Scattered Debate Notes

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– The disconnect between the McCain campaign on the airwaves and the McCain campaign personified by JSM III is Snake River Canyon ride. The McCain campaign, over the last 96 hours, has been all about Obama's character, his past, his misinterpreted comment from 2007 that we were blowing it in Afghanistan by "air raiding and bombing civilians." The candidate arrived tonight and ignored that.

– Those debates in 2007 and 2008 about McCain's philosophy? They were worth having. Like Sarah Palin, he thinks uttering the word "Reagan" is proof that he's a conservative. Pay no attention to what I'm saying about Wall Street greed and my support for the bailout and the responsibility of government to provide health care!

– You can see why Obama drives McCain to such a molten rage. When the subject isn't health care or the specifics of the bailout, he clearly knows less than McCain. Is he smarter than McCain? Maybe. But he hasn't been around as long. He has an expansive yet shallow command of center-left talking points. He knows which ones to deploy, and when. He's liberated in a way that Bill Clinton was not in 1992: He doesn't need to apologize for being a liberal, because, hell, why not give the liberals a chance after the utter collapse of conservatism?

NEXT: I Would Just Like to Point out That John McCain Tonight Proposed Nationalizing All Bad Mortgages

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  1. Obama really can’t ask for more. He has unabashadly promised lotsa bread and circuses to the middle class since day one. The economy is in the toilet and congress gives a buttload of money to the rich. The middle class want theirs too and Obama is just the man to bring it home to the common folks.
    McCain is just kinda stumbling around, mumbling about being a fixer and a changer and all mavericky and stuff but he seems to agree with Obama and the left on a lot of social spending. And I don’t think he could have picked worse than Palin. So many of his decisions the last few months make him seem to be in a declining state of mental health. Like early signs of dementia. Tonight his answers sounded more like Palin with very disjointed starts and stops.

    Oh, and Barry is just hittin his smoothness at the right time. He comes across to me as being very stable in an unstable world. And ya’ll know by now I am no smarter than the average voter in the U.S.

  2. If that was conservatism, may God have mercy on all of us.

  3. He has an expansive yet shallow command of center-left talking points.

    Bingo! You described Obama perfectly in only 12 words.

  4. I felt depressed the other day, when the bailout passed. When every other article blamed deregulation and greed and capitalism. I realized those that wished there was more government, more socialism, had plenty of allies, plenty of other places to threaten to move to. Canada, all of Western Europe, plenty of places yearning to take your money and tell you how to live your life. Of where does the American libertarian dream?

  5. As far as distractingly disjointed stops and starts, that’s Obama. He vaguely reminds me of Agent Smith. But, you know, black.

    And I agree he is shallow in the debates…pretty much everyone is in these ridiculous “debate” formats. Back when I was doing parliamentary and LD in high school, we had eight minutes per issue to talk about trivial things (and four minutes rebuttal), while these clowns are allowed to speak for barely a minute-thirty…on national security, the future of a pretty important nation, and the fucking Presidency.

  6. lmnop,
    I guess I am just mesmerized by Obama. In fact, tonight he winked at me…

  7. LOL, bb. Both my S.O. and I thought this one was a snoozefest. It didn’t have that nails-on-a-chalkboard quality that Palin speaking tends to have, but I flinched every time I heard “my friends”. I’m getting a Pavlovian reaction to a fucking politician’s interjection, and it’s really starting to bother me.

  8. Did anyone one else think that at times this evening John McCain was channeling Sarah Palin? Is it possible she is influencing him to become even more incoherent than he already was?

  9. I guess I find too much enjoyment from watching the game of it all. Politicians are all a buncha lying, self-serving shitbags IMHO. But I do enjoy when they are very good at the game. Bill Clinton is my all time fave. Nobody. better. ever.

  10. Yes Seth, I thought so as well.

  11. To me Obama seemed rough, or as I put it elsewhere, clunky, and I did not register that smoothness he laid down so well in the first debate except briefly in his health care answer. Maybe it is just me, I’ve seen commentary to the opposite opinion elsewhere. Then again, I did not see the debate, I listened to it, so poise and other aspects of body language had no bearing on what I heard.

  12. I see McCain falling apart in the same fashion that Bush the elder did in 92′. Gonna throw caution to the wind. As well as honor and virtue and self respect.

  13. As well as honor and virtue and self respect.

    Well, those things are overrated as any decent comedian will tell you. Shit, he has been around a long time, might as well enjoy pooping in your britches and letting others clean it up instead of keeping it all bottled inside where it is bound to blow out your colon. Yeah, on the replay I saw on Nightline he looked like he had a severe case of constipation. Maybe, Weigel is wrong, and Obama did not factor into Mccain’s mood swings at all. His mind was on other things.

  14. McCain could be our first presidential candidate sponsored by Depends!

  15. Speakin of self respect, I’m gonna go beg way too much for the 30-45 seconds of pleasure I hope I’m about to recieve.

    A good night to all. cheers

  16. Brotherben wins the thread but loses his dignity. A worthwhile trade, in my opinion!

  17. I’ve seen commentary to the opposite opinion elsewhere. Then again, I did not see the debate, I listened to it, so poise and other aspects of body language had no bearing on what I heard.

    Me too. I listened through most of it, only glanced at the screen occasionally. I thought they both were pretty bad, but body language can make up quite a difference. Recall reactions to the 1960 Kennedy/Nixon debate, where those who heard it thought Nixon won, and those who saw it thought Kennedy won.

    Then again, the S.O. was watching it and she thought they both sucked too, so there’s that.

  18. What’s the old saying- “Choosing between a Democrat and a Democrat, voters will always pick the Democrat.” In other words, between a real democrat and a republican (and republican party) who runs as a democrat, why not vote for the real thing? if tonight mccain had just said something brave like “seriously my friends, you have lived purely on debt and credit for too long, and now the sacrifice you all have to make is to take your lumps for a while. time to take personal responsibility for this mess. we can’t blame the ‘greedy bankers,'” and so on, he would have been the big story again. straight talk express and all that. instead, he panders and acts like a dem. that’s why obama is going to win this thing.

  19. Personally I thought he should have ran as a “grumpy old man”. Play up the age angle and throw in a bit of cranky with the straight talk.

    But he shot that chance when he canned Gramm for his “nation of whiners” comment. If you’re going to pander to voters hurt feelings, you can’t exactly claim the mantle of “straight talk”.

    Besides, it’s totally true. Freaking identity politics. What with the out-victiming each other in the Democratic party he could have reassigned the whining to the wussy liberals. Not to mention the Wall Street Bankers. McCain to Wall Street: “quit whining”. People would have loved it.

  20. …and this is Reason’s running mate?

    After claiming to hold to the libertarian mantle, Reason Magazine trashes libertarian Ron Paul whose economic advisor during the campaign predicted the meltdown ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LfascZSTU4o )

    We must conclude that Reason preferred Iraq for 100 years McCain to Paul. Otherwise they would have supported on principle the only anti-war, anti-state, pro-market, candidate.

    You guys drank the kool-aid of the beltway years ago. I may as well be reading Time, or Huffington Post, or CNN, or FOX…

    Instead I will read LewRockwell.com and Mises.org

    –Mark Watson
    Lisle, IL

  21. Politicians are all a buncha lying, self-serving shitbags IMHO. But I do enjoy when they are very good at the game. Bill Clinton is my all time fave. Nobody. better. ever.

    That’s why I still like Clinton even though I know that he (and all politicians) are full of crap.

    He could bullshit, you knew he was bullshitting, but my God could he sell the line.

  22. Like Sarah Palin, he thinks uttering the word “Reagan” is proof that he’s a conservative.

    The Republicans drop Reagan’s name as if it means anything to the minds of today’s voters. Remember, today’s first-time voter is 18, born in 1990 AFTER Reagan was president. All they know is Clinton and Bush II. Republicans seem to have a hard time dealing with the generational disconnect. The name “Reagan” has absolutely no weight with younger voters.

    Furthermore, among Republicans themselves, the acceptance of Bush/Neo-Con Republicanism was as much a repudiation of Reagan as any effort by Obama and the Democrats in the last eight years.

    However, the scary thing is that much of Obama’s support among these younger voters is based more on charismatic personality worship than an actual ideology. I find that highly disturbing, as that is the kind of thing that usually gets people drinking funny liquids in South American work camps.

    An Obama presidency really represents the death of not only conservatism, but any chance of libertarians to mount an effort for greater influence, as it appears that a majority of Americans (in supporting someone like Obama, and even McCain to a lesser degree) now have a belief or desire to have government solve all their problems. There seems to be no sense of the Economics 101 concept of “scarcity,” that there is never enough to go around to satisfy public wants. Thus, a willingness to accept McCain’s promise to essentially bailout the bailout (his mortgage pandering), to Obama promising EVERYTHING under the sun. The mythical “somebody somewhere else” is going to pay for all our wants through the police power of government to take, and people actually believe this across race, class, and party lines.

    Our national anthem should now be the Don Henley song, “Gimme What You Got.”

  23. Reagan’s own Presidency (uh, folks, government GREW, A LOT, ok??) was a repudiation of the libertarian rhetoric he literally stole to get elected. Kinda like FDR…

  24. JMR, I have no argument with that. But I believe at that time there was still much of a DIY streak through much Republican AND Democratic voter thinking. Therefore, Reagan was able to capitalize on that sentiment (insufficient though his execution of his espoused libertarianism was).

    What disturbs me is the clamor across all walks of life in this country for more, more, more government and the idea of entitlement.

    I think we as libertarians have essentially lost that culture war. I have no doubt that Obama will be a dismal economic failure as a president. However, I think the voters of 2012 will not return to a more free market mindset, but an even greater welfare state mentality.

    I truly think this is the end of this country.

  25. “A democracy cannot survive as a permanent form of government. It can last only until its citizens discover that they can vote themselves largess from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority (who vote) will vote for the candidates promising the greatest benefits from the public purse, with the result that a democracy will always collapse from loose fiscal policies, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world’s greatest democratic nations has been 200 years.”

  26. Meantime, the TED Spread set another record this morning, shooting past 400 basis points.

    Life goes on.

  27. Republicans seem to have a hard time dealing with the generational disconnect. The name “Reagan” has absolutely no weight with younger voters.

    Not exactly true; there’s a significant number of younger people who were raised on hatred of Ronald Reagan. For them (us, I guess I may as well admit) hearing the words “Ronald Reagan” is code for “I’m going to fulfill the promises that help my rich backers while ignoring the ones that’ll help you. Then I’ll distract you by telling you that it’s the fault of someone who has no influence or power to fight back against my slanders.” Not the emotion they want, granted, but still.

    What disturbs me is the clamor across all walks of life in this country for more, more, more government and the idea of entitlement.

    And they weren’t in the early part of last century, when the Socialist candidate for President could count on 5-10% of the votes in any given Presidential election? Or when the Socialists more or less controlled huge swaths of the Midwest? Or when the New Deal policies that were both wildly popular and much more revolutionary than what we’re seeing now were put in place? There’s a lot that sucks today, but don’t swallow the idea that Americans used to be paragons of individual action and the entrepreneurial spirit. Because that’s a bunch of revisionist bullshit.

  28. Political atmospheres and election choices like we have now, the unbelievable blind worship that I see for a celebrity inspired candidate, and the collapse of the so-called conservative party with the weakly candidate it offers up makes me think the militia anarchists aren’t so tin-hat stupid after all. I am so sick of this thing. Are the majority of Americans really so weak of mind that they are falling for this shit?

  29. The average age of the world’s greatest democratic nations has been 200 years.”

    uh… what data points specifically are being used to generate that average?

  30. I don’t know, define “democratic”. Because if it’s defined by universal suffrage, that 200 years figure is bullshit. If you say great republics, maybe that’s closer, but I still doubt the figure. Also, define “greatest”. What are the criteria, and are we going for an average over the years or how they stand now.

  31. “Obama doesn’t have to apologize for being a liberal, now that conservatism has completely collapsed.”
    I swear if The Weekly Standard or some other neocon rag claims that “anti-government libertarians” destroyed the conservative movement, I’m going to go kick Bill Kristol square in the balls. Wait, never mind, he doesn’t have any. I’ll just kick his ass then.

  32. “Are the majority of Americans really so weak of mind that they are falling for this shit?”

    Uncle Bob, yes.

  33. There just haven’t been that many “great democracies” that have died. Not enough to generate a life expectancy. I guess the Roman Republic was about 450 years, Athens was a functioning democracy for about 175 and Weimar was around for like 15… so that averages out to around 200!

  34. Obama is good because he’s a liberal who doesn’t know anything about governing as a liberal, and McCain is bad because he’s a knowledgable, experienced liberal in conservative clothing?

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