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Barack Obama's strongest debate moment spawns new video

By now, after more than 20 debates during the battle for the Democratic presidential nomination and the initial faceoff with John McCain in the general election campaign, it's patently obvious that verbal sparring is more a chore than a joy for Barack Obama.

As The Ticket noted following their Friday encounter in Mississippi, Obama took a pass on directly challenging what became McCain's mantra as the debate got into the details of foreign policy: "You just don't understand."

The inimitable Maureen Dowd of the N.Y. Times took note as well, writing in her Sunday column that Obama "willfully refuses to accept what debates are about. It’s not a lecture hall; it’s a joust. It’s not how cerebral you are. It’s how visceral you are. You need memorable, sharp, forceful and witty lines. ... McCain kept painting Obama as naive, and dangerous, insisting that he 'doesn’t quite understand or doesn’t get it.' Obama should have responded, 'Senator, I understand perfectly, I’m just saying you’re wrong.' "

Although Obama did not do that in general, he did when the discussion was focused on Iraq, delivering a response widely seen as his strongest in the debate. One result: A video that appeared over the weekend on Huffington Post that took Obama's retort and ran with it.

It was put together by Jed Lewison. If the Obama campaign has any ad staff openings, they might consider giving him a call.

--Don Frederick

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Comments () | Archives (43)

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Joihn McCain and George W. Bush wanted to attack Iraq under any circumstances and for any reason.

For McCain to make pre-war statement that there is no history of violence between Shiite & Sunni reflects his total ignorance of histiry.

McCain is all about McCain and he is unstable and should not be elected President.

Not only does McCain lack good judgment on the use of our military, he voted against the GI Bill! He doesn't support our fighting forces in the ways that really count. My 84-year-old father-in-law served as a Marine in WW11 and the Korean conflict. He voted for Nixon and the first George Bush, but he's voting Obama this year!

this video should be showed in as many places as possible.
Obama has the judgment. i feel safest with him. i'd rather not
get into a war or a problem in the first place. i admire his
wide sense of our difficulties and how they are connected.
yes, i trust him. i think i'm going to vote for him too.

It's amazing how the media makes Obama look like he is clean and has a clue about what he is doing.

Currently in Chicago there is concern that Tony Rezko will be talking about both Rod Blagovich and Barack Obama leading to indictments of both people. I expect there is someone sitting right now with the Rezko family or even with Tony in jail saying - what can we do, so you don't talk about this. This would be the end of his campaign, although previous arrests and wrong doings have been waylayed or tied up in legal knots so people are not aware of those either.

Really a bad candidate, and someone who offers no change, just more of the last 8 years, you can see that from his talks and the debate. Oh yea there is one new thing more taxes for everyone, not just rich - if you think not do some research of your own on these topics you will be surprised.

Obama will keep talking about change, but he is the candidate that plans to offer you more of the same, more war, more financial troubles, higher gas prices.

Time for some change people and its certainly not from this candidate.

I like it.

The thing is McCain made himself look dumb by saying Obama didn't understand. It was clear to everyone that he did understand so by not challenging McCain he allowed McCain to look like a fool. Saying someone "doesn't understand" only works if it is obvious to everyone that the person clearly does not understand. However, it was clear to everyone that not only did Obama understand, he had better ideas than McCain. Stick a fork in McNugget, he's done!

The old school method of using the military first and talking later does not get it any more. McCain doesn't get it.

So because Obama made actual sense during the debates he didn't do as good as McCain, who proceeded to ramble on about absolutely nothing even related to the topic at hand?

Let's see- an hour and a half debate and the puppet comes away with one point.

That's about how I scored it as well.

You guys aren't the biased trolls everyone tells me you are.

This is purely a propaganda video....and I am a democrat!

Nothing about that is patently obvious to any one. What is this whole "blogs taking the place of factual information" garbage. You just tell people what they should think based upon your values. Its preposterous and frightening that people think its journalism.

Dowd is representative of John Q Public's expectation that an election be equivalent to a spectator sport .. or, even worse, a Box Office hit.

If this is the case we all need to wake up. I'll take poise and intelligence any day.


I totally agree w Dowd that Obama has to politely & directly confront "John" with how wrong HE (& Bush) were on any number of policy directives which were adopted by the 2000-2005 Congresses. There are a litany of them - including the Bankruptcy Bill which nearly wholly deregulated banks & credit card companies. Short, pithy & witty are the mantras Obama needs to bring with him each of the next two times. He won't have a lot more debates to practice in.

Always nice to see truth being told, as opposed to the usual McCain/Palin, & GOP lies/manipulation.

This is a non-story by a very liberal fish wrap. The video isn't even worth watching.

Mavericks are good at rounding up cattle and target practice I reckon, but they sure don't win any prizes in good judgment ... they are to loosey goosey with their emotions and run after the critter without thinking ... all they can think of is gotta git that critter without even noticing that his kid is riding on the back of it ......he is too old to stay the course, he has major concerns about his health and he has picked as his maverick "soul" person a lady that one can only feel sorry for..her main qualification was that she was usable....and now even that is up for grabs. Just remember that the lack of an emotional control in crisis will guarantee a bitter outcome.

You know, everyone wants Barack Obama to do it THEIR way. He is going to do it HIS way. Period.
And given a preference for which temperament is best suited for the Oval Office I'd go with clear and steady any day. Erratic knee jerk risk taking may be good in a fighter pilot but not a president.

I very much like the way in which the editor put this piece together. Be able to immediately see McCain saying exactly what Obama claims he said, is very powerful. I wish that the network news people would do the same thing with all the lies that get said by each side in this campaign. From my own knowledge it seems as though McCain is much more guilty of lies and deceptions but I know that the Obama campaign has at least streatched the truth sometimes. It is nice to see that someone has taken the time to show us the actual footage, so there can be no doubt as to the truth of Obama's claims.

I don't agree that this was Obama's strongest moment in the debate. I think that for most viewers the real issue is to get a look at how the candidate thinks, how well they do under pressure, how stable and unflappable they are, even how they can attack back without seeming angry of petty. I felt that Obama just seemed more in control, less likely to do something rash or without thinking through all the possible repercussions of his actions . I think that he showed just those characteristics that I think would be most important in a President.

I'm growing more and more confused as to why we keep criticizing Obama for refusing to be an a-hole. Shouldn't we be encouraging politicians to act like grown-ups?

the only debate which really could change the political landscape is the debate to come between biden and palin, if and only of she would get completely under the train.

Debates aren't just a verbal joust, they're about body language and savvy, positions and posturing.

Obama did not want to come of as overly academic or overly disrespectful and pushy, thus he played the reserved prosecutor role. He won on the Iraq discussion, the bailout and Iran, although McCain roused the biggest laugh from that exchange.

McCain has a cold war mentality and his VP choice has runied his chances of swaying the independent mine.

For the life of me, I cannot understand why the polls show McCain and Obama so close.

McCain is certainly a war hero who deserves our countries unending gratitude and respect. But there is no way McCain has the judgement, stability or honesty to lead us out of the mess this country is in.

some gave all like John McCain and some gave nothing like the communist Oboma


You're right - they should hire him. That was powerful.

Your idea for what a debate is about is extremely outdated. Actually, I dont think it ever was significantly relevant. How on earth can you think the mere superficial act of stating someone does not understand is a fundamental component of debating. And the fact that you just point to the number of times McCain stated it is even more baffling.

These types of words by themselves do very little. VERY LITTLE. By your obscene evalutation of what a debate should be, Flavor Flav can compete in any debate by just repeating one stupid line. If you're not going to bother analyzing the debate process past the 4th grade level, you shouldnt be writing these articles.

You could make an hour long video of McCain gaffs, fubars, and statements of ignorance. Let it roll.

It's simply amazing how little the war cheerleaders (in the government and media) have had to pay for being so spectacularly wrong on so many things that have had great repercussions. It's about time they started to take their medicine - what, 5 years late?

This video would be a start, if it were turned into an ad.

One point left out was McCain's comments
On November 29, 2002 on CNN’s Late Edition, Sen. McCain said,
“We’re not going to get into house-to-house fighting in Baghdad. We may have to take out buildings, but we’re not going to have a bloodletting of trading American bodies for Iraqi bodies….I don’t think it’s easy, but I believe that we can win an overwhelming victory in a very short period of time."

House to House fighting....wrong
Trading American bodies for Iraqi bodies...wrong
Overwhelming victory in s very short period of time...wrong

John McCain and President Bush greatly underestimated the severity of the war in Iraq.

Good video. Obama is right; McCain is dumber than Bush, but neither Obama nor McCain stand for freedom and individual rights. They want to stomp on the individual in the name of the Collective. They, like most of The Congress, are parasites feeding on the production and the producers of wealth in this country.
I'm voting for the Libertain Party Candidate.

This is perfect. He should make this video into an ad. This outlines the flaws in McCain's Iraq logic.

The surge was putting lipstick on a pig. At the point of the surge there were only bad decisions and worse decisions available to this country.

We have lost about 1100 of the 4100 troops lost since the surge. More than 1/4 of the troops lost during the entire war were lost in that 5 month surge period.


As the Worm Squirms. Love seeing how uncomfortable McCain is during this exchange. Only people who vote solely because of the "R" next to his name will vote for McCain and only voting tampering can lead to an Obama loss at this point.


McCain is just like Bush

Obama is intelligent, savvy, and easy to negotiate with....We need someone smart in the white house, not a "shoot from the hip" knee-jerking president....we have that now

All the people will that want America to fail will vote for McCain because they are not very informed about the policies and history of the candidates.

I thought I'd seen it all, but McCain's latest outrage reminds me of the guy who murdered his parents, and then pleaded with the judge for mercy on the grounds that he was now an orphan. For years the GOP has been bleating about government hampering business with "excessive regulation", Well, they had their greedy, irresponsible "free hands" for eight years, and it has finally resulted in a repetition of the Republican-created Great Depression of the 1930's. Now, the Repugnican leadership blames the Dems for rallying only two thirds of their votes to save the bailout, while they, themselves, could get only a third of their own ! I know...let's get McCain and Palin to pool their vast economic expertise to push the magic button, and fix it all. This bunch of hypocritical slime bags can only be compared to arsonists observing volunteers fighting the fire they lit, and complaining that the fire-fighters were too few in number.

The military engagement was easy, the regime change was quick, it was the following stabilization/occupation that was difficult/long. Yes he was wrong about WMD, so count him among most of the Democrat and Republican leaders. The US military was welcomed as liberators; didn't you people watch the news when it was all going down? The Shia-Sunni civil war story is a proven fabrication; see Abu Musab al-Zarqawi cir. late 2003. Basically Obama's statements amount to exaggerations/spin which puts him on par with ALL politicians. It is widely known that McCain supported the war, but not not the method of occupation; he was right, sans WMD. From the mouth of bin Laden, Iraq is/was their central front; Obama is wrong. Putting troops next to Pakistan won't catch bin Laden who is IN Pakistan; Obama is wrong again.

someone PLZZZZ put this video as an ad for the obama campaign.

I am really tired of hearing about the "surge", it means nothing to me. Its like McLame set his own house on fire, and then wants credit for putting it out, it does not change the fact that the war was illegal and immoral.

Facts - love that someone made this video. I'm tired of being lied at by Republicans.

Here's the bottom line: Anyone who thinks John "stunt a minute: McCain would be a good President is either Stupid or Ractist. Judging by some of the commments in here I would say it is the former! Good Luck with that.

I said last week that when McCain starts losing we will hear more about Rezko, Wright, Ayers, etc. McCain is so predictable it's scary. I think we have all read Karl Rove's playbook, so it has lost the effect it had in 2004

But it's fun watching the McCain campaign self-swiftboat. The Affirmative Action VP Pick is the icing on the cake. She is priceless! lol lol

But I think that's what makes Obama such a powerful speaker - or debater in this case - he doesn't come out with all guns blazing - but when pressed - he will take you down - often with a concentrated strike - such as the comment about the start of the Iraqi war and how John McCain was wrong a number of times - then when Barack pointed out that McCain would not meet with Spain a NATO ally. And what’s worst about an Obama strike - is that he's accurate.

I think in these debates you have to watch your emotions -- if you try to answer back each time with a sound bite - Obama would easily end up looking like John McCain who throughout seemed to be playing to an imaginary more powerful audience - rather than dealing directly with Obama.

It was the first debate - the only thing I would warn - on at least two occasions Obama got caught up in McCain’s so called expertise. McCain is good at getting people to believe he knows what he’s talking about - even though he doesn’t - two places on Russia/Georgia and on the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. In future debates I would check what he was saying more closely - on Georgia McCain sounded like he knew all the back roads to the place (straight to the pipeline) - when I thought McCain looked slightly deranged - Obama did not seem to pick up on that - I thought McCain’s direction was Cold War. Europeans may be having some trouble with Russia - but few if any are looking at it that way - straight across Europe you can watch Russian TV (news). Travel to Russia is increasing. The French President in his UN speech said we want to get along with them. Overall I think Obama is right - we get off this energy - and we have more sway with countries like Russia.

With Palin talking about war - I am afraid of a McCain direction.

Why is no one willing to question if Barak is even a natural born citizen of the US? That is a requirement to be President. If youwant to live in a Socialist Country then leave the USA there are many people from other countries that want to come here because of the oppression they live under in their countries. This Country was built on freedom and I believe Barak will bring oppression.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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