Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Presidential Debate, Part Deux

No debate party tonight, unfortunately. Here are some quick thoughts about the debate from my notes:

1. Obama had answers which elicited, more consistently, positive responses from the CNN focus group. In particular, he seemed to do well among women in the focus group.

2. McCain is much better at navigating the Town Hall format, physically. But Obama did a better job directly answering the questions.

3. Not much new. McCain's home mortgage policy plan was interesting, and might get him a bit back in the economic game. I do find it interesting, though, that everyone is so surprised that there ISN'T much new. To some extent, there shouldn't be. Messages should be well honed and repeated for people to get it. The reason why candidates buy SO many TV ads is it takes repeating a message several times before it sinks in. Teachers and advertisers know this. Journalists should, too.

4. The question I was most interested in was the sacrifice question. Good leaders steer Americans in a particular direction, and the best presidents ask for sacrifices in time of need. Obama's answer was better in this regard, while McCain went to his standard earmark answer. Obama talked about creating an ability to serve in a variety of capacities. He noted that young people hunger to make this country better, and he would provide the opportunities for them to do that. McCain, the person who found himself in service to his country, should have nailed this question. How each answered this question, I felt, said a lot about what they will expect of us. Obama got it right, McCain missed an opportunity.

5. McCain's answer on Russia was great. Balanced, carefully crafted, and smart.

6. Obama attacked McCain's healthcare plan by suggesting that insurance companies will move to the state with the fewest regulations and restrictions. This is the old race to the bottom versus the race to the top argument I talk about when we discuss federalism in my introductory classes. The problem is there is evidence for a race to the top and the bottom. California, in establishing state emissions standards, has effectively created higher national standards because it isn't cost effective for Detroit to make cars only to meet California's standards. So, I didn't buy Obama's argument here.

7.Obama's answer on healthcare, being a right, was great because it told the personal story of his mother--and it strikes a chord with other Americans who had to battle insurance companies instead of battling their illnesses.

8. Can I just say that I really don't like town hall style debates?

Who won? Obama did well in the town hall format, which is McCain's domain. I think both did well, but the edge goes to Obama.


Anonymous said...

I disagree that McCain navigates these townhall meetings better than Obama. He did fine, but the ability to move around freely makes his age show. The people I watched the debate with thought he looked a little bit like E.T. in stature (or that he had to run out to play in a football game afterward, and had his uniform on under his suit). Nonetheless, it wasn't a blowout for Obama at all.

My question is this: Why was Fox News so fast to declare an Obama victory? Is there a strategy here? I'm suspicious.

Thoughts, Dr. Parker?

David Parker said...

Good morning Dr. Rushing!

When compared to Obama, McCain jumped right in to get close to the questioner and address him/her directly while Obama hung back. Every time I see McCain and his mobility limitiations, I think not of his age but of his injuries--which serves to remind me of his great sacrifices during the war.

I don't watch Fox News, so I couldn't tell you. Perhaps they really were in the no spin zone for once?