Friday, September 26, 2008

The 2008 Presidential Debates, RoundOne

Tonight, the foreign policy debate that was set up to be John McCain's best debate opportunity finally came off. As a result of the financial crisis and McCain's own decisions to suspend his campaign and return to Washington, there was some question whether the debate would actually occur. It did. How did it strike me?

Well, to be honest, I think I should tell you that I am reluctantly leaning McCain this time. For a coupe of reasons, maybe more. First, I just don't have a comfort level that I know Obama or what he will be as President. That is not to say I don't like him, or believe him per se. It is more that he strikes me as someone of good sense and wonderful communication ability stepping into a very deep pool indeed. Does he understand high context? In every administrationI am worried more about the uninteded consequences or the new President's policies. These usually are of greater impact than the actual policies themselves. Having brunch with Ahminjiad seems one of those times where the consequncs migh be very surprsing to Obama. Second, I am trounled by the beliefs of his church. How can a bright, articulate man, listen to seermons like those? Take his daughters to hear that the US government invented Aids to kill black people? I don't feel the I know him as a result of his 20 years in that church. That level of sterotyping and paranoia is just whacked even issuing ffrom a peole who have know great eveil to be done to them. I am uncomfortable with his celebrity status, with hi soft-polling, with his presidential replica seal and concert venue speeches to a lighter-flicking crowd. I don't know that any of these things are real issues, but they make me feel that I don't know the man or what he'd do as President.

In the debate, McCain was sharper, I thought. He repeatedly seemed taken aback, and said to Obama "you just don't understand'. The most direct example came during an argumentative exchange about the wisdom of meeting with the Iranian president. “So let me get this right,” McCain said, exasperated. “We sit down with Ahmadinejad, and he says, "We're going to wipe Israel off the face of the Earth," and we say, "No, you're not"? Oh, please.”

Obama occassionally hinted at compassion for ordinary people -but he wasn’t always successful in that either. Kicking off the debate with a question about the financial crisis, Obama allowed that voters are wondering, “how’s it going to affect me?” He never answered the question, instead launching into a litany of economic principles, then building to his main negative of the night: lecturing, talking at the audience like a professor to a slightly dim class.

Obama seemed to be on defense, parrying McCain's jabs. Often, he seemed to want to jump in and educte us all about that issue - along the way making sure I knew how smart he was. In the end, McCainhad done some damage wth his remrks indicating that Obama is not ready. Obama was able to counter enough remarks that really, I came away with a better feel for McCain, and nothing new for Obama. I wish I could tell him JUST TELL US WHO YOU ARE! Come on , Barack, just tell us. I bet we'll like you. We want to like you. But that reserve that everyone talks is killing me. I just don't think I can vote for ou without knowing much more about you. You were defensive tonight. Why? McCain was on the offensive most of the night, and it seemed to me that Obama's cheif accomplshment was to keep his voice low and steady, smile now an then, and let the comments just run off his back. It was a patrician stance (admired by me, I must say), but my reading tells me that many saw it as lack of confidence, deep knowlage and even a theatrical device designed to reassure. We've heard a lot of words from Sen. Obama over the course of this campaign, but maybe just this once he could spare us the lectures. McCain came acoss as a smart, experienced man. Obama came across as a self-mae celebrity. A smart, well-spoken man, no doubt. But I left the debae wth the same vague feeling with which I began it: Whos is this guy, really? And I know I'll not vote for a feller I can't get a clear picture of. His aloofness and minor grandiosity give me pause as well. Still, much as I hate the candidate pool we have (and want new unknowns) electe, there's just nothing to be done for it. In boxing terms, I'd score this debate 11-8 McCain.

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Sunshine on Discovery Bay

Sunshine on Discovery Bay
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