Debatable Outcome: Obama over McCain by a Field Goal

Written by Susan Mannella on .

Tom Waseleski

Talk about a deadly dull debate. It was the haltling, cool intellectual vs. the bumbling old guy. John McCain appears to be running for cheerleader-in-chief while Barack Obama wants to be the Great Conciliator. I don't think McCain uttered the B-word (Bush) once -- and who could blame him?  Obama, for his own sake, didn't mention Bush nearly enough.

Both dodged what they specifically wanted to see in the Wall St. bailout. Then they sidestepped the followup on what they'd have to give up as president because of the financial turmoil.

Obama scored against McCain on the paltry size of earmarks vs. the huge sums McCain would give away in high-roller tax cuts. McCain showed up Obama when they discussed engagement overseas, given his firsthand  experience with various leaders and countries.

McCain kept harping on big success in Iraq because of the surge, but repeatedly called it "fragile." Is success truly successful if it's fragile? Obama took the war to him for its bad inception, bad intelligence and failed results -- no capture of bin Laden, no finish to the Taliban and no end to the $10 billion a month in U.S. spending on the war. "You were wrong ... you were wrong," Obama said, and he was right.

McCain had trouble landing a punch with his repeated mantra of "no preconditions" in mockery of Obama's willingness to meet as president with America's enemies. Someone should remind the Republican that Bush's foreign policy legacy is in shambles because of just the approach McCain favors.

Neither senator drew blood, though Obama displayed a broader, more nuanced understanding of the issues. McCain, however, had more populist appeal with his simplistic answers.

Oh, and thank God they both had soldier bracelets to compare. At least we know they're patriots. Now, if only the next prez will give vets the health care they need and get them out of a war that the Iraqis should have long ago taken over themselves.

Final score:
Obama - 13
McCain - 10


Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.