8:11: After they blame each other for the financial crisis, Obama tells us we don't want to hear them blaming each other. We just want to know how to stay in our homes and pay our bills. McCain sounds a little shaky and winded. He's wearing a shiny dark suit and a pink and red striped tie. Obama -- in an unshiny suit and a blue-purple tie -- seems relaxed. He's got a casual way of sitting on the stool.
8:20: The first 3 questions have been about the crisis, the third being, quite sensibly: How can we trust you guys who let us get into this trouble in the first place? McCain points to his record, and repeatedly tells us he's reached across the aisle. Does that make you trustworthy? The 2 men seem mainly to be recycling their old talking points more than speaking directly to the crisis.
8:28: An old woman emails in her demand that people be asked to make sacrifices. McCain repeats his ideas about cutting spending, and makes a second reference to an overhead projector that Obama procured for the Chicago planetarium. Again with the earmarks. What was the dollar figure on earmarks? I heard $1 billion. That seems like nothing compared to the $750 billion bailout. And what is the sacrifice? Not getting more earmarks? Obama reminds us of the way Bush told us after 9/11 to "go out and shop." Bush, it seems, could have demanded sacrifices, but Obama doesn't say what we should have sacrificed then or now, though he does advise us to be energy efficient. It's really not too inspiring, but I think Obama is trying to seem cool, solid, and not at all exciting. In the background, we see McCain writing, awkwardly, on a note pad, and maybe some of us think about McCain's sacrifices.
8:37: Tom Brokaw is in control! Obama will not be permitted to say something about taxes because "it's important." Ha ha. As I was writing "it's important," O said "it's important" again.
8:41: McCain thinks he's making a big funny by saying "I'll answer the question!" Because, you know, Obama didn't want to go on to the next question before. No one laughs, but he looks so happy with his wisecracks. "Too many lobbyists workin' there," he says, and I think he's trying to sound Palinesque.
8:44: McCain's plan seems to be to sound passionate and caring. And to say "Lieberman" frequently.
8:46: Jac is live-blogging too: "9:30 - Cringe-inducing word choice from Obama: "A lot of you remember the tragedy of 9/11..." He can safely assume we all remember."
8:47: I love Brokaw. Watch the damned lights! He finds it hard to believe the candidates aren't watching the lights. Obama pops up and says he's just trying to keep up with McCain. In other words, he did it first! That seemed a little dorky and childish.
8:50: I was just admiring Obama's elegant gestures with his long, thin hands, when McCain positioned himself in the background and made a hand gesture that can only be described as holding an invisible grapefruit in front of your chest.
8:55: Obama says that health care should be a right. (McCain called it a "responsibility.") Obama seems relaxed and smiling but also oddly pissed that McCain has been "throwing a lot of things out there."
9:01: We've finally arrived at foreign policy, and McCain seems very relieved. Obama takes the subject of Iraq and ties it to the economy: Iraq has a surplus, so why are we spending our money over there? He's made this argument many times, but it has more resonance this week.
9:05: What is Obama's standard for when we should intervene for purely humane reasons, where there are no American interests? I hear no statement of doctrine. What is McCain's doctrine? We should intervene whenever there is a genocide if we have the means to improve the situation. (That's why he stood up to Reagan about Lebanon.)
9:14: Obama says McCain has called him "green behind the ears." Some sort of moss or fungus?
9:27: The question is how we would respond to an attack by Iran on Israel, and McCain makes a strong connection to the military man in the audience who asked the question. Obama's answer recycles material about energy independence. He talks about negotiations and diplomacy. Okay, and then? What if there is an attack? Will you be there? I can't tell.
9:30: "What don't you know and how will you learn it?" A cute question. Cute and disturbing. Obama decides to just deliver his prepared closing statement. The last 8 years sucked. Can't get
9:34: I began this live-blog with a big mug of lapsang souchong tea, but about 15 minutes ago, I switched to cognac:
9:42: Wow. Over 600 comments! I'll need to go in there and see what you folks are saying. For now though, let's do a little poll:
9:55: I was scrolling through my HDTV recording, looking to photograph the "invisible grapefruit," and I noticed that Obama was wearing an earpiece. I photographed the freeze-frame and have set up a new post to display it.
10:09: I reconsider the perception of an earpiece. I don't see it in other frames. I'm sure a real secret earpiece would be way less visible, inside the ear canal.
11:21: I'm reading the comments, and the general opinion is that the debate was very boring. It was boring to me, because they were saying things I've heard before. Maybe some people are listening closely for the first time, and for them, it might have been interesting. But it should have been new and exciting for all of us, given the events of the past week.
6:55 am: When I woke up this morning, I decided to concentrate my mind on the question which man won.... Ah, what am I doing in this old post? Making a couple corrections. My new morning perceptions will be in new post.