Saturday, September 27, 2008

The First Presidential Debate of 2008

You can watch it here at Hulu if you haven't seen it.

I suppose it went about like I expected. There weren't a lot of fireworks, and it was a reasonably sober discussion of the economy and foreign affairs. McCain used a lot of his old, tired lines ("We came to here to change Washington, but Washington changed us", "I didn't win Miss Congeniality", "Sen. Obama wants to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory"). You could tell that his strategy was to talk down to Obama and try to expose him as ignorant and ill-experienced. I don't know how many times he used the phrase "Sen. Obama doesn't understand...", but it was at least 4 or 5. But Obama wasn't having any of that, and he seemed confident and presidential as he described his stances.

On the financial side, I thought Obama's position made a lot more sense, saying that he'd have to postpone some of planned programs, but that no one would know what the budget would be like next year, so it was premature to talk about specific cuts. McCain at one point said he'd "veto everything that came across his desk", which seems not only extreme, but silly. There might actually be a decent piece of legislation that comes across his desk in the next year. But what he said probably appealed to people more than Obama's response.

Obama backpeddled on a lot of things that he said in the primary campaigns, and justifiably so. I'm fairly satisfied that he's intelligent enough to know that he made some rhetorical mistakes early on and that he's learned his lesson. I disagree with his position on Iraq, but I honestly don't think he's going to have a dramatically different policy from McCain. I like that he recognizes that Pakistan and Afghanistan are of primary importance right now.

McCain seemed the less genuine of the two, but he still did a decent job, I thought. Obama didn't hit a home run, but he was solid as well. I'd give McCain a B and Obama a B+.

One thing I thought was interesting was how neither the moderator nor Obama pointed out that McCain nearly didn't even show up for this debate. Obama could have taken a dig at McCain for threatening to skip the debate, but he didn't, probably realizing that he didn't actually need to say anything.

I'll watch all the debates, but I don't see being swayed much by them unless something really unexpected and dramatic happens in one of them. I really am looking forward to the vice presidential debate. Biden was barely given a chance to talk in the primary debates, which were the Obama/Hillary show, but he'll have equal time here. I wondered if going on the attack might backfire, but I think most people will be of the opinion that Palin is running for the 2nd most powerful job in the world, and if she can't take some heat, she shouldn't be in that spot. So I'd expect Biden to tear into her. Historically, VPs are attack dogs, doing a lot of the dirty work while the presidential candidate takes the high road. We'll see what happens, but I'm really looking forward to it next Thursday.


Rob said...

I think the debate was a waste of time if the intention was to change people's minds. Obama and McCain come from such polar opposite positions that anyone that has paid attention to the campaigns should be aligned with one or the other. I don't believe the polls that show a large undecided percentage. In fact as a result of the polling in the past two presidential elections I think people lie to pollsters in large numbers, telling them what they think they want to hear.

What I thought was hysterical was the pathetic Jim Lehrer trying to get them to go at each other and they both stuck to their scripts, barely looking at each other. It was pretty obvious that these guys don't like each other. McCain seems irritated that this guy has the audacity to think himself a better offering to the American people than himself. Obama is condescending and arrogant, wanting you to know that he is the smartest guy in the room and that should be enough for you to give him the job. It would really be funny if they were running for court jester but they are not.

So I too will watch the VP debate, primarily to see if Biden's head explodes. He's another Washington insider that cannot believe he is not the nominee. With his history of having his head up his butt and both feet in his mouth you never know what he is going to say. In theory he should mop up the floor with her but I don't think it will happen.

So to paraphrase Jim Lehrer in January one of you guys is going to be president so what are you really going to do? Neither one knows because they do not know what hand they will be dealt. If someone had told Bush that 8 months into his presidency he would have to face a 9/11 I am sure he would have dealt with it better. It doesn't work that way. Flowery speeches and 5 1/2 years in a prison camp may get you attention but do they make you ready for the job. I guess we will see in January.

mark said...

you say

I like that he recognizes that Pakistan and Afghanistan are of primary importance right now.

I'm not buying it. For me the war has moved to Iran. Afghanistan is a dump and not likely to be anything else in our lifetimes. We should invest in it's education infrastructure. Keeping the Taliban and Al Queada pinned down there has some strategic importance. We are not going to root them out of there without local support. The only reason we have moved some attention there is that the Iraqi people turned there backs on them and helped us root them out of Iraq. We need a working relationship with Pakistan to accomplish the same. We are not going to get that if we threaten to invade their country.

However, the bigger issue and scarier issue is Iran. If Iran falls and becomes a working democratic and capitalistic country. Then I can fore see the end of terrorism as a serious threat to all people. At that point the only country left spreading the roots of terrorism is Saudi Arabia. They like their oil money to much to be any real threat.

I also don't agree that Afghanistan should have been the real focus of the war. We will not defeat terrorism by controlling Afghanistan. It was a good start but holding Afghanistan and even destroying all of Al Queada and the Taliban will not stop Terrorism. Terrorism exists because of the despotism, ignorance and poverty of this area where untold wealth lies beneath it's sands. It's not that crazy people get to preach crazy shit. Look at Jeremiah Wright. It's when poverty stricken people hungry for any solution listen to these crazy people.

Kenny Wyland said...

rob said... What I thought was hysterical was the pathetic Jim Lehrer trying to get them to go at each other and they both stuck to their scripts, barely looking at each other

Except that Obama actually used that interaction time and responded and challenged McCain several times. McCain is the one who essentially refused to even look at Obama during the one time he spoke directly to Obama.