11:55 – The leadup discussion on SBS supports my belief that 95% of Australians (and, perhaps, foreigners in general) want Obama to win.

11:59 – There are a lot of Republicans who want Palin on top of the ticket? Really? Who are these people, and who feeds and clothes them?

12:00 – Oh, so this is a “town hall” meeting. Why?

12:07 – What is it with McCain/Palin and “countries that don’t like us very much”? Did they just discover this a few days ago, or something?

12:08 – I don’t see how a “town hall” format where the senators have to walk around is going to favour McCain. He walks like he has rigor mortis.

12:09 – “Who would your treasurer be?” “Not you, Tom.” What the fuck?

12:10 – Those high chairs were a stupid idea. Obama looks like a child and McCain looks like a propped-up corpse that can’t bend.

12:17 – I love it how McCain always refers to those nameless, faceless bad guys in Washington; all the cronies and lobbyists and the “old crowd” who better expect change, because he’s a maverick!

12:18 – “How can we trust either of you with our money when both parties got us into this global economic crisis?” Obama freezes like a rabbit in headlights, but recovers fairly well.

12:24 – So McCain is happy to “reach across the aisle” and “sit down at the table” with the Democrats, but not with the Spanish? That seems odd.

12:25 – Brokaw getting increasingly more irritated by the candidates’ refusal to stick to the timeline is pretty amusing.

12:28 – Larger deficits than the federal government, oh Brokaw, you witty fellow.

12:29 – First Internet question from a “child of the depression” – I didn’t know 70-year olds used the Internet – asks when Americans will have to make sacrifices. McCain goes off on some bizarre idea about slashing government programs, except the vital ones like “defence” and “veteran’s affairs.” (I’m sure the US can do without “education” and “health.”) Obama starts off with 9/11 and criticises Bush’s command to go out and spend, which was nicely done, though the urge to join the Peace Corps was ambitious.

12:35 – McCain says Obama wants to raise taxes as though it’s on par with murdering sick babies.

12:36 – Senator Obama’s secret “that you don’t know,” drumroll, is that his tax cuts will damage small business or something. SHOCK HORROR

12:37 – Ahaha, Brokaw says he has another question from “The Internet,” with an emphasis on it as though this is 1995.

12:39 – “Nailing Jello to the wall,” “Straight-Talk Express losing a wheel…” both candidates need to stop trying to make jokes.

12:41 – McCain declares that he’ll answer the question, laughs freakishly, and advances on Brokaw like a crippled zombie. He criticises Obama’s frequent voting in support of tax raises, comparing their records. I know this is a basic division between Republicans and Democrats, and the American people are equally divided on it, but GODDAMMIT WE NEED TAX MONEY TO PAY FOR STUFF

12:44 – McCain makes the laughable assertion that nuclear power is “safe” and “clean.” He seems to be trying to whip up a lot of nationalist sentiment, going on about how awesome America is, which might have worked if it weren’t for Brokaw glaring at each member of the audience, daring them to even try making a stir.

12:46 – Obama talks about alternative energy sources, geothermal and solar and wind and such. This is the intelligent answer, and the one that the Western world will have to go with in the end anyway, but I’m not sure how it will play with Americans.

12:49 – ….Did McCain just refer to Obama as “that one?”

12:55 – McCain makes a crack about “hair transplants.” I TOLD YOU TO STOP MAKING JOKES.

12:56 – McCain says healthcare is a responsibility, Obama says it is a right, talking about people going bankrupt over their medical bills, which is “fundamentally wrong.” This is clearly true, and we all know that the entire world looks at America’s healthcare system with disgust, but it seems risky for Obama to say that to the people who apparently want it that way.

1:00 – my friends my friends my friends my friends my friends my friends my friends my friends my friends my friends my friends my friends my friends my friends my friends my friends

1:02 – McCain is repeating the old “Senator Obama doesn’t seem to understand” line that proved unpopular last debate. He’s also still not looking Obama in the eye when he criticises him, which will be a lot easier to get away with in the town hall format, but is still imprudent.

1:06 – Obama finishes up a talk with “that’s what I will do when I’m President.” Is that presumptuous? Or do presidential candidates always talk like that? McCain brings back the old line about troops in Iraq and how any negative word against them equals defeat, blah blah blah.

1:09 – “Should the United States respect Pakistani sovereignity… or should we ignore their borders and pursue our enemies as we did in Cambodia?” Yes, Cambodia turned out so well. Obama turns this into an issue of being disctracted by Iraq, says that the Afghan-Paki border is the front line in the war on terrorism. “We will kill bin Laden, we will crush Al-Qaeda.”

1:11 – McCain says Teddy Roosevelt is his hero mere minutes after saying Reagan is his hero. Make up your mind. He makes the case for co-operation with Pakistan rather than force. This is an unusual role reversal.

1:13 – In a follow-up, Obama clarifies that if Pakistan is unable or unwilling to hunt down bin Laden than the US should, and brings up McCain’s “bomb bomb bomb Iran” thing. This is heating up!

1:15 – Obama brings up Pakistan’s dictatorship status and claims that’s why public opinion turned against the US there. McCain claims to know how to get bin Laden, but won’t tell us. That’s nice of him.

1:19 – Onto Russia now. McCain rightfully chides its recent behaviour, then repeats his tired old line about looking into Putin’s eyes and seeing three letters: K, G and B. You know, I look into Palin’s eyes and see three letters: G, W and B.

1:23 – Brokaw brings up a stupid quote from the nightmarishly black and white years of the Reagan administration and asks them if they think Russia is an “evil empire.” Both candidates criticise the question and avoid giving a direct yes or no, as they should.

1:25 – A guy asks a question about defending Israel, and McCain practically humps his leg because he was a serviceman. This troop worship has got to stop.

1:30 – Question about what Obama doesn’t know and how he will learn it. Obama just barely manages to steer it away from the inexperience angle, by going off on a story about the American dream.

1:34 – And McCain responds in kind with another feelgood talk about how people always pull together, or something.

1:35 – Brokaw brings it to a close, ordering McCain to get out of the way of his teleprompter. Holy fuck, is that McCain’s wife? She’s like 30! Another note on wives – McCain’s is wearing a blue dress and Obama’s is wearing a red dress.  Handshakes, waving, touching.

So to sum up, it was – SURPRISE SURPRISE – a fairly restrained debate with no knockout blows or gaffes on either side! Both candidates avoided questions and spun their own agendas, as usual, but Obama probably came out on top simply due to his body language and appeal. McCain said and did a few odd things which were very unappealing. On the whole, this was nowhere near as one-sided as the VP debate, and also nowhere near as interesting.

Postscript: I missed this while it was on, but have since been made aware of this clear evidence that McCain has nothing but contempt for Obama. What a fuckhead.

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