Judge: Ian Lising
Scores: Obama 82 | McCain 81
It should be mentioned that of all debates that have been held in this election cycle, this round had the most amount of direct clash and actual refutation taking place. Though some might think that Mr. Wurzelbacher, now forever immortalised as ‘Joe the Plumber’ won this debate quite handily, this round actually goes to Obama by a hair.
A debate round requires not only a solid line of argumentation taking apart your opponent’s position, but an independent case that exhibits the merits of your own. McCain did precious little to clarify his own bland claims to his suggested health care program, education reform, and general economic strategy. Instead, he chose to attack Obama’s proposals using as much time as he could spare. McCain was the clear aggressor for most of the time. He took Obama to task at almost every opportunity. The only problem is, that his positive matter suffered. Obama may have been on the defensive, but the debate ends up on his territory, since we have little the build on from the McCain bench.
A great example of this was when McCain attacked Obama about his association with Bill Ayers and ACORN. Certainly, it should be noted that Obama was on his heels for the length of the period, but in the end, not only was Obama afforded the opportunity to clarify the relationship that he had with both Ayers and ACORN, but the focus was completely on him. The problem with this tactic is that it easily backfires on the aggressor if the end result is inconclusive, which was the case here. McCain unwittingly allowed the focus of the exchange to be more about ‘what is wrong with Obama’ than ‘what is right with McCain’.
The debate was tight only because Obama squandered several opportunities to ‘put this one away’. There were dozens of instances where Obama could have put considerable distance between himself and McCain, but he refrained. Some might think that this was to ‘take the higher ground’, but in a debate, it could cost you the round. In this instance, it just made it closer than it should have been.