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Great Debate!

September 26, 2008

Two bits in five minutes… a good debate methinks. Here we go on memory, without notes, from what I remember between trips to the loo and piggy back rides for the kids.

The moderator was quite fair, asked good questions, clarified issues but generally didn’t get in the way.The prohibition on crowd noise favors a humorless candidate like Obama, but McCain was able to get them to laugh at Obama’s expense anyway. Cheers here.

Obama: Sounded real good early on the economy, but lost some momentum as the debate went on. He misrepresented himself on his “unconditional” stance towards meeting with Aqua Velvajhad, and got pretty skewered around that time. He repeated his absolutely ludicrous pipe-dream of getting rid of our dependence on foreign oil in 10 years. Yeah, right.

In general though I think Obama did well, didn’t make major mistakes and had rehearsed enough to get rid of some of his stammering he’s been doing lately when not on the prompter.

I doubt if his performance will change any minds on foreign policy. Economics, maybe.

Obama is serious and talks a good game, but for me, what’s left over doesn’t ususally hold up too well.

McCain: Strangely weak on the economic issues, especially given his history in warning about the Fannie/Freeddie crisis back in 2005. He could have really beaten Obama over the head with that, yet he chose not to? Why?  Would it jeapordize the process now? Repeating his talking points to often, he came off weaker than he should have. He was gutsy to defend his call to axe SEC chief Cox, which had been roundly criticized. I think he’s right. Accountability is important. Time was someone might have resigned that position in similar circumstances even though it wasn’t quite their fault. I think that’s what McCain’s getting at.

On Foreign Policy, he showed himself to be the experienced and nuanced but strong guy he’s always been. I thought his repetition of “Senator Obama doesn’t understand” was effective and well-deserved. But that’s just me. He also seemed to enjoy rattling Obama’s cage. I had wondered if the infamous McCain anger would surface but he seems to be able to channel it in the fight. I like that.

There’s no question McCain has a much more informed sense of the issues and strategies needed to protect America’s interests.

Best line: “You don’t say that out loud!” You don’t. It’s part of the strategy. Obama only understands the strategy of getting elected. He hasn’t had time to think about much else.

Still, I doubt that anything McCain said would change a mind already made up either.

The question is obviously what independents (i.e. folks who don’t really know what they think about important issues) will think. I haven’t the foggiest about that. If you go by the sounds of words, I don’t think there was a clear winner in that sense.

For me though Obama’s foreign policy instincts are ultimately incoherent; or perhaps they too often seem like crying over spilled milk. The argument about going into Iraq seems sooo 2004. On the most important question of the last couple years- the Surge- Obama was totally and utterly wrong. What’s more he won’t admit it. He likes to say he has a comprehensive strategy for us in the region, but he constantly pits the war in Iraq with the war in Afghanistan- and soon Pakistan. They are one war now, with al Queda the constant enemy. Obama can childishly point out that “they weren’t there when we went in” – a not entirely false statement – but the fact is they abandoned Afghanistan to fight us and foment civil war in Iraq. That they have been driven out of Iraq back into Afghanistan and Pakistan is a result of our victory there- a victory Obama DENIES. A victory Obama has consistently opposed or thought impossible.

There are a great many bits I would like to criticize in future posts but I’ll let you dogs weigh in first. Maybe I’ll get around to it, maybe not. The last week or so has been a doozy for me personally- and for the country- and I need to do something fun.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. David permalink
    September 29, 2008 10:22 am

    Victory? In the cold light of day, there has been only a victory of getting us back to where we were before the (illegal/unwarranted/poorly planned) invasion of Iraq (back to square one). Over four thousand soldiers dead, thirty thousand wounded, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis dead, a trillion-plus taxpayers dollars and we have scraped our way back to the starting post. By the way, the Sunni and the Shiites have slowed their fighting because their leaders are on the American payroll. They have focused on Al-Quaeda. It is because of that, that their presence has diminished and we are back at the beginning.

    Crying over spilled milk? Is that what you think the anti-war people (like myself) are doing? Are Japanese Americans, still upset over Roosevelt’s internment camps, crying over spilled milk? Are African-Americans crying over spilled milk in regards to slavery? Are the Jews doing it over the holocaust? We must not forget our government’s mistakes and abuses, we shoud be upset at the abuse of power, and the deception, the use of fear. We have to learn from our mistakes, not forget and move on. After all, we are supposed to be a government for and by the people; and it certainly doesn’t feel like that right now.

    As we are learning about the Cheney/Bush admin is that the abuse of power comes as no surprise. When we allow our government too much power,a thing that the founding fathers were trying to stop- we have hegemony (it takes some consent of the public to allow this to happen). Our government over the last 40 years has become a bully, and Bush is the epitome of an over-reaching power. This is one of the ways a superpower falls.

    Because of this, our standing in the world, in the last two weeks alone, has reached an all time low since WWII. North Korea has found new strength in our crisis, Iran has found new strength in our crisis. McCain is the old school of politics that we cannot afford to have anymore. As we have seen, carrying a big stick, is not the only solution. Bush, the Republican party, as well as some Democrats, has made us less safe, and less influential.

  2. September 30, 2008 8:23 am

    Hi Count,

    I listened to a good part of the debate on the radio. Both McCain and Obama are much better speakers and therefore easier on the ear in the debate format than Vice President Gore, Senator Kerry, or President Bush.

    Both made their points well. McCain is the more moderate of the two and he needs to convince a bigger chunk of the undecided he is their man, but I’m not sure that calling Obama inexperienced and naive is going to be enough to win the debates and win the election.

    I don’t expect either of these two to win or lose their next two debates. I suspect each will continue to play it safe since the election is so close.

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