Obama Looked Presidential, While McCain Was Angry

ImageWe can talk about who had the best lines or zingers all night, but a major subtheme of this debate was the question of Barack Obama’s readiness to be president. Obama held his own in foreign policy. McCain was a little subpar, but Obama won tonight by looking like a president.

Throughout the entire foreign policy portion of the debate McCain kept referring to Obama as naïve, or saying that he didn’t understand the issues. This is the same argument that followers of this election heard out of Hillary Clinton consistently in the primaries. For Obama, the goal was to simply hold his own and convince voters that he can handle the job.

Both of the candidates reverted back to much of their stump speech material. All of the stories that McCain told during the debate he had used either in previous debates or on the campaign trail, while Obama’s comments about the economy also have been used on the stump. This debate tonight was supposed to be McCain’s turf, but McCain didn’t blow Obama out. Obama was very prepared, while McCain was stuck in the past. McCain at various times went back anywhere from 20-40 years, and his position on Russia sounded straight out of the Cold War.

Most of all, while Americans are worried about the economy, John McCain is still arguing the value of the surge and the war in Iraq. McCain didn’t lay out a forward thinking foreign policy. Instead, he seemed content to look backwards as a way forwards. Tonight, John McCain was less the maverick and more a garden variety generic Republican. Obama was sharp and prepared tonight, but his style is not one of direct personal attack, and in some ways this hurt him, especially on the economic discussion, Obama really didn’t close the deal.

Obama won this debate by looking like a leader and presidential. Obama didn’t need to score points on the issues. He needed to assure people that he is ready to be president, and in this respect, the evening was a huge victory for the Democrat. Obama didn’t give the impression of inexperience, or look overmatched on the big stage. The biggest concern most voters have with Obama is his experience. If Obama can ease those concerns, he will have taken a big step towards the presidency. The bottom line about tonight’s debate is the Obama looked like a president, and McCain looked angry.

31 Replies to “Obama Looked Presidential, While McCain Was Angry”

  1. In this current climate, where the US is accumulating enemies by the week because of Bush and McCain’s deeply flawed foreign policy: the neocons can argue all they want but the proof that their policies are flawed is shown in the very unstable state of the world which they helped create, it was good to see Obama talk with practicality and common sense.

  2. Go Obama. CONGRATULATIONS!!! We always knew you were the right choice.

    Sarah Palin has clicked her heels together three times and she still cannot find her way home. Please McCain, “Free Sarah Palin.” She wants to go home. That is what she meant when she told Katie Couric that she would get back with her on McCain’s maverick changes in 26yrs, that seem absent of her memory…but she knows he is a maverick.

    She really is trying to get back to Alasss-ka! The Wizzard of Oz, McCain has captured her and won’t release her because he needs her to energize him…his battery is DEAD!

    Please, “Free Sarah Palin.” She is out of her habitat; her terrain. Oh, how she wants to go home for a mooseburger cookout before the dead of winter kicks in and she has to eat frozen paint.

  3. that he’s not as young, informed, or as sharp as Obama, but he held his own on foreign policy, and you can’t say he doesn’t have experience in that area.

    HOWEVER, he never looked Obama in the eye, and when you are making a point in front of 80 million people, it is essential to look your opponent in the eye and show him, CHALLENGE him, in fact, to prove you wrong. This may have been part of the republican “plan of attack”, but I thought it was pretty disrespectful, or perhaps McCain was afraid to look Obama in the eye?

    Last but not least, Obama came out strong on the state of the economy and how it’s affecting the common man and what he plans to do about it. McCain just mumbled around the same tired old republican talking points. Not very Maverick-y John.

    I’d have to honestly say Obama won this one.

  4. I just saw Charles Krauthammer (!) on Fox News acknowledging that Obama will come out ahead from this, because Obama held his own on foreign policy, so it was a draw and McCain had to win. David Gergen said the exact same thing on CNN. These two guys are usually the most authoritative pundits on these two networks.

  5. I’m curious what Obama is going to do to facilitate “getting along” with the rest of the world. Could it be that you prefer “opening up the checkbook, bending over and grab the ankles foreign policy” that so many libs seem to espouse. You can’t buy friends

  6. Henry Kissinger, one of our most respected Secretaries of State said Obama had it WRONG>
    Kissinger said you never start the discussions atthe the top because then there is no where to go if they are not successful. He said you start down a few levels, do some work to see if common ground for discussion can be found and then work up the ladder.
    He was not pleased with Obama’s comments.
    They were as usual big on show, short on substance.

  7. Take the point of Pakistan, where the U.S. has poured 10B over a 10-year period to an obviously corrupt regime prior to this new Pakistani administration … most of which was paid on the Republican’s watch. Would you call that “checkbook” foreign policy that did not work?

    Senator Obama agrees with you and is focused on building consensus through dialogue and policy … leveraging partnerships among our allies. His basic premise is that “checkbook” government does not work … neither abroad, nor at home.

    It’s interesting that opening the “checkbook” for big oil to the tune of trillions of dollars in Iraq … placing us in debt to the Chinese and undermining the hard fought and won victories in Afghanistan don’t trouble you, nor the 700B bailout of Wall Street that is directly tied to Bush policies.

    Facts not platitudes, please!

  8. Ijust can’t understand why people give the GOP so much credit. They lied and supported the lies that sent us to a war that wasn’t needed; and al-queda and Osama is still free and getting more & more followers. They say Republican’s are the party over national security — don’t buy that. The people who attacked us are still free and roaming the caves. And 9/11 happened under Bush’s watch; he was given lots of warnings of a possible attack and did nothing to look into that until it was too late.

  9. You must be joking about Obama looking presidential and McCain looking angry. McCain was not the one who was making all of the faces and constantly trying to talk over his opponent. Obama continously attempted to cover up what McCain was saying because he did not want anyone to hear McCain. Obama sounded like a five year old and looked about the same. McCain did not look angry one time. He just stated what needed to be said and Obama was angry because he could not do the same. He did not have a teleprompter and had no one to tell him what to say. McCain doesn’t need one.

  10. He looks already like a PRESIDENT,decent,professional,intelligent,smart,fighter ,he think about us as Middle class.talk very fluent,he is so thoughtful and you will love him.

  11. 9:40pm MSNBC Chris Matthews “Barack Obama, who kept agreeing with McCain over and over again…looked more presidential.”

    9:43pm MSNBC Buchanan “He did what he had to do in the sense he came off as a tough fellow, a counterpuncher.”

    9:40pm MSNBC Chris Matthews: “Obama Looked More Presidential”

    9:45 PM CBS – Katie Couric: “The issue of meeting with Iranian officials without preconditions and Henry Kissinger’s position on that came up during my recent interview with Governor Sarah Palin. Now, after than interview I called Secretary Kissinger to clarify his position – he said he does support face-to-face talks with high-level officials in Iran without preconditions.”

    10:42 PM ABC – David Wright: “Obama, we saw him do 22 debates or so during the primary. He was much crisper tonight, he was much more on message.”

    10:45 PM FOX News – Juan Williams: “If we come back to the economic at the top, I’d have to give it to Barack Obama.”

    10:52 PM CNN- David Gergen: “I think John McCain needed a clear victory tonight. I think a tie was not in his interests. He is behind. This is his best subject night because the last night, they’re going to be talking about the economy. I think he needed a clear victory tonight. I think that eluded him, even as strong as he was, I think Bill Bennett is absolutely right… but I don’t think he walked out of here with a clear victory of the kind he needed.”

    CNN (Gloria Borger)- “I think you’d have to watch this debate, Anderson and say Obama held his own. He didn’t give an inch to McCain on the issues of talking with Iran.”

    CBS News (Ambinder) “Knowledge Network Undecideds Give Debate To Obama”: According to CBS News / Knowledge Networks’ poll of undecided voters: 40% of uncommitted voters who watched the debate tonight thought Barack Obama was the winner. 22% thought John McCain won. 38% saw it as a draw. 68% of these voters think Obama would make the right decision about the economy. 41% think McCain would. 49% of these voters think Obama would make the right decisions about Iraq. 55% think McCain would.

    Associated Press (Liz Sidoti) A night of contrasts This debate, primarily focused on foreign policy, was supposed to be McCain’s sweet spot; Obama held his own. “You were wrong” on Iraq, Obama repeated three times in succession as he pointedly looked his opponent in the eye. “John, you like to pretend the war began in 2007.”

    The Atlantic (Marc Ambinder) The Rumble In Oxford: First Thoughts – McCain did not filter himself, letting his frustration and contempt for Obama show; he wouldn’t let himself look at the challenger.

    NY Daily News – “Final Verdict on Eight Years of Failed Economic Policies.” After all those months of buildup, it took exactly 106 seconds for the gloves to come off, when Democrat Obama laid the blame for the current economic mess on Republican leadership in Washington. “This is a final verdict on eight years of failed economic policies promoted by George Bush [and] supported by John McCain,” Obama said, taking direct aim at his GOP opponent… Obama seemed at ease in the early rounds as McCain struggled to find his feet.

    Philly Daily News – Will Bunch blog: McCain “Needs a Knockout” … “Didn’t Get It Tonight.” I think Obama held his own, which is what he needed to do. He clearly showed he was knowledgeable on foreign affairs, and made kind of silly the argument that Sarah Palin has more experience than he does. McCain was a lot more restrained than I would have expected. …McCain can’t afford to win on points. He needs a knockout. He didn’t get it tonight.

    Denver Post PoliticsWest (John Andrews) Zinger at McCain – Obama landed a good jab with his reference to McCain “threatening extinction to North Korea” and “singing songs about bombing Iran.” McCain: “I’m not going to set the White House visitors schedule before I’m president. I don’t even have a seal yet.” Cute line at the Messiah’s expense, but it was wasted in this setting. Obama was impressive, agree with him or not, in his big picture statement near the end when he panned back from Iraq to talk about China, the economy, and the fate of empires in history. McCain for all his courage and honor didn’t paint on that kind of global canvas. More points scored into the Dem’s column.

    Tampa Tribune (Blog) McCain’s Final Judgment: “Knowledge And Experience” McCain relied repeatedly on emotional but non-substantive or factually incorrect claims: That Obama “voted against funding the troops,” wouldn’t declare the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as terrorists, wants to increase taxes on people who make $42,000. But Obama’s vaunted eloquence, somewhat surprisingly, failed to overwhelm the nitpicking. The verdict: Probably a tie, which means McCain will probably hold his advantage on the issue. The future debates will be between the vice presidential contenders, and between McCain and Obama on domestic issues.

    TNR Blog- Focus Groups, Undecideds For Obama: For what it’s worth: The Frank Luntz and Stanley Greenberg focus groups went overwhelmingly for Obama. And a CBS poll of undecideds went for Obama 40%-22%.

    10:48 PM ABC – George Stephanopoulos: “Barack Obama A minus, John McCain B plus….People wonder whether [Obama] has the experience to be President, to handle national security, and I think on answer after answer after answer, he showed confidence, he showed toughness and he showed he belonged on that stage.”

    11:51 PM ABC – George Stephanopoulos: And overall, bottom line, the winner is Barack Obama. He comes into this race where the country wants change, his number one goal was to show that he belonged on that stage…he could hold his own on national security, he did that tonight, he gets the win.”

    9:53 PM CBS – Myers: “Well, I think the one thing people were looking to, to see if Barack Obama could hold his own, could he sound like a commander in chief, did he have command of foreign policy issues, could he stand there toe-to-toe with John McCain and I think he passed that test with flying colors.”

    10:30 PM CNN-Gloria Borger- “He took it right to mccain on the tax issue and said to people out there, if you earn over 200 — under $250,000 a year, nothing will happen to your taxes or you’ll get a tax cut.”

    10:51 PM PBS – Scott Horsley – “I think John McCain’s conduct of economic policy over the last two days has to look a little erratic, has to look very seat of the pants, frankly.”

    10:54 PM ABC – George Will: “I think Barack Obama came out and looked comfortable and as though he belonged there. So, in a sense, the structure of the debate, indeed, the fact of the debate had to give a mild leg up to Barack Obama.”

    11:07 PM PBS-Mark Halperin – “I thought Obama clearly did better. I thought he had a chance to show that he was calm and prepared and capable of standing toe to toe with the more experienced McCain. I thought McCain spoke too much Washington jargon, told too many jokes in shorthand, made too many comments he knew what he meant but I don’t think he conveyed it necessarily to the audience overall. I thought Obama was the better communicator an did what he needed to do to reassure people.”

    11:08 PM MSNBC-Richard Wolffe “That was the greatest contrast…the demeanor and the tone of voice that these candidates adopted where McCain was being much more pointed much more aggressive and curiously couldn’t look Obama in the eye. Obama’s tone much more straight and even keeled but ready to look his opponent in the eye repeatedly. A big contrast.”

    Denver Post: Obama says he would send “two to three brigades” to Afghanistan. McCain implies that Obama is wet behind the ears on military matters. Obama retorts with perhaps his best line of the night because it critiques McCain’s temperament. Obama says that McCain has previously referenced extinction for North Korea and sang songs about bombing Iran, “so I don’t know how credible that is.”

    Washington Post (Robinson)-The Debate: The All-Important Grumpiness Factor: Here’s the politically incorrect way of phrasing one of the central questions about tonight’s presidential debate: Did John McCain come across as too much of a grumpy old man. That might not be a nice question, but it’s an important one. Americans like to vote for the nice guy, not the grumbling prophet of doom. Throughout the 90-minute debate, McCain seemed contemptuous of Obama. He wouldn’t look at him. He tried to belittle him whenever possible — how many times did he work “Senator Obama just doesn’t understand” into his answers? His body language was closed, defensive, tense. McCain certainly succeeded in proving that he can be aggressive, but the aggression came with a smirk and a sneer.

  12. 9:45 PM CBS – Katie Couric: “The issue of meeting with Iranian officials without preconditions and Henry Kissinger’s position on that came up during my recent interview with Governor Sarah Palin. Now, after than interview I called Secretary Kissinger to clarify his position – he said he does support face-to-face talks with high-level officials in Iran without preconditions.”

  13. I agree that Obama won style points and did not back down to McNasty’s lies and accusations. As a combat disabled Viet Nam vet I was especially pissed when McCain lied about the high esteem he holds us in and we him. He has repeatedly voted against augmenting veteran’s benefits always with some lame excuse but almost always against. And while McCain has known Kissinger for 35 years, he failed to mention that Kissinger is now a Jim Baker lobbyist who disqualified himself from heading the 9/11 commission rather than disclose his middle eastern client list. And Kissinger did actually recommend opening talks with Iran and others at a high level, and without preconditions. Secretary of state is key presidential appointee and cabinet member on a par with secretary of defense. When the US secretary of state is dispatched to meet with his counterpart you can be sure he’s doing so at the president’s behest and that he’s speaking for him/her. McCain was doing Bush stand up while Obama looked presidential. He appeared calm and unflappable and willing and able to go toe-to-toe with McCain on the issues raised. He also looked young and energetic while McCain came across as old, gassy and argumentative.

  14. What a knee jerk way to look at “getting along”…

    As the token foreigner who lurks over here, let me let you in on something. People really dislike America at the moment. Not just terrorist candidates who are strapping bombs to their children. I’m talking run of the mill middle class Westerners. I’m talking almost every ex-pat I work with, in a moderate Catholic University.

    Let me make it clear… we do not hate Americans, but boy we have no patience for your bullshit at the moment.

    I could write a column on why (in fact I wrote several back at 411Mania), but to boil it down there are a few major things you can do which would not require you to send over a cent.

    1) Abide by the United Nations. This whole uni-lateral foreign policy bullshit is recruiting tool number one for the whack jobs out there.

    2) Rein in your corporations. Anytime a factory cuts corners in China, US gets the blame. Why? Because of their ridiculous demands for product margins.

    3) Call off the WTO. Free trade is great but what has it done for us. America still gets to demands tariffs on their food and provide subsidies to farmers, while Bolivia has to privatise its water supply.

    4) Prosecute your war criminals. There are criminal cases pending against both Rumsfeld and Cheney in many countries in the world due to their willingness to break international law (wars of aggression, torture provisions…) Hold them accountable. After all, these were the same laws used to falsely justify the war in Iraq.

    5) Disarm your nukes. It’s hard to come down against Iran developing a nuclear program when you refuse to reduce your own.

    6) Do something about global warming. You use 25% of the world’s oil and then you expect us to get upset about China.

    7) Talk to us. Negotiate with us. Listen to us.

  15. Sarah, you cannot stand the truth. Deal with it — your gig is over. Your services are no longer needed. In fact, your trick is over; the air has left your balloon. Get on your route and catch-up with your gang of Yahoos.

    Since the Tin Man, The Scarecrow and The Lion don’t want any thing more to do with your “tongue-speaking” (Yaa, yaa, Yaa, yaa, yaa, Sair-rrrah) fragmented-phrases rhetoric bumbling-booty, take your pitbull (Toto) with lipstick, take your sign-language hubby (whose tongue was snatched by the cat), take your five-member squadron (of flying monkeys), along with the Baby Daddy (flicking redneck) and politely exit the stage — LEFT — left to Alasss-ka. You’ve had your closeup and it is time to go HOME! Remember, there is no place like home.

    Lick your lipstick. Close your eyes; click your heels together three (3x); and say, “There is no place like home…there is no place like home…there is no place like home!”

  16. you will all be so sorry..he is an empty suit..wolf in sheep’s clothing. He doesn’t look like a president looks more like a college jock. His rambling scares the crap out of me. Who is he? where did he come from ? what’s he accomplished. He held is own? gee hello? how does that make him such a strong candidate? You all just wrote over and over how McCain was such a weakling, then I guess BO really didn’t accomplish anything big.

  17. Obama is arrogant , angry and spews nothing but prose. People are fooled by his looks. He is an empty suit. He lost the debate and will lose the election.

  18. True, Kissinger never stated that the “president” should sit at the table nor did Obama. I listened to the debate twice. McCain was putting words in Obama’s mouth by indicating and trying to sway the american public into believing that Obama actually said the “president” should sit down with these leaders. As McCain was stating that a president should not be the first to begin communicating with those leaders I heard Obama state “absolutely not”, meaning that no, the president should not be the first source. This was stated by Obama as McCain continued to go on an on with bullshit. Obama then pointed out that he can sit down when, where, and with whom he wishes and indicated that the president wasn’t the first choice nor was in Kissinger’s quote. McCain also stated that Obama voted against additional funding for the troops BUT Obama clarified his vote – Obama opposed additional funding WITHOUT a timeline and McCain opposed additional funding WITH a timeline. McCain brought something else to the table which bit him in the ass: he indicated that if a president plans on attacking a country then you shouldn’t mention it as Obama had (McCain pointed this out twice). Obama did say “if……..he would take them out” (meaning Pakistan) and also pointed out that McCain has stated that China should be in extinction (something like that) and also stated something similar about another country. McCain has lied and twisted words and issues – this is not the John McCain of 10 years ago.

    He was weak in this debate and I don’t see him as a leader for this country.

  19. Hello Ray.

    I am an American. I love my country, our people and what we (used) to stand for and live out in our daily lives.

    But I had to laugh (in a good way) about your remark about not taking our bullshit anymore. The reason I say this:

    I have traveled to over 25 countries, on 6 continents, and have spent significant time in 46 States of the US. And I agree with you…

    The last 8 years have blown our image right out of the water. I have seen with my own eyes what our “policies” do to third world countries. And what is worse is that the American way of life has kept us seduced and hypnotized by entertainment and sensationalized news where it’s not even factual news we see anymore…but a huge global soap opera at our expense.

    For those that spout off about people hating America. The only people that “hate America” and carry that forth in their beliefs and actions are true extremists (and we have our own right here in the US…like the bombing that happened here in Oklahoma City…he was as white and as “american” as you could get.

    We are a young country and I feel like we have just gone through 8 years of a teenager gone very bad who needs serious rehab!

    Thank you for your honesty. I love my country. I love this planet. But we have a great deal of growing up to do. May we all recognize that this is true for each one of us…no matter where we live, how much money we have or don’t have or where we have come from.

    I look forward to the possibilities that lie ahead with an approach that involves wisdom, good judgment, inclusiveness, and strength of character that comes doing the GOOD thing….not just the RIGHT thing.

  20. *You need some education in body language and what it means.
    *You also need a healthy does of research material as to why McCain
    could not look Obama in the eye as well as McCains voting
    history with vets, womens equal rights, and the war in Iraq
    among many other things I could mention as fact.

    Your statements are emotionally ignorant and show a real lack of
    understanding about what is going between these two men
    and between America and the rest of the globe.

    We all think we are right..I understand this.
    But if you are not getting the body language here…then well… you just aren’t getting it.

  21. Libs opening up the checkbook? Standard mantra for uninformed people; have you looked at the spending over the last 8 years, do you realize how much money we paid to groups, states, countries over the last 8 years, and let us not forget our failed buyout of Turkey when they denied our request to use their land in the attack on Iraq. Dont take my word or anybody else’s, do some research and educate yourself.

  22. McCain looks and feel like a grumpy old man when he keep repeating and directed at Obama for “He doesn’t understand” statements. This is how my own grandpa used to talk to me even though sometimes I was right on some points because I’m young and still learning he’s treating me as too green!

    It’s about time folks we need to have a president who’s cool and collected before making big decision expecially when we have to send our troops in harm’s way and will cost taxpayers billions of dollars to fund it. Not a quick angry president that will make a reckless decision.

    In the eyes of the world we have lost a lot of our lusters, we created so many enemies and labeled as arrogant administration -it doesn’t help with the policy that we know as Bush Doctrine. We lost a lot of leverage in the international diplomacy because of this admnistration. How we condemned Russia for invading Georgia while the Russian knew clearly we invaded Iraq ilegally. We used to let Iraq to deal with Iran, but now we have to deal direct with Iran and its influence in Iraq and their growing appetite for a nuclear enrichment.

    Floks, please use your vote and vote wisely.

  23. Obama did come across more presidential and was well in command of the subjects in a way that the average person could understand. McCain spent too much time talking about the past and repeating to Obama “You don’t understand”. Maybe he thought this message would tell people that Obama was young yet it came across as condescending. Many times why people use this message is because they do not know how to verbally interact so people will understand them or they like to infer they are far superior and do not need to state facts. Either way, I say McCain–YOU do not understand!! I also noted an almost constant Bush Smirk on McCain’s face. That must be the new Republican look in honor of Bush.

  24. I’m a republican who is voting for Obama, i’ve had enough of McCain and his phony tough talk, and i’m sick of him pounding his chest calling himself a maverick and war hero, I’ve had relatives who were involved in hand to hand combat with the japanese during WWII, won medals for bravery and never told their family members or anyone else about it (we found their medals after they passed away, these are real heroes, not the likes of people like McCain, who trumpet their “hero-ness” he’s a phony and it showed in the debate, Obama is class act and i’d be proud to have his as our president

  25. Nobody knows me, but believe me or not, I can see the future, I mean this is not just like Fortune Teller. you remember Minority from Tom Cruise? Well i am like the woman who was there in that film. I am not an Angel but surely not Lucifer and maybe you will think that I am sick ? well, I don’t care what you think.I am very confident to announce you this. Indeed,! he is the one!thanks for your time to read my messages.God Bless America.

  26. wow we have a psychic amongst us.. these are the fools that are voting for Obama? How comfort

  27. At least he can’t be worse than Bush. He borrowed more then all the other presidents of the USA combined!

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