Frankly I was mostly disgusted. I was disheartened that both candidates were completely unwilling to abide by the rules of the debate, even though they had signed a document saying that they would, as Dan Rather pointed out. They just kept talking about whatever they had a spiel about until they were spent, and then relented. The tone was muted yet negative, with each man making a serious effort to point out the failures of the other, especially with regard to his voting record. Every statement was misleading, and I found that I disagreed with Obama on points of substance just as often as I disagreed with McCain. I like Obama better, but he is no Ron Paul.
Neither candidate gave the questions more than a short hat tip in the form of a statement like "I know how you feel because", and then departed to beeline for prepared speeches. The speeches, most of which have been recited before, might have little to do with the question posed. The questions didn't matter; default scripts dominated the speaking time.
Both candidates either ignored or circumvented the questions. I think they they should have addressed the questions more directly, more honestly. I think that the candidate who is able to go past sound bites written for a television audience, and actually speak the truth in fresh and original phrases, could capture the hearts and minds of a generation or more. We are yearning for a leader, and we keep getting politicians.
At one time both of these men were good speakers. Only one of them still is. But they are both evasive, they speak in political euphemisms. They both consistently reduce complicated issues to simple points which are only peripherally related to the real issues. It felt like they were both talking down to us. Like what they both have to say about the national debt; neither one has a solution, they offer hollow reassurances.
If it had been a real town hall meeting instead of made for TV, there would have been some booing. The "debate" was a travesty, it was no debate, just as our democracy is no democracy. This debate was alternating commercials. This product is best, take this one! No, that product is bogus, this one is much much better. Oh no, don't be a fool and fall for that, back and forth they went, neither one getting out many coherent arguments. It was just another recitation of prepared talking points, and it runs contrary to the spirit of the town hall forum.
The prepared scripts centered around the economy/taxes/entitlements/earmarks, healthcare/insurance, foreign policy/Iran/Iraq/nukes. One question which Dan Rather put a fine point on, centered around what each man's Doctrine would be with regard to when the US will use military force. Rather phrased it as "What will the Obama Doctrine be?" and the other. It was each candidate's opportunity to go on record denouncing the Bush doctrine. But neither chose to denounce it. In fact, neither said a word about it. Obama went off about the Holocaust and Darfur, and how we have a moral duty to intervene sometimes. And I don't remember anything about what McCain said. A lot of the time he didn't say much of anything.
If I had been a contender in that debate I would have used that question as an invitation to announce my plan to reapply for America to the world community of nations. We could stop "exacerbating our reputation" as McCain so accidentally put it. It was our opportunity as a nation to let the world know that we are done being international policeman, or world bully, Great Satan, imperialist, fascist, or whatever you want to call it. It was a chance for our new "leader" to proclaim that America will begin to play fair again. But neither potential president of the United States was ready to specifically forgo this power of supposedly preventative murderous domination that Shrub assumed. And it is to their great detriment. They want the absolute power that will finish the project of their corruption.
But I find myself past my bedtime and beginning to write in euphemisms myself.
McCain reminded me of Gollum with his kyphotic hump and trembling voice. He kept prattling about "my precious" experience/honor/record etc and became more pitiable the longer I watched. He finished many of his statements with "and I know how to do that." What EVAR. He's almost as bad as Shrub. I think he is irritating to most people. I am convinced that he will loose--except for the chance that our elections are so rigged that the people's votes simply don't matter anymore.