I live-blogged the second presidential debate, and I surely made some mistakes in grammar and spelling (and even fact) as I attempted to follow the exchange. As is needed, I'll revise this document later.
6:00: After days of particularly vitriolic mud-slinging, I wonder if this debate needs a moderator or a referee. We'll see...
6:01: There are really 80 uncommitted voters left in the country? Who are these people?
6:03: No fists thrown yet. There's hope.
6:04: Obama: "We are in the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression." Why? Limited regulations, supported by McCain.
6:05: Obama promises tax cuts for the middle class. Just who isn't in the Middle Class, according to these folks?
6:06: After refusing to give his opponent so much as a sideways glance last time, it's nice that Senator McCain has chosen to acknowledge that Senator Obama is in the same room. For about a half-second.
6:07: McCain is doing a solid job of interacting with his audience, covering specific detail about his admittedly expensive home loan protection program.
6:07: McCain's first use(s) of "my friends." Take a drink!
6:08: McCain: "Not you, Tom." Oh my... "Grumpy McCain" is in the house!
6:10: Obama, it's best not use the phrase "flat-lined" and mention McCain in the same answer.
6:11: McCain is referencing his courageous choice to "leave" his campaign. Does anybody really believe that story?
6:12: McCain cites Senator Obama "and his cronies." Yikes!
6:13: Obama talks to Oliver. Here's to you first. I'll get to McCain momentarily...
6:14: Obama: "I've got to correct a little bit of Senator McCain's history - not surprisingly." Zing.
6:15: Obama: "You're not interested in hearing politicians pointin' fingers." Again with the dropped-Gs.
6:16: Brokaw: Is the economy going to get much worse?
6:17: McCain: "It depends on what we do." We need to get rid of the cronyism.
6:18: Again McCain tries to cover his 'economy is fundamentally sound' line by citing "the workers" as our fundamental strength.
6:19: Obama: "I understand your frustration and your cynicism." The woman in front of the questioner is looking at Obama like he just passed gas.
6:20: Obama: "I'm cutting more than I'm spending."
6:21: McCain: "I have been a consistent reformer."
6:22: McCain cites Obama's support for $860 billion in more spending.
6:23: It looks like McCain is going after the Pickens People with his many references to energy independence.
6:24: "My friends" again: Take another drink!
6:24: McCain seems to be both wandering on his feet and among his thoughts.
6:25: How much of this spending goes into terrorist organizations, Senator McCain? That's quite a claim.
6:25: Obama is willing to play the prioritization game. McCain, not so much.
6:27: Obama hits back on earmarks by way of tax cuts for the wealthy: Lots-o-bux for big corporations.
6:28: Nice line about the "time deficit," Brokaw.
6:29: McCain asked about sacrifices necessary to get out of our economic mess promises to eliminate those programs that are not working. First to go: defense pork.
6:29: What's with that "overhead projector" that Obama asked for (according to McCain)?
6:30: McCain: "We're not rifle-shots here. We're Americans." Huh?
6:30: Obama: "A lot of you remember the tragedy of 9/11." You sure?
6:31: Obama turns to energy: We all need to think about how we consume and save energy.
6:32: Obama gives props to the "young people of America."
6:33: Brokaw: How can a president help Americans break bad habits?
6:34: Obama notes that earmarks account for $18 billion of our budget and sticks the shiv again on McCain's support for tax breaks going to the wealthy.
6:35: Obama refers (again) to the hatchet vs. scalpel line.
6:35: McCain: Nailing Obama is like nailing Jell-O to the wall.
6:36: McCain reports that Senator Obama has a "secret." Sure, McCain's talking about harm to small business. But I know that this "Secret Obama" stuff is a sly reference to something much more scary to some voters.
6:37: McCain has news for Obama.
6:37: We have another question from "the internet." Oh no! It's gained sentience!
6:38: Obama: The "Straight-Talk Express lost a wheel."
6:39: Obama claims that only a few small businesses make more than $200,000 a year. I wonder if that's remotely true [update: turns out, it's true].
6:40: Obama claims that McCain wants to give Fortune 500 CEOs tax cuts.
6:40: "My friends" again. Take another drink! Ohhh. I'm feeling shaky already.
6:42: McCain cites a distinction between rhetoric and record.
6:43: A questioner asks how fast we can tackle environmental issues.
6:44: McCain promises that nuclear power is safe and clean. And we can reprocess the fuel. OK. Where do we bury the waste?
6:45: Yo, Obama. from a current professor to a former one, the cerebral persona works in a conference or classroom, but not so much with Joe Sixpack (hell... Twelvepack, these days). Lively up!
6:46: Obama agrees (again) with Senator McCain, but notes that his opponent has voted against alternative fuels 23 times.
6:47: Brokaw reminds the debaters that there are lights in the room. Perhaps they might stay on time from now on - but I doubt it.
6:48: McCain refers to Obama as "that one." Classy.
6:49: No more "my friends" drinking game. Our nation's collective liver can't take the pain.
6:50: Lindsey asks if health care should be treated as a commodity. Obama downshifts to a generic health-care-is-expensive answer.
6:52: Obama takes another swat at McCain on taxing health benefits.
6:52: McCain follows Obama into generic-land, ignoring Lindsey's focus on health-care-as-commodity
6:53: McCain warns us: "Senator Obama will fine you."
6:54: Ohhh. McCain talks about hair transplants. Somewhere, Joe Biden bolts out of his seat.
6:55: Brokaw asks if health care is a privilege or a right or a responsibility. Interesting. McCain focuses on responsibility - but not the one possessed by workers.
6:56: Obama replies: It should be a right and cites his mother's suffering with insurance companies. Nailed it.
6:57: Obama says, yes, folks must ensure that their children must be given health care. That's a mandate I can get behind.
6:58: Obama connects the risk of health care hijinks to those of our financial institutions.
6:59: A questioner asks whether we can remain a "peacemaker" in the world.
7:00: McCain floats around the edges of the question. Truthfully, I would like to know more about how the Senator would, as President, decide how to expend American blood and treasure in the future.
7:01: Obama: It's true, there's a lot I don't understand. Then he turns the knife onto McCain's judgment.
7:03: At least they agree that the United States is the greatest nation on Earth. Whew!
7:04: Brokaw pushes: What is the Obama Doctrine and the McCain Doctrine on peace-making?
7:04: Obama points backward to the Holocaust and Rwanda as times we shouldn't have stood idly by, times we should have acted. OK. How do we decide in the future? No doctrine seems to be forthcoming.
7:06: McCain: Here's my doctrine: Obama would have brought our troops home in defeat.
7:06: McCain: We must temper our peace-making impulses with an awareness of our abilities and limitations.
7:08: McCain says "never again" to the Holocaust and Rwanda. Good to have that cleared up.
7:08: Questioner asks if we should respect Pakistan's borders. Tough question.
7:09: Obama provides some background but the clock is ticking to answer the question.
7:10: Obama is against coddling dictators. Yes, but... the question...
7:10: About a minute and a half later, Obama answers: Yes, we'll cross the border if necessary.
7:11: McCain: Obama says he wants to announce that he will cross the border.
7:12: McCain: We drove the Russians out of Afghanistan with the help of freedom fighters. Pop quiz: Can you guess who one of those "freedom fighters" was?
7:13: Obama v. McCain: War of the "follow-ups"
7:14: Obama won't let the argument about crossing the borders go. He's the terminator! "He can't be bargained with. He can't be reasoned with. He doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And he absolutely will not stop, ever!"
7:14: Obama pierces McCain's "speak softly but carry a big stick" line. Bomb-bomb-bomb Iran.
7:15: McCain responds: "Not true." I understand what it's like to send soldiers into harm's way.
7:15: McCain: I know how to get Osama bin Laden. Wow, it'd be sweet if you might have shared that with our government a few years ago.
7:18: McCain notes that at least somewhere Obama is correct on some ideas. Nice. He was wrong on Iraq, though. Well, it was nice while it lasted.
7:19: The internet-as-questioner returns: How can we avoid another Cold War? Yeah, "the internet" is concerned about a war between ourselves and the Russians. Listen up, people! Don't you remember The Terminator?
7:20: McCain warns again: Watch out for Ukraine.
7:21: Obama takes a dee-ee-ep sigh. Dude, you look pained. Did someone switch your arugula salad with a Patty Melt?
7:22: Obama returns to the 21st-century challenges line. Clever, subtle dig.
7:23: Brokaw asks for a "yes or no" to the "Is Russia an Evil Empire." Obama avoids the binary trap one way, McCain approaches it another way: "Maybe."
7:24: Navy veteran Terry Shirey asks whether the candidates would commit military force against Iran.
7:25: McCain shakes Shirey's hand, one vet to another. Boom! Visual of the night.
7:26: Obama is probably thinking to himself: Ah geez, again with the "no preconditions" line.
7:27: Obama brings out the old "We honor your service" line.
7:27: Obama promises not to take military options off the table. No UN veto power. But we should "use all the tools at our disposal to prevent the scenario where we've got to make those choices."
7:28: Obama reaffirms: We should have direct talks with Iran.
7:29: Last question from "the internet," which has manifested itself as "Peggy."
7:30: Obama sideswipes the question, What don't you know? Answer: The fuuuuture.
7:32: McCain liked that answer: I don't know the future either!
7:33: McCain: "I know what it's like in dark times." Take a good long gulp. McCain made yet another reference to his POW experience. Somewhere out there, a former New York City mayor (middle name: 9/11) is nodding his head: "Milk it, 9/11! Milk it for all it's (9/11) worth, 9/11!"
7:34: McCain promises a steady hand at the tiller.
7:34: McCain and Obama stand in the way of Brokaw's script. That's a paddlin'.
7:34: Debate concludes.
Who won? Neither managed to score any fatal blows. As with the last debate, McCain supporters will find much to love about their candidate and Obama supporters will continue to stand by their man. On points, I'd find for Obama, particularly for his "health care is a right" reply. That answer is much more likely to resonate with voters. But the debate was hardly a game-changer.