8:42pm: Barack Obama may very well be the smarter of the two candidates. But John McCain, for all his efficiencies, is a much more effective debater. I mean, wow, Obama, when he debates just comes across as lecturing and annoyed. John McCain's debate style is more effective. And he effectively portrayed Obama as young and inexperienced.
8:35pm: Interesting turn here from McCain: He likens Obama's intransigence on acknowledging the success of The Surge to the administration's much-criticized stubbornness.
8:33pm: Obama is smart and his command of facts is considerable, but he does not marshall them well in a debate. He gets hung up on too many details without allowing for a central theme or narrative.
8:29pm: Obama on nuclear proliferation: "The biggest threat is a terrorist getting his hands on a nuke." My friends in the Intelligence History arena say that it is one of the lessons of history that your enemies get the technology and use it against you.
I hope I never see the day that happens with nukes. Let's leave that stuff to 24.
8:27pm: I'm not sure how well "a commission" plays as a soundbite, but McCain sure seems to like them.
8:24pm: What is on Obama's lip? Kind of distracting.
8:20pm: McCain: "I've looked into Putin's eyes and I saw three letters: K-G-B." Good line.
8:16pm: A reader texts: "Obama just got his  kicked." This is why John McCain is the foreign policy expert.
8:13pm: "McCain: I won't set the Presidential appointment book yet. I don't even have a seal"
8:10pm: Obama repeats what is, I think, an effective talking point: "I reserve the right to meet with whoever whenever if I think it will keep America safe." That's a pretty good way to spin his stated claim that he would meet with Iran without pre-condition.
8:04pm: McCain quickly responds to Obama by saying, 'You'd think that if he cared so much about these issues, Afghanistan, that he would have actually visited these areas.' Effective.
8:02pm: Obama: "You don't muddle through the central front in the war on terror." In my opinion, that was the first very effective line Obama has delivered tonight.
7:58pm: I think listing his record of involvement with national security issues highlights his experiential difference with Barack Obama effectively without even mentioning Barack Obama.
7:54pm: The long-view strategists before the debate said that you wanted to be the person who "hit second." Obama has consistently gone after McCain and McCain has methodically hit back. He hasn't always been as effective or concise as Obama, but he comes across as wiser. At times, talking about "songs about bombing Iran" comes across as a little trite.
7:43pm: McCain: The next President won't have to decide whether or not we invade Iraq.
True. McCain changes the question to how this really will impact the next president--how we leave, when we leave.
7:41pm: Obama: I opposed going into Iraq when it was politically unpopular to do so.
7:39pm: Ah, finally, foreign policy. Lehrer: What are the lessons of Iraq?
7:32pm: "Google for government." That's an interesting idea, Senator Obama.
7:29pm: McCain: "We have to cut spending." That's a good, easy answer. And a jab at Obama for being so far left he can't be bi-partisan.
7:27pm: Lehrer: What will you give up? This is an opportunity for McCain to say he would cut entitlements, cut government spending.
7:21pm: McCain: I want to cut business taxes so businesses will choose to come here and stay here.
7:18pm: McCain pointed out out that Obama sought $900 million for his state before running for President. He needs to pound away on that point--specifically, that though $900 million may not sound like much to Obama, but it does to the people on Main Street. $18 billion is a lot of money.
7:16pm: McCain makes a CSI joke about bears' paternity vs. criminality. He presented it like it were government policy--which means he didn't present it like the joke it was.
7:09pm I don't like this 5 minute open-ended format thing. What are they supposed to do? Talk to each other? Yell at Jim Lehrer? I think they should yell at Jim Lehrer.
UPDATE 7:06pm MDT: Obama is retreading his bailout principles. And spouting the usual 'more of the same.' Ugh.
UPDATE 7:03pm MDT: An Eisenhower quote. Great.
UPDATE 7:00pm MDT: I don't see a teleprompter on the stage. Barack Obama may be in trouble.
UPDATE 6:56 MDT: I like Juan Williams. He's liberal AND reasonable.
UPDATE 6:51pm MDT: Harold Wolfson says that all Obama needs to say is 'I was right about Iraq.'
UPDATE 6:48pm MDT: Dick Morris: The Democrats don't have the guts to pass their own bill on their own votes--something they could do without the Republicans.
I take this to mean that we might actually get legislation written from a free market perspective.
UPDATE 6:47pm MDT: Dick Morris: John McCain can win this election in one night if he contrasts his plan vs. Obama's plan as "I want the companies to pay, Obama wants the taxpayer to pay." We'll see if it's that easy.
UPDATE 6:42pm MDT: Karl Rove: President Bush tried to reform Fannie/Freddy in 2002 and again in 2005. This would have obviated most of the effects of the crisis we're dealing with today.
UPDATE 6:35pm MDT: I miss Newt Gingrich as Speaker of the House. Boehner is alright, but he doesn't have the intellectual heft of a Newt Gingrich. Boehner is not enough of a fiscal conservative for me.
UPDATE 6:32pm MDT: Newt Gingrich has an interesting idea: Force congressmen to raise money away from their own committee--if you oversee Fannie/Freddy (Chris Dodd, Barack Obama, Barney Frank) then you can't take contributions from them.
Makes sense to me.
As I did with my reports from the RNC, I'm going to live-blog this, the first Presidential debate in 2008. As it stands, the debate is set to begin in less than an hour. Before it does, I want to make one comment:
John McCain has taken a lot of criticism from the Obama campaign, saying that his return to DC and suspension of his campaign was nothing more than a stunt. If there is a Senator in Congress who has built up the credibility of putting country before party and election, it is John McCain. He supported Comprehensive Immigration legislation (much to the chagrin of his party), Campaign Finance Reform, and, of course, The Surge.
As a Senator--the elected representative of the state of Arizona--it is his responsibility to do what he can in an economic crisis like this. This is what he is paid to do. As a candidate for President, he has the votes and support of his party. This November he will head the ticket of which the entire House and some of the Senate will be a part. His influence over them in this process cannot be overstated. If there is one person who can bring Republicans to the table and agree to some sort of bailout legislation, it is John McCain. The Democrats are already on board--this is why Barack Obama is superfluous to the whole process.
If you have tips, questions, comments or suggestions, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.