Presidential Debate II: Electric Bugaloo

By Marcus Gilmer in News on Oct 8, 2008 3:40PM

Thank God last night's presidential debate wasn't a snoozer like the last one, which was so dull in comparison to the vice presidential debate. Both Senators John McCain and Barack Obama were more energized and aggressive this time around. So much so that the rules of the debate acted against them at numerous times (anyone for a cage-match style debate with mud and alligators?).

Early polls show Sen. Barack Obama came out the victor, which is a bit surprising considering McCain's reputation for town hall debates. Expectations were high for McCain to use some of that charm since recent polls show him trailing Obama, which isn't the sunniest of places to be with only 27 days till the election. This debate was a chance for McCain to narrow the margin, but having failed that, he'll probably rely heavily on the backup strategy.

McCain's problem is simple to understand. Anyone who remembers the 1992 presidential race knows that Republicans usually don't fare well when the economy's tanking. At the debate, McCain tried to stay ahead of the game by highlighting a new plan that calls for the Treasury Department to buy up bad mortgages and resell them for affordable prices, but it's not exactly clear how this plan is any better than the one already in play. For starters, a similar plan was rejected by both Democrats and Republicans, who were mainly worried it would be a pat on the back for the lending practices that got us all in this mess.

Obama performed surprising well as the debate refocused on foreign policy, an area McCain usually excels in. When the Republican contender suggested once again that Obama didn't "understand" foreign policy, Obama had one of his best moments by saying he didn't understand how the war in Afghanistan transformed into a war with Iraq. And when Obama recalled efforts to track down Osama bin Laden, McCain missed a chance to highlight the surge and instead rambled on about Obama's comments on going in to Pakistan, referencing Teddy Roosevelt and suggesting that Obama doesn't know how to speak softly and carry a big stick. This statement left the door open for Obama to cite McCain's eagerness to bomb Iran as a sign his opponent has no intention of using diplomacy.

Of course, while McCain is lagging in national polls, let's remember that this election is won by electoral votes and not a popular vote, as we were reminded in 2000. So while things aren't looking good for the Republican right now, you never know how a hair transplant will fare with swing-state voters.

In case you missed it or want to watch it all over again in all its glory, including the now infamous "that one" moment, check out the entire debate below.

By Hunter Clauss