First Presidential Debate Obama-McCain: Analysis

10/27/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Marc Ambinder: McCain's high-stakes gamble: "Tonight, John McCain has more to gain and lose. This week, McCain raised the stakes for himself a thousand percent. All those people that didn't realize there was going to be a debate tonight, those 60% of Americans who are tuned in to the economic crisis -- now they'll all want to catch the debate." More here.

John Judis: McCain "Putting Country Last":

[I}t is simply unpatriotic--it's an insult to flag, country, and all the things that McCain claims to hold dear--for McCain to hold this financial crisis hostage to his political ambitions. McCain doesn't know a thing about finance and is no position to help work out an agreement. If we do suffer a serious bank run, or a run on the dollar, it can be laid directly at his feet. As I said to friends last night, if McCain had been president at this point, I would have wanted to impeach him.

...Whether because of age or overreaching ambition, McCain has become the kind of man he earlier railed against. He has become the Bush of 2000 against whom he campaigned or the Senate and House Republicans whom he despised. His defeat is now imperative.

Howard Wolfson on how McCain's short-sighted focus on winning the day has backfired: "Its the difference between strategy and tactics, between a message and a war room, and it is among the reasons why Barack Obama, and not John McCain, is the clear favorite to be our next President."

Salon: "Hail Mary passes rarely connect," one GOP consultant says.

Newsweek: McCain has "proven to be a bull in a china shop -- or, more accurately, a bull that 1) misleadingly says the china shop is in disarray before he enters; 2) vows not to leave until he cleans up; 3) enters and shatters everything in sight; 4) blames everyone else for the damage and 5) leaves, claiming a job well done. "

Matthew Yglesias: McCain's surprise moves no way to run a country:

I'm glad John McCain decided to reverse himself and participate in the debate after all. But I hope he understands that a president can't actually govern a country like this -- debate on, debate off; against a takeover of AIG on Monday, for it on Tuesday; fundamentals of the economy are strong in early September, populism in mid September, wingnut tax policy in late September.

The press likes the unusual. The man bites dog story. The maverick senators who do weird stuff. But just because men who bite dogs make for good copy doesn't make biting a dog a good idea.

Washington Post's The Fix: "McCain Blinks ... saw what at first looked like a brilliant political gambit turn into a nightmare."

Poll: Voters Think Obama Will Win: CNN reports that expectations are high for Obama:

It appears Barack Obama has higher expectations to meet at Friday night's debate than John McCain does, a new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll suggests.

According to the new poll, nearly 6 in 10 Americans think the Illinois senator will win the debates, while only 34 percent think McCain will come out on top.

CBS: Five Questions For Tonight's Debate: CBS asks if McCain has raised the stakes, if Obama is rattled, and who will have "the moment."

Slate looks at 50 years of presidential debate gaffes and offers some advice to McCain and Obama on how to succeed:

Barack Obama faces the Kennedy test: Can he come across as commanding? He's a good performer, yes, but will he touch people in a direct way that goes beyond delivering his lines well?


Much of the debate will be about economic issues, potentially dangerous turf for McCain. If he has another moment when he declares the fundamentals of the economy as sound, he'll be in trouble.

McCain Urged To Attend: Editorial pages around the country urged McCain to attend the debate, Barack Obama's campaign noted.

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