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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Presidential Debate #1: Yawn!


Former President Ronald "The Great Communicator" Reagan must be rolling in his grave after last night's debate.

Truth be told, I didn't think either candidate did particulalry well. I was waiting for Obama to shine. He didn't - except sortakinda when he was speaking about the economy. McCain had a few moments in the spotlight when it came to foreign policy and then he didn't so much shine as he threw a few well-placed sucker punches at Obama's "inexperience" and Obama didn't really defend himself.

NY Times Op-Ed Columnist, Gail Collins wrote this morning: "This was supposed to be the foreign affairs debate, and it’s hard to beat down McCain on foreign affairs — anybody who can start a sentence with “I’ve been to Waziristan ...” has a natural advantage. But Obama really more than held his own."

Okay. I'll take that. But, I also think Obama needs to come up with a counter-strategy to that sucker-punch, and it has to be smart, but it can't be subtle.

Collins also writes: "This campaign has been so chock full of excitement, however, that the debate lost some of its normal most-important-moment-in-history sheen. The real tension, after all, had been getting McCain there in the first place. A simple trip to Mississippi turned into a saga featuring many, many rapidly changing story lines:

* Cancel the debate!

* Maybe cancel the debate!

* No debate unless Congress passes a financial rescue bill!

* No debate unless Congress has a plan to pass a financial rescue bill.

* Oh, what the heck.

After all that, when the wandering debater finally showed up Friday night, he just looked like a smallish, grayish, slightly grumpy guy with a grizzly obsession."


Mostly, it was boring. I know it was "history in the making", but it was boring. Debates are not exactly a thrill a minute experience, but they don't have to be boring, either.

This nation is in the third week of the greatest financial disaster since Wall Street collapsed in the 1920's. I'm not asking for entertainment - every time Sarah Palin is interviewed on television we are provided with more than enough mawkish entertainment for my gullet (no wonder the Republicans keep her in the back room) - I'm asking to hear and see something that gives me some hope and confidence that somebody has a plan to lead us out of this.

My pension plan has lost thousands of dollars in the past few weeks which will take 7-8 years to recover.

Yesterday, there was a whisper of a rumor that WaMu bank was teetering on collapse. By noon, the branch at the local strip mall was closed.

The emergency squad just put out a call about a "potentially suicidal young man." Ms. Conroy said, "We're going to be getting a lot more of those calls."

The importance of these debates are more than historic. They can be used as a means to communicate a plan, a strategy, that makes sense - and give us hope instead of a frustrated yawn.

2 comments:

Suzer said...

One opportunity I think Obama missed was bringing up the Keating Five scandal. McCain gave him two opportunities to bite on that one, saying that he had put people in jail who were corrupt and wasted taxpayers' money. However, McCain was found guilty of using "poor judgment" (though he probably was guiltier of more) in the Keating affair, which lost taxpayers $124 billion to bail out that crisis.

I thought they both did well, with Obama perhaps having a bit of an edge, but that may be because I favor him anyway. I was surprised as how well McCain did, because I didn't expect anything of him. He repeated some of the stock Republican lines a little too much (cut spending, cut spending, cut spending), when the Republicans have done nothing but spend, spend, spend the past 8 years.

My advice to Obama - it's time for the gloves to come off in these debates. I know you're a gentleman, but you can't give up opportunities like the one you missed with the Keating Five. You can still remain a gentleman while calling McCain to task on his record.

Jim said...

I am not enamored of either candidate. And as I live in Illinois, and know with certainty that our electoral votes are going to our senator, I did not pay a lot of attention to the debate. I had in on audio, and half listened to it.

I am more interested in the run-up. In the call for the ball-out, Sen. McCain immediately wanted to cancel the debate. That to me, is a problem. Sen. McCain is a naval officer, the son and grandson of admirals, that is a proud heritage but it is also a problem. His reaction to the crises was to cancel the debate -- that bothers me.

Military officers are taught to take charge, to issue orders, to seek the moment of conclusion. That is good in combat it is not good in democracy. Republic's life blood is debate, politics, compromise, and avoiding the moment of conclusion.

I am worried not about patriotism: both men are patriots. I am not worried about intellect: both men are smart. I am not worried about vice-presidents: we are electing presidents. I am worried about temperament and judgment. Sen. Obama has not yet been a senator 2 full years, he has very little basis for judgement in his experiences. Sen. McCain seeks the moment of conflict, not the political moment.

And, "one of these mopes is gonna be pres" as a driver informed me in Baltimore this week. Yup! Back to the primaries folks, we screwed up!

FWIW
jimB