The presidential debate was depressing so I wimped out about halfway through. John McCain is a tolerable speaker, but no leap forward from Dubya as far as I’m concerned. Barack Obama is a great speaker, and even in the back-and-forth of a debate came off as calm & confident. With so much of Obama’s time spent trying to pin the Bush presidency on McCain and so much of McCain’s time spent trying to avoid that at all costs, you’d hardly know that Obama is extremely, extremely liberal.

This is discouraging because so many people I know who consider themselves politically moderate are gung-ho on Obama. Really? Have you looked at the man’s voting record? The Washington Post has a passable tracking site for Congressional voting histories. If you look at the summary for Illinois members of the 110th Senate, you’ll notice Obama voted with his party 96% of the time. Project Vote Smart indicates in 2007 he received a 100 rating from the AFL-CIO; 100 from NARAL; a 5 from Americans for Tax Reform. Given a national audience Obama talks like a centrist, but he most certainly does not vote like one.

Worst of all, McCain floundered around a bit on the extended discussion of the economy and the mortgage securities bailout. Why, when Obama blamed the current mess on President Bush and a lack of regulation, didn’t McCain nail Obama for blocking reform of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in 2005? It would have done a lot to deflect the (entirely justifiable) accusation that two weeks ago McCain was saying the economy was fundamentally sound, and now he’s saying it’s fundamentally broken. A real, missed opportunity for McCain to highlight reforms that he advocated and that Obama helped block.

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