John McCain didn’t do well enough.

    There is a reluctance on the part of some commentators to clearly identify who won or who lost. You can’t state that Obama was more articulate, and direct in his answers. State that McCain was dismissive and flippant in some of his answers. Criticize McCain for going on the attack but not scoring and still not call Obama the winner. It’s illogical. They may as well had not said anything. Did they expect one of them to put the other in a figure four leg-lock :)…jeez…

  • AV

    When I compare the two “debates” I saw between Obama-McCain, as well as two minutes of Veep “debate” I saw, to the following:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hnDa6WmUSJE
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pN24rhMI9IE

    and especially this one:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pN24rhMI9IE

    it’s clear that the CPD-sponsored soundbites would have been a lot more interesting, honest and intelligent if Nader, along with McKinney, Barr and Baldwin had been up on that stage along with Obama and McCain.

  • AV

    Errata: ” and especially this one: http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/753853

  • AV

    Oops. That ustream video is currently not working.

  • Frederic C.

    Undecided?

    How is it possible that in 2008, with all the information that is out there, people either don’t know what’s in their own interests and/or don’t know which candidates platform will advance their interests?

  • Bridget R

    One of the last callers noted that Obama is out of touch with the small business owner and went on to say that he grossed over $300k in sales so he would indeed have higher taxes according to Obama’s new tax proposal. I don’t understand why NPR didn’t correct that assumption since he would actually not get an increase since he’d be taxed on NET income not GROSS sales.

  • Peter Nelson

    it’s clear that the CPD-sponsored soundbites would have been a lot more interesting, honest and intelligent if Nader, along with McKinney, Barr and Baldwin had been up on that stage along with Obama and McCain.

    Yes, but this relates to what Nate posted by the LWV about why they withdrew from sponsorship.

    I got a lot of flack here a month or so ago when I said that WBUR was wasting its ( our! ) resources going to the conventions. And I still get flack here when I remind people that the qualifications to get elected are unrelated to what it takes to be effective in office.

    But my thesis also addresses your observation, above.

    Bottom line: An election is NOT about substance! People here need to get that through their heads. The campaign, the conventions, the debates, etc, are political theater, or, if you prefer, political ritual. “Interesting, honest and intelligent” simply have nothing to do with it. That’s not the goal of those who arrange these things, so complaining that they’re lacking is naive.

  • Peter Nelson

    How is it possible that in 2008, with all the information that is out there, people either don’t know what’s in their own interests and/or don’t know which candidates platform will advance their interests?

    Because, as I said above, it’s not about substance.

    An election is something like a beauty contest, or maybe a figure-skating contest. It’s a judged event where the contestants have certain required things they have to do, and some leeway for individuality, but only within carefully-prescribed limits. The goal is basically to get through it by performing the required parts as well as possible, displaying as much style and confidence as possible, and especially: to not make any big mistakes.

    Really, you can laugh at my metaphor, but it explains what is empirically-visible far better than assuming this has anything to do with substance or qualifications to hold office. And it answers your question, too – in a beauty or figure skating contest we don’t usually know who we think is the best until the end of the contest.

  • AV

    Peter,

    Could you please quit with your know-it-all posturing here? Please? Thanks.

    Yes, I know there’s much theater, and that’s exactly what I’m criticizing – as in, expressing my opinion. You seem to be saying “this is how it is, accept it and shut up.”
    Why should I shut up? Why should I go along with this theater as if it’s OK? If I see anything that needs to be criticized, I will. Is there anything written in the US Constitution that says the elections have to remain dumbed down, and any attempts to criticize or change them need to be shot down by pompous arses like you? You can keep at it with your condescending attitude, but I’m going to ignore it from now on. OK? Now there’s a good boy – go shoot some naked women.

  • AV

    Peter, I may be naive, but you are full of cynicism. Your comments here remind me of a bumper sticker I saw on a car once, (paraphrasing) “those whose dreams have failed, will shoot down yours too.”

    Let me live my life with my naive optimism and hope – I prefer it to your way. :)

  • Peter Nelson

    Yes, I know there’s much theater, and that’s exactly what I’m criticizing – as in, expressing my opinion. You seem to be saying “this is how it is, accept it and shut up.”

    Where did I say to shut up?!

    I merely pointed out that your criticism is something akin to criticizing a baseball game because it’s not a football game.

    Peter, I may be naive, but you are full of cynicism.

    My background is in science and engineering. My comments are no more cynical than to point out the relationship between soil chemistry and the species of plants that grow in the lawn, or to make observations about propensity of 401(k) investors to respond to company automatic-enrollment programs or guaranteed matches. In other words, all I’m trying to do is construct an accurate model of how the system we’re observing and commenting-on works.

    When I see other people complain that the election discussion lacks substance, this, to me, suggests they have an inaccurate model of how the system works, i.e., they think it has something to do with substance.

    So attitude, cynical or otherwise, has nothing to do with it – what matters is which theoretical or cognitive model of the US electoral system is more ACCURATE.

  • GB

    Check out Democracy Now for interviews with those who discuss issues in more depth- including third party candidates. It leans to the left but includes voices from the right.

    The reason so many find this political theater rather than substantive is because most main stream media outlets, including NPR, choose to not cover alternatives in depth as exemplified by Mr. Ashbrook’s dismissiveness of the third party candidates who are out there that we can go find on our own. So much for journalism- or advertising supported journalism.

  • AV

    Peter, there was a time when LWV ran the debates (and I’d quoted that quote a while ago in another thread – so I know), before that role was usurped by CPD. Why shouldn’t I be hopeful that it can return to the same/similar format if there was enough pressure? What makes you so sure that CPD will continue to run the debates forever and in the same way as it is doing presently? Is that written in your Book of Cynicism?

    Your analogy of basketball/football game is not even backed by history.

    BTW, I’m an engineer too, and I realize very well this propensity to rely on a scientific/rational model to explain human behavior, but real life is different from your conceptualization of soil chemistry/plant. That’s why the model of slavery broke down. That’s why the model of segregation changed. That’s why the model of communism and Iron Curtain no longer holds true. Countries gained freedom. The Berlin Wall came down. People make efforts and bring about a change – your model may be set in stone and immutable, but there are plenty of real-life examples that prove you wrong. Your comments here come across as maintaining and defending the status quo, and your comment about you “move(ing) to Canada if McCain wins” tells me a lot about your cynical and defeatist (and yes, you will probably come back with “it’s realist, not defeatist”) world-view, however hard you might try to cloak it with your analogy of describing what plants grow or how nature works.

    No thanks, I much prefer my starry-eyed naivette – which I embrace willingly and knowingly – to your IMO negative approach to life. Sorry to say, that bumper sticker still holds true for you, irrespective of your “logic” and “rationalist” thinking.

    Be good, and goodbye.

  • Peter Nelson

    The reason so many find this political theater rather than substantive is because most main stream media outlets, including NPR, choose to not cover alternatives in depth as exemplified by Mr. Ashbrook’s dismissiveness of the third party candidates who are out there that we can go find on our own. So much for journalism- or advertising supported journalism

    The “mainstream media” are mainstream because they reflect mainstream preferences. “Democracy Now” would be mainstream if they accurately reflected US political culture.

    As I’ve pointed out before, current neuroscience, behavioral economics, and other research suggests that human beings respond much more readily to the sorts of social cues used in the “political theater” style of discourse than they do to a more analytical policy or fact based style.

    You should know by now that I’m a hard-core policy wonk, so nobody would love it more than me if we could have a political discussion in this country based on a serious comparison of policy details! But I’m also enough of a science geek to know that current research does not suggest that humans are “wired up” to lean that way, so it’s probably futile to expect significant changes.

  • Peter Nelson

    Your analogy of basketball/football game is not even backed by history.

    BTW, I’m an engineer too, and I realize very well this propensity to rely on a scientific/rational model to explain human behavior, but real life is different from your conceptualization of soil chemistry/plant. That’s why the model of slavery broke down. That’s why the model of segregation changed. That’s why the model of communism and Iron Curtain no longer holds true. Countries gained freedom. The Berlin Wall came down. People make efforts and bring about a change – your model may be set in stone and immutable, but there are plenty of real-life examples that prove you wrong.

    You haven’t named any.

    ALL the examples you cited were structural. I never claimed that structural changes don’t occur readily – there have been zillions of them.

    What I claimed is that all political systems from ancient Egypt to the present day are essentially theater. Totalitarian system are just as much based on theater and form as are democracies – they make just as much, if not more, use of iconography, symbol, ritual and all the rest as any other system.

    That’s why I don’t think you will ever see a political system that is not primarily theater. There’s never been one at the scale of a nation because that’s not how human beings evaluate and respond to power. People respond to emotion, symbol, iconography, identity, status, posture, etc, FAR more readily than they respond to facts and statistics.

    This is not a new insight – read Virgil’s Aeneid (I just took a course based on Fitzgerald’s translation which is excellent). It’s remarkable how well modern science substantiates ancients insights about human political nature.

  • Rob Enders

    [Tom Ashbrook today called Sarah Palin tough on Obama.]

    “Tough” is a term with overwhelmingly positive connotations, and Sarah Palin’s irresponsible and inflammatory comments merit no positive characterization whatsoever. Those (Palin and Hannity and the shadowy bloggers) who incite their audiences to think that Obama is some sort of pal of terrorists, must be condemned for this dangerous behavior. All decent people are going to be very upset if some hyped-up nutjob is incited to make a physical attack on Obama.

  • http://wasar.org Tom Jensen

    Disclaimer: I didn’t watch the debate and only heard Tom Ashbrook blow off the suggestion by one participant that democracy would be served by hearing from potential candidates excluded by the CPD because I was driving between job sites.

    This was particularly frustrating as NPR claims “depth of reporting.”

    Why frustrating?

    Mr. Ashbrook quickly steered the discussion back to focus on “demeanor” and “issues” and “town hall format”, commenting that Brokaw allowed only 8 questions while asking 9 hisself while Gibson (in a more level TH format) allowed 18 from the floor.

    OK, so what?

    Later, a lady from the audience asked: “since Dems and Reps got us into this mess, how could she trust either.?”

    The responses weren’t broadcast, but the question sure reaffirmed the reason for the answer originally blocked by Mr. Ashbrook.

    What did Aaron and Peter Nelson say?…

    Can we have another option?
    Pretty Pleeaaaasssee?

  • Larry

    I think the presence of a third candidate – Ralph Nader, especially – in the Nashville debate could have resulted in more substantive and “on point” discussions about the economy, health insurance, tax reform and ear marks.

  • Bobako

    i just wonder if Obama was (totally) white, how the race will play itself,if his lead won’t be in double digit everywhere and if McCain will have the slightest chance.
    Sorry, my friends, but the old man and his campaign are been outperformed big time up to now. But there is still time for an october suprise!

  • Eugene V

    I would like to hear more about the Ayers business that Palin has been peddling around at these Nuremberg rallies the Republicans are holidng.

    I’ve heard some nasty things in political candidates, but I’ve never, never heard a candidate accuse another candidate of being a terrorist.

    It’s disgraceful, dishonorable, counter productive, and probably doomed to fail. But still.

  • Becky B52

    I’m Rep. and I must admit Obama did a better selling job. But We need more than a “used car salesman” at this point in time. To show your vote, check out PitbullPalin.org

  • Eugene V

    Becky, don’t be silly.

    Set aside the debate and the candidate’s demeanor at the debate a moment.

    If you really want to see a contrast between these two candidates, track down the speech Obama gave in Indiana today.

    Find a transcript or recording somewhere and just compare the substance, dignity, and presidential poise of Obama’s speech with the foolish and crazed attacks of Palin and McCain.

    I wouldn’t trust the Republicans with managing my favorite bowling alley, frankly. But those of you in a more forgiving mood who still don’t know how to vote, do yourselves a favor: seek out Obama’s speech in Indianapolis. It was a true speech, by a true leader.

    McCain and Palin have no class. Calling Obama a terrorist is completely nutty and wrongheaded. There’s something in it that smacks of proto-fascist scape-goating, and to hear the crowds at a McCain rally cheer to a call to “Kill him” (meaning Obama), is frightening.

    Still, three and a half weeks from now, I think McCain goes back to the Senate and Palin goes back to Alaska. It’s just too bad they don’t go back to where they came from with their honor intact.

  • jeff

    Palin is treading on very dangerous waters with her recent rallies that from what I have seen remind me of the early fascists rallies in the 30′s and the extreme right wing rallies one saw in some South America countries 20 years ago.

    She is painting Obama as ‘other’, foreign, and in doing so inciting people to the levels of hatred. I heard shouts coming from the crowd of ‘kill him’ and ‘traitor’.
    This is getting ugly. Correct me if I’m wrong here but she seems to me to be turning into this extreme right wing populist figure. An American Evita Peron perhaps.

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