Journalist Alexander Cockburn opinionizes on the debate at Counterpunch:
The first function of any presidential debate is to demonstrate to the Big Money that both candidates are “safe”, first on the matter of keeping the rich secure from worry. The second function is to assure all relevant lobbies that they are ready and willing to blow up the world if American “security” requires it.
In the requisite demonstrations Obama and McCain sang in unison. They are as one with Wall St. They are ready to blow up the planet. Three times Obama said he completely agreed with the elderly madman opposite him. The interactions became progressively more hackneyed and absurd. Obama pledged to “take out” Osama bin Laden. McCain vowed to prevent another Holocaust of the Jews. Obama respectfully agreed with McCain that Putin is a potential problem and that plucky Georgia needs America’s succor. It was nauseating. Most of the world and its problems didn’t feature at all. Latin America? Free trade?
Between the two of them, the candidates affirmed, often in identical terms, almost every lunatic policy position that has doomed George Bush’s presidency and made America an object of derision and loathing among the nations.
It should have been a no-brainer for Obama simply to chain his opponent to all the disasters of the Bush years, about which the American people have reached a firm and hostile verdict. Obama should be setting forth a new agenda. Instead we got Bush/Cheneyspeak from the Democrat about taking out Osama, repeating all the disasters of Iraq in Afghanistan and invading Pakistan presumably when President Zardari is in Alaska, pursuing Sarah Palin. Who knows? In the event she doesn’t get to Washington as veep, Sarah can dump Todd and the kids and move on to Islamabad, working for Christ and Empire from the inside.
A born trimmer, Obama is incapable of going for the jugular or even sounding as though he can take a firm stand on anything. This guy’s no leader. He comes across as a trimmer and a wimp. McCain looks decisive by comparison. He’s a throat slitter by temperament. He nicked Obama a couple of times, but the Wall Street tycoons went unscarred. At a ripe tactical moment McCain declined the role he affects to love. When the chips are down, he’s no maverick.