To be consistent, The Common Man considered getting in his car and driving around for 90 minutes to listen to the debate. But, because his knee hurts too much to make his way toward the garage, The Common Man is going to stick it out here on the couch with his beer and live blog the debate. Updates every 15 minutes or so, all times are central. One final note, in the interest of full-disclosure, The Common Man is supporting Barak Obama for President, though he has a lot of respect for John McCain's service before he got to the Senate and while he was there.
8:03 Bob Schieffer starts off with a question about the economy and the candidates’ plan to fix it. Is anyone actually wondering about the economy these days? Hmmm, The Common Man hasn’t heard anything.
8:06 Obama’s answer is much more direct and clear than McCain’s. He sounds more confident and calm. John McCain, on the other hand, sounds as though he’s rambling and wandering through his answer. Like a student giving a presentation who didn’t read through it in advance.
8:11 Joe the Plumber? Saying it over and over makes him sound like a ridiculous character and dehumanizes him. This works against McCain, as he needs to connect on a deep level with American voters tonight. Instead, he sounds shallow and condescending to Joe the Plumber.
8:13 McCain needs a better phrase than "spreads the wealth around," which sounds terribly positive (which of course McCain doesn't mean it to be). That sounds pretty good. Share that wealth around to The Common Man, why don't you?
8:17 "I'd use a hatchet and then I'd get out a scalpel?" What's the point once you've cut off the arm? Bad metaphor.
8:19 John McCain mentions the $3 million "overhead projector" for the Chicago Planetarium. This sounds familiar to me. Hmmm...is his audio being piped in from the previous debate?
8:20 McCain finally scores by looking at Obama and telling him "I'm not President Bush; if you wanted to run against President Bush, you should have run four years ago." Now he's addressing Obama directly again. Terribly effective, challenging him to explain himself.
8:23 Barak Obama cites Fox News as supporting him. McCain's head almost explodes. His eyes nearly ended up in Shearer's lap.
8:25 Ooh, Bob Schieffer! Yeah, tell each other off!
8:29 Neither one of them has the balls to do it.
8:32 McCain looks smug on the split-screen. Obama, measured and reasoned.
8:33 McCain: I'm proud of the people who come to our rallies.
8:36 ACORN is tearing apart the fabric of our dewmocracy? Then our dewmocracy is terribly weak and we have bigger problems than ACORN.
8:40 Ooh, a running mate question. This should be good. Who would you rather be President of the United States, Joe Biden or Sarah Palin? The Common Man will give you a moment to stop laughing before you answer.
8:42 This brief time-out brought to you by Bayer Muscle & Joint Cream. Mmm...menthol and numbness.
8:43 If The Common Man had not seen all the clips of Sarah Palin, John McCain's description of Sarah Palin would be incredibly moving and persuasive. A very great description.
8:50 Since The Common Man was forced to miss out on visual portion of the first two debates, this is the first time he's seen the candidates together for any extended time. Has the difference between their demeanors always appeared so striking?
8:51 Right, John, Barak Obama's eloquence is a bad thing. Everyone knows that them people who know'd how to talk smart can't never be trusted.
8:55 Why did McCain look incredulous when Obama brought up that Colombian labor organizers are being assassinated? Is that somehow off the table? How unpleasant. Gentlemen shouldn't discuss such things. By the way, according to Human Rights Watch, "Colombia leads the world in trade unionist assassinations, with 17 killings in the first three months of 2008 alone, and more than 400 during the 6-year administration of President Alvaro Uribe. Hardly any of the killers have been brought to justice."
9:01 "Your fine is zero." Very effective. Whether its true or not and gets factchecked apart (The Common Man has no idea, really), he just won the point. People won't remember the fact check. They will remember the zero. So McCain's grin seems misplaced.
9:04 John McCain doesn't dumb down as well as George Bush dumbs down. Believe it or not, that's a weakness. Despite all his faults, Bush always conveyed the idea that he's communicating and connecting with his audience. McCain seems to be talking past them.
9:08 Right, so John McCain won't impose a litmus test, but supporting Roe v. Wade isn't a sign of judicial acumen and of correctly interpreting the Constitution. So, what's the difference?
9:15 McCain is blinking. Like, he's blinking a lot. A LOT. Someone who knows poker, tell The Common Man what that means. The Common Man thinks it means John McCain is nervous, or knows he's in trouble, but doesn't know for certain.
9:17 Obama: Education-->Economic strength. Economic strength-->Military strenght. A strong, clear equation.
9:17 The Uncommon Wife: "Is John McCain actually made out of wax? And is he melting?"
9:25 The Common Man thinks John McCain's rocking his rebuttal on education, sounding at once disappointed in Obama and knowledgeable about the subject. The Uncommon Wife disagrees, she says "McCain really makes me feel uncomfortable."
9:31 McCain leaps into the handshake with Obama at the end of the debate. Making sure that he remembered, after forgetting following the second one.
9:34 Talking heads think the "Joe Plumber" was effective. The Common Man thinks that shows that the mainstream media is entirely out of touch and insulated from the Joe the Plumbers of America.
9:35 Overall, The Common Man thinks that John McCain did far better this time around than previously, but didn't really do enough to change the tenor and tone of the race and his place within it. He looked and sounded uncomfortable at times, while Obama seemed cool and composed throughout. Bob Schieffer was a terrific moderator. He asked interesting and insightful questions and follow-ups, and kept both candidates to their time. It was a contentious debate, though not as unpleasant to hear as last week, when both candidates sounded whiny and flustered.
And, now, The Common Man is going to pay attention to his wife. He'll be back tomorrow for his regular post. And he invites your comments and criticism.