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Obama wipes the floor with McCain

Written By: - Date published: 3:30 pm, September 27th, 2008 - 33 comments
Categories: International - Tags:

There’s not much more that needs to be said about the first presidental debate. 

McCain was stiff and boring. His framing was awful: he and Obama both said essentially the same thing on a number of issues but the reaction meter consistently showed that people reacted more positively to Obama than McCain. Post-debate polls show Americans thought Obama won and that they trusted him over McCain by large margins on Iraq and, crucially, on the economy.

But, most importantly, McCain did not present real solutions, just tinkering with the same failed right-wing tools. He was rooted in the past and kept referring to obscure parts of his record in the Senate. Obama presented positive, practical left-wing policies directed at better America, and the people loved it.

33 comments on “Obama wipes the floor with McCain ”

  1. I can only agree. And according to a CNN poll of more than 500 US voters, so most Americans. Obama was considered the victor by a large majority, considered better able to handle the economy (58% to 37%) and foreign policy.

  2. pete 2

    Obama winning on foreign policy is a big deal. This is meant to be McCain’s one strong point.

    According to CNN’s worms, Republicans thought they were tied on national security, while Democrats and independents gave it to Obama by a large margin.

  3. Cyclone 3

    CNN picked it. Only real difference is that Obama will talk to anyone eventually, McCain won’t.

  4. Cyclone 4

    CNN picked it. Only real difference is that Obama will talk to anyone, eventually, McCain won’t.

  5. Andy 5

    Wow, were we watching the same debate? I am not a fan of McCain at all but he landed some good hits on Obama. Especially on Iraq and on diplomatic negotiation. Obama also did not manage to differentiate himself enough and relied too much on slagging off Bush and hoping it would stick to McCain. He really needs to attack McCain on the economy, he had the opportunities and did not take them. McCain appears much more confident in these debate situations and developed more of a rapport with the audience. It was an interesting debate and it will be interesting to see what they each took from it.

  6. Andy. you saw the audience reaction meter, you’ve seen the polls.. to a degree things are in the eye of the beholder, and being a rightie, you see what you need to see but you can’t deny the facts of how people reacted

  7. Andy 7

    uh huh, thanks for that. I have never ever been described as a rightie in my life and was offering a perspective on a few points. I am a great supporter of Obama and your comments are quite baffling. If I do not agree completely with your analysis i am a right-wing commentator? Your accusation is insulting. What is wrong with you? I enjoy reading this Blog and have enjoyed the commentary it provides. Take a moment and think about your reaction.

  8. Andy, You may not be a “rightie”, but if you’re not, how do you come to the conclusion that McCain “landed some good hits on Obama”? Especially on diplomacy. And how do you reach the conclusion that McCain developed any sort of “rapport with the audience”? The “worm” used by the CNN undecideds in Ohio showed a very adverse reaction to McCain patronising Obama.

    The more interesting question is why so many people apparently thought Obama won. (If you add the CNN and CBS polls together, that’s a sample >1000.)

    Part of the explanation for the popular crowning of Obama the victor, despite the debate being closer to a draw in substantive terms, may be that people’s expectations of Obama were lower. That’s according to a leftie commentator (kos):

    “Kind of imagine Sarah Palin, who we’ve all come to see as a blithering idiot, turning in a performance the caliber of Obama’s tonight — she would all the much stronger for it, no matter if on the merits, she merely equaled Joe Biden. That’s what apparently happened tonight.”

    But the problem with that explanation is that a poll before the debate showed that most people expected Obama to win…

    Perhaps the response was on a emotional level. McCain patronised Obama and couldn’t even look him in the eye. Obama, meanwhile, was calm and confident enough to acknowledge areas where his opponent was right or in agreement (always strengthens an argument on an intellectual level, that).

  9. Thought it was a victory to Obama, but not hands down, there was no WOW moment. McCain lied a lot, and Obama did correct him.

    I would like Obama to be more aggressive though in the next debate.

    I cannot believe TVNZ’s take on the debate, they are normally very liberal, but they called it for McCain, even the MSM in the USA said Obama won.

    Heck Faux News called it a tie.

  10. Andy 10

    First off, my response was based on my personal viewing of the debate along with the insight of several of my american friends who are political commentators in the United States. Yes i may take a different view from someone else, fine. I accept your viewpoint and agree with you on several points.
    However the ‘worm’ is not a scientific or reasonable statitistcal test of support on any issue, all reseacrh done into preference worms show that the majority of the time people don’t know or don’t care what they are doing. When they do they are responding to emotional language.
    CBS and CNN polls add an interesting dynamic, and also brings up the question of how a poll is defined as being won?
    Remember this is the United States and you should not confuse the electorate. The intellectual level of debate can be overated, McCain did come off as extremely patronising of Obama, but for people who already view Obama as inexperienced(Republicans and leaning indepedents) this is just further reinforcement.
    My problem was the fact that Obama could have really hit McCain hard, the long discussion on the economy in a debate supposed to be about foriegn policy was an opportunity, there was an expectation that McCain was a better debater(and of course Obama is better than McCain in a public speech setting), if Obama had just been a bit more cohesive he could have come out of this as the amazing underdog who smashed goliath.
    I’m not sure how Obama’s agreeing with McCain will be read, my take is that in a debate like this you do not have time, and it is distracting from your argument to be agreeing with your opponent. The attention span of the viewer is short. Obama needs to be quicker, he cant just say Well I agree with my opponent on that aspect but…..
    What he needs to do is point out McCains flaws(many), this is a debate, no significant group expects or even admires the intellectual level of agreement in debates in the US presidential elections. This is politics.
    Good analogy with Sarah Palin, god the vice-president debates are going to be hilarious.

  11. T-rex 11



    I haven’t watched the debate yet, on account of being busy sleeping, but I’m pleased to hear it went well for Obama.

    That said, I liked your comment Andy. You’re in my “interesting and probably fairly non-partisan” box.

    I think Obama is going to clobber McCain in all the ways that count, but I don’t know if the election will be won by things that matter. You saw what Carl Rove did last time. When 10% of your voter population can be mobilised by opposition to gays being allowed to “marry” (or legal equivalent)… All you bright, smart, engaged Americans: you have my huge sympathy.

    It should be a whitewash. Obama is like all the good points of Key AND all the good points of Clark combined, while McCain has picked RedneckMcPickup the far north lightweight as his running mate. Seriously. She is godawful. If my running mate’s primary skill requirement was “giving sharp tongued sass in the diner” then I might consider her, but VP? Get a grip. I think people sometimes forget that VP IS PRESIDENT IN WAITING. She would make Bush look like an insightful visionary poet.

    I especially like the final line in that article above. It just shines through in both of them. “I’m not stupid and lazy and unable to grasp complex concepts… I’m just no nonsense”.

  12. Carol 12

    I haven’t seen the debate and want Obama to win. But the TV One report tonight, by their guy in the US reckons McCain won the debate: was more decisive while Obama waffled too much.

    I’m pleased to see from your reports, tho, that polls show lots of people favouring Obama’s performance. Wouldn’t be the first time TV One’s political judgement was off.

  13. T-rex 13

    “One of the things I intend to do as president is restore America’s standing in the world,” – Obama.

    And he’d make a huge improvement simply by winning the election. Just look at the non-US preference. If McCain wins the overwhelming reaction is going to be “Those retards STILL haven’t learned”.

  14. T-rex 14

    “was more decisive while Obama waffled too much.” – Was he from Fox? They love that meme.

    It blows my mind that a political commentator is still pushing that viewpoint. That is the mentality that says “We want a president who’s going to Act, not think”. That “talking about issues” is the domain of college educated elitists who are out of touch with real America.

    I mean seriously, do the American people really WANT to be that moronic?

  15. Draco T Bastard 15

    “One of the things I intend to do as president is restore America’s standing in the world,’ – Obama.

    I get really concerned when US presidential hopefuls come out with lines like this as they almost always seem to be talking about the US’s armed forces.

  16. Carol 16

    T-Rex, it was TV One’s own Kiwi guy in the US, Tim Wilson who said that. Does this mean TV One is becoming even more like Fox?

    video of it here:


  17. gobsmacked 17

    Well, this leftie thought McCain did OK, in what is his strongest area, and so did the BBC commentators, for what it’s worth. I don’t really disagree with Andy, and it is (again) tiresome that somebody just calling it as they see it is dubbed a ‘rightie’ on the Standard. Why bother to watch the debates at all if our opinions have to be pre-programmed by our politics? Some of us have independently functioning brains, and telling us we don’t is a surefire way to piss people off. Not smart for a politcal blog. Please don’t do this throughout our own campaign – that attitude is exactly why Labour are in trouble: policies good, leader good, public relations abysmal.

    Anyway McCain’s bigger problem is that he had said he wasn’t going to turn up, and that hasn’t gone down well at all. He sustained a lot of damage in the last week, which could be fatal.

    Also possibly fatal, stuff like this from Palin:

    “Well, there is a danger in allowing some obsessive partisanship to get into the issue that we’re talking about today. And that’s something that John McCain, too, his track record, proving that he can work both sides of the aisle, he can surpass the partisanship that must be surpassed to deal with an issue like this.’


    “What I think Americans at the end of the day are going to be able to go back and look at track records and see who’s more apt to be talking about solutions and wishing for and hoping for solutions for some opportunity to change, and who’s actually done it?’

    Yep, she’s John Key’s twin.

  18. RedLogix 18

    After a decade in which the GOP and Bush have totally wrecked the US political system, I am sceptical that Obama and the Democrats can possibly turn it around.

    The Republican Congress of this last decade has:

    1. Torn up and peed upon any notion of bipartisianship. This Congress has run the USA as one party cabal, deliberately shutting out and humilating the House Democrats at every opportunity. This has created a bitter legacy, meaning that there is no hope for compromise or intelligent reconcilation in any future Administration.

    2. Failed utterly to carry out it’s oversight role. Under it’s watch the US Federal fiscal position has gone from some $230b surplus under Clinton, to some unimaginably large debt in the order of many trillions of dollars.

    3. Cowed and caved into the capricious exercise of Presidential authority at almost every opportunity, shredding the traditional Constitutional balance of powers.

    4. Abandoned all standards of good governance and competence. It’s only accomplishment has been the dismantling and discrediting of the American government.

    5. Has been caught in a litany of sordid scandals, major corruptions and ethical perversions that it has rendered the USA a joke in the eyes of the rest of the world. Has enthusiastically participated in unravelling decades old regulatory protections, such as the Glass-Stearn Act, directly leading to the current fiasco on Wall St.

    Any rational man might expect that the US electorate would be, as a result, of a mood to repudiate and soundly reject the GOP Party and it’s Presidential candidate. Yet if the polls are to be believed McCain and Palin are still supported by close to 50% of the voters.

    If Obama and Biden win, they will inherit a crippled Federal budget, a demoralised commercial sector, a corrupted and palsied Congress and a hostile Supreme Court… while lacking a sufficient electoral mandate to push through the deep reforms needed and expected by his supporters. Obama is being set up to fail.

  19. Bill 19

    “Cowards, fools, whores, and defenders of unjust privilege and concentrated wealth do not make great popular leaders in times of crisis or stability.”
    Paul Street


    That’s both McCain and Obama he’s refering to by the way. The full article is worth the read for a view of the real world away from the shite spin.

    It really doesn’t matter how that particular circus turns out…a fucked up clown will be the next president of the US either way.

  20. RedLogix 20


    I was thinking that my posts on this thread were a tint purplish… but Street’s article you linked to is far more eloquent and strident.

    The whole of kiwiblog should read this and grovel in humiliation that their heroes and leaders should have been proven such shameless, venal thieves.

  21. Vanilla Eis 21

    I saw the BBC coverage, like gobsmacked, and without the worm or audience reaction stuff, Obama came off badly. He’s an orator, not a debater. McCain looks a lot calmer, and gets his point across well.

    I hope Obama wins in Nov, but if the debates are anything to go by then my first instinct is that he won’t – ‘worm’ be damned.

  22. Bill 22

    Ah, how easy to lead peoples’ perceptions by employing a few wee ‘technological’ gizmos!

    Vaguely curious to hear to what degree viewers perceptions might have been ‘wormed’ as opposed to viewers who viewed sans worm.

    It’s patently obvious that the worm prevents you from viewing and evaluating in an individual capacity as it’s constantly reinforcing a majority view and pushing it on you. Good for promoting orthodoxy and encouraging elements of doubt in the minds of the vaguely unorthodox.

  23. so why did obama say mccain was right in what he said so many times? Just curious.

  24. Felix 24

    Phil, I wondered the same thing. Not wanting to appear too confrontational perhaps?

    As others have said, I also found McCain a very convincing speaker – even though I disagreed with much of what he actually said.

    Hard to see how Obama “wiped the floor” with him…

  25. Just to put my “Conspiratoral” bit in

    Obama is advised by Zbigniew Brzezinski and McCain by his son.
    Obama was given Gazillions more than McCain by the banksters now ruining the Worlds financial system.
    I didn’t even watch the F&^king debate. They are both bought and paid for.

  26. Camryn 26

    I guess Drudge is still considered to have right-leaning readership, so take with a grain of salt the poll on the upper right: http://www.drudgereport.com/

  27. lprent 27

    cam: I’d read ANY online poll with a clothespin on my nose. They are so so easy to spoof

  28. Pascal's bookie 28

    On the thing with Obama saying McCain was right, I think it’s to do with his academic background.

    I didn’t watch so I can’t be sure, but I’d be surprised if he wasn’t usually saying things along the line of:

    John is right that (x), however he is mistaken in explaining (x) by (y) when it is really (z) that causes (x).


    John is right that (x), however his response of (y) is exactly the wrong thing to do and will cause (a,b, and c) what we need to do is (z) bringng about (e,f, and g).

    It’s about differentiating facts, that all can agree on, from policies and opinions that are the responses to those facts. It’s about saying, Yes these are the facts, but your judgement/reasoning about those facts is fricken mental.

    Personally I like it, it shows not only that the speaker is listening to his/her opponent, and responding, but that they have actually thought about the issues beyond focussed grouped talking points. They are addressing the issue with regard to the facts rather than with regard to the politics of appearances.

    Which is what annoys me about even asking who “won” these sorts of debates. It only leads to the appearance type analysis of so and so sounded whiney or whatsisname was aggressive. Pah. Whose answers corresponded with reality barely gets a look in.

  29. Andy. sorry for calling you a rightie. confused your name with rightwing commentator’s.

  30. Rex Widerstrom 30

    Perhaps, but then debates are scored by a certain sector of the population (those that bother to watch, and try, perhaps, to make an intelligent choice.

    Then there’s that other sector of the population you need to factor in…

    (captcha has made it’s own assessment: informed Nimrod 8-O)

  31. Andy 31

    Cheers. I should think about changing to a less common name perhaps 🙂
    I think if Obama becomes more comfortable in the debating environment he could open up a bit and lay into McCain, he’s got to take the opportunities to shore up his numbers.
    Not sure how this issue of McCain’s early call to postpone the debate is playing with voters any thoughts?

  32. RedLogix 32

    The UK Guardian is always worth keeping an eye on. This John Gray article is worth a read, and more or less begs the following question about the McCain/Obama contest…. who cares?

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