This is my live-blogged summary of the second McCain-Obama debate from Nashville, TN.

6:01pm Wow, the place is basically a TV studio with only maybe 50 or 100 people in the audience, who are surrounding the candidates on all sides. Talk about being exposed! Well, this will facilitate the audience questions in this town hall format. Let’s go!

6:03pm Tom Brokaw has a distinctive voice. Both candidates walk on smiling and patting each others arms. How phony! But, anyhow, here we go. Can McCain hold his temper? Can Obama fight back?

6:05pm Obama stands up when the first question is asked and grabs the microphone boldly. Everyone’s worried about the economy, Obama says. He’s not kidding. The first jab at McCain implies that he helped cause this mess by demanding less regulation. “The middle class need a rescue plan” will go down well.

6:08pm McCain is up, and addresses the asker of the question directly, engaging him with eye contact and walking right up to him in the stands. It’s an attempt to seem engaging and polite, but it seems a little fake to me (like much of politics, actually). McCain says “I know how to get America working again.” Does he?

6:10pm Who does McCain have in mind for treasury secretary? He names Meg Whitman, after saying “Not you, Tom!” Brokaw barely laughs. Obama names Warren Buffet, feeling the pressure to give a name, perhaps. Another attack on McCain. Obama clearly wants to be more aggressive this time around. Obama repeats his middle-class tax cut plan again.

6:16pm A question from Oliver. In reply McCain stands in front of Obama and blames him and “his cronies” for part of the crisis (probably in response to Obama’s aggressiveness). McCain is explaining the “catalyst” in layman’s terms. Obama goes to explaining to Oliver too — does any of this seem a little patronizing to you? — and “corrects” McCain in the process. Poor Oliver now has two competing answers as to why this economic crisis occurred… and perhaps not a direct answer to his question, “What in the bailout package will actually help Americans?” Ah, Obama admits Oliver probably doesn’t want to hear politicians pointing fingers. Astute.

6:18pm Do the candidates think things will get worse rather than better? They both say the same thing, although Obama starts with “No” and McCain starts with “It depends what we do.” I’m wondering what Obama actually knows about the economy. McCain at least has some substantial experience in economic matters…

6:21pm How can we trust either of the candidates with our money? Great question. Obama cites the surplus Bush inherited as a reason the Republicans are worse on spending. Ever think you’d see the day that Democrats could legitimately claim they’d spend less than Republicans, supposedly the party of small government?

6:23pm McCain agrees this is a huge deficit, and says he’s consistently opposed it. Cites Obama’s proposed “[$600 / $800] milion of new spending.” That’s a strong point, to be sure, because the facts are the economy can’t support it.

6:24pm McCain refuses to prioritize the three things Brokaw asks, saying you can do all three. (Health care, entitlements or energy?) Now he’s talking all-of-the-above energy, which I agree with.

6:28pm Ah! Obama WILL prioritize. Energy comes first, he says. Good move – he’s already ahead on health care, so he figures he can appear to prioritize (and those who don’t agree with his universal health care ideas will be glad to hear him prioritize energy instead, so he wins with both groups). McCain probably figures he’s behind on health care, so can’t be seen to prioritize anything ahead of it. Interesting question!

6:30pm Brokaw is valiantly trying to stick to the rules on time. Question about the military: McCain says he’s saved the taxpayers money before, and will assess every agency’s spending and “eliminate earmarks” … it’s a “spending freeze” he wants – which I like – and now he says “we can prioritize”; didn’t he say he didn’t want to do that in the previous question?

6:33pm Obama is back talking about energy, and namechecking “clean coal.” *Yawn.* And it’s news to me that he wants to drill domestically.

6:35pm Both candidates are now preferring to stand for the questions. Nervous energy? Brokaw asks a question about too much credit. Generic answer from Obama: “It starts with Washington.” No matter what question was asked, that answer could suffice!

6:37pm McCain: Obama wants to raise taxes. The last president that raised taxes was Hoover, and he practiced protectionism! “Obama’s secret” is that he’ll raise taxes for 50 percent of small businesses – Obama is smiling in the background – McCain has “got some news” for Obama, and he won’t touch the tax rates. I think he won a few points here.

6:38pm Wow, Brokaw cuts off Obama when he tries to respond to McCain – haha! – he’s sticking rigidly to the rules, and Obama can’t be happy.

6:41pm Obama gets to his tax plan and addresses McCain’s challenge. If you make less than $250k then you won’t see your taxes go up. “Only a few percent of small businesses” make more than that, so only a few percent will be affected. Well, this should be easy to check, right? Where are the statistics? Either “a few percent” or “50 percent” of small businesses make over $250k and will be affected by Obama’s tax hikes. Let’s see the figures.

6:42pm McCain gets up and laughs at Obama saying, “I’ll answer the question!” It’s true that Obama used almost all his time to answer that previous challenge over taxes.

6:43pm After answering, he’s using the rest of his time to respond on taxes. McCain has fought higher taxes, Obama has consistently voted for them. ‘Nuff said. Okay…

6:45pm McCain distances himself from Bush on climate change. It seems that the next US president will be very proactive on energy, no matter who it is. McCain gains points with me on nuclear power (and pronounces it “nuke-lee-ar”!) by saying Obama is wrong to suggest it’s unsafe. He was on ships with nuclear power, for the love of God! And the French do it!

6:48pm Obama says he favors nuclear power as part of the future, despite McCain’s allegations. It sounds as though they’re going to do something similar on this, despite the rhetoric. “We can’t drill our way out of the problem…” as if McCain said we could.

6:50pm Brokaw berates the candidates again about time. McCain says, “Wave at me!” and Obama says he’s “just trying to keep up with John!” Nice light moment. McCain characterizes pork-barrel spending in a way that’s very agreeable to me. I’ve never heard Obama that critical about earmarks or spending.

6:51pm Lindsey Trella asks if health care should be treated like a commodity, implying that it shouldn’t. Watch for some fireworks now.

6:53pm Obama is going to improve healthcare, and is setting out specifically what he’s going to do. He’s going to allow ordinary Americans to get the same kind of health care McCain and him enjoy. Honestly, this goes against most libertarian bones in my body, but it’s such a huge issue that he’s beginning to sell it to me.

6:55pm McCain wants to make it all more efficient. Uh, that doesn’t sound like the problem. He’s right, though, to suggest that ‘government will do this or that’ is NOT an answer either. A tax credit to shop for health care sounds like government involvement in health care to me, though. And I can’t say I’d be disappointed to receive it….

6:58pm McCain’s joke about needing a hair transplant fell a little flat. Is health care a privilege, a right or a responsibility? McCain: it’s a responsibility. (What does that mean?) Obama: it’s a right. I wonder if most people know what that implies.

7pm Obama has a good counter to McCain’s suggestion that people should allowed to shop across state lines for health insurance. Random thought: I wonder why the decision to have the candidates use hand-held microphones? Comfort? Something to hold? McCain gets a jab back at Obama about his lack of mentioning the amount of the fine.

7:03pm An interesting question about how constraints on the US economy may affect the ability of America to keep peace around the world. Obama makes a point against McCain on Iraq. Says the Iraqis have a surplus!

7:09pm Brokaw wants to know how the candidates differ on the use of combat forces overseas. Obama says we should use them in cases of genocide or whatever, but we can’t be everywhere all the time. Yes, and I’d like to hear him say he’d intervene less than previous administrations. McCain agrees on genocide and says we need a “cool hand at the tiller” – is that really McCain? He cites his own experience on the issue. And says America’s troops are “precious” – and said “darn sure” we shouldn’t rush into a conflict! Ha!

7:11pm Another foreign policy question about Pakistan. Go in to get bin Laden or not? Obama says we should change our policies toward Pakistan. We should cool our relationship with them? Interesting that Obama should say that.

7:16pm Obama talks tough and says if Pakistan won’t do it, we should “crush” bin Laden if we have the opportunity. McCain pitches Obama’s attitude against Theodore Roosevelt’s “Talk softly but carry a big stick,” by saying Obama talks loudly (does this imply he has a small stick?). Obama demands a follow-up, and McCain says fine, but he’ll want one too, and Brokaw agrees to allow it. Obama uses the follow-up to cite occasions McCain has spoken “loudly” about North Korea and elsewhere. McCain, of course, demands his follow-up too, and says, “Not true.” This was an interesting exchange, and of course there’s not that much difference between the candidates. Confidence from McCain on bin Laden: “I’ll get him!”

7:20pm Name-dropping by both candidates, of military people in the middle east. What is this, the MTV Video Music Awards?

7:23pm McCain sounds more knowledgeable about Russia, but sounds perhaps a little aggressive toward Putin for those who are fearful of cooling relations between our two nations: nobody wants another Cold War.

7:26pm Is Russia an evil empire? Obama says they’ve engaged in evil behavior. McCain nails it by saying “Maybe”: if he says yes, he’s reigniting the Cold War, if he says no, he’s excusing their behavior. Excellent, zero-bullshit answer…. to a ridiculous question.

7:28pm Obama and McCain honor this guy’s service in the military. They both say America has a role in protecting Israel. Really, did Brokaw expect them to say anything else?

7:31pm Wow, Michelle Obama just got screen-time after a charming joke from Obama in response to the final question, “What don’t you know and how will you learn it?” That earns points for him, especially as he came up so quickly with this bullshit answer to this bullshit question.

7:33pm McCain answers that he doesn’t know what’ll happen in the near future through these “dark times.” Good answer, but he had longer to think about it. Actually, Don Rumsfeld had the best answer to this question:

As we know,
There are known knowns.
There are things we know we know.
We also know
There are known unknowns.
That is to say
We know there are some things
We do not know.
But there are also unknown unknowns,
The ones we don’t know
We don’t know

…but really, which of these candidates is going to quote him?

The end. Thanks for reading!