From the couch: Third and final presidential debate

Barack Obama

Barack Obama

John McCain

John McCain

I’m at home on my couch in Martinez watching the third and final presidential debate. I intended to go to UC Berkeley and watch it from the library of the Institute of Governmental Studies but I would never have made it in time given the traffic.

So, here I am. I’m looking, like most Americans, for these candidates to go beyond their talking points.  Maybe I’ve just watched too many McCain and Obama speeches in the past year but I would like to see them get more real.

Observation: Obama wearing a red tie, McCain a blue one. Does this mean anything?

I liked the exchange on taxes. They were both clear on their points without too much repetition of their talking points.

My husband, Joe, is watching with me. I’ve given him a job: Tally the number of times Obama says, “Look!” and McCain, “My friends.”  I’m just hoping I don’t hear, “At the end of the day.” If I never hear that phrase again, it will be too soon.


I’m at the moment watching the debate on CNN, which has undecided Ohio voters on a “react” dial that records their feelings about what’s being said. It’s split between men and women.  In general, the women seem to like Obam while the men seem to generally like McCain.

Powerful McCain quote: “I am not President Bush, If you had wanted to run against President Bush, you should have run four years ago.”

Obama reply: “If I confuse you with Bush, on the core American issues that matter to the people … you have been a vigorous supporter of President Bush. You have shown commendable independence on key issues like torture … but when it comes to economic potential, and what you are proposing is eight more years of the same and it hasn’t worked.”

Both McCain and Obama are lefties. No, not on politics. I’m talking about the hand they write with.

Is this campaign really been that bad? Obama made a good point: The American public doesn’t care about their hurt feelings over negative ads, they want to hear about these candidates will solve the real problems of average people.

Obama quote: “The American people have become so cynical. All they see is a tit for tat, back and forth. They want to hear about policy.”

Tally so far:

“Look” 7 times

“My friends” 0 times

Very interesting question: Why would America be better off with your running mate than your opponent’s running mate?

Obama talks up Joe Biden’s “scrappy Scranton” background and his “fight for the little guy.” But then he lapses into his campaign talking points.

McCain mentions Sarah Palin is a reformer and role model for women, someone who took on her party, cut size of government and promoted a new pipeline.  All those old talking points we’ve been hearing for weeks.

Unsatisfactory answers from both of them.

McCain says the country can eliminate its dependence on Middle Eastern oil by building 45 nuclear power plants in the nation within a decade.

Obama says it could be cut in a decade with limited expansion of oil drilling but putting substantial investment into wind, solar and high-efficient vehicles.

It’s illegal in California to build another nuclear plant. It will be interesting to see if the pressure of driving down greenhouse gas emissions turns public sentiment around in the Golden State.

Or the feds could try and overrule state law. That could be tough. The feds have been trying for more than a decade to put spent nuclear waste In Nevada against its express wishes and they are still fighting over it.

The body language between these two men tonight is interesting. Obama is projecting a cool and calm demeanor with an occasional flash of smile when McCain says something he considers particularly outrageous. McCain seems to ready to jump out of his skin, a man who can hardly wait for his turn at the microphone and his chance to react.

“Look” tally up to 9

“My friends” still zero although he is repeating the phrase, “Let me just say …”

Obama is talking about his health care plan. The talking point head is back.

Now, this is a better discussion on healthcare, point and counterpoint. I’m getting actual information here.

Who is this plumber named Joe? My husband, Joe, says McCain told us at the beginning of the debate but I forgot. We’re teevoing the debate, so I’ll have to go back and listen.

McCain: He disagrees with Roe v. Wade. But says abortion should rest in the hands of the state and he would not impose a litmus test on potential Supreme Court justices. He wants judges who strictly interpret the Constitution.

Obama: The most important thing in any judge is capacity to provide justice to the American people. But it is very likely one of us will make one or more appointments and Roe v. Wade hangs in the balance. I would not impose a litmus test … but I believe the Constitution has a right to privacy in it that should not be subject to state referendum like many other rights.

Uh oh. The husband has moved to the kitchen to make a salad. Perhaps this debate isn’t keeping his attention any longer?

Moving on to education, the last a question: US spends the most per student on education but trails in academic peformance?

Obama: U.S. needs both more money and reform, not one or the other.

CNN voter dial is at the top of the graph with woman reacting slight more positively than men. Very interesting.

McCain: “This is the civil rights movement of our generation.” He pushes school choice for parents and not just charter schools but vouchers as a means to provide competition among schools. Money is not the answer.

Closing statements.

McCain: Ah, here it is. “My friends.”


It was not a barn burner. Moderator Bob Schiefer did a good job asking moderately tough questions. The candidates relied too heavily on their talking points at certain points and you could tell when they went into the “recite the plan” mode.

McCain was more emotional and was clearly on the offensive tonight although some people may view some of his more anxious moments as angry.

McCain went after Obama on taxes while Obama went after McCain on his support for Bush economic policies.

It was the most interesting of the three debates, perhaps because it is getting close to the election and we’re all paying more attention.

All in all, this debate should have given those remaining undecided voters out there with more information.

I’m leaving the couch. I need dinner!

Lisa Vorderbrueggen

  • Freak_of_the_far_right

    As I watched the debate tonight I visualized McCain as a Turkey. It looks like the turkey is done. NOW WE AWAIT THE OBAMA LANDSLIDE!!!!!!!!!11

  • BGR

    McCain almost said, “Breast of fresh air,” when speaking of Governor Palin, but did refer to Obama as “Senator Government”