Initial Impressions of the Debate

Know first that I am not in McCain’s camp–by any stretch of the imagination.

Obama made a stategic mistake: He constantly was willing to give McCain benefit while McCain was constantly on the attack, giving no quarter at all. He never took the argument directly to McCain, instead we heard repeatedly that “John is right when he says….” or “I agree with John when….” Those phrases should never have been uttered, not in a public debate when impressions, not logic, rule.

At the beginning of the debate, McCain was clearly the more uncertain and nervous of the two. But he kept to his script, weaving his patriotism, his fight against pork, his visits abroad into almost every response. Never did he give Obama any credit for anything.

When McCain sidestepped Obama’s criticism (on taxes, for example), Obama should have restated the point, emphasizing that McCain failed to address the issue he (Obama) had just raised.

Obama should have consistently tied McCain to his support for the wealthy, i.e., Wall Street–and to Bush economics. Examples: McCain’s confession of ignorance on economic policy, his support of tax cuts for the wealthy, his admission that he had not even read the initial bailout proposal.

He should never have congratulated McCain on anything….

Obama has some lessons to learn, I think.