Because I'm always the last one to join in on cool new internet things, I followed in the footsteps of my fellow made men in the college blogging mafia, Zeitlin and Resnikoff, and started writing for Pushback yesterday. First two posts here and here, if you're interested. I should be do a post a day, and the rest of the blog is probably better than what I have to say, so check it out.
This is very good news. There's absolutely no reason we ought to set up a system in which these fools can take massive financial risks and expect to not suffer at all when they incur giant losses. Moral hazard must end here. See Brad Delong for what we should pass.
When the details of this encounter fade, as they soon will, I think the debate as a whole will be seen as of a piece with Kennedy-Nixon in 1960, Reagan-Carter in 1980, and Clinton-Bush in 1992.
In each of those cases, a fresh, new candidate (although chronologically older in Reagan's case) had been gathering momentum at a time of general dissatisfaction with the "four more years" option of sticking with the incumbent party. The question was whether the challenger could stand as an equal with the more experienced, tested, and familiar figure. In each of those cases, the challenger passed the test -- not necessarily by "winning" the debate, either on logical points or in immediate audience or polling reactions, but by subtly reassuring doubters on the basic issue of whether he was a plausible occupant of the White House and commander in chief.
So yeah, Obama won, in any meaningful sense of the word.
It seems the Georgetown Voice's fact-checking quality has declined considerably since my friend Tim Fernholz was benevolent dictator. Spack finds this gem, from their article on Washington City Paper and its editor Erik Wemple:
But [Wemple's] office decor gives the newspaper man away: a stack of yellowing City Papers sat next to the door and copies of the day’s newspapers, from the New York Times to the Washington Independent, lay scattered across his desk.
I wonder if the Windy was on top of the latest issues of Slate and Ars Technica.
Easily the most interesting part. On Russia, he mocked the notion that the EU could have done more to prevent the South Ossetia incident ("What did they want us to do, invade Russia?") and insisted that he brought up human rights issues every time he meets with Putin or Medvedev, specifically mentioning the murder of Anna Politkovskaya. Similarly, he not only said that he mentions human rights whenever meeting with Hu Jintao or Wen Jiabao, but that they are much more receptive than the Chinese representatives he dealt with in the '90s, as Portugal's foreign minister, when he was negotiating the transfer of Macao from his country to China. In the '90s, Barraso claims, the Chinese (presumably Jiang Zemin and allies) silenced any mention of human rights as meddling in China's internal affairs, whereas Jintao and Jiabao at least make an effort to bullshit and sound concerned ("but we have local elections!"). Barraso views this as progress, which it may well be, but the crowd was decidedly skeptical, laughing audibly at the mention of local elections.