Reactions to Worst. Townhall. Ever. -UPDATED!

Good heavens that was the most boring townhall debate I’ve ever seen. No “moments” to it. Both the Kerry/Bush and Gore/Bush townhalls were a great deal more informative and persuasive. Brokaw needed more input from the audience and less from his gasbag self. I am told it was better on radio, but to me neither one of the candidates brought their A game, tonight. Both seemed like they needed a cup of Mystic Monk Coffee

Vodkapundit says McCain won, just barely. He might be right…but I think Obama did nothing good for himself tonight by sounding like a policywonk going-on-80, and failing to bring the charisma or even a modicum of humor. Obama made himself seem like any other politician. With his youth, he should have shown a brightness, a bounce to the step, even a cockiness; he should have walked all over the 72 year old McCain, and he didn’t do it. Instead, he was wonkish and grim to the point of coma, and he almost seems like he has to be prompted (in rebuttal) to say anything good about America. I think the nation needed to see a bit more Obama Ommph. They don’t expect it from McCain, but a little energy from Obama was really necessary. So, all in all, I think more than McCain winning “a little,” Obama actually lost “a lot.” He handed the “youth, energy and charisma” ball to Sarah Palin.

Instapundit notes that intrade markets show a 24 point drop for Obama and remarks, “That’s odd. I didn’t think it was that lopsided.”

It wasn’t, except for Obama’s utter lack of energy; his ability to seem distinct from any other politician. That is what I meant, when I said the debate gave the most help to Sarah Palin.

The Townhall was turned into a podium debate without the podium. Didn’t serve either candidate well.

Who won the Debate?
John McCain
Barack Obama
Sarah Palin free polls

Vanderleun seems to agree with my assessment!

Question: Does anyone think Obama sounded like he was being prompted, almost word-by-word on his answers re Russia and Israel? He was so halting and dull it sometimes…sounded…like…he was receiving…each…word…through his left ear…

But maybe I just have a very active imagination. And when one is bored, the imagination DOES take over.

I note that John McCain showed none of the oomph, vigor and fire that he showed just two days ago. I wonder if he is unwell?

UPDATE: YIKES!! Ann Althouse thought she saw an earpiece in Obama’s LEFT ear…I kept asking my kids if it didn’t sometimes seem like Obama was looking LEFT and giving halting answers, as though he was being prompted. The yawned at me, of course, but some of Althouse’s commenters also thought the same thing. So, I ain’t totally crazy. Update II: Okay, Ann is “reconsidering” the earpiece. But I still think it’s funny that she saw something in his left ear, and I’d been wondering about his looking to the left when his answers plodded. Oh…that works on so many levels, too! Heh.

McCain did not say the thing that would have won him the election, tonight. As we have seen before, no one ever listens to me.

Both of them had their best moments on their closings, with the only interesting question of the night: “what don’t you know?”

Althouse liveblogged
and her commenters were very busy. All I know is Ann switched from tea to cognac by the end of it, and I wish I had, too.

Also…I’m sorry but the Palin/Biden debate was more interesting and entertaining. What has happened to Obama’s energy and charisma? He seemed lethargic. McCain seemed old. Nothing vibrant or new or fresh about either of them. Neither of them managed to display much humor, self-deprecating or otherwise. Don’t they understand the power that one has in the ability to laugh at oneself?

Instalanch! Thanks, Glenn!

Reactions to the debate below, most recent links first:

At Pajamas Media: A Podcast full of heavy hitters worth listening to: Reynolds, Rubin, Green & Lileks Seriously. It’s fun with the morning coffee, from the first line. I wished I was part of the gabfest. Thoughtful and funny. Listen to Glenn Reynolds talk about McCain’s best and worst moments.

Jeff Jacoby: McCain won and Obama needs to get straight on genocide. I think, in retrospect, McCain did better than I thought, but the Townhall venue is generally a showcase for him and he did not take advantage of that, last night. Although, in fairness, last night was not really a “townhall.” It was a podium debate without podiums, thanks to Tom Brokaw, who likely kept it that way for Obama’s sake. It is well known that Obama does not like free-for-all style debates.

Ed Morrissey: Tom Brokaw had a soft, non-obvious bias. I’ll buy that. He’s an old-school newsman. He knows not to be obvious.

Confederate Yankee writes about some “constitutional subversion” outta Obamaland.

AJ Strata: thinks McCain helped himself and he had a comment with a good slogan; “McCain wants to change DC, Obama wants to change America!”

Gabriel Malor has
a very helpful chart summarizing the debate. Pierre says it is helpful for keeping one away from the ledge. I’m not at the ledge, but I found it helpful, too.

Betsy Newmark: “We’re in deep trouble”. Not sure if she means the whole nation or just the GOP, there, as I am unimpressed and uninspired by either of these men.

More Slightly O/T:
Yes, Obama did keep palling around with Ayers after finding out who he was.

Slightly O/T:
President Bush is leading a summit on the economic crisis. I’d like to point out one thing. Obama loves to say that “the world” hates America, now. But “old Europe” and Canada like and work with Bush, and America much more in 2008 than she did in 2001. Think about that.

Lorie Byrd emails that, watching on TIVO she sees McCain hitting all these points she’d hoped for. She feels more positive than many.

Camille Paglia: Do not underestimate Palin. As ever, she is a delight and a blast to read, even when one disagrees with her. On Palin, she is clearly having fun throwing darts at the provincial left. Don’t miss it – including the letters.

In an email, a friend noted that McCain left the stage quickly after the debate, rather than working the crowds, and she wondered if he was unwell? Anyone know?

Racism: It’s becoming the word that doesn’t mean anything anymore, because it is being so overused.

Sundries Shack, says he wasn’t planning on buying a house soon, anyway

ACORN Office busted in Nevada: Apparently using the names of NFL players to create fake voters is umm…a giveaway.

Reuters: McCain camp has a sense of humor. Obama camp clearly does not. You gotta be able to laugh, guys.

Ace: Barack is a liar but McCain needed to change the game, so Barack wins by a hair and here’s sixty seconds of truth. 60 seconds ain’t enough time.

Andy McCarthy:
Why won’t Obama talk about Columbia? Maybe because he didn’t write so well, back then?

Rod Dreher: What appalling candidates!

Jim Geraghty: “another hour and a half of my life I won’t get back”.

Mark Steyn: This debate a horrible travesty.

Stanley Kurtz: Obama’s Seeds of Disaster

Mary Katharine Ham catches Chris Matthews cooing about Obama. Ick.

Michelle Malkin liveblogged, snored and woke up when Obama called 9/11 a “tragedy” that “most remember”. Yeah, that was an eek. They both made eeks.

Palin watched the debate in a pizzaria. Pubs and pizzarias. I think I know this gal!

Ed Morrissey, who earlier today wrote of CNN commiting an act of random journalism, writes tonight that McCain won on points.

Jimmie Bise on the weaknesses going in

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • silverpie

    Funny you mention that… Althouse thinks she saw an earpiece…

  • peter blogdanovich

    I’m happy to let the race devolve to a referendum on Obama illuminated by Sarah Palin. More than happy. I think I see a new strategy forming in the McCain camp, though like Obama, I may not understand what that word means.

  • Pingback: Exurban League

  • Pingback: Cartago Delenda Est

  • Bender B. Rodriguez

    Like I said in a previous comment, I could not bear to watch the debate. Instead, I previewed the movie Mother Teresa – the Legacy, excerpts here for a class tomorrow on the “works of mercy.” But I have been reading some of the comments over at NRO.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but was McCain running for the Democratic nomination in this debate? That is the impression I get from reading the comments — that McCain too often gave a similar answer as Obama did.

    Again, correct me if I’m wrong, but can we go back in time a bit to when McCain started doing well and actually took the lead a few weeks back. If I remember correctly, McCain started doing well and Obama started tanking at the Rick Warren townhall. That is when McCain started to come to life, and it continued upward sharply with the Palin pick. It started going back down again only when they started to rein her in and McCain started sounding more like his usual maverick self, and then pulled the suspend-the-campaign gimmick (and it is pretty clear at this point that that was a disasterous decision). Palin fires ‘em up again in her debate, only to have McCain deflate things again because of his apparent distain for conservatism.

    At this point, Palin needs to throw away the McCain script – telling the McCain handlers to get the hell out of the way – and start engaging in a little straight talk herself. She is the only one who can save McCain now. Only by her picking him up and carrying him across the line.

  • Acer Palmatum

    I was bored.

    My four year old said she liked “the white one.” Cringing inside I asked her why. She said, “He looks like a white cow, and I like cows. Look how white his hair is.” Then she looked at Barack and said, “He looks like a brown cow, I like him too.”

    Then about five minutes later she decided she liked Brokaw best. She went up and pointed to him and said, I like him.

    Those were our debate highlights

  • HNAV

    Vodkapundit, Mr. Morrissey, etc., must have been watching another debate.

    John McCain just dropped the ball once again.

    Folks are just not seeing things clearly, but some of the same Pundits who opined for McCain in the Primary, weren’t seeing it clearly back then either.

    I am actually going to suggest, that Bob Dole was a better debater, and ran a better campaign up until this point.

    Reality, basis, etc., used to be a strength of many amongst us.

    Tonight, John McCain actually repeated the same lines I have heard since the early days in the GOP Primary.

    “I know how…” coming from a 3 Decades old, Senate Celebrity of the Beltway, is not attractive, powerful, moving, in any manner.

    Why can’t John McCain tell us why Obama is wrong about the admirable mission in Iraq?

    Is it simply too difficult for a Senator, or beneath his dignity?

    When discussing Freddie and Fannie, at least McCain mentioned it, but sadly it was poorly conveyed, and terribly woven into an answer about the Economic Crisis.

    Senator McCain is in way beyond his means, and it shows.

    His giggling, quips, jokes, were entirely un-Presidential as well.

    Sorry, this is a real tragedy.

  • ClintACK


    Not a great performance from either — and McCain needs these opportunities to speak to America directly more than Obama does.

    Re: the one thing that would have won [McCain] the election…

    There’s a good reason candidates usually don’t announce their cabinet picks ahead of time… you get more of the choice’s negatives than of their positives. Just look at how the press has picked apart Sarah Palin’s life — and imagine that times fifteen…

    I’d love to see that changed — I’d love to see a candidate’s cabinet picks announced at the party conventions, and I’d like to see each potential future cabinet secretary give a speech at the convention outlining their thinking on the issues relevant to the department. But I don’t see it happening without an enormous push from one side or the other. A candidate-to-be-named-later has no skeletons in his closet.

  • Fr. Steve Leake

    I think Tom Brokaw was a big loser here. He chose terrible, boring questions. This was not a debate so much as a rerun of their commercials. Very boring… I do think McCain was McCain and Obama was…. boring! He really has no charism at all. Should I watch the last one? We can always hope I suppose.

  • Pingback: Below The Beltway » Blog Archive » The Town Hall Debate: The Blogs React

  • Bender B. Rodriguez

    You gotta be @#$*ing kidding me. He did not really say this, did he?

    Republican presidential candidate John McCain is proposing a $300 billion program for the federal government to buy up bad home mortgages and allow homeowners to keep their houses. McCain said: “Until we stabilize home values in America, we’re never going to start turning around and creating jobs and fixing our economy and we’ve got to get some trust and confidence back to America.” In an unusual step, McCain announced the plan during Tuesday’s debate. He said that as president he would direct the federal government to purchase mortgages directly from homeowners and mortgage providers. The loans would be replaced with fixed-rate mortgages, ostensibly at a loss to the government. “Is it expensive? Yes,” McCain said.

    Now, could you tell me again, which one is it that is the leftist?

  • Pingback: Belmont’s Debate Results? @ in medias res

  • Pingback: As Of Today, I Am No Longer Paying My Mortgage « Blog Entry « Dr. Melissa Clouthier

  • Pingback: The Irascible Chef

  • http://none Darrell

    Sigh. . .
    At least I have Sarah Palin and the Anchoress.

  • Joseph

    First of all, Bender, this entire proposal is on McCain’s website and has apparently been there since April. You can find it as Issues>The Economy>Relief For Families>Home Plan. Not only that, Senator McCain has this to say about the “sound principles” behind his plan:

    “John McCain’s approach to helping sub-prime or other financially strapped mortgage borrowers is built on sound principles:

    * No taxpayer money should bail out real estate speculators or financial market participants who failed to perform due diligence in assessing credit risks. Any assistance for borrowers should be focused solely on homeowners and any government assistance to the banking system should be based solely on preventing systemic risk.

    * Any policy of financial assistance should be accompanied by reforms that promote greater transparency and accountability to ensure we never face this problem again.

    John McCain has proposed a new “HOME Plan” to provide robust, timely and targeted help to those hurt by the housing crisis. Under his HOME Plan, every deserving American family or homeowner will be afforded the opportunity to trade a burdensome mortgage for a manageable loan that reflects their home’s market value.”

    The fact that you have been blindsided by this is one of the major reasons McCain is going to lose. Even his own supporters are clueless about what he thinks, what he has put on record on his own campaign site, and what he actually proposes to do if elected. So why would you expect independent voters to have a clue about it, and vote for McCain in consequence?

    Now the Anchoress below has launched a kalietescopic tirade against the MSM for failing to report that McCain has said something about the economy–that he raised doubts about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and no one listened–while they reported the claim in an Obama ad that John McCain no longer wants to talk about the economy, but wants to smear Obama to avoid doing so.

    She also has this wonderful purple passage of exhortation to wimpy, spineless, and self deceiving liberals such as me:

    “And you folks who are not speaking up against what the press is doing – how they are literally suppressing one candidate’s responses to the other candidate’s charges, in order to put forward their golden One – you should be ashamed of yourselves for your complicity. You know better, you really do. You fool yourselves that these “little political lies” will somehow bring about an administration and an era “of truth.” But deep down, you know that lies never give birth to the truth.”

    The only problem is 60 Minutes interviewed John McCain quite thoroughly about the economy on September 21, 2008–the Sunday before McCain “suspended” his campaign to ride into Washington on a white horse and straighten things out. And what McCain has to say is just about as “unmedia filtered” as it gets. Nobody seems to know anything about this. Not even his supporters.

    And I’m supposed to get going and pester every media outlet in the US to report that McCain has actually said something about the economy?

    I don’t wish to be rude, but doesn’t anyone read anything except each other’s blogs?

    Finally, I don’t know what Instapundit has been smoking, but he is seeing programs that aren’t in the TV Guide. Here are the figures, directly off the Intrade ticker as of 12:30 am, just before I started this comment:

    PresDem 74.0 +5.5; DemEC 340 42.9 +11.0; PresMcCain 27.5 -4; PresObama 71.9 +2.8; 2ndDebObama 88.1 +28.1.

    What can I say?

  • Pingback: Presidential Debate Liveblogging! (Part Deux) « WitSnapper | The Blog

  • ClintACK

    Final thoughts on the debate:

    Long, boring, and useless…

    … except for the last two questions.

  • Pingback: Brutally Honest

  • Pingback: Jenn Q. Public

  • Sweetbriar

    I wasn’t watching, but I was listening, and I also thought Obama was being fed answers. Odd.

    I doubt McCain was ill, but I did notice that neither he nor Cindy were much interested in the “greet the crowd” nonsense afterward. They did it, but they seemed to prefer to get away from the Obamas. I wouldn’t care much for schmoozing with the opposition at this stage of the fight either.

  • Pingback: A Tune And A List « The Reluctant Optimist

  • Pingback: The Debate (now that I’ve watched it) « I Think ^(Link) Therefore I Err

  • Pingback: Reactions to presidential debate #2 : The Daily Scroll

  • Pingback: Z z z z z z z z z …………… « Living IRL

  • rightwingprof

    I think everybody is putting way too much stock in debates. There is little evidence historically — at least for the most part — that debates influence elections much. We had the Bush-Kerry debates, which were awful to watch, and for which all of the pundits in the media declared Kerry the winner. Oops. We had the Bush-Gore debates. Same thing. And probably the most well known line to come out of a debate (Bentsen-Quayle) came from a man whose party went down in a blaze of flames in the election.

    Yes, it was boring. Then, you didn’t expect it to be entertaining, did you?

    Surely not.

  • lordsomber

    As I walked in the door last night, the debate was on TV. Roommate was fast asleep on the couch. I guess that said it all. Went straight to bed.

  • Jenny

    I live right outside of Nashville. The weather was terrible last night. It rained and rained. It has been almost a month since we have had a significant rain. We got nearly 3.5 inches of rain over night. I don’t know whether McCain was ill or not. But I can say that the air pressure changed sharply yesterday and it was very damp. Old injuries may have been achy.

  • Kevin

    Joseph, your comments on McCain’s “borrower bailout” are spot on. It’s been McCain’s position for months. As voters should also know, if they paid attention to the recently passed $700 billion “bailout” legislation, the Secretary of the Treasury was given the authority to purchase any asset from financial institutions, including individual home mortgages and portfolios of such loans, as well as the mortgage-backed securities that are the primary focus of the bailout bill (in addition to the pork, that is). Also, after the US Government seized Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, they announced that they were going to do the same thing with those institutions that the FDIC is doing with the failed IndyMac Bank’s loan portfolio: systematic refinancing of subprime mortgages, “liar loans,” Option ARMs, and other “trash” loans into fixed rate loans at lower interest rates for “qualified borrowers” (whatever that will mean when the dust settles). Finally, the $300 billion “rescue” legislation that passed earlier and that established the “Hope For Homeowners” program, is attempting to put many subprime borrowers into FHA-insured loans with a fixed rate (again, if the borrower is “qualified” at the lower rate and the lender of the existing loan is willing to write off a chunk of the principal balance of the loan).

    A Republican Administration, with the active assistance of a Democratic Congress, has been intervening in the marketplace for months in an effort to prop up residential real estate values, so Americans can continue to use them as their personal piggy banks and keep the good times rolling until a later date, when the next Great Depression arrives, but another Administration and Congress will have to deal with the even more disastrous carnage. Yet, viewers acted as though McCain had proposed something radical. This is just business as usual in a country where the upside of risk is privatized and the downside of risk is socialized; where many of us–Republican, Democrat or neither of the foregoing– look to the government to save us from the often very, very painful results of our own poor judgment.