Daniel W. Drezner

Liveblogging tonight’s foreign policy debate

11:30 PM:  The clear winner of tonight’s debate was me — for making the decision to sip whiskey while I was watching it.  Time for bed.  11:25 PM:  Marc Ambinder points to a CBS poll of undecideds that give Obama the edge by a pretty wide margin — but as Nate Silver points out, “Obama ...

11:30 PM:  The clear winner of tonight’s debate was me — for making the decision to sip whiskey while I was watching it.  Time for bed.  11:25 PM:  Marc Ambinder points to a CBS poll of undecideds that give Obama the edge by a pretty wide margin — but as Nate Silver points out, “Obama didn’t win by anything like a 2:1 margin.”  CNN just reported a post debate poll that had Obama winning 51% to 38%, but I have no idea how they weighted their sample.    11:10 PM:  Gee, Joe Biden went on CNN to do post-debate spin.  Sarah Palin?  CNN asked her on, but she mysteriously failed to show.  10:58 PM:  I think the fallout from the debate rides on the following: 

  1. Given McCain’s erratic behavior this past week, did his decent debate performance improve voter perceptions?
  2. McCain kept reiterating that Obama’s foreign policy approach was naive.  Did voters agree with that perception?
  3. Which clips get repeated on YouTube? 
  4. What does Henry Kissinger really think? 

10:49 PM:  Watching the post-debate on CNN… and I’m struck that the GOP operatives are praising McCain for the very things that they derided Al Gore about in 2000.  “He cited a lot of names!” 10:37 PM:  Thank God that’s over… I think both of them did better once the questions shifted towards foreign policy.  On a tactical level, I’d give the edge to McCain for trying to hammer home the contrast between his experience and Obama’s alleged naivete.  On a strategic level, I think Obama did hold his own on the issues –and by demonstrating a coherent connection between strength at home and strength abroad, refuted McCain’s claim.  10:30 PM:  McCain is clearly doing everything possible to demonstrate that a) he’s been around the block on foreign policy, and b) Obama is naive on foreign policy questions.  I think McCain has had the snappier one-liners in this debate, but I don’t think that sheer repetition on this point is really going to fly.  10:27 PM:  On Russia, McCain gave an answer that sounded like Al Gore in 2000 — “see how many names I can list?”  Obama gave a decent answer that connected Russia to energy security — but McCain had a good comeback on how no one from Arizona would oppose solar power.  10:16 PM:  The Iran question is the first one of the night when I saw a clear-cut winner — Obama cleaned McCain’s clock (right until McCain gave a mock dialogue on taking with Iran, which probably played well).  10:07 PM:  And at the fifty-seven minute mark, the Official Blog Wife has fallen asleep.  10:04 PM:  McCain implies that a League of Democracies could impose meaningful sanctions on Iran — which is, I’m sorry, horses$#t.  India won’t sign onto it.  South Africa won’t sign onto it.  Brazil won’t sign onto it.  And, obviously, Russia and China won’t sign onto it.  Which means it’s a toothless claim.  9:59 PM:  I was actually pretty impressed with both of their first responses on Pakistan… until McCain started yammering on about his biography.  9:49 PM:  McCain is not really addressing the question on Iraq, going back to talking points.  Obama seems determined to go back to 2003 in answering the question.  A draw on this question — which is a question where McCain would be expected to trump McCain. 9:42 PM:  Obama says that, “Al Qaeda is stronger than at any time since 2001”?  Really?  Juan Cole would beg to differ9:39 PM:  And we have our first foreign policy question during the foreign policy debate. 9:38 PM:  McCain repeats the Miss Congeniality line.  9:36 PM:  I think McCain is going after the veteran vote… 9:26 PM:  Ah, that implant I put into Lehrer’s brain is working…. 9:23 PM:  So I’m getting the sense that Obama is not a libertarian… 9:21 PM:  Why is neither candidate discussing how the cost of the bailout package affects their fiscal plans?  Why isn’t Lehrer pressing them? 9:15 PM:  McCain, “the evils of earmarking”!!!!  Look, I don’t like this stuff, but “evil”? 9:13 PM:  I’m already depressed, because the answers so far are almost… Palinesque.  9:11 PM:  From the wife:  “Lehrer is like a couples therapist — ‘Talk to each other!  Talk to each other!'” 9:08 PM:  Lehrer, “Let’s get back to my question (about the bailout).”  Good for him!  Except that since the plan is kind of changing, it’s a bit meaningless.  9:06 PM:  Obama’s opening was… eh.  McCain was smart to give a shout out to Kennedy. 9:02 PM:  Hey, the global financial crisis is part of foreign policy!!   9:01 PM:  In accordance with the wishes of the Official Blog Wife, we’re watching this on PBS… even Jim Lehrer seems a wee bit nervous… and, I might add, the sound synch is a bit off…. switching to CNN… oh sweet Jesus, what the hell is going on here?  Switch madly to ABC… ahhhhh.  8:55 PM:  Due to the financial crisis, the blog has had to make some adjustments.  In completely unrelated news, have I mentioned that the best way to watch this debate is with a glass of Johnny Walker Blue? 8:53 PM:  Hmmmm…. TNT is showing Con Air, and USA has a House marathon, and the Red Sox game is underway [Resist!!  Resist!!–ed.]  In a few hours, the hard-working staff here at danieldrezner.com will be here to liveblog tonight’s economic policy foreign policy probably a bit of both debate.  If the press releases are to be believed, each side thinks the other side’s guy is an awesome debater.   Until then, you have time in the comments to offer drinking game tips to watch the debate.  I think one way to guarantee that you’re completely sloshed by the ten minute mark is to drink any time either of the candidates says the words “I resent….” 

Daniel W. Drezner is a professor of international politics at Tufts University’s Fletcher School. He blogged regularly for Foreign Policy from 2009 to 2014. Twitter: @dandrezner

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