I have been live-blogging the town hall debate. Here are my jots about what was said; including my own reactions.
TB: Moderator, Tom Brokaw
Q: Audience member posing question.
McCain would buy up homes at diminished values.
- And have the government own peoples homes? Is this a major new policy initiative?
TB: Paulson's powers expanded... Who do you have in mind.
M: Not you Tom. (sort of funny). Warren Buffet. (Hey, that guy works for Obama!) Need to restore confidence in institutions .
O: Warren would be a good choice, and I'm pleased to have his support. (good answer. Now Obama is outlines the criteria for this job -- more impressive still. Don't just say who, say what they must care about, in this case someone who cares about the people)
Q: Man in tan-colored suit:
M: Makes it about Fannie and Freddie, Obama second highest F and F money recipient in history. Fannie and Freddie the catalysts.
O: What's in the rescue for you: credit markets frozen. This means firms can't get loans (good, he is telling people what is happening). I have to correct some of McCain's history. Problem was the deregulation. Up to March, McCain bragged he was deregulator. A year ago I wrote to Paulson to say we have to re-regulate. Respect to Fannie, McCain doesn't say he jumped onto bill. I never promoted Fannie. You don't want finger pointing. This is beginning of process, not the end.
TB: Is economy going to get worse before better? (lame question, who knows!)
O: No not saying that.
M: American workers best in world blah blah blah. We got to give them a chance they are the innocent bystanders here.
Q: Teresa Finch: how can we trust either of you when both parties got us into this crisis?
O: "I understand your frustration and cynicism." A family self-regulates itself, government doesn't. While nobody is innocent McCain voted for four out of five Bush budgets. (good line). Got to make investments -- education -- spending cuts. I'm cutting more than spending. Got a put end to lobbiest and special interests.
M: I have taken on big money people. Obama hasn't taken on leaders of his party on a single issue (woa! Obama's party leaders are not the leaders of the US government!) Obama: 860 million in new spending. Earmarks -- I voted against. Spent 1 M on overhead projector in Chicago Ill. (What? Who cares).
TB: There are new economic realities: choices made, energy, health policies and entitlement reform (last of three is straight out of Brokaw's strange commentary from the end of his program Sunday).
M: I have a clear record. . . Some of the money ends up in hands of terrorist organizations. (what? what did that have to do with question?)
TB: Your list of priorities.
O: Must prioritize. Energy #1. Healthcare #2. Education #3. One point: McCain said records need look at. Earmarks: I would go line by line, eliminating those that don't work. Also: tax revenues. McCain wants tax cuts -- 4 billion worth.
TB: 78 year old. Since WWII no sacrifices. What sacrifices you ask Americans to make.
M: Some programs elimination. Examine agencies, eliminate many. Defense spending. Saved 6.8 billion. Tanker deal. Not Obama's overhead projector (give me a break). Must tell Americans: spending freeze, except for veterans. Not midnight earmarks. We can attract several things at once. I'm going to say we can work together.
O: You know, a lot remember tragedy of 9/11 where you were on the day, and how all the country ready to cocme together, make us better more unified countries. Bush did smart things at outset. Opportunity missed: Bush said go out and shop. Americans waiting for leadership inside and outside of government. Need for each and everyone of us to think about use of energy. Oil exploration yes. Develop sources. each of us can ask how we can help Americans save in their own choices: fuel efficient car, weatherize. (Could have been stronger more memorable answer, could have said "turn out the lights!")
TB: Wall Street got drunk. How to get country to break bad habits.
O: Starts with Washington. Got to show we have good habits (good answer, politically). CEO would get 700K in cuts under McCain. I disagree with McCain on across the board freeze, that's a hatchet instead of scapple.
M: Nailing O's tax proposal like jello to wall. Comparing O to Hoover, who raised taxes. (Lousy comparison. Who said "the economy is strong?") O said no tax increases if economy is bad. So let's not raise any one's taxes. Tax cuts and medical credits. Don't raise any one's taxes
O: Tom can I respond, the tax issue because I think it's very important. (Obama shuts up, Tom ploughs ahead).
TB: Social security time bomb.
O: Got work to do. All this related.... McCain wants 300 billion tax cut to largest corporations, and 100 billion to Fortune 500 ceo. If we get tax policies right, so work for middle class... If get health care plan, then
M: Not hard to fix social security. Not tough. sit down and fix it. Like Tip O'Neil and Reagan did (He's talking to an older generation. Very Washington answer). Tax: O voted 96 times to increase taxes. (M doesn't look at O as he speaks . Walking in circles like he's lost).
TB: Q from the hall; Ingrid Jackson: McCain, Congress moved fast on economics, I want to know how to move fast on the environment and green jobs. (great question)
M: Can't hand down a damaged planet. Disagreed with Bush on this. We forced votes on this issue. Best fix? Nuke power. "O says -- or something like that." (What? He left out a bunch of words). Now M is rambling on ... French, we are the best innovators.
O: This is one of the biggest challenges of our times. Absolutely critical to realize not just a challenge, it's an opportunity. We can create 5 m new jobs. Engine of growth so much as was the computer. Must understand this, like the computer, is a national security initiative. Sen M and I actually agree on something. During M's time in DC, M voted against alternative fuels (don't say that, M will bring up your record of supporting biofuel. Obama, why?) Drill baby drill is going to increase global warming (very good point Obama). We need to help China create energy we need.
TB: Should we fund Manhattan project? Or 100,000k garages?
M: Seems to You know who voted for it? That one! --- points to O. (That one? That was strange!!! a bit rude had he not done it in a cute kind of way).
Q: Blonde lady. Health care an industry, should it be treated like a commodity?
O: No. one issue across the country. Your rates have gone way up. Outlines health policy. M's plan not the kind of change that we need. Could destroy employer based healthcare (I'm being cynical: might not that be a good thing? If it destroys stupid US employer-based care, clearing way for national health care.)
M: 5K heath tax credit.
TB: Healthcare ; privilege, right, or responsibility?
M: Responsibility -- for every American. (Bad answer. Obama should say: "It's a right!"- - because it is everywhere else in the developed world)
O: I think it should be a right for every American. (YESSSS!) For sick to have to argue with insurance companies, that's fundamentally wrong. No 1: If you got a plan you like, you can keep it. Because children are relatively cheap to insure. McCain doesn't say voted against expansion of kid's health insurance. Final point: it's true i think it's important to crack down on insurance companies that are cheating their customers. It's a problem, they will find a state, where there are no requirements to get cancer screens. They all set up shop there. Works that way in banking. Delaware. They go.... Protections you have.... M believes in deregulation in every sense.
Q: Phill Eliot:; Red haired guy. Peace maker in the world?
M: Strong military countries have strong economies historically. (true enough) We are greatest force for good in the world. Judgment to know when our national security at risk and prevent genocide. We are a nation of good. (You are a nation capable of doing good. No nation is inherently good.)
O: How did we end up invading a country that had nothing to do with 9/11. McCain cheer-leading Bush to go into Iraq. That was the wrong judgment. No country has ever seen its economy decline and remained a military power (same point McCain made, but a good one to repeat).
TB: M doctrine, O doctrine, when use force when we don't have national security issue at stake.
O: For example, Holocaust -- should have. If genocide, then we should or diminishes us. But can't end all world's ills. Darfur example. Could be setting up logistic support, but only if we can mobilize international community and lead.
M: if we had done as O wanted and left Iraq, all kinds of bad stuff would have happened... O would have brought our troops home in defeat (will Obama stand up and say cut this shit?) Someone who understands ... I stood up in Lebanon to my hero Reagan. You have to temper your decisions with the ability to beneficially effect situation (this is the best line M has had in the whole debate so far). I won't take these decisions lightly. Also can't leave making situation worse.
Q. Katey Ham: should US ignore sovereignty in Pakistan?
O: Good Q. (not really) We got distracted. That's the central front. Quotes Gates. That's where war on terror began and will end.
M: Roosevelt "talk softly.... big stick" When you announce, you turn Pakistan opinion against us. We washed hands of Afghan after 1990. Our relations with Pak critical. Petreus had strategy, get support of people. We need to help Pak in NW to get support of people. Not threatening to attack. Use force where necessary (McCain at his best).
O: I want to be clear, if Pak unable or unwilling to get Bin Laden, then we should, because they are threatening to kill Bin Laden. M saying bomb Iran, next he's calling for invasion of N Korea. Not finished in Afghan, and M says next stop Baghdad. (Great response! You are destroying M's greatest strength, taking the battle to his home territory).
M: Not true. I understand what it's like to send people into harms way. I was joking with a veteran about saying I would attack Iran. (Joking about attacking? Shut up McCain, you are not helping yourself).
TB: British general said, we are losing in Aghan, need dictator.
O: We need to withdraw troops, because need some additional troops in Afghan. Because our outposts there are targets. Got to meet with Karzai and say work with people. Not responsive enough.
M: Petreus. Has command. Will set tone. I had conversations with him. Have got to do some things. O correct on some of them. We need same strategy about Iraq. O won't admit wrong about surge in Iraq. Once folks feel secure they live normal lives. As in Iraq today, so Petreus will do....
TB: Q: How to avoid another cold war?
M: Russia's behavior outside norms. I warned about Putin. KGB in his eyes. (Not smart to attack a leader you might have to work with, painting him as another Hitler). Got to make Russia realize penalties for naked aggression into tiny Georgia. (Use sticks, says nothing about carrots) Russians have to understand these activities not acceptable.
O: Resurgence of Russia, one of central issues. For most part I agree with Sen McCain. Have to provide moral support to all the nations that were former Soviet satellites. We have to help these countries improve their economies (What? I guess Obama is grasping for Polish-American votes or whatever. I don't think now is the time to extend foreign aid to more countries, and annoy Russia). Russia: energy key in dealing with Russia.
TB: Russia = evil empire?
O: Evil behavior.
M: Maybe. If I say yes, reignite old cold war, if I say no it excuses ... Georgia and Ukraine gateways into Europe. Russia needs to recognize facing firm USA. (I disagree completely with McCain, but I liked his response sounded more sincere or credible. Obama was equally full of it on this one).
Q: Save Israel or get green light from UN?
M: I hope Iran abandons quest for nukes. We can never allow a second Holocaust to take place. (As if Israel will allow it either, with its 65 nuclear weapons).
O: We cannot allow Iran to get nuke. Will never take military options off the table. No veto power to UN. (Obama is matching McCain on toughness, it's a strategy not to give McCain an advantage on this score). When you talk to these countries it gives you better options. Talk, but don't take military option off the table (Obama won this exchange one with this point).
Q: What don't you know and how will you learn it. (cool, a Zen question)
O: Never challenges you expect that take your time up. Talks about how America gave O his chance to succeed. Will we pass on this American dream to the next generation? That's the Q.
M: What I don't know is what O doesn't know. Challenges at home and abroad. We will be talking about countries in the future we don't know on the map -- some Americans (he got that one right). I know what it's like to fight through dark times. (He prepared this conclusion). I believe in this country. We need a steady hand at the tiller. Great honor of my life has always been to put my country first. (then why did you put Palin on the ticket?)
UPDATE: A summary and some thoughts about the debate are posted here.