The Real Thing: LiveBwogging OBAMACAIN

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The main event is here! Check back at other liveblogs dedicated to the opening act and pre-gaming on the Steps.

8:01 PM: The screen is back. And Judy Woodruff is here. 

8:03 PM: Oh, here is Rick Stengel. Is it just our TV or is his face bright yellow?

8:04 PM: It’s McCain! Hello, McCain!

8:05 PM: He just pointed in the audience, maybe at Meghan!

8:04 PM: It’s time to talk about 9/11. Are we forgetting about it? How will McCain make us remember, because clearly this is his responsibility.

8:05 PM: He replies that serving our country is what this forum is all about.

8:07 PM: If McCain were President in 2001, he would have expanded the military. We needed a “concrete plan of action” about the need for us all to service the nation.

8:08 PM: Everyone in the country is frustrated with the Republican government. McCain, who is a Republican but also a Maverick, agrees.

8:10 PM: Oh McCain made a sassy face when Stengel asked him to explain his earlier remark about everyone hating Republicans.

8:12 PM: McCain made a mumbly joke about having a terrible temper. He’s talking about his Experience as a Maverick.

8:13 PM: It’s a break again now don’t everyone freak out when the TV goes blank.

8:13 PM: The TV didn’t go blank. McCain and Woodruff and Stengel are still in their respective chairs. So it’s time for a Lawn Report! Bwogger Downie reports “polite applause” when McCain took the stage. Low Plaza and Steps are apparently standing room only, if that.

8:16 PM: And we’re back. And talking about Katrina, because that too relates to Service. McCain is talking about “faith-based organizations.”

8:17 PM: He just insulted Target! Target is a sponsor.

8:18 PM: Judy Woodruff talks about how service “is left to those who can afford to take time off from work.” McCain thinks it is people of average wealth that do that most, “in all due respect to rich people.”

8:19 PM: “The busiest people are the busiest. And the busier they get, the busier they get.” – John McCain. Also, Operative Downie notes McCain pronounced New Orleans two different ways in about a sentence.

8:21 PM: McCain says he’s not a hero, he had the “honor of serving in the company of heroes.”

8:22 PM: Woodruff brings up Iraq, uh oh. This could get partisan.

8:24 PM: Yeah, of course it did. He brought Columbia’s ban on ROTC and Bwog could hear the roar from the Steps from inside Low.

8:28 PM: Clapping, followed by a camera zoom. We’re back.

8:28 PM: Stengel just used the term “interesting” in a really undermining way.  “Why would we have compulsary military service in America that has a civilian component?”

8:28 PM: Lawn Report! Security estimates there are about 5,000ish of you on the Lawn. Also, the 9/11 Truth protestors have arrived.

8:30 PM: McCain doesn’t agree with Obama, but thinks his proposals for compulsary service are okay. “It doesn’t have to always be run by the government.” He mentions faith-based organizations.

8:31 PM: Would McCain make Obama a member of his Cabinet? He says yes and everyone applauds.

8:33 PM: According to McCain: McCain:Goldwater::Obama:JFK

8:34 PM: Bwogger DePillis reports: The 9/11 Truth people are arguing with the Communist, calling them searing insults like “you fucking Communists.”

8:34 PM: Bwogger Downie reports that the Steps crowd boos Palin’s name. 

8:36 PM: “I understand that Ted Kennedy is coming back in January. I greet that with mixed emotions.”

8:40 PM: Joe, in the media room, is literally going around and asking if he’s helpful or distracting. Someone answered him that all his talking is “a way to pass the time.”

8:41 PM: He pretends to fall asleep, because he’s talking about the elderly.

8:41 PM: Ooh, online questions. It’s Gisele from Brooklyn. Oh my god, Gisele is in the press room, next to Bwog. She’s giggling. It’s a trap, John McCain! Gisele is a reporter.

8:42 PM: Stengel wants to talk about McCain said we shouldn’t send money to countries that don’t like us. Should we send people? McCain says yes.

8:44 PM: He’s talking about immigration, and how we’d love to have “so many of these highly trained people stay in our country.”

8:44 PM: Are Americans better than everyone else? “We’re the only nation that is deeply concerned about adhering to the principle that all of us are created equal.”

8:46 PM: Again, it’s probably going to get Partisan. Thanks Rick Stengel.

8:48 PM: McCain wanted himself and Obama to stand on stage together and talk. Why isn’t this happening again?

8:48 PM: 2042, the US will no longer have a white majority. There is only one minute left and Rick Stengel couldn’t finish the question but McCain will answer it anyway. Again, that word, “exceptional.”

8:50 PM: Bwogger Downie notes it’s interesting he keeps brining up the Town Hall thing. He hasn’t brought that up in awhile.

8:51 PM: Woodruff thanks McCain. Photographers trip over eachother trying to get to the stage. They are rushing the stage. 

8:51 PM: It’s Obama! Bwog can hear the cheers from outside.

8:52 PM: Commercial time. Joe just asked the media room if anyone is blogging for MySpace. No hands went up.

8:52 PM: Gisele from Brooklyn, the reporter who submitted the question, tells another reporter that she was doing that to see if the system worked and she submitted a million questions.

8:55 PM: Lawn Report! A CU staffer claps and chants “Yes We Can!” He later admits, “I’ve always wanted to do that.”

8:55 PM: There! See! He said it. He admitted he went here. The neighborhood has changed. Our apartments are nicer, for one thing.

8:56 PM: Stengel reminds Obama of today’s date.

8:57 PM: “How do we honor those who died everyday?” Obama asks himself. “My sense is that the country years for it. It’s hungry for it. What has been missing is a President in the White House who taps into that.” Partisan alert!

8:59 PM: “We have been tested, and yet we have survived,” is what Obama would say if he had been President during 9/11. Some girl just cheered really loudly when he mentioned alternative energy.

9:00 PM: Rick Stengel is yellow. It’s not just the TV.

9:00 PM: “Part of what makes America works is that we believe in individual responsibility but we also believe in mutual responsbility.” He says we are committed to something larger than ourselves, and this has built our country.

9:02 PM: Oooh, Woodruff calls him on his vagueness. She asks for specifics about this “mutual responsibilty.” Obama calls Kennedy his “dear friend.” Kennedy has supported Obama’s service plan.

9:03 PM: The specifics include making college affordable and giving high schoolers service opportunities. It is a cliffhanger, because there are even more service opportunities after the break.

9:08 PM: He’s talking about retirees providing help to young people and how these young people will welcome it. Obama believes we are in a “special moment’ where American recognizes we are not on the right track. Lawn correspondent Downie reports that the lines about student aid get applause.


9:09 PM: “Income does not determine whether or not people serve.” Also, he mentioned Columbia again and the crowd goes wild, or so Bwog hears. He talks about choosing service over Wall Street.

9:11 PM: Stengel makes a jokes about Newt Gingrich. It gets polite applause.

9:11 PM: Barack Obama interrputs Stengel’s dumb question and says “Let’s look to the future.” And says “We have to have a FEMA that works.” We do this by encouraging young people to get involved in civil service. 

9:13 PM: Wants to define a “government of assist” vs. a “government of bureaucracy.” Woodruff reminds Obama now is not a time to get all partisan, but encourages him to get a little partisan.

9:14 PM: Increased service means the government providing these avenues and opportunities.

9:16 PM: Gisele from Brooklyn happily reports that all her friends are texting her.

9:17 PM: The media room wants to know the same question as you, Bwog commenter. Who is the heavy-set man in a tan jacket wandering around aimlessly on stage?

9:18 PM: In the wake of Iraq and Afghanistan, the military is facing challenges. “It’s important for us to increase the size of our army so we can reduce the pace of the tours that our young men and women are on.” He also mentions increasing pay.

9:19 PM: Stengel was asking Obama questions off-camera, about service. Is this allowed? Why does Rick Stengel think the rules don’t apply to him?

9:23 PM: Obama considered signing up for the military. “If there are wars going on and some are being asked to sacrifice their lives, I think you have to ask yourself, why them instead of you?”

9:24 PM: The burden of military service has been shouldered by such a narrow group and this is a problem. Same goes for how we treat these people when they return home, says Obama.

9:25 PM: Online question from Gina in Bloomfield. It’s probably just Gisele again, using a pseudonym. Obama thinks that we have a “special obligation for those who have put their lives at risk on behalf of the security of America. That does not mean we cannot provide other opportunities of service.”

9:26 PM: He says we need teachers, and says that this is something we should be willing to pay for.

9:27 PM: One more segment to go.

9:28 PM: Lawn Report! The fencing is being moved along College Walk. Jim Downie thinks that the convoys might be driving along there, after this thing ends.

9:30 PM: National service elevated to a cabinet level position? Obama wants to make McCain a deal, and McCain can serve in Obama’s cabinet. People laugh. Obama talks about McCain “inspiring a whole generation of young people.”

9:31 PM: Obama is talking about Matt, a soldier in Montana, who is now a lawyer. Matt quit his job and decided to create an advocacy group about post-trauatic stress disorder. “I never asked Matt whether he was liberal or conservative. What I knew was that he had seen a wrong and had been inspired to take action.”

9:32 PM: Uh, oh. Palin question. Was Palin being unfair when she said those things about community organizers? Obama is talking about small time mayors. Obama was “surprised” by several remarks around “community organizing and belittling it.”

9:34 PM: Working as a community organizer was the best education Obama ever had. No offense to Lee Bollinger, he hedges.

9:34 PM: Security is clearing traffic away from Lerner. In anticipation of people lining up along the fences on campus, there are lots of police around Butler and Lerner.

9:35 PM: “If it weren’t for government, we would not have the Civil Rights Act or the Interstate Highway System.” Obama wants to “make government cool again.”

9:37 PM: Stengel is trying to impress Obama by talking about de Tocqueville.

9:38 PM: Obama says people have the freedom to determine the direction of their communities while recognizing that we are part of a common project. He says this has been lost.

9:39 PM: According to Scott Helfrich, candidates could “possibly” be going along College Walk.

9:39 PM: Obama said that Kennedy knew where America to go, and it wasn’t just the moon. Teddy Roosevelt was also an activist President, like Clinton and Kennedy.

9:41 PM: “Change happens from the bottom up.”

9:41 PM: It’s over. There’s a stampede to the fences!

9:41 PM: CONFIRMED WITH SECURITY: Obama heading to College Walk now!

Tags: ,


  1. meh  

    I heart Judy Woodruff. the newshour with Jim Lehrer rocks!

    :migration complete:

  2. less commentary

    more quotes!

  3. meh  

    BWOG better be careful with the comments or the fairness nazis are gonna jump their asses if there is a perception of bias.

  4. please

    everyone knows the bwog has to register for a political party in the great state of new york. it is no secret that she is a democrat.

  5. alum

    you ignored the fact that people actually booed McCain when he came to stage... fucking ridiculous.

  6. overheard  

    "this sucks, im not even in the same building as they are. im in some kind of library. why the fuck do i care about this shit?"

  7. yes  

    stengel's spray on tan is awful

  8. yes  

    ohhhhhhh diss of columbia's rotc policy!

  9. yessssss  

    McCain just PWND columbia for its stupid ROTCS policy!!

  10. siiiiiick  

    Hilarious! And the crowd goes wild!

  11. Where  

    is all that music coming from?

  12. fuck

    the military-industrial complex.

  13. um...

    I'm pretty sure his mention of Goldwater/JFK doesn't exactly translate to your analogy. Just mentioning that he wanted to follow their example with townhall meetings doesn't mean he compared himself to Goldwater...

  14. yes  

    mccain is pretty compelling here. he's really skilled at deflecting criticism and always coming off as the man taking the high road, even if the whole organization backing him up partakes of the same mudslinging seen in every election.

  15. also  

    who is that plumpish guy in the tan coat making the rounds onstage during the breaks?

  16. yes  

    cute - poking fun at himself and tackling the age issue head on. the guy is either extremely well trained or super skillful at image projection himself.

  17. yes  

    "i do believe in american exceptionalism." groans from politicos and academics, but for the average joe who is a run of the mill patriot-nationalist, it's perfect. brilliant

    • Anonymous

      There's no such thing as a "run of the mill patriot-nationalist." I don't fault you for thinking so though, since the two party system has cultivated this silly dichotomy.

      Perhaps one day you'll get on the level and see that.

  18. let's vote

    Do you think Obama will mention Columbia?

  19. multicast  

    To view this online use vlc and the network multicast address is

  20. 9/11 Truth

    the only people who should've been in the WTC on 9/11 are the 9/11 Truth morons.

  21. arrrgh

    re: the immigration quote... the reporters asked McCain if he'd be willing to give a green card to anyone who gets a PhD in the US. Thats what he meant by trained people... lets aim for accurate quoting here, bwog.

  22. GROWL.

    Seriously? like, the seventh words out of Obama's mouth were "alma mater." So only acknowledge columbia when its convenient?

  23. dslk

    Someone from bwog needs to run over to him and tell him to be our commencement speaker.

  24. meh  

    OMG STFU He is talking!!!!ELEVEN!

  25. ...

    he finally said he went to columbia. where's the breaking news bulletin?

  26. awkward  


  27. ageism

    man, mccain looked old during that awkward hug. didn't his PR ppl teach him @ kennedy-nixon contrast on tv?

    • duuude  

      mccain has limited flexibility in his arms BECAUSE HE WAS TORTURED. i don't think the staff can fix that.

      • Anonymous

        He shouldn't be president then.

        What if he has to press the button one night? He won't be able to reach it fast enough from his bed, and we'll all die in nuclear fire.

        • you're lucky

          you can be anonymous, or someone would kick your ass. but either way, your logic is flawed. even if he couldn't 'press the button' (why is this button hanging so high over his head anyway?), we would presumably die in nuclear fire either way, just wouldn't be able to take out the other guy (and the rest of the world).

          • Anonymous

            You can't just leave the button at normal height levels. what if someone tripped or something?

            Geez, you kids are so naive.

            If we're going to die in nuclear fire, then I want the other guy and the rest of the world to die to. And so does every other rational being.

      • mademoiselle

        okay, okay...i empathize. i don't particularly watch these people on tv. anyway, i was referring to mccain's facial expression. a warm handshake would've sufficed. getting so close to the "rock star" candidate and drawing a clear contrast does not seem strategic for an aging rival.

  28. man

    I can't believe a ticket that could've been given to me went to that idiot squealer girl.

  29. CNN Frontpage

    "Sen. John McCain, speaking Thursday night at a Time-sponsored forum on national service at Colombia University, said it's wrong to not allow military representation on campus. "Shouldn't the students here be exposed to the attractiveness of serving in the military, particularly as an officer?" he asked. He later added there are many "noble and wonderful" ways to serve the country without joining the military."

    "Colombia University" :( They wouldn't say Harverd or Printstown or Yail, would they?

  30. Is it just me  

    or is Rick Stengel unbearably stiff and a bit awk

  31. re: tan guy

    probably a coordinator/director/producer for the show. there's a woman with a headset hovering, too.

  32. ummm

    So the WSJ's article said that McCain pretended to nod off during a question...(to much laughter apparently hehe)

    Bwog, you're lacking on the coverage here...

  33. arr strategic

    i do not like the way he just skirted homophobia under the term "issues students may have."

  34. Dee Dubya  

    We need more Palin in this conversation. Like, where'd she come up with those stupid names for her kids? Here?--

  35. well

    That was underwhelming.

  36. Alexander Hamilton

    You ignored the fact that both candidates criticized Columbia for not hosting an ROTC program on their campus. Great job leaving that little tid-bit out.

    • fuck

      the military industrial complex.

    • yeah

      i noticed that too...i guess the cognitive dissonance of having their SAVIOR not agree with them on a big campus issue prevents them from even comprehending that he did actually chide their position

      I wonder if McCain's position on ROTC got a boo from the crowd too, or whether that went over their head as well.

      • woop's

        I meant Obama's position

      • Sigh...

        I disagree with Obama's positions on the death penalty, farm subsidies, gay marriage, and the admission of Georgia into NATO, but I still enthusiastically support him, and I cheered for him tonight despite the ROTC dig.

        Can't vouch for everyone in the crowd, but my reasons have nothing to do with the 'savior' meme many conservatives love to throw around and everything to do with the man's judgment, composure, intellect, and sensible policy positions (a healthy majority of which I share).

        I've got a few friends who support McCain based on his agenda. I disagree with them, but I don't make the mindless assumption that they back him because he's the second coming of Patton or Mars the God of War. Facile labels like that have helped turn American political discourse into complete garbage.

    • Anonymous

      ROTC is dumb for many many reasons.

      Many. They're both idiots for supporting it. As a military man, I don't believe that education at a university and two weekend events a year make a good officer.

  37. UGH  

    who else was fucking pissed that tobey maguire didn't put a suit on? also he looked stoned. where was usher's speech?

  38. uhhhh  

    i think you're jumping the gun here... poster 55 could be referring to the fact that Obama is pro-death penalty, against gay marriage, and supports the entrance of Georgia into NATO. In other words, the poster could, in disagreeing with the senator's positions, LEFT of Obama and not RIGHT, which is what you're assuming. And of course, it would be wholly uncharacteristic of Matt Sanchez to contradict Senator Obama's support of the ROTC or even to have "enthusiastically" supported Obama in the first place.

  39. gisele from brooklyn

    Hey bwog,
    thanks for the detailed description of the event. I didn't realize you were watching me so closely, i would have fixed my hair a bit. in any case, the online question forum was open to anyone, I'm surprised you didn't submit a question, you seem like a pretty curious person. enjoy the weekend,
    gisele from brooklyn

  40. nice bwog  

    You totally left out how they asked Obama about the ROTC. Maybe it's because everyone booed McCain when he supported it, but everyone was effing silent when Obama agreed with him.

  41. Re: ROTC

    Columbia students can still do it! they just have to take an effing subway ride to participate and get $ for school. if they're planning to be soldiers, why is a SUBWAY RIDE such a big deal? It's crazy that ppl are willing to sacrifice the University's adherence to our non-discrimination clause for the sake of a metrocard. jesus.

    • ROTC at Columbia

      Advocates for Columbia ROTC statement re Columbia ROTC, DADT, and the non-discrimination policy:

      FYI, "military status" is also a protected category in Columbia's non-discrimination policy.

    • ROTC Cadet  

      True Columbia students (like myself) do participate in ROTC at Fordham. However, the issue of importance is not that taking the subway for an hour several times a week is a pain.

      By not hosting an ROTC program Columbia is saying that it doesn't want to train the next generation of military leaders. Columbia offers programs in virtually every other field of study. Given the importance of the military to our society, we should want to have a role in training those leaders.

  42. late

    Why is ROTC banned to begin with? Not for it or against it, just curious.

  43. i disagree.  

    Columbia is not saying that it doesn't want to train the next generation of military leaders. Columbia is saying it will not allow an organization that forbids a certain group of people from joining it to take advantage of University spaces and funds. No other clubs specifically discriminate against a certain group. If gays and lesbians have to hide their true selves and live their lives in the shadows of shame about their sexuality just to be apart of the ROTC, why should Columbia allow it? Don't Ask, Don't Tell is a discriminatory policy and I applaud Columbia for taking a stand against it. If it is ever repealed, I'm sure Columbia would welcome the ROTC back on campus with open arms.

  44. "Obama"

    Funny to hear you say that you disagree with Obama's "positions" on all of those things. He filled out a questionnaire just a few years ago declaring himself to be opposed to the death penalty in all cases. One of his few notable accomplishments as a legislator in the State of Illinois, moreover, was his anti-death penalty advocacy. The former governor (Jim Ryan, a Republican), commuted all death sentences to life in prison before leaving office and being succeeded by a Democrat (Blagogevich), after a slew of death row inmates had their convictions overturned when evidence unearthed by Chicago University law students was presented to the courts. As for gay marriage, does he really seem to be the type to you who believes in the "heteronormative," shall we say, strictures of the Bible? Has he ever gone to a church which promoted social conservatism? Does he strike you as the ideological bedfellow of Senator Tester of Wyoming? As for the entry of Georgia into NATO, did his call for restraint by "both sides" in the wake of Russia's incursion into South Ossetia sound like the words of a potential commander in chief who truly believes it to be imperative that he enter into a permanent security pact with the burgeoning democracy? Did it sound remotely as if he was prepared to summon the resources of the United States armed forces to Tbilsi's defense? As for farm subsidies, given his demonstrated potential for saying what people want to hear (his remarks at AIPAC about Jerusalem, followed by retraction hours later in a press interview, are a case in point if you dismiss the above), is it so inconceivable that he would adopt a position whose detractors are few and far between? Politics is a pathetic charade.

    • Sigh...

      First, Jon Tester is D-Montana. He falls to the right of Obama on a few issues, but he's pro-choice, supports health care reform, and syncs with the Democratic mainstream in most areas.

      Second, you're right: a lot of the positions Obama has taken that bother me are more bluster than substance -- and that's partly what gets me in the first place. I know you've got to drink the DC Kool-Aid when you run for national office, but I think Democrats too often assume that their best option is to hide or dress up positions that attract controversy rather than forcefully advocating them, and it gives them an air of wishy-washiness that they could avoid. For example, the GOP doesn't feel it has to run from its abortion stance even though a slim majority of Americans describe themselves as pro-choice; as a result, they get to own the silly but somehow effective "values" label in the public eye (despite their apparent willingness to lie maliciously and without compunction in every ad they run).

      So yes, I'm delighted by the work he's done on reforming the death penalty, I would expect him to have a much saner approach to Georgia than the GOP, the farm subsidy system is so deeply entrenched as to be off the table in most policy debates, and I'm leaps and bounds happier with his stances on gay rights than the alternative. As I said, I support him enthusiastically; I just wish he wouldn't run interference on these issues quite so much.

  45. "Obama"

    That was in response to 55

  46. How about Barnard?

    "Columbia is saying it will not allow an organization that forbids a certain group of people from joining it ..."

    Umm ... Barnard? Sports teams? Blood drives? Religious groups? Did I say Barnard yet?

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