So tonight all we’re really hoping for is to see John McCain go crazy-nuts and/or talk about Bill Ayers like it’s a big deal so Obama can rightly mock the shit out of him, aren’t we?
8:47: Bill Bennett is blathering about Ayers already and saying he can’t be sure that Obama won’t nominate Ayers to be Secretary of Education. Why doesn’t someone just put a slot machine just off-camera so we don’t have to listen to this fat idiot?
8:51: Soledad O’Brien, despite having a wonderful bi-ethnic name, is still pretty much just your average level of Network TV White when you get right down to it.
8:54: Once again, the lines will represent undecided voters in Ohio, a state currently polling pro-Obama by four to six points, so it’s not really all that undecided as undecided states go. Why not have lines for North Carolina or Missouri instead? Oh, right, they’re not “battleground” states, they’re just states that Obama is leading in that are traditionally Republican.
8:57: The CNN people say that the Clintons and their voters are fully on board with Barack Obama. CNN’s official motto: “duh.”
8:58: Also, Bill Bennett looks disgruntled to have to sit next to Donna Brazile. Just saying. “It’s not over!” he says. Yes, treating McCain like the Buffalo Bills in the second half of a Super Bowl is exactly what undecided voters want to hear.
9:00: Your moderator: Bob Schieffer of CBS News, who is older than God or The New York Times or both. This is the domestic policy debate! Modified wimpy Lincoln/Douglas style rules! And here are Ba Rock and the old guy.
9:02: The lines are edging upwards as Bob asks about their economic plans. Undecided voters just love hearing about plans! McCain sends a shout out to poor dying Nancy Reagan then says that people are hurting and angry. The lines concur. His esses are whistling like a parody of a old man, like a sketch on Hee Haw or something. HE IS AGING BEFORE OUR VERY EYES! Well, yes, everybody is, but still.
9:05: Obama loves the fine people of New York. He talks about ending outsourcing tax credits and his middle class tax cut (which he says so often it should really be one word, like “middleclasstaxcut”). Lines drop when he says he agrees with McCain on anything, although they jump back up when he says “but he’s wrong about this and this.”
9:07: McCain, rather than ask a question, asks Obama about a plumber he met who would be in a higher tax (whistle) bracket under Obama’s (whistle) plan. Lines are not down, but not high. Obama responds by saying that McCain is full of shit and wants to give tax cuts to rich people. Middleclasstaxcut. McCain accuses Obama of being a dirty wealth-redis-(whistle)-tributing socialist. The lines like this. Obama: 95 percent of Americans get a middleclasstaxcut. He points out that Joe the Plumber makes more than $250,000 a year and guess what, Joe is fucking rich and can go screw. Well, not quite, but.
9:13: McCain talks dishonestly about business tax rates in America being too high, knowing perfectly well that business (whistle) tax (whistle) rates (whistle) in America realistically are next to nothing thanks to loopholes in the tax scheme. Obama doesn’t get a chance to respond because it’s time for the next question.
9:14: What will you cut because of the massive deficit? Obama points out that the $750 billion rescue package offers the chance to let Americans get their money back, thanks to the way it was redesigned by Democrats. Obama says he’s a supporter of pay-as-you-go budgeting and promises to go through the budget with a fine-toothed comb, then says he thinks in the long term and America has to spend money to make money in the long term, and people have to be responsible. Lines love that shit.
9:16: McCain wants to talk about home owners-(whistle)-hip and how Hillary Clinton proposed it during the dying, desperate days of her campaign. Old Man Bob wants McCain to actually talk about what he would cut. McCain spits out a bunch of energy words like it means something, then says he is all for a spending freeze because it’s a hatchet and then he can cut more. Man-lines are OFF THE CHART for this shit, seriously. He knows (whistle) how to save billions (whistle). Goes to his standard lines about Obama being a spendy guy and the planetarium projector again.
9:19: Obama is being too reasonable, frankly, when he talks about earmarks and how cutting them won’t solve anything. Mentions Bush and his spending spree, which gets some good play on the lines. These lines are, frankly, not nearly so pro-Obama as the last few sets of lines have been.
9:20: “Can you balance the budget in four years?” McCain: yes (whistle) and I’m not Pres (whistle) ident Bush (whistle). Then attacks Obama again for spending money! McCain then explains that he can create jobs and stimulate the economy by eliminating spending, which is functionally retarded and contrary to all evidence ever.
9:22: Obama points out that he voted for tort reform and performance pay for teachers and clean coal technology, so yes, Mr. McCain, he can support stupid-ass policies just like you can. McCain has this weird, weird grin. Goes back to the “you support Bush way too much” well, and I am starting to suspect, vis-a-vis the lines, that the well is dry.
9:24: McCain brags about his climate change bill, the one he brought to the floor – then took his name off of and voted against. Oh, wait, he doesn’t mention that bit.
9:25: It’s the “why is your campaign so mean” question! Old Man Bob dares them to say shit to each other’s faces. McCain: Obama didn’t do town halls (whistle) with me and so I didn’t have a choice (whistle). Obama is smiling, and I get the feeling he really, really wanted McCain to say just that. McCain then attacks John Lewis for saying that McCain and Palin are shitheads. McCain asks Obama to repudiate those remarks (whistle) just like he’s done for all the nasty things Republicans have said (HA HA HA HA HA). Goes to the “he said he’d take public financing” attack (WHAT) and accuses Obama of lying.
9:28: Obama: two-thirds of America thinks you’re running a negative campaign and one hundred percent of your ads are negative. (McCain, whiny: “That’s not true!”) Obama then slams McCain for the stupid town hall argument because it’s, you know, retarded. Obama goes after McCain for his campaign saying they didn’t want to talk about the economy and more or less calls McCain out. Lines like that. McCain whines that Obama is attacking his health care plan and his immigration policy. Lines like THAT too. Joe the Plumber again.
9:31: McCain whines again about John Lewis. Obama responds by saying in his calm way that McCain’s supporters are shitheads and he’s not John Lewis so shut the fuck up. Lines like it when Obama goes positive. McCain keeps trying to interrupt like a whiny little shithead.
9:33: McCain is proud of the people who come to his rallies (whistle) and gets all defensive about his supporters being assholes because they are the salt of the earth. Obama’s lines drop staggeringly for a bit until he starts talking about positive solutions. He rightly says vigorous debates about issues are fine.
9:36: McCain says he doesn’t care about Bill Ayers and ACORN, but he cares a lot about Bill Ayers and ACORN and Obama has to justify and explain himself. Obama responds about Ayers much as you expect and the lines are middlingish to high. On ACORN, Obama explains that he has next to no association with them, then talks about the impressive people he DOES associate with, and the women-lines at least pretty much like this. McCain accuses Obama of more association with Ayers and ACORN, and – wonder of wonders – the lines start dropping!
9:40: Old Man Bob wants to know why the country would be better off if each candidate’s Veep became President, as is possible? Obama: Joe Biden is awesome and also not an insane bitch. (No, not really, but wouldn’t that be great?) Also, middleclasstaxcut and all the rest. Lines love them some Biden, because it’s nice that the black man is talking about an old white guy. McCain talks about Palin and the lines drop back down harshly. Men, unsurprisingly, like McCain’s bullshit about Palin a lot more than women do. Sarah Palin understands special needs children, too!
9:43: Obama: it’s up to the American people if Palin is qualified to be President, which is a nice way to say “no.” Obama then points out that helping special needs children kind of falls by the wayside when you want a spending freeze. McCain: I like Joe Biden but he’s wrong about everything and a s-(whistle)-tupid-head. Then attacks McCain for his s-(whistle)-pending ways, and openly lies once again about Obama’s tax policy, because that’s who McCain is.
9:46: Climate change and energy! How much can America reduce foreign oil consumption during your first term? McCain: we can get rid of all of it, except for Canadian oil by building nuclear plants, which you can build in four years easy (god, is he stupid or just ignorant?). Then changes his mind and says it can be done in seven to ten years. Obama agrees on the ten year figure, saying it’s a realistic timeframe, restating his belief that this is THE issue. (Lines like that.) Says that the oil companies should drill the areas they have leased already or they can go pound sand (hooray). Says that American cars are crap, lines like that too. Then talks about free trade and how it didn’t have enforceable agreements, and speaking as a Canadian let me just say any American whining about NAFTA needs to go shut the fuck up really fast even if it is Obama, all right?
9:51: McCain basically calls Obama a shifty-tongued liar, then accuses Obama of being against free trade with South America and Colombia and fighting drugs and so forth, and oh man is McCain getting more hostile with each passing minute. Obama coolly responds that the United States has to stand for human rights and Colombia shoots labor leaders, so fuck you, Johnny Mac. Also: fuel-efficient cars of the future! (Lines LOVE future cars. He probably should have mentioned jetpacks.)
9:55: McCain attacks Obama on the preconditions thing, lines drop back down to earth. The lines seem to be regaining what I will call, for lack of a better term, “sanity.” Then compares Obama to Herbert Hoover. Yes. REALLY.
9:56: Generic vague healthcare question! Obama: lower costs, increase spending! My plan will do nothing to change everything you like and fix most of what you hate! The lines LOVE things that they like and hate things that they hate! McCain: bunch of health-related things that would be good (and require spending, but in McCainland things John McCain likes just kind of appear, like fine summer rain). Hey, Joe the Plumber! Obama will fine you if you don’t cover your kids! Man-lines like this attack. Women-lines do not. And then he goes to the single-payer system attack! THANK YOU JOHN MCCAIN FOR ATTACKING SOCIALIZED MEDICINE.
10:00: Obama: Hey, dumbass, I exempted small businesses so there’s no fine. Explains how his healthcare plan helps small businesses. McCain looks uncomfortable. Then Obama starts trashing the shit out of McCain’s incredibly bad plan, pointing out that old people are going to suck pipe on the McCain plan. McCain looks more uncomfortable. Obama finishes up by attacking McCain for taxing healthcare benefits and his idea about deregulating health coverage. The lines are very happy about this.
10:03: McCain: “Joe, you’re rich! Congratulations!” Hey, if Joe makes $250,000 a year, dumbass, he is pretty fucking well off.
10:04: McCain’s healthcare lines are not good at all. This is very much the definitive lines moment for Obama tonight.
10:06: Roe v. Wade and judges? They’re actually talking about it? Holy shit. McCain: I would not impose a litmus (whistle) test (whistle) and avoids talking about how he would appoint crazy right-wing judges like he’s said he would do again and again. Attacks Obama for voting against Roberts and Stephen Breyer, who is, you know, a Clinton appointee. MCCAIN IS A DODDERING OLD TWAT.
10:08: McCain doubletalks to get around the facts on his judicial preferences some more. Obama says he supports Roe and that women should have a right to choose, then talks about right to privacy and how it has to be federally protected. Lines like this. Turns out that former law professors are good at talking about the law in a concise, easy to explain manner! Who would have thunk. Then – get this – he explains in short terms Ledbetter v. Goodyear! Holy shit, that impresses me. Bringing up this sort of thing in a debate is fucking ballsy.
10:12: McCain attacks Obama on other pro-life grounds. Women are not happy about this. He accuses Obama of aligning himself with the “extreme pro-abortion” movement in America. Obama says Mccain is a liar. McCain looks like he is passing bad gas. Obama explains that he’s fine with late-term abortion bans where there’s a medical exemption, which McCain opposes. Concludes by arguing that surely everybody can agree that making unintended pregnancies rarer is great. (Lines LOVE THIS SHIT. Topping out.) McCain fucking explodes, he’s so angry now.
10:16: Old Man Bob speaks! Education! Why does it suck and how will you make it gooder, sirs? Obama immediately frames education as a national security issue, then says America needs more spending and reform. McCain has another weird look on his face like he is pooping. The lines are skyrocketing for Obama’s education points. Finally, Obama says parents have to turn off the TV and put away the videogames and so forth, because personal responsibility is the shit.
10:19: McCain explains that schools are all equal now, because he knows nobody black is voting for him anyway so he can just bullshit about this all he likes. Talks about charter schools, because free enterprise competition blah blah blah success-cakes. Then says hey, maybe certification isn’t such a big deal anyhow! Heh. Lines are good but not as good as Obama’s.
10:20: Federal involvement in schools! Obama: we need more money in schools! Then he attacks No Child Left Behind and lack of special-needs funding and other things like that. Talks about charter schools, because he has to have some bad ideas too or else he would be too good for this Earth. Then attacks McCain for his tax policy again through rhetorical judo, pointing out that spending freezes don’t mean spending more on education like McCain wants.
10:23: McCain praises No Child Left Behind, which is… just dumb, really. Then he says Head Start needs reforming, and special needs kids – hey, Sarah Palin! Obama points out that McCain doesn’t actually have an education policy, and McCain makes a snide joke because that is all the senile prick can do.
10:27: Closing statements! McCain: America needs (whistle) a new direction and I take on special interests (whistle) and I don’t like spending and we have to do six billion things but we can’t spend any money on it. (The lines like this, because undecided voters love it when you promise to do magic for free.) McCain puts his country first (whistle).
10:29: Obama: We need fundamental change in America, and it’s me or the crazy old man, and I have the distinct advantage of not being crazy or old. Also, energy education middleclasstaxcut. America needs to renew the spirit of sacrifice and community, which is another thing a crazy old man cannot do.
And that’s it. McCain does some crazy old man hand jive right afterwards as he stands up, presumably to make the tired old blood flow. The potential First Ladies show up to shake hands and so forth.
On points: more or less a tie, slightly a win for Obama, I think, who picked up steam in the second half. McCain was much stronger than he was in previous debates, but that whistling – man, if I wrote for SNL I would be making fun of that like nobody’s business, and I think it made McCain look more like a crazy old man.
And in a tie, I think Obama wins on points.