- The more drastic was the way he fumbled around on the question of where he would cut the budget. He basically rehashed his highest priorities for spending, thereby leaving any assumptions about low-priority stuff getting cut as implicit. Standing in front of John McCain, he had the perfect opportunity to get there first on getting the bloat out of the Defense budget (allowing McCain to play that card) by seeing to the needs of the armed forces and not worrying so much about pie-in-the-sky Beltway-Bandit research ventures or an unmanageable counterproductive system of contractors.
- He also missed out on a key talking point "hot off the presses" (the "press" in this case being the Web site for The Nation). Joseph Stiglitz (as in The Three Trillion Dollar War) pointed out that there are four major problems in the current economic crisis. Paulson's "solution" only deals with one. This overlooks the question as to whether solving that one problem will make the other three worse. This then leads to an equally important question: If you cannot solve all four at once (which is a realistic assumption), where is the best place to start?
The economic crisis should have given Obama a hand full of trump cards. Instead, all we got was Michael Cohen at The New York Times saying he "acquitted" himself well. Obama has the capacity to go back to Washington, while the deliberations are taking place, and not make a fool of himself the way McCain did. Having blown his opportunity during the debate, he needs to show us his worth in the trenches.