Liveblogging The Presidential Debate That Almost Wasn'tOh, it is on. John McCain decided to show, Barack Obama doesn't get 90 free minutes of TV and we get to listen to them blather on together but, at least on this couch, I've got beer so when I say "Drink!" I will be drinking! How many times will we hear about John McCain being tortured? Will he talk about Georgia? Will there be enough beer for me to get through his many mentions of the Surge? Only the next interminable period of time will tell.10:51 ET: Fine, I'm as addicted as you. Via a link Anna sent me earlier today, my family is now discussing Palin's lack of press availability. We're discussing this article that points out Palin's held no press conferences, given 3 interviews and answered reporters' questions once since her nomination. Biden's had 4 pressers and given 89 interviews. My parents now both think that this is bullshit. Also, to clarify: Brian Williams didn't say they wouldn't let Palin appear, he said that they'd offered her the opportunity and the McCain camp sent Giuliani. But the meaning was clear. 10:46 ET: ZOMG! The networks invited both VPs to comment on the debates and Biden showed and the McCain camp... sent Rudy Giuiiani?? He hasn't been keeping up on his hair cuts. Brian Williams announced that McCain's people wouldn't let her appear. Ok, now, seriously, promise, going to stop watching. But even my dad thought that was some bullshit. 10:38 ET: Ok, punditry is hurting my not-nearly-drunk-enough ears. I'm going to go track down some more alcohol. I'll see you in Crappy Hour in the morning on Monday! Shit, I need a vacation, too, I guess. 10:36 ET: Jim Lehrer is out! And McCain gets the last word, I guess because Obama had the first. Oooh, and I think the stage is slightly tilted because when they met in the middle , Obama didn't look as much taller as he is. Iiiiinteresting. And Brian Williams points out that McCain erred when he said that Mitchell offered to resign. 10:36 ET: Did you know McCain was a POW? 10:35 ET: McCain all but says "ready on day one." Yawn. Hillary said it better and pithier, too. 10:33 ET: "The next President has to have a broader strategic vision" say Obama. But McCain says that Obama doesn't have the knowledge and judgment AND THEN says that Obama is stubborn in a way that Bush is as though all of McCain's flip-floppery is really just good judgment. McCain also says that veterans know that he will take care of them, that's why he can get away with voting against the GI Bill. 10:31 ET: "Over the last 8 years, this Administration along with Senator McCain have been solely focused on Iraq... In the mean time, bin Laden is still out there... al Qaeda is resurgent. In the mean time we've got problems with China... and they are active in regions like Latin America and Africa. The conspicuousness of their presence is only such because of our absence" because of our focus on Iraq. Nice point. 10:30 ET: Lehrer asks John McCain whether not being seen as huge bullying assholes is important for the next Administration, and McCain starts talking about missile defense and how Obama doesn't get that we have to keep plowing money and troops into Iraq to not look like a bunch of weak-kneed assholes. Bad pivot. 10:29 ET: Oh, and by the way, Obama recognizes that we've fucked up our security by being so unpopular and he's working it out. 10:28 ET: Obama says we're safer but SUITCASE NUKES! when we're spending gobs of money on missile defense which he thinks is fine to spend money on missile defense but should spend more money on non-proliferation and we need to get on the 60 countries al Qaeda is operating in. 10:26 ET: John McCain thinks we should never torture anyone again, but he voted against a ban on waterboarding, but I guess he did that because it's not really torture. 10:25 ET: Likelihood of another 9/11? McCain wishes to remind you that he worked across the aisle with Joe Lieberman as though he's a real Democrat. By the way, he started to say that Bush made us safer but ends up talking about the bipartisan Commission he helped create which was awkies. 10:24 ET: John McCain interrupts really late to bring up offshore drilling and tries to pivot back to Nunn-Lugar and nuclear waste and lies about Obama's nuclear waste storage. McCain talks over him, Obama decides not to get nasty and they move on. 10:23 ET: Best pivot of the night: Barack Obama turns boring Russian petrodollars answer into one about alternative energy and energy independence plans. 10:22 ET: At what point do you think most Americans flipped the channel? GOD I WANT TO FLIP THE CHANNEL. 10:20 ET: McCain went to Georgia once! Saw a Putin sign, and says that shows the Russian intentions. He really doesn't like Putin, but in Russia, Judo Putin kicks your ass. 10:18 ET: John McCain calls Obama naive again. McCain tells stupid Putin joke, makes fun of President Bush and forgets that Georgian troops went into South Ossetia first. 10:16 ET: Russia time! See if you can catch Randy Scheunemann's lips moving when McCain talks. In the mean time, Barack Obama is taking a tough-but-not-batshit stance that Russia isn't doing good stuff without threatening to start another war. 10:15 ET: Barack Obama is "parsing words" according to McCain. Um, didn't McCain just do that? Right. 10:14 ET: McCain goes for a stupid joke and people actually laugh. 10:12 ET: McCain will never ever ever ever ever talk to Iran no matter what because Ahmadenijad said bad things about Israel and possibly talking them out of nuking Israel by talking to them would legitimize the trash talks. Also, South Koreans are 3 inches taller than North Koreans on the average which proves that North Korea is an oppressive regime. How much taller than McCain is Obama again? 10:09 ET: Obama wants to clarify: Ahmadinejad not the most powerful person in Iran, but he will meet with whomever he needs to keep us safe. Also, McCain's adviser, Kissinger, thinks we should meet with Iran without preconditions. And preconditions and preparation aren't the same motherfucking thing. Finally. He's like, obviously we'll have low-level diplomatic talks before I sit down with anyone and if it doesn't work then we will have tried because not talking to anyone at anyone doesn't actually fucking work. 10:07 ET: McCain fucks up the pronunciation of "Ahmadenijad" while talking about the "without preconditions" thing badly, too. 10:07 ET: "This notion that by not talking to people we are punishing them is foolish." Fucking right. 10:06 ET: Bush Administration Iranian policy has sucked, according to Obama. We need tougher sanctions, but recognizes — unlike McCain — that they won't be effective without Russia or China who aren't democracies. 10:04 ET: The major difference between Obama and McCain is who they want to attack — Obama wants to go after Pakistan, and McCain wants to attack Iran. 10:03 ET: "If Iran acquires nuclear weapons, it will be an existential threat to the state of Israel." What? Also, he wants a league of democracies. And he likes sanctions. 10:02 ET: They're running late. Of course. 10:01 ET: John McCain tries to snark Obama on committee jurisdiction. McCain should leave the snark to the experts. 10:00 ET: Battle of the lame real people jewelry. I'm very disappointed in Barack Obama. 9:59 ET: McCain served in Vietnam, did you know? Also, he won't let us lose because losing is bad regardless of whether we can actually win or not. 9:58 ET: Stop the tragedy of real people stories. 9:56 ET: "There was a failed state when Musharraf came to power." WHAT THE FUCK? MUSHARRAF TOOK OVER IN A COUP! A MILITARY COUP! McCain pretends it's all like Obama hasn't been around enough but Pakistan was not a failed motherfucking state you stupid asssho;e. 9:56 ET: "For 10 years we coddled Musharraf." He pronounces it right... but technically, that was a Clinton-era policy. Bush just continued it. 9:55 ET: Obama points out that he didn't threaten war with Pakistan, unlike the way McCain-Palin has threatened Russia, Spain and Iran so far. 9:52 ET: McCain won't repeat the mistake of washing our hands of Afghanistan the way he did after the Russians left. Wait, so, we give billions in aid to Pakistan which Obama doesn't like because it might be funding terrorists which McCain just said was a bad thing but McCain isn't willing to stop sending them aid? Because of some bullshit George Schultz quote? Man, this flip-floppery is making me dizzy. 9:50 ET: Obama thinks we need more troops in Afghanistan because the situation is getting worse there. But as he just tried to say, we can't put troops there when they're all in Iraq. And we have 3 times the troops in Iraq where no one had anything to do with 9/11. Obama's the first one to bring up 9/11? Drinks twice as much for the unexpected. Ooh, he also says that we have to deal with al Qaeda in Pakistan. That's right, Zadari, you can't sex Obama up. 9:48 ET: Admiral Mullen said Obama is dangerous, according to McCain. Obama disagrees. So does Mullen. John McCain's a dick. 9:46 ET: Jim Lehrer probably regrets trying to get them to talk to each other now. Obama interrupts him again to refute McCain's bullshit that Obama keeps voting against funding troops by pointing out McCain won't fund them wiht a timetable and he won't fund them without one. 9:45 ET: "Obama doesn't understand the difference between a tactic and a a strategy" What the fuck does that even mean? Most Americans don't either. Way to go all Clintonian about it, John. Also, real people stories are boring. 9:43 ET: In answering why he didn't go to Iraq for a while, Obama shouts out Biden. And then points out that those issues weren't before his committee and going for the sake of going would've been a waste of taxpayer money. Unfortunately, he doesn't actually say that, which sucks because he could've called out McCain for wasting money going there all the time. Now he lists all of mistakes McCain made about Iraq. Jim Lehrer tries to interrupt and Obama pulls a McCain and doesn't let him. 9:42 ET: McCain points out that the next President won't get to choose whether we go to Iraq. He doesn't mention Iran. Also, Obama is wrong on the surge. And Obama is too fucking polite. 9:40 ET: The lessons of Iraq according to Obama? Maybe we shouldn't have gone to war there in the first place. He wishes he'd been wrong in opposing it. We've spent almost a trillion dollars, lost ore than 4,000 lives and wounded 30,000 American soldiers. Also, we're spending a shitload of money there and they have a surplus. He mentioned that before, too. I expect he'll say it again. The lesson? We shouldn't hesitate to use military force but we should try using it wisely. 9:39 ET: Iraq? McCain said it went really well at first and then we fucked it up. The Surge succeeded and we are winning in Iraq and he's got a Bridge to Somewhere in Alaska to sell you that Sarah Palin totally didn't want because if you repeat lies enough the eventually become true. 9:38 ET: McCain opposed the Administration on torture until he got the Republican nomination, anyway. 9:38 ET: MAVERICK!! TIMES TWO! CHUG! 9:37 ET: Obama points out that, BY THE WAY, that "government expansion" McCain's been railing about for 20 minutes was led by George Bush, who McCain supports and whose budget and deficits he voted for. 9:36 ET: John McCain will cut spending! Cut spending! And Obama should tell people that want him to spend money on early childhood education to fuck off. Also, he'll lower taxes! 9:34 ET: Barack says that of course the financial crisis will affect their budgets and maybe the government will make a profit on the bailout. But in the short term, there won't be the money for him to not make tough decisions. 9:33 ET: JOHN MCCAIN JUST ACCUSED USAID AND STATE OF FUNDING TERRORISTS! 9:33 ET: McCain wants a spending freeze on everything other than entitlements, veterans (not that McCain supported the GI Bill or anything), defense spending and other stuff. Obama thinks it's "taking a hatchet to it when it needs a scalpel" 9:32 ET: Jim Lehrer is crotchey. His sick of lame talking points on random shit. 9:31 ET: Barack is "wildly liberal" because George Bush is so fucking wrong. 9:28 ET: McCain wants to cut spending! "It's hard to reach across the aisle from that far to the left." He opposes ethanol subsidies and military spending? The fuck? "Fixed cost contracts?" Man, I need something stronger to drink if he's going to talk about defense spending. 9:26 ET: Barack likes ethanol, fuel efficiency, health care system, educational competition and space walking, higher educational affordability, infrastructure including rural broadband and rainbows and sunshines. 9:25 ET: Obama tried to strip out the tax breaks, and there's an energy bill in the Senate right now but McCain's opposed the the bill in the Senate with offshore drilling but without the tax breaks and McCain doesn't support it. Blah blah boring. 9:23 ET: McCain interrupts Jim Lehrer to talk about the energy bill. Obama interrupts McCain but remains polite. John McCain is getting testy. Maybe he'll call Obama a cunt? 9:22 ET: Barack hits back with the "lowest effective tax rate" in the world because of credits and deductions that mean no one pays the real rate. Oooh, burn! 9:20 ET: McCain says that his issue is the business tax rate — which notably Barack Obama has said he would cut — and how it makes businesses choose to locate in Ireland and shit. Wait, John, what the fuck happened to how much you love the American worker and how fucking productive and awesome he is and he'll save the American economy? Oh, right, that was bullshit. 9:20 ET: Jim Lehrer tells McCain to answer the tax question. 9:19 ET: Ana Marie Cox IM's: "i should file some kind of lawsuit over how many times i've heard that bear DNA joke." 9:17 ET: John? Democrats don't really give a shit about earmarks and government spending. Also, way not to address the point about your tax plan. Also, "people" are not under indictment, Republicans are. And William Jefferson, but that wasn't over earmarking, that's over letters to foreign governments and shit and he'll probably get off and not in the sexy way. 9:16 ET: Earmarks were $18 billion in last year, but McCain's proposing $300 billion in tax cuts for rich people. Nice pivot, Barack! Just please don't say "Main Street" again. Resist the urge! I can tell you want to! 9:14 ET: "We Republicans came to power to change government and government changed us." He mentions that there has been the largest expansion in government history, but doesn't mention that George Bush did it. He mocks the bear DNA earmark (a Democratic one) with a year-old joke about criminality vs. child support. Laaaaame. Pork pork pork earmarks, and, oh, by the way, Republican representatives are in prison not because of earmarks but because they took fucking bribes. 9:13 ET: John McCain loves the American worker, and that guy will save us all. Not the women, though, because they won't be getting equal pay and will be too busy trying to get more education and training to make up for it. 9:12 ET: Jim Lehrer, no one gives a shit if they "talk" to each other behind podiums, for real. 9:11 ET: "Wall Street... Main Street." Drink! Also, accountability is sort of important when it's not just a crisis, says Barack. So's leadership on issues like regulation. 9:09 ET: Hey, McCain swears he also warned about greed and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (not part of the subprime crisis, by the way) and CEO pay and shit. But it's about accountability! And he's still pissed at SEC Chairman Chris Cox for not resigning when McCain said he should. McCain technically threatened to fire him which he can't do, but bygones. 9:08 ET: He hasn't seen the language yet but is optimistic. Also, did he mention it's John McCain's fault? And George Bush's? And Hank Paulson? They didn't pay attention to the subprime crisis that started all of this, but now that Wall Street is in trouble, that has their fucking attention alright. strong>9:08 ET: Hey, assholes, how about answering the question? 9:07 ET: Wow, stupidest answer ever. He defends Boehner and Cantor and the rest of the assholes by proxy because they weren't invited. And we works in 9:06 ET: He feels better though because it's bipartisan. Except, you know, when Boehner and Cantor decided to spring a Republican plan on everyone. The one he supported. 9:05 ET: McCain brings up Kennedy's hospitalization. If he cries, he doesn't get to win, right? "I haven't been feeling so good lately." Dude, for real, you're old. Don't bring it up. 9:04 ET: Oversight, accountability, profits, foreclosures and no golden parachutes. Oh, and it's all McCain's and Bush's fault for the last 9:04 ET: "Wall Street... Main Street." Time for the first sip! 9:03 ET: Oh, fuck the foreign policy debate! Where to they stand on finances. Barack gets to go first, since John McCain was a dick and threatened to pull out. 9:02 ET: This is the only time they'll be allowed to applaud. Please note that John McCain is standing on a carpeted box behind his podium to not look as short as he is. 9:01 ET: Jim Lehrer is, as ever, somnolent. 9:00 ET: Brian Williams introduces it! But it hasn't actually started. Interesting that, when they chose the spot that JFK had to send troops to to quell race riots, they didn't know Barack Obama will be here.