After a long break, another debate. Despite frequent back and forth (unlike past debates) between the candidates, I found myself struggling with debate fatigue. I couldn’t get myself to focus. I had to return to read the transcript to recall the exact words spoken. There wasn’t really much of a debate per se. Instead there was just constant attempts to gain political mileage by jockeying and trying to score some points.
ABCNews Tries to Make Up for It’s Previous Debate
ABCNews decided to not show the debate live on the West coast! It took an obscure link on Google (that didn’t work in Firefox) to see the debate live on the web. To make matters worse the live feeds appeared in a tiny window that could not be re-sized. It appeared as though ABCNews had decided to play tough even before the debate started. Likewise the moderators, Charles Gibson and George Stephanopoulos appeared to have arrived with a pre-planned intent to attack Senator Obama probably to fight back the accusation from last time that ABCNews moderators were soft on Senator Obama and hard on Senator Clinton.
Despite Senator Obama’s best efforts to drive home the point that beating relatively insignificant issues to death and playing politics — “I do think it’s important to recognize that it’s not helping that person who’s sitting at the kitchen table who is trying to figure out how to pay the bills at the end of the month.” is of little use when it comes to addressing issues of the people, the moderators continued to do precisely that. They pounded away at Senator Obama on his flag pin, Rev. Wright, and his acquaintances with questionable records, among other issues. Senator Obama responded (rightly so) with — ” So this kind of game, in which anybody who I know, regardless of how flimsy the relationship is, is somehow — somehow their ideas could be attributed to me — I think the American people are smarter than that. They’re not going to suggest somehow that that is reflective of my views, because it obviously isn’t.”
In short, ABCNews did a terrible job of raising the level of discussion in this debate. Instead they stuck to the themes that are likely to generate press and rake up controversies. It remains to be seen over the next few days whether this objective is achieved.
Hillary Goes Flat Out
The other most noticeable fact of the debate was that Senator Clinton seemed to have decided that this was her last chance. She gave it all she had, held nothing back, and attacked at every slightest opportunity. Her approach indicated a certain degree of desperation but she displayed none of it. I suspect though that she came away looking a lot less likable than she ever did. Senator Obama on the other hand appeared to be mostly on the defensive as the moderators and Senator Clinton seemed to “pile on” to him at every instance.