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The Debate: Senator Been There, Done That

McCain triumphed in the second half of the debate. Whether talking about foreign policy, his involvment in pushing for a post-9/11 commission, or his relationship with veterans, he kept driving home the point that he has a thick porfolio when it comes to national interests. He was in Vietnam. (Big news, I know.) He was involved in decisions concerning Lebanon, Kosovo, Bosnia and the first Gulf War. He knew Ronald Reagan. He’s known Henry Kissinger for 35 years. He’s been everywhere, done everything, and has the scars to prove it.

McCain’s strategy to keep highlighting his experience in contrast to Obama was transparent, but also, I think, effective.

By Kathleen Parker  | September 26, 2008; 11:02 PM ET
Categories:  Parker  | Tags:  Kathleen Parker  
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Next: The Debate: The All-Important Grumpiness Factor


It was interesting John McCain wasn't able to look Barak Obama in the eye. One's physical presentation is a vital component of any face-to-face debate. This is akin to Nixon's sweating.

Posted by: davemarks | September 26, 2008 11:19 PM | Report abuse

Experience? Don't forget about the time he tied an onion to his belt when he went over to Shelbyville to get a new heel for his shoe.

Posted by: Potter2 | September 26, 2008 11:29 PM | Report abuse

There's another side to the "been there, done that" and it's that McCain has gotten stuck in the past. He's still fighting Vietnam, hence his shaking voice and pious-sounding "We can't lose this war." He's like a disapproving old man who can't get past his own past. Also he needs to look less petulant, less proud, less defensive. He undercuts "the wise, experienced man" with his maverick and sort of bitter impatience. To young people, this looks like their grandfather harummphing. There's a little too much "been there." He clearly hasn't affected the country positively in enough ways for us to believe him. Obama offers strength, smarts, and courage. Genial, stalwart, and the hope of the future = Barack Obama. It's not where we've "been" (as in "has-been"?/, it's about where we're going.

Posted by: cturtle1 | September 26, 2008 11:35 PM | Report abuse

Kathleen, we all know that McCain can't win on the experience argument because it just ties him to the failed Republican policies.

Obama brought the change argument home, that he will improve our standing in the world and make us better able to work with our allies. And he will bring the dreadful Iraq war to a close, which we all want.

Posted by: MadAsHell3 | September 26, 2008 11:44 PM | Report abuse

I never thought in my wildest dreams that McCain would ever be able to honestly compare Obama to Bush, but he did, successfully.


Posted by: ThePatriot79 | September 26, 2008 11:49 PM | Report abuse

McCain is stuck in his past, however, a past filled with frustration, defeat and failure. That is the sad ingredient of his story--for all McCain's self-proclaimed expertise, he could not boast much of victory.

Posted by: phughez | September 26, 2008 11:52 PM | Report abuse

McCain seemed tired. He often rambled and lost focus. His age showed. I am not a young man, so this comment is not age discrimination; my perception is that it is a fact. In one instance, I suppose to highlight his experience, he wandered off the point of the question by engaging in a litany of past foreign adventures, such as Bosnia and Somalia, that was confusing, often contradictory and didn't make a point, i.e., it was just a recitation of historical events. There was too much of been there, done that, which I take as a criticism, without any connection to today or current issues. Today when applying for a job a resume should only go back five years, ten at the outside. John nattered on about events that no one today knows about, remembers or cares about. The campaign obviously has worn him down, and his demonstrated frailty concerns me. Obama was sharp, John was fuzzy.

Posted by: csintala79 | September 26, 2008 11:55 PM | Report abuse

John McCain couldn't make eye contact. Isn't that typical of liars?

Posted by: somerseten | September 26, 2008 11:56 PM | Report abuse

I am somewhat of an ex-Republican and was trying to look at this debate as objectively as possible. Good or bad, for me I found Obama much easier to follow. He spoke clearly and made his points. I frequently had problems following McCain, I think because he was always off topic and repeated himself frequently. My brother thinks that's because Obama is just a smooth-talking (read vacuous) politician. It's hard to tell from where I stand. I got tired of hearing McCain keep talking about the past and he seemed like a little hold lady name dropping all the time with all the foreign leaders and places he claims to have been.

Posted by: msgrinnell | September 27, 2008 12:04 AM | Report abuse

My uncle fought bravely in the jungle in WWII but I never thought that qualified him to be president. If there was ever a time when we need a fresh start, it is NOW! Let's face it, a man that is 72 is at a point in his life that he becomes reflective of what has been. I've watched my own father's worldview change as he gets older. This is not the time for reflection. At the risk of sounding trite, now is the time for CHANGE.

Posted by: mshaw1 | September 27, 2008 12:08 AM | Report abuse

I didn't feel McCain won. He came across as patronizing and I also noticed that he would not look Obama in the eye. That bothered me and I thought it was strange. I don't think either one of them hit it out of the ballpark but I thought Obama certainly held his own very well and did better with the economic issues than McCain. McCain may have scored a few points on foreign policy statements but Obama stated his views clearly. I thought it was a good debate.

Posted by: sharronkm | September 27, 2008 12:11 AM | Report abuse

My take is that McCain making no eye contact with Obama and completing ignoring him- was his strategy. I think it worked. By the end I though Obama looked like he was desperately (not as dramatic as desperate I just can't think of a better word right now) trying to reach out and get McCain to react to him. McCain's lack of response eventually pushed Obama off balance.

I agree with this article. I found McCain moving and evoking my trust and respect at the end.

Posted by: JeninReno | September 27, 2008 12:14 AM | Report abuse

I don't think McCain was effective making the experience argument. Many of the events he cited as examples are unknown to younger people, and to some of the rest of us they seem like the distant past. Anything before 9/11 feels like an entirely different world to those of us old enough to remember.

Also, how do you reconcile the experience argument with the judgment of having chosen Sarah Palin as a running mate? Kathleen?

Posted by: martymar123 | September 27, 2008 12:17 AM | Report abuse

Sen. McCain came across as mean spirited and disconnected from the big picture. It seemed that he thought winnning the debate meant mentioning as many world leaders and places as possible.

I'm looking for a President with a VISION for the FUTURE. Sen. McCain has had many opportunities to make a difference in the last eight years, and he didn't. I will never forget him celebrating his 69th birthday in a photo op with the President at the same time Katrina hit New Orleans.

Posted by: dewatobay | September 27, 2008 12:45 AM | Report abuse

McCain did score points during the debate and many will perceive that he won. If McCain is feeling his oats it will be short lived because he can't win with the unraveling of Governor Palin. Now he faces a Hobson's Choice. She's wilting with every media appearance which negates any momentum he may have gained this evening. Look for another hand grenade by McCain. Boom!! Regretfully Governor will withdraw for personal reasons...before the VP debate. Now Sen. McCain creates another distraction by choosing Mitt Romney. He likes to put himself a box and thinks that his judgement will come into question with each choice. His judgement is truly in question. This is not the John McCain I supported in 2000 and I am a Democrat. Obama may not have won tonight but he sure appears a lot more stable and predictable.

Posted by: setnicker | September 27, 2008 12:45 AM | Report abuse

John McCain came across as a grumy old man who lives in the past and is not able to look his opponent in the eye. It is clear that John McCain is NOT the man to be the President as this nation is on the brink of the 21st century.

Thank you Kathleen for your column about Sarah Palin. More conservatives need to urge her to quit the race before she becomes an even bigger embarrasment than she already is now.

Both John McCain and Sarah Palin have had their 15 minutes of fame and it is time for them to leave the world stage. Sarah Palin needs to go back to Alaska and John
McCain needs to retire to a nice nursing home in Arizona where he can engage in fantasies about how life was so grand when Ronald Reagan was President. The man is clearly delusional and should not be given the keys to the Oval Office!

Posted by: lavinsr | September 27, 2008 12:46 AM | Report abuse

We all erupted in with laughter over here when John brought up his POW experience at the end. The theme of 'our' night was "What for it... what for it..." In that respect he did not disappoint.


I appreciated that Obama connected foreign policy to our problems at home. McCain doesn’t appear to grasp the importance of our connection to other world leaders and our place in the world.

Obama was fair, respectful, cool and level headed -- all the more admirable considering McCain kept using up valuable time slamming him instead of answering the questions put before him.

I would dare to say Obama conducted himself in a manner befitting a President.

Posted by: averagejane2 | September 27, 2008 12:47 AM | Report abuse

McCain was clearly the body puncher in this match, repeatedly returning to his years of experience. On the other hand, Obama showed greater flair, was definitely more precise and articulate in his responses and, most importantly came across has having a vision for the country that McCain sorely lacks.

Posted by: bernieandruth | September 27, 2008 12:58 AM | Report abuse

McCain was insulting and condescending whereas Obama was cool and rational. People will remember the grumpy old egoist against the genial cool younger man.

People don't see debates the same way that pundits do.

Posted by: mtw0310 | September 27, 2008 1:05 AM | Report abuse

Another example of McCain "shooting from the hip" is his suggested overall freeze on all spending except defense, security and VA. When faced with budget constrains, the biggest savings can be made by changing old spending patterns and prudent review of detailed, itemized lists. McCain just confirmed that he wants to lock the wastefulness and excesses of last 8 years for another 4.

Posted by: spandas | September 27, 2008 1:05 AM | Report abuse

McCain's tunnel vision regarding Iraq can be explained by a twisted attempt to re-do Vietnam. We'll "win" damn it, we'll "win" this time. No matter the costs. Iraq isn't a war that will be "won" or "lost"... and it's disheartening to hear a candidate talk in such childish, simplistic terms.

Posted by: DogBitez | September 27, 2008 1:12 AM | Report abuse

No doubt that McCain has first hand familiarity with the past. But he seems stuck in the past and clueless about he future. McCain for memoir-writing. Obama for President.

Posted by: mnjam | September 27, 2008 1:19 AM | Report abuse

Yes McCain has a lot of experience, but unfortunately he won't use it to address the issue of Iraq and how we are going to move forward. The surge will only be successful if we are able to leave and Iraq can take care of itself. Furthermore, McCain doesn't support the troops or veterans. During the first part of the debate, I didn't get the impression that he cared much about the middle class either. He came across as bitter and nasty. I prefer hope to fear.

Posted by: 1armywife | September 27, 2008 1:26 AM | Report abuse

"A man's a man who looks a man
Right between the eyes."

-Graham Nash

Johnny Mac he failed the test,
And looked like a blinkin'relic at best...

Posted by: braultrl | September 27, 2008 1:27 AM | Report abuse

McCain was wrong about the Vietnam and Iraq wars. Both were entirely unnecessary military interventions which wasted hundreds of billions of dollars, led to the deaths of tens of thousands of American lives, and hundreds of thousands of other human lives.

McCain may have more government experience in his resume, but he represents the wrong judgment on the two most important foreign policy disasters in the last fifty years, Vietnam and Iraq. How many more wars will such a candidate, with his supposed superior "experience" get our country involved in, if he is elected, given his impulsive, military-first confrontational tendencies?

Those who think a paper resume of experience best decides a election would have supported Stephen Douglass for president against Abraham Lincoln in the 1860 election. James Buchanan, with his extensive government experience, was one of the most "qualified" persons to be president, using the shallow experience is most important criteria.

Posted by: Aprogressiveindependent | September 27, 2008 1:57 AM | Report abuse


McCain's judgment is in doubt not his experience. He was wrong so many times on Iraq as was pointed out in the debate. His judgment also came into play when it was mentioned that McCain would refuse to meet the Prime Minister of Spain, a US ally and NATO member.

Senator McCain's world revolves around the use of force to solve any issue. After eight years of the Bush Doctrine this country is leery of using force as the first option. McCain did not win any converts to his cause after Obama was finished with him.

This election will be decided by the Independents and these voters certainly do not want to "bomb, bomb, bomb" Iran the day after the next Presidential Inauguration.

Posted by: OscarMayer2 | September 27, 2008 2:31 AM | Report abuse

mccain is a history buff. he knows his history facts and recites them often. he also has an impressive namedropping list, but his circle of associates lack diversity...they are all white, wealthy repubs. they all think, act, and share greed alike. he was weak in conveying what he has done..its not at all about who you know but this election is about what you've done and what you plan to do.

Posted by: hisgrace03 | September 27, 2008 3:05 AM | Report abuse

Why hasn't anyone called McCain on his wrong comments about Pakistan being a failed state a decade ago?

How could McCain have forgotten that our partner -- until months ago -- in Pakistan for the past ten years, General Musharraf, had overthrown a democratically elected government?

Posted by: failedstate | September 27, 2008 3:17 AM | Report abuse


I have been reading you for many years (along with George Will), and although I don't agree with you or George on many issues, I have always believed that a conscientious citizen should read both sides of the political spectrum. I teach high school English and a college composition dual enrollment course that focuses on rhetoric. I read George Will's recent editorial aloud to my class after I told them that I just about fell out of my chair on Tuesday morning when I read his column. I said, "The Apocalypse must be at hand if George Will, a conservative, writes this." I would have to say the same thing about you writing about Sarah Palin, albeit my feminist friends and I have been incredulous about McCain's poor decision from the get go. I just have to say, "What took you so long?"

I am also a doctoral candidate in rhetoric and composition, and I am absolutely astounded that you could write that John McCain won the debate. I do hope you reconsider what you have written in first response to the debate. Please take the time to reconsider the rhetoric of both candidates before you write your final column about the debate.

You have been given a tremendous responsibility as a writer. I always think this about editorial columnists: so what? You're just one person and you're a good writer, but you're not God. It's just your opinion, but sadly enough, many Americans don't know how to sift through what is said or written in the mainstream media. (The number one objective of my class is to teach students about argument and the fallacies of argument). The average American also does not discern the meaning of what political candidates say. Many of them just vote based upon a "feeling" (or as one person I spoke to recently, said, "a vibe"!)

You have been given a privilege very few people ever receive. Please do our country and your fellow citizens a favor by truly looking at this debate with a critical eye and not a partisan eye. (And please explain why John McCain didn't look Barack Obama in the eye).

John McCain repeatedly said, "I have been to so and so country," several times, but just because he's been to a country several times, doesn't mean he knows any more than Barack Obama. I have been to Chicago several times, but that doesn't mean I know the most important things to know about Chicago. Someone who searches the Internet,or buys maps, books, and brochures about Chicago and really studies it, can know more about it than someone "who has been there" several times. I believe Obama is someone who will devote the time to 'study' foreign policy, and hopefully, will have many opportunities to visit these countries and foreign leaders to learn more about their cultures and society in the future.

Many thanks for taking the time to read this and for your years of writing.

Posted by: cenglish1 | September 27, 2008 3:28 AM | Report abuse


For someone who claims to be a "doctoral candidate in rhetoric and composition," who sure provide a funny analysis. How about deciding who won the debate until AFTER you do your analysis, instead of trying to backtrack from your predetermined outcome?

Obama was clearly outmatched. The reason why McCain was pointing out he visited all these places is that he was concerned enough to see things first hand. Obama, despite having a subcomittee of his own, couldn't make it out to Afghanistan once.

Or maybe you should just flat out say that it was right for Bush to wait so long to visit the areas devastated by Katrina, since you seem to be dismissing the value of first-hand experience.

But ahhh, I see - the only reason first-hand experience isn't important is because OBAMA HAS NONE, which leads you to the conclusion that John McCain visiting Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Geroge is the equivalent of you visiting Chicago three time.

Sounds like you paid too much for your pending degree there....

Posted by: lavalight | September 27, 2008 3:41 AM | Report abuse

Senator Biden gave the Democratic response to the debate on NBC. He said about what I expected from the Democratic candidate for vice president. Where was Governor Palin? If the running mate for the Republican nominee for president is MIA after a debate, where will she be after an election?

Posted by: jwamsley3 | September 27, 2008 3:46 AM | Report abuse

I would be more concerned about someone so naive and having a fatally bad sense of judgement like Obama being POTUS than worrying about whether a VP candidate had time to be available for the cameras.

Actually, I encourage Joe "Coal Miner" Biden to be in front of the cameras as much as possible.

It is so funny that everyone is so concerned about Sarah Palin this and Sarah Palin that, yet it's perfectly okay NOT to ask those questions of Obama, who has literally the same amount of experience Palin has had.

Posted by: lavalight | September 27, 2008 4:03 AM | Report abuse


"Why hasn't anyone called McCain on his wrong comments about Pakistan being a failed state a decade ago?"

What the heck are you talking about? Do you not realize that Musharaff came to power as a result of a military coup? That should qualify Pakistan as a "failed state" in anyone's book.

Posted by: lavalight | September 27, 2008 4:05 AM | Report abuse

Fellow Americans, what you got to ask yourself is the following question would you buy your next car from a salesman who did not look you in the eye? I certainly would not. Senator McCain never and I repeat NEVER looked Senator Obama in the eye! What message does that send? For me that means dishonesty and disrespect.

Posted by: anders780 | September 27, 2008 4:36 AM | Report abuse

I thought McCain seriously undercut his arguments with some of his "I was there when..." spiel.

He claimed he had been prescient as a fresh-faced Congressman in 1983 about the dangers of our military operation in Lebanon.

That may be a reasonable point to make, but it validates the premise that "inexperienced" people can indeed make wise, visionary assessments--the kind that qualify one as a national leader. Since McCain's been trying to dismiss Obama as a neophyte, it doesn't help his case to highlight counterexamples from his own record.

And since McCain is willing to cite his party-bucking stance from 25 years ago, it is entirely appropriate for Obama to make McCain's starry-eyed and disastrously ill-advised cheerleading for the Iraq misadventure the centerpiece of his case against him in the foreign policy area.

It took a LOT of political courage for anyone with presidential aspirations to oppose the Iraq drumbeat in 2002/3, as Obama did. The word "maverick" even comes to mind.

The Iraq discussion isn't going to be confined to the "surge" in the the way McCain wants it to be, and he'll have himself to blame.

Posted by: youarestillidiots | September 27, 2008 5:18 AM | Report abuse

Head of State

Saturday, September 27, 2008
Obama Wins

CNN Poll of Debate Watchers:

Who won:

Obama: 51%

McCain: 38%

Head of State

Posted by: caraprado1 | September 27, 2008 5:42 AM | Report abuse

The predominant opinion of the Commenteers is that Obama is more temprementally qualified for the Presidency.
cturtle1's observations were accurate.
cenglish1's insights were kind & accute.
lavalight is reactionary and, ok, mean.
I'm looking forward to the next debates!

Posted by: pailnm | September 27, 2008 6:03 AM | Report abuse

McCain will just continue the Republican policy of shoot first, talk later.

US Soldiers are dying to control oil in the region because we're not diversifying our energy sources.

Posted by: washpost30 | September 27, 2008 6:08 AM | Report abuse

McCain is the transitor radio to Obama's i-pod.

Posted by: bird52 | September 27, 2008 6:18 AM | Report abuse

It was not only transparent, but tiresome. My question for John "Been there, done that" McCain is, if your foreign policy credentials are so great, then why are we in the mess we're in now? And if your judgement was so great, why did you pick Sarah Palin as your running mate?

John's just too old and it's time for a change.

Posted by: laSerenissima2003 | September 27, 2008 6:28 AM | Report abuse

I go back to an old saying: There's a difference between ten years of experience and one year of experience ten times.

Posted by: szwheelock | September 27, 2008 6:58 AM | Report abuse

my record

my record

my record

is shredding as we speak, and also stuck stuck stuck stuck in vietnam nam nam

Posted by: forestbloggod | September 27, 2008 6:58 AM | Report abuse

It might be that McCain in a manner similar to Lyndon Johnson's rule of never refering to Barry Goldwater's name during their contest came up with this insult. In any case, McCain showed himself to be a petulent fool.


Posted by: rdabrams | September 27, 2008 7:10 AM | Report abuse

There are several reasons that McCain lost this debate. First, many times his arguments were unintelligible. When asked a question he would often drift into a loose association of a chain of events, experiences and people he has met with the thought that the TV audience would think that he was credible. Second, did anyone notice some of his off the wall comments? He spoke about the height of North vs. South Koreans as an indicator of how he would handle diplomacy with North Korea. He also said he would use the Sharpie on his podium to veto every piece of legislation, minus military and veterian affairs, that came across his desk as a way of handling the financial crisis? Without the due diligence of reviewing the financial budget and the needs of our nation, who wants a president who makes such improbable and brash comments for the sake of PR (like the firing of the SEC chairman. BTW which many conservatives have come out against and which the president does not have the power to do anyways). Lastly, he looked tired, rigid and grumpy. Jim Lehrer several times asked McCain to interact with Obama. How is McCain going to improve our standing in the world when he is unable to act like a statesman and look his opponent in the eye. Edge to Obama.

Posted by: nickstrane | September 27, 2008 7:45 AM | Report abuse

Yesterday morning, KKKathleen "Blood Equity" Parker despaired of McC's choice of the moron Palin, but yesterday evening, she found McC "effective." Who was she watching the debate with? The other members of her White Citizens Council chapter? WaPo should stop disseminating the work of this genteel bigot.

Posted by: misterjrthed | September 27, 2008 7:55 AM | Report abuse

I'm middle-aged and John McCain scares me as too old, too sick, too cranky. I worried about him being able to stand up for an hour and a half. He looked drawn and haggard despite the makeup. He seemed fidgety, uncomfortable, awkward. His thoughts wandered--not as much as Palin's, but that's not a compliment. He seemed like a caricature of an old men who harps on the past and how nobody knows anything but him. Frankly, I expected him to do a much better job.

Posted by: LevRaphael | September 27, 2008 8:00 AM | Report abuse

McCain only cares about the rich and veterans. He is totally unaware and/or uninterested in the problems or the middle and working class. This is true of Republicans as a whole, and Americans, (especially women, the elderly, and the working class) should pay more attention to party platforms and less to personalities and the personal soap opera aspects of politics.

Posted by: skylark1 | September 27, 2008 8:03 AM | Report abuse

Kathleen, as always, gives us the "Better Homes and Garden" quality analysis.
McCains scars are surgical in nature; their purpose was to remove melanoma.
Ronald Reagan was 28 years ago, further, Ronald Reagan would never have invaded Iraq.

McCain looked tired, resentful, bitter, and uninspired. There were times when I had genuine sympathy for him, but sympathy alone will not get him my vote, nor will the strength of his biography. The issue is the future; the past is done, and none of us will get to live there. The future, however, claims all of us.

Posted by: BaltimoreCotls59 | September 27, 2008 8:18 AM | Report abuse

Head of State

Saturday, September 27, 2008
What A Debate Reveals: Anger, Entitlement and Contempt

What I found shocking reflecting on last night's debate was how angry and entitled McCain was, in a very open way.

McCain's manner was one of that who believed he should not even be on the same stage with this person. This indicates a person of extreme rights and extreme wrongs, not a statesmanlike persona, but an angry and impulsive one.

McCain carries strong ideas about what a liberal is, ideas that very little from his cherished ideas of who betrayed the nation during the Vietnam war. A stock character, driven and created by his own rage, carried, as it has been since the '70s, with a virtual ideological blindness--blinded by a contemptuous rage--that there are others who cannot understand the world the way he can. This is not judgment, but angry certainty. This is not readiness, but a just-contained rage that he should be confronted by such ideas.

You can see it in his constricted "can you believe it" rage at one who disagrees with him. This kind of contemptuous, angry dismissal of others ideas leads easily into the impulsive decisions of the last few months--generated with barely contained contemptuous rejection of those who would reject his ideas--only the most recent forms of those essential constructs--a contemptible media, easily fed with false notions and panaceas, as he believes they were earlier in his life; intellectuals, whose reason and deliberation is contrasted with the sharp, impulsive action that for his life has constituted a certain knowledge, and an angry, certain need to sweep away those who would stand in the path of righteous certainty.

What is beautifully ironic is how McCain maintains this contempt even as he switches from one position to another in the opportunistic second--this is when the look of contempt and entitlement turns, for a moment, to anxiety and panic.

Soon, however, the gaze is back. No matter what the new position is--impulsively determined, desperately grasped--if only "they" knew better. If only "they" knew the truth.

This kind of ideological rigidity and certainty (note how Obama could not contain himself from smiling when McCain attempted to compare him to Bush in that regard) combined with impulsive decision making, from the "gut" of sure knowledge, is what has created the outcomes of the past 8 years.

It was--in a setting where one would not expect it to be, where one would expect McCain to contain it--glaring apparent last night.

This is an amplification of the last 8 years rather than a change.

We do not need to experience this type of decision making again.

Head of State

Posted by: caraprado1 | September 27, 2008 8:24 AM | Report abuse

"McCain seemed tired. He often rambled and lost focus. His age showed."

I, too, thought his age showed. I especially thought the camera shots from his right side were telling . . .a stooping not really seen from front shots . . and he should be tired . . .I am 73 . . . .

Posted by: csavferg1 | September 27, 2008 8:24 AM | Report abuse

It was Obama's night. Obama, for all of his impressive rhetorical skill, did not enter into this presidential campaign with strong debating skills. However, after 23 debates with Hillary, what Obama showed last night was that any deficit had long since been overcome. Obama was thoughtful, intelligent, direct and presidential. Although McCain was able to wear the 'experience' mantle, it seemed to weight him down like an anchor. He is entirely backwards looking, he still has a cold war mentality. And his country and leader name-dropping just emphasized, if anything, the huge void between him and Palin.

This was supposed to be McCain's strongest debate - foreign policy. If this was his strength, he should be very worried about his weakness.

As McCain's performance is analyzed, the biggest question might be: If you believe that decades of 'experience' is needed (as you seemed to in this debate), what were you thinking when you picked Palin??

Posted by: JWAL1 | September 27, 2008 8:25 AM | Report abuse

"McCain seemed tired. He often rambled and lost focus. His age showed."

I, too, thought his age showed. I especially thought the camera shots from his right side were telling . . .a stooping not really seen from front shots . . and he should be tired . . .I am 73 . . . . and the shifting from one foot to the other

Posted by: csavferg1 | September 27, 2008 8:27 AM | Report abuse

Sen.Been There but not done a lot, more to the point, he has always been on the wrong side so how have all his travels helped? On to the next debate, coming up is the Sarah Palin vs Joe Biden dust up. I would like to know just what happened to the three minute interview Katie Couric did with the Gov. Palin couldn't answer Couric's question re Russia and lost emotional control, turning her head, unable to speak. Curic threw her a lifeline and they went on. Palin then contended that knowing the location of Russia was important and further more, she knows Canada is on the other side of Alaska. I'm not kidding, that really happened. So why is the network hiding this revealing piece of film on the person who is a heartbeat away from the presidency?

Posted by: kaycwagner | September 27, 2008 8:36 AM | Report abuse

"McCain’s strategy to keep highlighting his experience in contrast to Obama was transparent, but also, I think, effective."

When I read the words "I think" the definite impress I come a way with is that the writer isn't convinced what they've written is indeed true.

I fully feel McCain's strategy was transparent and totally ineffective. At his age, with his background he darn well better know the people whose names he dropped. But dropping names just doesn't impress me. Contending that he would "win" the war in Iraq (that never should have been started in the first place) and not being able to define what "win" means doesn't impress me.

While both candidates were lacking in details the one strong statement, for me, came from Obama. He wants to work to restore respect for America in the world. Living as I do outside of the US for the past 16 years I can tell you for a fact that we are no longer as well respected as we were 8 years ago.

I believe that Obama will do that job and more. I believe that McCain will only continue the tired old ways of Bush.

Posted by: EdGreshko | September 27, 2008 8:59 AM | Report abuse

Obama won by proving you don't have to be McCain's age to be ready for president.

By going toe-to-toe with McCain, being younger and smarter, Obama won the night.

That's why all the actual non-pundit polls reflect the same.

McCain's age and erratic behavior will be driven home in the VP debate next week when everyone gets to hear Palin talk on issues.

Posted by: don1one | September 27, 2008 9:02 AM | Report abuse

A president should be a diplomat and a leader and we need change in Washington.

Senator Obama seemed to try to confirm that the two had some points in common, while Senator McCain only looked for points they didn't have in common, repeating countless times, 'you don't understand.' Senator McCain's approach is the least effective for negotiating laws with an opposing party or peace and trade treaties with foreign governments.

Posted by: DGSPAMMAIL | September 27, 2008 9:03 AM | Report abuse

McCain speaking about his life and OJT experience. Isn't that what one does on a job interview? Why wouldn't he lay out why the things he has done validates his qualifications? If not, what would you have a candidate speak about?

Posted by: TheDubb | September 27, 2008 9:15 AM | Report abuse

The most salient and justifying Presidenial-like comment made was by Sen McCain when in expounding on his foreign relations experiences he stated unequivocally that on his last trip to that Peninsula he determined that:-


Now thats an outstanding statesmanlike comment worthy of a Krusty the Clown line.

America[ns] desrve a lot better than this.

Posted by: omop | September 27, 2008 9:26 AM | Report abuse

He's been there all right. Such as during the S&L meltdown when he was an enabling member of the Keating 5. Now my memory is as faltering as his: was this before? or was this after he became such a "maverick" for accountability and governmental ethics?

Posted by: dane1 | September 27, 2008 9:40 AM | Report abuse

The most important duties of the president are found in Article I, Section 2 of the US constitution which states, “…preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” A necessary, but not sufficient condition to preserving, protecting and defending the Constitution is an in-depth knowledge and understanding of the Constitution. Looking at the training and experience relevant to understanding the constitution of the two tickets prior to election to public office we find:


Barack Obama: BS, Columbia –Major: Political Science, JD, Harvard: Relevant Experience: Professor of Constitutional Law-University of Chicago

Joseph Biden: BS, University of Delaware, JD: Syracuse University College of Law, Relevant experience: Practiced law in Delaware, Adjunct Professor of Constitutional Law- Widener University School of Law


John McCain: BS, US Naval Academy- Major: Presumably engineering, Relevant Experience: Spent several hours as a juvenile listening to several judges instruct him on the disadvantages of being drunk and disorderly

Sarah Palin: BA, University of Idaho – Major: Journalism – Relevant experience: She has attorneys working for her

Personally, I prefer someone who has gone to the effort to obtain the specialized training to do a difficult job. For example, I have some cysts embedded in the tendons of my wrists, which are starting to interfere with my ability to type on a computer, which is necessary for my livelihood. I had two medical practitioners look at the wrists. One was a Harvard, University of Virginia and Johns Hopkins trained hand surgeon who recommended a delicate surgery to remove the cysts. The second practitioner I consulted was a good ol’ boy physician’s assistant from the Deep South. He said, “Back home we just teach the folks to ‘Bible bash’ them. You know, the Bible is almost always the biggest book in the house so we taught them to put their wrist on the kitchen table and slam it as hard as they could with the Bible. As long as you don’t break any bones it works pretty good.”

Having survived a couple of years in a country that suspended their constitution and having seen some of the horrors that resulted, I find that a country needs to respect its own constitution to assure a reasonably happy life for its citizens. After watching my Constitution being “Bible bashed” for the last eight years, I am more than happy to hire two specialists who chose to spent a large part of their lives learning how to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

I rest my case.

Posted by: DrS1 | September 27, 2008 9:57 AM | Report abuse

I have a different take on McCain's inability to look his opponent in the eye: He's lied about Obama and he knows it.

Think about McCain confronting Bush at the end of the 2000 primary when Bush refused to look McCain in the eye.

I really believe McCain would like to think of himself as being "honorable", yet he's discarded his values to try to win at all costs. He's trying to justify his actions to himself, but his conscience is showing the opposite.

Obama, on the other hand, used strong points against McCain- wrong to get us into Iraq, wrong to give huge tax cuts to the wealthy and ignoring the real economy of the middle class, wrong about deregulation, wrong to joke about bombing other countries- yet Obama was so secure in his positions that he could look McCain in the eye and tell him he was wrong.

I heard McCain saying that he would get us into another war like the one in Iraq, despite everything that has proven going into Iraq has actually made us weaker in the world.

Posted by: ladyvet | September 27, 2008 10:01 AM | Report abuse

John McCain's: "Osama bin Laden and General Petreaus have something in common" so long as they both agree with John McCain was the worst line coming off from a Presidential debate. In reality, they both agree with him for very different reasons. Whether it was supposed to be a joke or an example of "bipartisan skills", the least one can say is it was a tasteless comment - and was furthest from "country first".

Posted by: shaldar44 | September 27, 2008 10:12 AM | Report abuse

I felt no sense of either side have won this debate. I was unimpressed by both of these men, I don't want to vote for either of them.

So far the only criterion that makes a difference for me is the choice of Palin for VP. The idea that this woman will be one heartbeat away from the presidency fills me with horror.

Posted by: barferio | September 27, 2008 10:20 AM | Report abuse

Like Palin citing her adjacency to Russia as a sign of foreign policy expertise, McCain failed to demonstrate that his long years of official junkets contributed to a deeper understanding of international affairs. Like his much-criticized visit to the Baghdad marketplace, official trips take place in a bubble of security and spin that insulates dignitaries from local realities. Obama's genuine knowledge and intelligence trump McCain's history of state-sponsored disaster tourism any day.

Posted by: katz2 | September 27, 2008 10:28 AM | Report abuse

John McCain came across as a smirky and grumpy old, old, old man (and I am nearly as old as he is - I know old when I see it)!

And every single time he did his "been there, met him, done that" routine, I thought - "If that is important, WHAT WERE YOU THINKING when you picked Palin as your V.P. choice?"

Posted by: DESS1 | September 27, 2008 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Knowledge and experience are both important elements as a person undertakes a decision-making role that affects all Americans. However, in my view, principle is more important than either. Since I'm a strong believer that the Constitution is our guidebook and should be our reference as we make decisions about who leads us, between McCain and Obama, I choose McCain.

On the matter of principle, I like Palin more than any of the other three participants in this race. Whoever occupies the White House will have ample advice from experts in the disciplines needed to make informed decisions, but those decisions can be a disservice to the American people if not made with recognition that the Constitution provides our framework.

Our elected executive and legislative officials rarely show an awareness in their behavior that indicates an understanding of the words in their oath of office. There seems to be a consensus that matters related to constitutionality of legislative and executive actions can be left to the courts. This is not what the founders intended. And it not being true to the oath taken. These ELECTED officials need to know and follow the Constitution.

Obama and Biden are among the most liberal members of the Senate and consistently support federal government involvement in matters where it should not be involved. Why would I choose to vote for them, debate performance not withstanding. McCain gives me heartburn in this as well but not as bad as Obama. Palin, on the other hand, has not shown me that she fails to get what it means to be an American. That's why I think Kathleen's recent article regarding Palin had the wrong focus. There were few choices McCain could have made that would give us a choice like this. I'm thankful for that.

Posted by: BobThompson | September 27, 2008 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Does anyone remember when the topic of debate regarding the qualifications of our presidential candidates was whether or not they wore a US flag as a lapel pin? It was "HOT" news!

Did anybody notice last night that that great POW War Hero (Lest We Forget) was not wearing his Stars and Stripes?

Perhaps it's part of the campaign that McCain suspended. I'm more inclined to think that he's running scared and has lost contact with the campaign. (Maybe he'll drop out and we can all vote for Palin!)

Posted by: DavidinDallas | September 27, 2008 11:01 AM | Report abuse

The old "Straight Talk Express" has become an ordinary local train with too many stops. I feel badly for McCain, who was a deserving candidate in 2000. We were all duped and robbed by Bush/Rove, but no one more so than John McCain.

McCain clearly has lost his vigor. I felt as if he were on a sedative last night, but then thought that maybe it was just simply late in the evening and that it was time for his warm milk.

Posted by: JPSartre | September 27, 2008 11:06 AM | Report abuse

Not sure which debate Ms. Parker watched, but I just saw a very old and very out of touch John McCain attempt to summon the ghost of Reagan. Didn't work.

Posted by: muffinarm | September 27, 2008 11:07 AM | Report abuse

McCain's demeanor was very off putting. He didn't once look Obama in the eye. he had a sneer on his face much of the time and his eyes got beady when he started to get angry. Not the kind of temperment I want to see in a president. Some of it reminded me of Clinton , the president. Obama was very presidential McCain has become increasing disappointing. His pick of the beauty queen as VP is the last straw.

Posted by: Nancianne | September 27, 2008 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Senator Been There Done That? McCain has been there doing all that has lead this country to failure. Bank failure, budget failure, statescraft failure. He doesn't understand - or take responsibility - that he is at the root of failure. This statesman has done enough harm. With all his years of "service" to the country, he can retire on his outrageously generous senatorial pension - to continue to get paid by American taxpayers more than he is worth and more than he deserves.

Posted by: ninadear | September 27, 2008 11:33 AM | Report abuse

I heard nothing from McCain last night that he has not said before, many times. He came across as having no depth of understanding of the situations we face. Obama on the other hand has a broad depth of knowledge about practically everything related to being president. He also projects the impression that he would make well considered decisions. Obama, if elected would assemble a cabinet and advisers of his choosing. McCain would be saddled with many of those of the present administration and their functionaries just because they are Republicans and would take much time and effort to weed out. Obama again projects a creative and exploring intellect, far different from the worn experiences related by McCain from times past. I am an 83 year old WW2 veteran and I think I have a much clearer perception of the challenges of our country than McCain. While he is only 73 I think that he doesn't have, if he ever had, the capacity to be a good president. I want to see as president someone who can comprehend and assess the severity of the complex challenges we face and come up with creative new solutions. McCain can't do that. He is too steeped in the past.

Posted by: Herb2283 | September 27, 2008 11:35 AM | Report abuse

I think McCain not looking at Obama may have been for two reasons; first, he was trying to keep his temper under control and second, he was trying to keep his temper under control.

Huh? Am I repeating myself? Well the first one is a general statement, McCain has certainly been known to pop like a cork at times. I think something which made it even more difficult for him was his failed grandstanding in Washington on Thursday. If the report in the WP is an accurate accounting of what took place, particularly at the White House meeting, I suspect McCain was finding it, how shall we say, difficult to be feeling chummy with Senator Obama. It doesn't matter to him I suspect, he manufactured the circumstance which lead to the situation.

There were a couple of times I thought McCain was going to loose it from the expression on his face. That he didn't I suppose was a minor victory for him.

Overall though I feel Obama showed the present and the future and McCain was all about the past. My personal bias to someone articulate causes me to give Obama the edge, McCain looked to be to be an angry and condescending grouchy old man.

Posted by: wes1155 | September 27, 2008 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Con artists are articulate.

Posted by: BobThompson | September 27, 2008 11:53 AM | Report abuse

The fact is that Senator McCain has a very thin portfolio when it comes to supporting veterans. Moreover, Senator Obama has a higher favorability rating across the board among veteran organizations than Senator McCain does.

As much as Senator McCain proclaims he supports veterans and as much as the general public would naturally be inclined to believe it as true, the reality is that among the specific population of veterans, Senator McCain has a very poor voting record on veteran issues and veterans recognize it as such.

Yet, Senator McCain continues to broadcast for public perception that he takes care of veterans. Rest assured that the fact that he does not will be broadcast sooner than later much to his sad public embarrassment.

Posted by: csfoster2000 | September 27, 2008 12:05 PM | Report abuse

It would be refreshing if the gop would admit that they are failable, that the bank de-reg laws passed on their watch are the real genesis of our current fiscal crisis. Its a sad day for a person like myself as I have two of my very well educated children that have left the good old usa for what rhey claim are more secure countries.

Posted by: commander1 | September 27, 2008 12:08 PM | Report abuse

How many people in this election process are going to base their vote on a single issue? I suppose the appropriate metaphor is 'not being able to see the forest for the trees'.

I choose John McCain in this election but I do that looking at a broad range of issues. I can name several issues where he makes me mad as hell. Campaign finance for one. His early position on how to deal with illegal immigration for another. And I'm not sure about his adjusted position either. Taking enough time, I could name several more.

My same list for Obama might be endless. And more distressing as well.

Posted by: BobThompson | September 27, 2008 12:18 PM | Report abuse

At his age, McCain has so many more years loving America that it's difficult for a man of Obama's age to compete. This is not to say that Obama does not love America. However, McCain had the edge in ferocity and vehemance of his love for Americans.

Posted by: greystuul | September 27, 2008 12:36 PM | Report abuse

McCain is a fighter pilot, aggressive, spontaneous, selfish, and a risk taker. He showed those attributes last night. Is that what you want in a President? Seems that is what we have been stuck with for last eight years, and look where it has landed us. Not pretty.
Obama is organizer, persuasive, thoughtful (as in involving thought), managerial, expansive, and thoughtful (as in considerate). We Americans have gone it alone since preemption; I want the world’s countries to assist with world’s problems.
Obama's way is the only way to succeed.

Posted by: Rick001 | September 27, 2008 12:36 PM | Report abuse


I contest your assessment regarding the real genesis of the current fiscal meltdown. Whenever something goes radically wrong in the marketplace, you can usually find government involvement as a prime culprit. In this case, government enabling Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to distort the market risk/reward relationship was a prime cause. Going further back, federal government actions pressuring lenders under the 'Community Reinvestment Act' also contributed.

First, if lenders would not have made mortgage loans to borrowers who had no equity stake in the home purchase and whose financial position indicated a high probability of default even when the loans were granted, we may have avoided this precipice. These were called 'sub-prime loans'. Secondly, the GSE's could have acted prudently and refused to facilitate a secondary market in these risky loans, thus limiting how many of these loans the financial institutions could have made.

There were those in responsible positions who tried to get some control over this even a few years back, but there were others with greater influence who said this is the american dream and we must support home ownership. You can do the research to see which political party this people were in.

This had little to do with de-regulation but rather government enabling, greed, and fraud.

Posted by: BobThompson | September 27, 2008 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Not being able to look someone in the eye is a universal sign of weakness and confusion, so universal in fact, that even a shy dog knows this.

Posted by: middler | September 27, 2008 12:51 PM | Report abuse

My Grandfather is old, wise and stubborn too. But whether he agrees or disagrees with you, he has the respect to look at you when he's talking to you.

Posted by: middler | September 27, 2008 12:53 PM | Report abuse

John McCain clearly won the debate last night.

Baracky Hussein Obama seemed to be extremely nervous.

Democrats for John McCain and Sarah Palin in 2008.

Posted by: hclark1 | September 27, 2008 1:10 PM | Report abuse

At first McCain's citing his travel may have been effective, but he did it over and over and over. Fine, you have been a US Senator for two and a half decades and as a result have traveled around the world. I began to nod off during these "travelogues." How does having once visited a country for a day qualify you to make foreign policy judgments about it? Just like his having visited Iraq, with a hundred troops surrounding him on the street, and then proclaiming he now understands the real situation on the ground. I ultimately found this approach very unconvincing.

Posted by: ncarver1 | September 27, 2008 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Senator McCain's experience is worth a great deal, but only if listened to .... evidently many people do not like to hear the painful truth.
“For years I have been concerned about the regulatory structure that governs Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac... and the sheer magnitude of these companies and the role they play in the housing market... If Congress does not act, American taxpayers will continue to be exposed to the enormous risk that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac pose to the housing market, the overall financial system, and the economy as a whole.” —John McCain arguing for passage of the Federal Housing Enterprise Regulatory Reform Act (S. 190) which he co-sponsored in 2005.

Posted by: halfcelt | September 27, 2008 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Just for the record, McCain signed on to S.190 16 months after the bill was presented. He wasn't a leader on this issue, he was a follower. I think it disrespects the people who actually drafted the legislation.

If you want to take a really cynical view of it, McCain signed on only after Rick Davis was no longer the head of the Fannie/Fredie funded lobbying group and was only on retainer at that point.

Posted by: wes1155 | September 27, 2008 1:30 PM | Report abuse

I still don't know if McCain has learned the difference between Sunni and Shiites. I wish Obama could have made the point that the surge wouldn't have succeeded if the Sunnis hadn't decided they hate Al-Qaeda more than they hate us or the Shiites, but he made the more important point that we still need to leave Iraq as quickly as is practical, for several obvious reasons. Overall he defended himself very well from a barrage of McCain attacks and had a good debate, enhancing his credibility.

Posted by: newageblues | September 27, 2008 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Between Grandpa and Grandson I would choose Grandson. Grandpa has some experience but he does not appear as someone using it to move beyond it. Which is what is needed currently. Grandson has not yet proven he has the vision and the will to resolve the difficult issues in front of us but he is showing some promises.

Posted by: benhibou | September 27, 2008 1:42 PM | Report abuse

The Republican Party always had capable, witty leaders. But since the beginning of the Iraq war most seem to have lost their voice. The only voices one has heard of are that of President Bush and Dick Chaney. The party's intellectual wealth is certainly depleted.

John McCain belongs to a smaller section of Republican party leaders who actually have the knowledge. However, he has been very desperate in his attempt to become the President. So much so that he has compromised his principles often.

What was done to him in 2000 by the Bush campaign was despicable and yet he chose to forget and stay behind Bush hoping his day would come. His selection of Sarah Palin has been another act of desperation. Then his cancellation of campaign to help resolve the financial crisis.

He would be much better off if he tried to do the right thing and see how they pan out. The conservatives may not like some of it, but there are lot many people who are not conservatives do vote.

Posted by: pattr1 | September 27, 2008 1:44 PM | Report abuse

I enjoyed most of the comments, but I understand you take a more Obama stance. If one would be in the middle, my wife and I both felt that one issue has not been discussed enough after the debate.

That issue was that McCain was consistently bringing up the saber rattling concept to solve all problems. He even evoked the fear (Holocaust where I lost my grandparents and their brothers. sisters and children) - in regards to present day Iran. He then brought up the North Korea issue. Continuing with his theme he brought up the Russian dilemma (Georgia). He left no stone unturned with potential scorpions. This to me says we would definitely need a draft to cover all the places we are going to fight alone with General Petraeus as the lead ally commander (like Ike) but without allies.

We felt this was key to his statements to international issues.

We believe after listening again today to the debate, that Sen. Obama was stating that diplomacy was key to tampering down the problems as a first step so we can develop International agreements. Therefore, meeting with various leaders by lower & mid-level people was critical to develop the support to why the world needed to stand together to solve the problem(s)!

We think this was the most important difference between the two and would not vote for more war or the potential of a draft. We have no money and we have no personnel without a draft to police the world. This is a non-starter in our minds.

As for your comment on working for the Veterans, I saw a few examples of veterans saying that he voted against many issues that veterans need, health and schooling.

Posted by: jrubin1 | September 27, 2008 2:00 PM | Report abuse

Experience. A lot that counted for when Senator McCain supported going into Iraq.

A lot that counted for with Vietnam-era nutcases like Rumsfeld and "ready, fire, aim" Dick Cheney.

Senator McCain, experience in years means nothing. Experience in judgment is what counts, and you and the Bush White House have shown extremely poor judgment in more ways than I can count in the last 8 years.

Posted by: daddy00 | September 27, 2008 2:00 PM | Report abuse

What happened to all the crazy Repubs? The "Heussien" writers etc. Where are they all? Actually seems like intelligent people commenting! WOW!

Posted by: SSFromNO | September 27, 2008 2:00 PM | Report abuse

I am sure that in the next debate his repetitive line will be "well in my day".

Sadly, for him, we are in another generation that requires new solutions to new problems; not "we always".

Posted by: Billy1932 | September 27, 2008 2:06 PM | Report abuse

McCain was condescending and dismissive. Obama looked much more presidential. And his constant attempts to portray Obama as "not ready to lead" and naive and lacking judgment flies in the face of what we saw of him last week and in his selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate. As a former supporter of McCain, the 2000 version, it's disappointing to see that he's morphed into just another Karl Rove candidate.

Posted by: vmadhavan1 | September 27, 2008 2:29 PM | Report abuse

I keep hearing and reading comments like “ Focusing on the bailout and dropping the campaign was a strong leadership move”, “the strategy to not look Obama in the eyes worked” “his 5 years in prison makes him a great leader” “he goes to visit the counties which makes him uniquely qualified” “McCain compared Obama to Bush, successfully.” “McCain compared Bin Laden to Patreus successfully”

Will employing the same shifty-eyes tactic with Putin bring the Russian expansion in check? I don’t think so.

McCain said he saw KGB in the eyes of Putin. He also said the North Koreans are shorter than South Koreans, and he said it out loud.

It is exactly McCain's history, all the wars, all the battles, all the torture, burning ships, shot down planes, failures that mire his candidacy in hopelessness. I think the republicans picked him to lose and to give him some solace, let him pick Palin to keep him company on this last juncket on a road that leads to a bridge to nowhere that wasn’t built but paid for.

I am looking for someone whose platform will be followed without waivering, so if a nuclear power plant is destroyed we won’t attack Greenland, for example. How about picking someone who is able to bring some sense of hope to America and the world without ever using the threat of terrorism or employing the horror shock and awe and preventive war.

Let’s pick a President who rejects the Bush doctrine of preventive war.

The next 8 years will be very hard for any President because he/she will inherit a country who has slipped from its position of strength in the global economy, no longer has the best and the brightest students, is addicted to oil and debt, lost most of its manufacturing base, and is full of superstitious people who see evil in anything they don't want to understand.

One comment says that McCain travels all over the world to see things first hand. I think all politicians misuse travel for adventure at the expense of their constituents. I have really come to despise all the damn trips to Iraq! I have never been to Iraq, don’t want to go, and don’t want to spend trillions of dollars sending senators to go see how much rubble we have piled up and where we need to secure the oil supply.

We have departments designed to deal with other counties so why are we sending 100 senators and 500 house reps to investigate things first hand, when in fact these trips are just hand shaking and photo ops for getting re-elected.

Try staying at home and keep bridges from collapsing, planes from flying into buildings, levees from being over-topped, stop human trafficking on our borders, wildfires from burning our homes, crops dying from lack of water, disease from spreading and on and on and on.

For those of you who think McCain won the debate, you probably think Obama is snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. I never thought for a minute that shock and awe yields positive results, nor do I think the wholesale slaughter of hundreds of thousands of people will make me feel better about 911.

There is no victory in war.

There was no victory in the debate. It was a sad example of misguided barbariabnism, the futile gasps of a decaying idea, and a funeral dirge for American children.

The disease in America comes from the top down, and the over-worked and over-stressed masses are easily enraged into action by fear, violence, mob-like police actions, irrational and illogical responses to easily identified problems.

Resistance to hit your opponent is something Jesus talked about, and it is something that Christians today ignore at their own peril. See 911.

McCain preys on our collective fear, painting his life as one military event to the next. Is that really the world our founding father’s outlined for America? Are you satisfied using random unpredictable bombing to calm your inner fear?

The only calm we seem to get is the IED. People wiring themselves and attacking knowing full well they will perish. That is deep hatred showing its ugly head.

Do you really believe that killing women and children will result in better long-term international relations for America?

And if this President dies in office, are you secure in your knowledge that Palin can step in without missing a beat? Who is this Palin that will be our Commander in Chief? A Paladin on her stead riding in from the Oil Kingdom?

All of this is very concerning to me. Right now the economy is on the precipice of ruin, the world is being overtaken by new petroleum rich nations where if you thought the American policies are flawed, imagine a belief that every person you kill will be your slave in heaven.

If you firmly believe that these people are more of an infestation than civilization, then use genocide. WMD. Stop fooling around. Wipe their existence clean off the planet.

But if you want to raise the poor and uneducated up to a higher level, then you must stop using their language of violence to resolve our problems.

You could refer to teachings from the Old and New Testament, the Koran, and many other early representations of governance. Try applying the 10 commandments for Christ’s sake if you have the stomach for it.

I ask that we all walk from behind the armor plate of our Hummer’s, scrape off the yellow ribbons, respect the dead, but celebrate the living. Let’s talk about what we are doing right, where we agree, and move forward into the precarious time that may drop crisis on our laps never before imagined in all of human history.

Dr. Paul said, “The best way to support your veterans is to stop making them.” What a nutjob.

Posted by: ender3rd | September 27, 2008 2:35 PM | Report abuse


Your commentary is absurd and pathetic. One more rich person tricking poor and ignorant Americans to vote against their own self interest and the greater good of the nation.

Americans if you earn less then $250,000 a year and are planning to vote for McCain, you are supporting a party that doesn't care about you and thinks that you are so ignorant that they can easily manipulate you. Sad thing is that they are right.

Obama clearly won the debate with substance and poise.

Posted by: sodesper8 | September 27, 2008 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Am I the only one who was reminded of Sarah Palin's lack of foreign policy experience every time John McCain told us how much if it he had?

While McCain certainly wins if you want to compare "been there, done that's" between the two, Obama has demonstrated a firm grasp on the nuances of the issues, something Palin (as Ms. Parker noted yesterday) has not.

I suspect the experience shoe will be on the other foot at next week's VP debate!

Posted by: My3Cents | September 27, 2008 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Notice McCain didn't answer the comment about refusing to speak to the Prime Minister of Spain? This came up in a Spanish radio interview where McCain either

A. didn't hear the question (repeated),

B. didn't understand the question (repeated),

C. thinks Spain is in South America,

D. thinks Spain is an enemy of the US that we won't talk to unless they meet our pre-conditions.

E. all of the above

In any case, this is pretty scary considering his age, four cancers, and Annie Oakley a heart-beat away.

Posted by: coloradodog | September 27, 2008 3:32 PM | Report abuse

I believe that McCain has turned Obama into a North Vietnamese captor that he must resist at all costs and never give in to. Since he has written that he did fail at that, this has to be a big test and his age means that he doesn't have long to succeed. That makes all of the body language, rudeness and refusal to shake hands courteously make sense. You don't do that with a mortal enemy.


Posted by: Digoweli | September 27, 2008 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Jen in Reno:

I hope you trust and respect John McCain when you are standing in a bread line for hours on end waiting for a bite to eat.
Good luck to you and the rest of the country if John McCain is elected to run this country. He'll "run it" right into the ground and everyone will think 2000 - 2008 were the "good old days".

Posted by: sweladi | September 27, 2008 3:43 PM | Report abuse

I was not expecting Senator Obama to ask nor Senator McCain to define the term 'Victory' in Iraq. In that sense I was not disappointed.

However, if Senator McCain (like President Bush) insists on Victory in Iraq, the least he can do is define it.

Posted by: FiicNFiik | September 27, 2008 3:50 PM | Report abuse


Before you write an article, you should go to to verify what you plan to write. The Lebanon issue McCain talked about happened one year BEFORE he was in the Senate so how did he vote on it? I can recite a lot of countries, rattle off foreign names and show people my passport. Does that mean I can claim I have "foreign policy" experience? He is as rigid as Bush when it comes to Iraq and cannot look beyond that. When in Irag, he had to be corrected on two occasions about who people were and which ones were being trained in Iran. He "suspends" (ha, ha) his campaign to go to DC to handle the "crisis" that he did not actually validate until Wednesday. Will he suspend foreign policy if he's President when an economic issue comes up? Can't he do two things at once? A lot of people have known Ronald Reagan and Henry Kissinger. So what? What does that mean? He has scars from being a POW. So what? How many other Americans have had the same or worse experiences in war? What about our soldiers coming home from Iraq without arms and legs? What about him not voting to fund them? I suggest you do a little research and some thinking before you write another article like this one.

Posted by: sweladi | September 27, 2008 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Oh, yes, he's been there.

Not as often as Biden of course.

And unlike Sen. Obama, he has gone from gaffe (Palin) to gaffe ("I'm not debating; yes I am") this campaign.

Even you know that, Kitty.

Posted by: krm13 | September 27, 2008 4:26 PM | Report abuse

sweladi: McCain elected to house 1982 marine barrack bombs oct 23 1983.

Posted by: TheIggynoonewants | September 27, 2008 4:36 PM | Report abuse

John McCain has lost all credibility with me in this election cycle. Since I never know what to believe from him, I no longer believe anything he says. Therefore, what he says no longer matters to me. Likewise, as he
has been demonstrated time and again to behave opportunistically, I no longer take any of his actions at face value.

Even if I didn't like Barack Obama, I would have to vote for him, because he is the other choice.

Posted by: martymar123 | September 27, 2008 4:54 PM | Report abuse

Yes, been there, done that - a litany of failure after failure. He was in Vietnam (crashed and captured). He was in Kuwait (failed to get rid of Saddam in first effort). He was in Iraq (employed bad judgement in getting us there). How many failures must one man have before all this "experience" is recognized as a negative aspect of his character?

Posted by: HonestLee | September 27, 2008 5:27 PM | Report abuse

Hey Bob Thompson,

Like Sara Palin you are an uneducated dolt that probably believes cavemen rode dinosaurs 5,000 years ago.

Posted by: Hockeyman1 | September 27, 2008 6:00 PM | Report abuse

Hey Bob Thompson,

Like Sara Palin you are an uneducated dolt that probably believes cavemen rode dinosaurs 5,000 years ago.

Posted by: Hockeyman1 | September 27, 2008 6:06 PM | Report abuse

Hey Bob Thompson,

Like Sara Palin you are an uneducated dolt that probably believes cavemen rode dinosaurs 5,000 years ago.

Posted by: Hockeyman1 | September 27, 2008 6:06 PM | Report abuse

Hey Bob Thompson,
I quess you like Sarah Palin because like her you are an uneducated dolt.

Come to think of it, you are probably one of those bible thumpers that think cavemen rode dinosaurs 5000 years ago.

Posted by: Hockeyman1 | September 27, 2008 6:06 PM | Report abuse


How's the "experience" of the last eight years working out? Experience is all well and good, except when one is wrong pretty much all the time.

Posted by: RalphWarnock | September 27, 2008 6:14 PM | Report abuse

Funny how John McCain's years of brainwashing in a Vietnamese prison convinced him we lost the war. Last time I checked, we left under an agreement that we honored and the North Vietnamese didn't. Even then, it was the useless ARVN who lost, not us. If the purpose of our having been in Vietnam was to keep Communism from spreading to other countries in SE Asia, maintaining open trade in the area, and having access to whatever oil might be there, it looks like a mission actually accomplished.

Posted by: daweeni | September 27, 2008 6:14 PM | Report abuse


Attacks on Sara Palin are fine, if they hold any water. You obviously haven't watched TV in the last 40+ years. If you did, you might have noticed the documentary that clearly showed that people did ride dinosaurs, and had them trained as domesticated animals. Because they didn't have TV back then, the program was a presentation of assorted drawings dating back to the time at issue. I believe it was called "The Flintstones", but I am not sure, since it has been a long time since it first ran. So next time you cast aspersions on a person how is by far the hottest VP candidate in American history, check your facts.

Posted by: daweeni | September 27, 2008 6:22 PM | Report abuse

Folks, please don't forget that the ciritical audience targeted in these debates do not read the Post (or the Times, or the New Yorker, etc). What will stay with them will be the often-out-of-context repetitions of "he doesn't understand," "my record," "my experience." This is the sorry state of affairs. Obama has numerous such repeatable declarations available to him (such as 20th century mind vs 21st, computer illeteracy, a republican running against republicans) but he did not use them. I was thinking that he needs advice from a good advertisement company specializing in selling household products.

Posted by: SemF | September 27, 2008 6:30 PM | Report abuse

I was hoping McCain would explain what he means by "victory," and in fact he gave an answer. Victory means never giving up and never conceding a point. No matter how many soldiers and civilians die, no matter how many arms or legs are blown to pieces, no matter how many children are scarred for life, anything less than total victory means that their sacrifices are without meaning. There is no Powell Doctrine here: we fight until one side is exterminated, even if it's us.

I doubt many experienced soldiers share McCain's view, and I agree with Chris Matthews that it is "heinous" to use the death of a soldier as a political football ("Sorry, Ma'am, that other guy won the election, so your son's death is meaningless"). The fact that the soldier died should be meaning enough.

Posted by: JPMinNC | September 27, 2008 6:30 PM | Report abuse

I dont know.. i thought everytime McCain was talking, Obama would try to interrupt him and hold up his hand to try and make a statement.. he looked like a child in 4th grade..

and his facial expressions when McCain said something he didnt like were more impressive than McCains expressions when Obama made points

Posted by: matteucs | September 27, 2008 6:32 PM | Report abuse

"Regretfully Governor will withdraw for personal reasons...before the VP debate. Now Sen. McCain creates another distraction by choosing Mitt Romney."

McCain's campaign has been nothing but a series of distractions, from when he named Palin as his running mate, to when part of the convention was canceled, to when he whined about the "lipstick" comment, to when he "suspended" his campaign and withdrew from the debate, then re-entered the debate.

All he has is the ability to distract. It makes for a poor campaign and would be even more disastrous as president. It's like he keeps gambling, hoping that the one time he scores at craps makes up for all the other times he lost. Well, he's not in Vegas. He is gambling with the future of my country, and he's getting annoying to say the least.

I hope the media get bored with his strategy and start forcing him to address the issues that are important to Americans.

Posted by: castanea | September 27, 2008 6:36 PM | Report abuse


great post. thank you.

Posted by: smartchick1 | September 27, 2008 7:50 PM | Report abuse

The fact that he has been there and is older than dirt and more scarred than Frankenstein is a double-edged sword.

There seems to be a desire to CHANGE from the way things have always been done.

Those voters under 40 won't see his experience as a plus nearly as much as the over-60 folks. McCain doesn't speak to the Gen X-ers and younger.

Posted by: steveboyington | September 27, 2008 8:16 PM | Report abuse

When he was a kid they didn't have video games... they had to make up their own games. Stupid games like "chew the bark off a tree" or "stare at the sun". But, that's the way it was..


Posted by: steveboyington | September 27, 2008 8:18 PM | Report abuse

McCain's foreign policy foundation was formed in the 1970s, and it can be summed up as follows: Fight the Vietnam war all over again, and in the new version (Iraq), we never withdraw. Since there can be no clear victory in Iraq as we saw in WW-II with a surrender ceremony on the deck of the USS Missouri, McCain would keep US troops in Iraq at a huge financial cost, for as many years as required, in an "occupation". He carries very deep seated resentment over the way the US exited Vietnam, and this is the core of his present foreign policy, at the expense of everything else for our nation. Bush has more personal reasons, this was his war, and the boy king did not want to lose Iraq on his watch, just pass the mess on to the next President, no matter what the financial cost to the U.S. McCain remembers 1975 when we abandoned Saigon, he remembers all his buddies killed in Vietnam, he remembers his buddies who died in North Vietnamese prions, and such experiences would likely shape anyone's outlook on the world. But it is dangerous to trust our nation to someone like this who cannot remain objective, who is like the bus driver who won't take his foot off the gas pedal even though the engine is burning up, he WILL win the race no matter what the cost. McCain scares me, especially with his ridiculous V.P. choice, Palin is barely qualified to be Mayor of that Alaska hick town she comes from, a journalism major who won a few bikini contests, and knows how to use her sexuality to get what she wants. The GOP ticket is "Beauty and the Beast", don't vote for them, they will get us in deeper trouble on the world stage.

Posted by: mikepem01 | September 27, 2008 8:36 PM | Report abuse

I feel sorry for McCain. Hillary Clinton lost to Obama mostly for trying to win with the experience argument or the change argument or the experience/change argument.

Posted by: appolo78 | September 27, 2008 8:43 PM | Report abuse

Was I the only one who noticed that Obama turned a question about Russia into an answer about energy alternatives? Amazing. It's more amazing that McCain didn't call him on it.

Posted by: forgetthis | September 27, 2008 9:01 PM | Report abuse

Doesn't anyone else see the irony here. On one hand we have McCain claiming all this experience on the other he's the original Maverick who is going to come in and shake up Washington? Whether John McCain likes it or not he is the poster child for Washington insiders. The same insiders that have us in the mess we're in today. Here's a man who boasts of voting for Bush's legislation 90% of the time and now he's saying he doesn't agree with him?

McCain is simply trying to co-op Obama's call for change. He has nothing new to offer and will by his own admissions basically follow the same path that has put this country in the crisis's we're in. I'm sorry, but that's not the experience I want to vote for. Basically, if you liked Bush and his policies vote for McCain and you won't be disappointed. You'll get another 4 years just like the last 8.

Posted by: blund | September 27, 2008 9:05 PM | Report abuse

As an independent and some one who really wnated to vote for McCain 8 years ago I didn't find either of them very effective. McCain seemd like he is fighting demons from the past and Obama had very little to add to what I had already heard. Very disappointing. I will say this, if it comes to a push (neither doing any better then last night) and the choice goes to the Veeps it won't be the republicans getting my vote.

Posted by: jandlml | September 27, 2008 9:15 PM | Report abuse

My father was wounded twice in WWII. He also said that war was the worst of mankind and should only be used as a last resort. McCain is a war starter and would be a good subject for a Stephen King book. He knows no other strategy than military. This guy is real scary.

Posted by: spinak52 | September 27, 2008 9:22 PM | Report abuse

One little pet peeve I forgot. When Sara Palin puts together an organization and competes against the elite of the republican party and wins the nomination for president I'll concede she has an equal amount of experience to Obama. Until then to suggest she's as qualified as Obama is delusional. (Besides how would any of us know? The McCain camp won't even let her open her mouth and the majority of her days are spent in "Undisclosed Locations." She has become America's first absentee VP candidate.)

Doesn't her handling just reek of experience?

Posted by: blund | September 27, 2008 9:36 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Been There But Not Done Much!

We still have Bin Laden hiding out in the Nortwest Frontier

There is a huge resurgence of Taliban in Afghanistan

Iraq is still a mess, and we should not have been there in the first place

Contrary to popular belief, McCain's record with supporting veterans is very poor

Who cares if McCain's been all over the place and didn't achieve anything. There was a whole lot of name dropping. In my experience, people resort to name dropping when they have nothing substantive to say about themselves, or lack the fundamental ability to think on their own feet, and essentially hope someone else's achievement will reflect a little on their own.

Posted by: DragonRoll | September 27, 2008 10:21 PM | Report abuse

McCain looked like a disturbed knit-picker in debate one. Obama has the self confidence to recognize when his and John McCain's views are similar - McCain lacks the courage and confidence to do likewise. Obama shows respect - a quality that earns him as much. McCain showed contempt - a quality that has earned him as much.

Posted by: tigman_2 | September 27, 2008 10:34 PM | Report abuse


After reading these comments I wonder how you get up and the morning thinking you are contributing anythin to the discussion?

I suppose by yelling fire, you do get people running, but wouldn't that get tiresome after a while. You know, saying things you don't believe yourself just to drive web hits for revenue?

I have never really spent mush time reading opinions, but now that I do very often, I leave sites and commentators that simply are not relevant.

I would classify the two opinions I read of yours as irrelevant.

If you like McCain, then sell him on facts. I'm listening, but to say he owned the 4 points of the bailout, and then to talk about a thick portfolio as if what you did matters.

Its what a you will do, what you can do, and what you think we might do that matters, and McCain hasn't said much of anything.

He just tells war stories about the past, and then says Obama(Hussein) doesn't get it.

I dropped the Hussein bomb just for phun.

I'd rather have Hussein Obama Bin Biden than McPain/Failin.

Posted by: ender3rd | September 27, 2008 11:22 PM | Report abuse

This was a battle between two oppressed minorities, and they both performed admirably.

It's wonderful that the American idea of meritocracy has been extended to the elderly.
McCain performed amazingly for a man of 72.
No way in hell should he be president, but he certainly made his case effectively.

Posted by: julian2 | September 27, 2008 11:38 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Kathleen. I am most especially struck by Obama's answer to the Russia question i.e. we need to "explain" to Russia that they can't behave this way. Ooookay, that might work in the University lecture hall but pretty dopey in the world stage. I'm actually surprised Lehrer didn't call him out on that one. In any case, it appears McCain is right -- Obama is beyond naive and borders on downright dangerous.

Posted by: granville5327 | September 28, 2008 1:37 AM | Report abuse

Kathleen is right. Senator McCain was effective. Yes, I believe it is important to look at those to whom we are talking but Sen. McCain was not talking TO Obama. He was talking to the audience. Obama went into this debate, or so his advisers say, intending to rile Sen. McCain to the point his quick temper would show. He was not successful and Sen. McCain turned the tables. Obama's irritation was obvious as was his arrogance.

Posted by: Kansas28 | September 28, 2008 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Obama is a liar and a thief. Check out his criminal associates. You are judged by the company you keep. Johnson and raines embezelled Fannie Mae to the brink. They are his advisors. Obama is a poverty pimp. He is like a vampire embezzling from the Govt hand outs to the poor and he sends the majority of US TAXPAYER MONEY to ACCORN and a list of convicted thieves Rizko. Obama is a Marxist communist with friends like Bill Ayers Rev. Wright Farrakhan. His Hollywood image is like a bad dream. Facts not words speak living volumes. Of course if you shine the light on him he screams racist. He hires goon lawyers to scare and threaten people. All of the middle east dictators including Chavez and Castro endorse Him. Hello are you awake yet?

Posted by: DrRevere | September 28, 2008 7:20 PM | Report abuse

Obama appeared mostly on the defensive, stuttering and stumbling more so than usual. And I lost count on how many times he opened his remarks with "I agree with John..." If there was a KO in the debate, I believe it would be when McCain fired back on Obama's rambling rationalization of the preconditions issue -- to wit: "so how does this work exactly...Ahmadinejad says 'we're going to wipe out Israel'...and we say 'no, you're not!' - please"

Posted by: granville5327 | September 28, 2008 7:47 PM | Report abuse

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