10:00 p.m. OK, it's finally over. Frankly, the questioning was so horrendous that it's hard to determine what's supposed to be important here -- who "won" the debate. I thought they were both fairly flat and uninspiring; Obama is clearly the frontrunner and was playing defense, and in that sense it was fine for him. I would have like to seen him get more impassioned, turn the tables on his questioners -- but that's always a risk, and he was not in risk-taking mode. There were no "gaffes" by either candidate -- Hillary was a little stronger on policy, as she often is, but I think a lot of Democratic voters cringed when she signed onto some of the tackier attack questions on Obama. The big loser, of course, was ABC, and perhaps the American people -- but I think the American people are too smart for baloney. Stay tuned, because I'm hoping to do a more cohesive follow-up on the ABC debacle.
9:55 p.m. I was hoping it was over, but Jake Tapper "had a very interesting vantage point...across the street at Independence Hall." What does he have X-ray vision or something? What's so interesting about that?
Well, I'd love to know more about the crowd hooting Charlie Gibson there..."Woo, there're turning on me." People were shouting something. I don't know if they were arguing the substance, or hooting another commercial break. The audience is applauding itself Well, some applause for ABC -- probably crew members.
9:52 p.m. Just like that annoying girl in the phone ad, I'm going to tell ABC News "everything I've been holding back...this is going to be fun..."
9:46 p.m. Sign me up.
9:43 p.m. I do like that Staples' ink and toner commercial. That's probably the first real laugh I've had all night.
9:41 p.m. What a great night -- Phillies lose, 76ers lose, America loses.
Gibson promises one last question -- I shudder to think. He's probably using his lifeline to call Glenn Beck at home to come up with something.
9: 37 p.m. Finally gas prices, the issue many voters are most worked up about, and Gibson is like, "You can each have 1 minute!!!" There was no 1-minute limit on Obama's "hatred of America."
9:33 p.m. Hmmm, guess this thing goes until 10, or we're in stoppage time like in soccer. Clinton favors "affiirmative action generally" -- which I guess means that every single person should get an advantage. Seriously, I'm glad to see Clinton steer this question to the cost of college, which is probably the No. 1 issue in most households with children under 18.
9:29 p.m.: They're both good on guns -- sounds like Hillary is giving her Philadelphia gun message and not her Elk County gun message. I love it when they say, "You know, George.." because you know that means they're stalling for time.
9:23 p.m. Well, I guess we're just about out of time for any real issues other than Chafrlie Gibson's stock options. This reminds me of one of my favorite Monty Python sketches, Arthur "Two Sheds" Jackson..."Nobody ever asks about my music, all they ask about is the sheds!"
Mention of the Philly murder rate...a real issue.
9:20 p.m. My friend Dan McQuade calls this the lowest moment in American history -- I think he's giving it too much credit, frankly.
9:12 p.m.: Charlie Gibson is really passionate about this capital gains thing, isn't he. There's 17 minutes left -- plenty of time to ask about health care, prescription drugs, urban policy, record high gas prices, the bailout of Bear Stearns, climate change, infrastructure, human rights in China.
Oh wait, COMMERCIAL!!!!!
9:09 p.m. Millionaire Charlie Gibson seems angry that Obama wants to raise the capital gains tax...I can't imagine why.
9:05 p.m.: Hillary also keeps trying to drive traffic to her Web site. I can sympathize...
9:04 p.m.: Hillary thinks that John McCain is a funny guy. Do you think she'd rather see him win than Obama? I do/
8:59 p.m.: Iran -- Obama will do anything from talking to Iran to bombing, them, apparently. I don't understand why the emphasis of the questioning here is so much through the prism of Israel -- that's just one part of an equation that also includes our troops in two neighboring countries, oil, etc. Hillary needs how to learn to better pronounce "Ahmadinejad."
8:56 p.m. Policy! Trying to take a deep breath and calm down. Hillary giving a good answer on Iraq, stating the obvious that the damage of leaving can't be greater than the damage of staying. Obama good here, too: "The president sets the mission, Charlie, not the generals."
8:52 p.m.: Apparently in their combing of the Constitution, ABC forgot to read the part about the obligations of a free press.
8:50 p.m. Kudos to Blinq's Dan Rubin, who's already written about his outrage!
8:41 p.m.: This is exactly what the liberal blogs were talking about! This question about William Ayers (sp?) of the Weather Underground, now a Chicago professor and acquaintance of Obama, was planted by Sean Hannity in a conversation he had with Stephanapolous. By the way, for what it's worth, viewers probably don't realize that the letter that they're talking about was published on the morning of 9/11/01, i.e., before the attacks. I'm sure the average viewer doesn't get it. The average viewer is just getting that Obama must be some kind of America hater who hangs out with terrorists.
This is disgusting.
8:38 p.m. Oh My God! "Senator Obama, why do you hate America?" Actually, it was about the flag, but apparently Rush Limbaugh, even though he was fired by ESPN, is apparently still on the Disney payroll in some capacity.
8:33 p.m.: Hah! The Bosnia question -- told you so. You know, I said I was dreading ABC's performance, but this is 10 times worse than I expected it to be. I am outraged, practically shaking, that the debate is almost half over and no issues have been discussed. Now, that said, she's got to get off this "sleep deprived" kick for a speech that she gave at 9 a.m....jeez.
I think either Obama or Clinton could score HUGE points here by going after the questioning. Obama is sort of doing that now, that we should not be so "obsessed" with gaffes, that this "is a defining moment" in American history. Yup.
8:30 p.m.: There was a lot of chatter today in the liberal blogosphere that Stephanapolous was getting his questions/talking points from right-wing talk radio. After watching him hector Obama on the "patriotism" issue -- I have to believe there's something to it.
8:27 p.m. Obama using Clinton's former pastor to defend his former pastor. I guess that's how we'll pick the next president, who has the best former pastor. Obama says, correctly, "if it's not this, then it's something else." I think he's right.
8:23 p.m.: Now, the Wright question -- how predictable this all is. When is Charlie Gibson going to ask about, oh, I don't know, Iraq, or maybe the economy, or gas prices. People are paying triple digits to fill their tanks, and we keep talking and talking about this. That's what makes people bitter.
I'll be shocked if the next question isn't "the Bosnia question ."
8:19 p.m. Obama -- I'm pro-faith. I think he's playing defense here, although he think he also strikes a chord with voters who are tired of politics being all about who makes the bigger "gaffe." And a deft way of bringing up Hillary's 1992 "baking cookies" remark, not as dig but as an example.
8:17 p.m. This is the "debate" Hillary that we've seen before -- firing all her guns at McCain and the GOP, saying positive things about Obama. That probably means there's a new barrage of attack ads in the can.
8:12 p.m.: The bitter question. The "mangled" answer. Obama says of religion -- people say "this is a place where I can find some refuge." I think don't think he's helping himself with that. Religion is what it is -- for the majority of people, it has little and often nothing to do with politics. I think Obama is playing with fire to keep mixing those two things. Hillary is now calling this "a fundamental misundestanding of the role of faith." I think she's onto something -- if you read the story of how Obama joined Rev. Wright's church in the first place, the political stance of the church was a motivating factor. I don't think he realizes that's just not the case for a lot of folks.
8:10 p.m.: Good answer here from Hillary, that who cares about running mate, that she'll do "whatever it takes" to beat McCain in November.
8:08 p.m.: Ugh, the running mate question already? Hasn't that been asked, and non-answered, a million times. At this point, they'd as likely take Ron Paul as their running mate as each other.
8:07 p.m.: In case you didn't know -- the president serves a 4-year term. Thanks, ABC.
8:03 p.m.: "Frustrated" -- it's the new "bitter." Interesting gambit by Obama. I think he realized that peole are mad. and he's not backing away from "bitter," just repurposing it. Clinton says there's "unrest," just apparently not bitterness. ABC's not bitter, either -- they're going to rake in some commercial bucks just 6 minutes into this thing.
8:01 p.m. Did anybody else think the opening montage, with the dueling accusations, reminded them of the "Monday Night Football" opening. I kept waiting for Obama and Clinton's heads to collide like helmets and explode.
7:59 p.m.: Barack Obama just told me to turn off the TV. I should have listened -- next came another Rob McCord commercial.
7:47 p.m.: By the way, if you scroll down to the bottom of this post now, you'll see a commercial that supposedly will be running on the ABC affiliate here in Philadelphia after the debate, dealing with the torture scandal in the Bush White House. It will be interesting to see if ABC, in the person of Charlie Gibson, George Stephanapolous, et al, asks a question on the topic, since it was also the network that broke the story of high-level White House discussions on torture.
I'm not holding my breath. In fact, I'm dreading the questioning tonight. While it's not the much-maligned Tim Russert, at least, the mainstream media in 2007-08 has shown itself virtually incapable of asking questions that normal voting people care about.
No Rob McCord ads for the last 10 minutes...we'll keep you posted.
7:32 p.m.: Hi sports fans, and welcome. officially (as it gets around here) to Attytood's live blog of the Clinton-Obama debate at the National Constitution Center. You'll recall it was a brick's throw (it's a union town, remember?) from here that a bevy of Democrats debated back in October, a reminder that this feels like the longest election in the history of the Republic. That night was a huge turning point in the race -- Hillary went in as invulnerable, and then she was for driver's licenses for immigrants before she was against them. Will the slide that started here a half-year ago reach its grand climax tonight? Stay tuned. and...
"Now it's clear" -- treasurer wannabe Rob McCord has bought waaaaay too many commercials.