Overall, I thought that both McCain and Obama performed well. The debate format and their behavior allowed real give and take. Both of them seemed to be cordial with each other. It is nice to have both major candidates for President be actual adults. I did have a few specific issues that struck me:
McCain very early one once again complained about 3 million dollars to study bear DNA. Given that McCain has been extensively criticized for his repetition of this claim(including at this blog) about a study which everyone but John McCain thinks was a good use of money, this once again shows McCain’s disturbing tendencies to either belittle or ignore good science.
McCain was not the only individual in the debate who made painful remarks. Obama claimed that given all the tax “loopholes” American businesses pay one of the lowest tax rates in the world. This claim is simply false.
Obama at one pointed talked about the United States as a “shining beacon on a hill.” I’m sure that will make a lot of high school history teachers happy but I’m not sure how many Americans will have any idea what he was referencing.
Both McCain and Obama engaged in standards of rhetoric that were at best misleading. For example, McCain used “pork” as a synonym for “earmark” and Obama tried to claim that he was not in favor of increasing certain taxes so much as “closing loopholes”.
The moderator did a very good job and pointed out when both Obama and McCain attempted to dodge questions. Overall, the debate was a close one but I’d give the edge to McCain.
[i] Since they were mentioned on CSPAN I suspect that my plugging of them will not be contributing substantial traffic.