Friday, September 26, 2008

overview of tonight's debate

First, three disclaimers: one, I'm always overwhelmingly negative of conservatives in debates. I keep putting myself in the shoes of the Republican, and -- probably because I'm such an egotistical fool -- I keep being disappointed in what I see as opposed to what I wish would have been done; second, I actually left the room for the last 25 minutes of the debate out of frustration (see point one above); thirdly, before the debate started I had warned my audience (consisting of myself and my children's teddy bears) of my diminished expectations for tonight. Yes, it was an area that McCain should have been great in--but I harkened back to '04 and thought about that first debate. . .about topics that Bush should've crushed Kerry on. . .and he just didn't. I was afraid I would witness much the same thing tonight.

Sadly, I think I ended up being right.

IF I was a general policy fool and was just judging the candidates on their performance tonight, it was a hands-down victory.

For Obama.

First off, he wasn't a stumble-bumpkin at all. And while there were moments where he was maybe speaking too loudly, since he started off that way there wasn't a noticeable difference as the night went along (in other words, he didn't really appear to be losing his cool). He spoke clearly, was able to get specific in certain areas (not about policy, mind you, but he had enough details to fire decent counter-punches when the situation called for it), and was much more engaging of the atmosphere--Lehrer, McCain and the camera--than was McCain.

And in terms of "attacks", Obama's were pointed. And fairly frequent. McCain's were. . .umm. . .off-topic mostly. And rambling. I mean, I'm SCREAMING at the TV about what McCain should say back. . .and clearly my mind-meld system was on the fritz tonight.

But to the "issues" as they were, tying in my conservative criticisms: how is it that on the economy, we hear about a "warning shot" about Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae back in 2006--from Obama? I didn't even know that such a warning existed. . .and I'm actually going to be interested to see if it is. But we KNOW McCain has a moment very similar to that. . .that somehow he neglected to mention.

How is it that Obama's mockery of the small total amount of earmarks in the budget had zero response from McCain? If the debate boiled down simply to earmarks vs taxes. . .well, it wasn't a shining moment for McCain.

But HERE'S my biggest beef: why hasn't McCain HAMMERED Obama on his Iraq judgement as the judgement of someone who was not IN THE KNOW? Listen, Obama has stood by an UNEDUCATED AND UNINFORMED judgement of Iraq in 2002. Did he have access to the intel that members of the UNITED STATES Congress were looking at when they sided with Bush? NO! And Obama's running mate, a man who DID have access to that intel and who Obama wants us to believe is ready to fill in as the top dog if such a situation was warranted, supported the move to war--as did several other members of his party. So for Obama to have ANY judgement about the war from that position of ignorance is DANGEROUS--and THAT is what McCain should have been hammering away at all day long. Sadly, no such luck.

Now it wasn't all roses for Obama. For example, I caught just a little bit of his closing remarks, and if I'm not mistaken I heard him say something to the effect of this country no longer being a place where people feel they can accomplish anything. Is it just me, or does this statement coming from a black man in Mississippi a mere 40 years after the height of MLKs movement ring empty?

Anyhow. . .I expect Obama to get a little bump in his polling after tonight. McCain has GOT to do better than this in the next debate.

And if this election goes sour for McCain, I'm going to think that this week was a big reason why.


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