Presidential Debate 3: Attack of the Clones. Open Thread.

The third and blessedly final debate is at Hofstra University (REPRESENT!) in Hempstead, NY. Obama can knock McCain out, or to mix sports metaphors, he can simply hold serve: if the current polling holds more or less true Nov. 4, McCain could win every battleground state and still get rocked. (Don’t think the Republicans don’t know this either, throwing their monetary resources around to keep the carnage from hurting too many Senators and House members.

Expect McCain to be feeling type froggy tonight, what with Obama basically calling him a punk bitch for not bringing up Ayers to his face last week. Can McCain make this Ayers thing convincing? And even if he can, will it matter?

Alright, folks. Have at it.


Okay. McCain was fiery, but it wasn’t enough. He rolled at the “I’m not Bush” line two debates too late, and managed to butcher Joe the Plumber’s name. (It’s not “Wurzelberger.”) His taking issue with the ‘health of the mother’ thing struck me as a bad look. It’s over for this debate, and barring some crazy external event, over for McCain.

10:30- Voting is like milk. It makes you big and strong.

10:26- Damn. That last jab by McCain was artless and petty.

10:20- McCain says we spend the most money on some of the worst school districts in the country. I wonder how much of that has to do with big city school systems, which have large numbers of teachers, faculty and payroll, as well as costing tons to heat and maintain facilities, etc.

10:06- Roe v. Wade comes up for the first time in these debates. Hmph. McCain said he would not impose a litmus test, and that Obama voted against Roberts and Alito because they didn’t share his opinions on abortion rights. Obama brings up Ledbetter. McCain says Obama voted against a ban on late-term abortions while he was in the Illinois Senate. “If it sounds incredible, it’s because it’s untrue,” Obama says. He says the bill did not protect the health of the mother.

9:59- Joe the Plumber, again. In the context of a bald-faced lie. Obama wants to pander to Joe, too. He is decidedly less creepy doing so. McCain talks about Joe some more, but it’s so snarky. “Hey, Joe! You’re rich.”  This can’t be going over well.

9:55- I want Obama to stop laughing here. Maybe no one at home cares. Squiggly lines update?

9:52- This is not the knockout punch McCain needs. He’s got 30 minutes.

9:47- Feels like a tie so far to me. Watching on ABC. My CNN folks, what do the almighty squiggly lines say?

9:43- Obama says Palin is capable and has excited the Republican base, but says McCain’s across-the-board spending freeze will make that special needs funding impossible.

9:42- Obama: Biden is a strong public servant who never forgot where he came from. McCain: Palin is a reformer through and through. Good job by McCain, politicizing Trig Palin.

9:40- Uh oh. This question, ostensibly, is about both their running mates. But it’s really about Palin.

9:35- Ah, there we go. ‘Mr. Ayers has become the centerpiece of Senator McCain’s campaign.’ Wow. This response/denunciation is really, really strong and pretty detailed. I think it also defuses the issue going forward, or at least makes it less effective. Good show. McCain wobbles  bit in repudiating the repudiation. Maybe the punk bitch stuff was on purpose.

9:33- McCain defends his supporters and the audience at his rallies. Hmmm. I wonder if this works. Still no Ayers.

9:31- The first person McCain has made famous: Joe the Plumber. Also, every time he says that, I think of Twista.

9:25- Bob Schieffer asked if they would say their allegations were out of bounds. McCain says that he wouldn’t have had to show his ass if Obama woulda agreed to town hall. He says Obama didn’t repudiate John Lewis’s remarks the other day. But, uh, he did.

9:23- “If you wanted to run against President Bush, you should have run four years ago.” Obama counters and said that the reason he brings up Bush is because their economic policy has so much in common.

9:16- I wonder how conservatives feel about McCain’s proposal to restructure mortgages. He says he would freeze spending. He says he would get rid of ethanol subsidies and the Marketing Assistance Program. He brings up the planetarium projector thing again and earmarks. As we’ve said in each of these debates: NO ONE CARES ABOUT EARMARKS. Obama: we had surpluses, now we don’t. We need a hatchet, not a scalpel.  McCain says he could balance the budget in four years. Uh, no.

9:02- McCain and Obama come out and shake hands immediately. Awwww. Now on to the crappy economy!



Gene "G.D." Demby is the founder and editor of PostBourgie. In his day job, he blogs and reports on race and ethnicity for NPR's Code Switch team.
  • Joe the plumber? You’re kidding me.

  • Shani: Joe SixPack, Joe the Plumber and Joe ______ (fill the blank). The butcher, the baker the candlestick maker?

  • This is a baaaaad format for Obama.

  • Big Word

    I think McCain got in a few shots with that one. He seems to start out strong in these things.

  • WTF can you do with a scalpel after you’ve made a bloody mess with the hatchet? That’s a stupid thing to say.

  • McCain:
    “I know how to create nuclear energy from cold fusion”
    “I know how to wring blood from a stone”
    “I know how to raise the dead”


  • ladyfresshh

    i see how this going

    connect to ‘your’ audiennce – joe the plummer(salaam the plumber wouldn’t work i guess)

    use buzz words like
    i will cut taxes(sounds very much like no more new taxes (c) bush pt 1)

    then try and skate through using the gray hairs on your head saying
    ‘i know'(which if you know anything this doesn’t even work for teenagers and they give this tactic up by age 18)

  • lmao @ the fox news dig.
    I still don’t get the persistence of McCain and Co. harping on about this “taxing people who make $42,000” thing. It’s been debunked. It’s not getting you anywhere.
    Someone should remind McCain that one definition of insanity doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results.

  • ladyfresshh

    ok the drinking game is now >joeplummer<
    *cracks open the arizona green tea*

    wha wha wha your ads are worse
    wha wha wha no your ads are worse

  • Sigh, they both sound whiny. I just want to know how McCain plans to balance the budget.

  • Big Word

    He doesn’t care about an old washed up terrorist, then why do we need to know about Obama’s past association with him?

  • BW: That’s what I want to know.

  • That response on Ayers was really good. wow.

  • quadmoniker

    Obama’s parry of this was really strong; that it says more about McCain’s campaign than it says about Obama. People believe that already, this will reinforce it.

  • Big Word

    Obama is goooooood. Scary good.

  • quadmoniker

    Nice. Bringing up the fact that funding for special needs kids would contradict McCain’s spending freeze proposal. Obama’s steel-trap mind is working for him.

  • ladyfresshh

    i agree he explained his loose associations fully

    mccain just admitted he supports the war
    by saying biden was wrong
    i hope obama calls him on this
    and look he just tried to switch this to taxes
    but wants to continue a costly war and start a new one!?

  • Obama is improving. He had me worried about half an hour ago.

  • ladyfresshh

    could someone update mccain? the cost of oil is down…without drilling(could someone explain how gas got so cheap all of a suddenbtw?)

  • Who’s watching this on CNN? What do the squiggly lines say? They determine everything!

  • Shani: Ceiling responses for Obama just like last time. Tanking for McCain just like last time too, or holding flat. Dipping into negative more often than in the last debate esp for the uncommitted female voters. They aren’t feeling McCain at all it seems.

  • quadmoniker
  • Big Word

    McCain’s gonna stroke out. He’s bringing it though.

  • LF: The price for gas has dipped because demand for oil is down.

  • The squiggly lines say that Obama’s plans for health care are going over BIG with men and women.

  • BW: You think? His jumpiness seems even more pronounced next to Obama on the split-screens.

  • Thanks UE!

  • Good attack on McCain’s health care plan.

  • GD: McCain looks *livid*. His facial expressions are killing me. That dumbfounded “Zero?” with regards to the supposed fines for businesses not providing health care to employees. And now he’s being sarcastic with this “Joe you’re rich!” thing.
    Ooh…he’s *pissed*.

  • quadmoniker

    Yeah, McCain is clearly breathing hard and is jumpier. Obama looks calm and collected, as always.

  • quadmoniker

    McCain’s health care plans make me so MAD. And it’s because no one can take the time to explain the problems with a single-payer system. UGH.

  • ladyfresshh

    finally healthcare

    i don’t like mccains plan he will leave me with jack

    and obama’s? um how much is this ‘small fee’ when you are unemployed anything more then $100 a month is not a small fee cobra is at least $250 which i considered waay too much

  • quadmoniker

    Oops, I meant individual market system!

  • ladyfresshh

    john i’d believe you on this qualification thing
    except…your vp is clearly NOT qualified
    god forbid you have a choice in choosing a supreme court justice

  • Women dipping negative on CNN for McCain on this abortion issue.

  • Soaring positives on Obama’s notes on preventing unwanted pregnancy using education and better health care concerning sexuality.

  • This is easily the best moderated debate.

    McCain might be winning if he could just hide his contempt for Obama.

    I understand he’s trying to be tough but he’s just coming off like a dick.

  • If there was one thing I wish Obama had done throughout the three debates is when McCain said “I know the way” or “I have a plan” for Obama to reply, “How?”

    If he could balance the budget in four years, McCain should get a Nobel Prize.

    If he could find Osama, General Petraus is on line one.

  • I love that McCain is referencing cities with some of the worst school systems in the country. NY, DC, New Orleans…

    Vouchers are a terrible idea.

  • Um, can someone please explain this focus on autism for me?

  • UE- Autism is the new rallying cry, because McCain was lucky enough to pick a running mate who has a kid he can politicize.

  • Shani: As a mental health professional working in schools I have a pet peeve with people who seemingly pick a “disorder of the month” to underpin their arguments about funding and policy in education. Fact is the educational system is not meeting the needs of a LOT of children, those with special needs and otherwise. Emotional and behavioural difficulties that are related to economic hardship is probably have way more prevalence than autism.

  • ladyfresshh


    *head explodes*

  • UE- you’re absolutely right about that. I think autism gets a lot of play because it’s such a severe disability, and many potential parents find it terrifying. McCain is using scare tactics. The effect of children’s mental health on learning gets completely overlooked. My mom is a school counselor, and the kids she works with have to struggle along with little to no help, except for a weekly chat with her.

  • quadmoniker

    Also because autism is one of those things that parents like to believe, against all evidence, is being caused by public health officials who led them astray. Parents love to rally around the idea that someone is harming their children. But, as usual, the biggest culprit may be ourselves:

  • ladyfresshh

    @ Sean : If there was one thing I wish Obama had done throughout the three debates is when McCain said “I know the way” or “I have a plan” for Obama to reply, “How?”

    yes that would have been fantastic

  • Big Word

    I’ve always believed Obama won’t go after McCain because of the way it would go over. The liberal base would love it but, I think people don’t want to see a young black guy beating up an old white man. Obama is also smart enough to know that he has a better grasp on the issues than McCain does. Another thing I love about Obama is the intelligent but consise answers he gives. One problem I had with Kerry’s debates against Bush was the fact that all his answers drowned in nuance. So much so that Bush’s answers seemed decisive, when in fact they were just simple.

  • quadmoniker

    BW: Agreed. Obama can’t get angry, for so many complicated and sad reasons. He also tends to drown himself in nuance at times. I think the difference is that he seems in command of the contradictions. I also wonder if Americans are so sick of being treated as idiots that they’re more willing to let someone seem smart than they were four years ago.

  • I don’t know about this debate. Admittedly I started tuning out after about 45 mins or so and decided it would be much more fun to play Grand Theft Auto 4. Oh well, right?

    Anyway, I wasn’t terrible impressed by either, but I thought Obama came out ahead. The format seemed a little restrictive, and I think Obama needs movement direct connection with people to start to feel it. He did, most of the time, talk directly to the camera, to America, while McCain spoke mostly to the moderator. Good.

    I got a little tired of hearing the same old same ole. McCain is more Bush, which I don’t really believe. Obama will just raise your taxes, which is just the same ole lame bullshit that every Republican says about every Democrat. I think we can safely say that if Obama raises anyone’s taxes, people are going to come kick his ass.

    The “Joe the Plumber” thing was cute at first and got old fast. It became silly and a weak jab. McCain, like his campaign’s need to cling to the jacked up reverend and Ayers, has to resort to poor little jabs and sound bites rather than substance.

    Obama did great on answering questions about Ayers and explaining his policies on the economy. ACORN, however, seems to still be an issue, and his campaign needs to address it forthwith and honestly. They don’t need any stupidity to ruin what is surely to be a win in November.

    I want to hear more from Obama about his 3-tier national service program, which I wholeheartedly agree with and came up with on my own a few years ago, which makes it ever cooler that we both agree that getting people out of their environment and into new places with new people to encourage community and communication is a good thing.

    Ok, let’s just vote already. It’s only a matter of time before the KKK shows up at the next McCain rally. And by the way, I’m totally going to the Inauguration in Jan!