Alright, you guys know the way this process goes every four years. There’s a debate between two candidates over a variety of issues and each campaign claims victory afterward. The media generally sides with the Democratic candidate and their claim of success while the internet becomes akin to the wild, wild West. From where I sat, it was McCain’s night on all fronts.
In terms of style and presentation, McCain is a better off-the-cuff speaker than Obama is – no questions there. This is why Obama refused the various town hall debates with McCain over the summer months. As a speaker, Obama is overly reliant on long pauses as well as “ummm,” “aaaahh,” and “ii…iii…iii,” sounds in between his statements. For those debaters out there, you know that this can sometimes be an unconscious reaction to an unclear mental state or a confusion in train of thought. Hell, I do it quite frequently while I teach! It happens and, unfortunately for Obama, I didn’t like the way he came off while saying it.
In terms of content, Obama had a great point when he said that McCain would give even greater tax breaks to the wealthy. On the flip side, McCain decimated Obama during the Iran discussion when he suggested that the American President would not sit down with the Iranian President without preconditions.
But when it got down to discussions of military strategy (not tactics, mind you), McCain trumped Obama on almost every point. I’m not saying that I agree with every single thing that McCain said, but he absolutely won the debate. To me, it seemed that Obama sometimes got caught in saying anything in order to win the immediate debate. In other words, I heard some contradictions in his speeches that I’m sure none of the media will bring up (as soon as a transcript is available, I’ll try to flesh some of this out in a future post).
In terms of actually putting policy specifics out on the table, Obama failed though this is par for his course. Obama never really speaks in specifics and that’s because he’s still trying to be all things to all people. He will do himself and his campaign a great favor when he starts laying out specifics in terms of his policy. Simply saying that everyone making $250,000 and above will have their taxes raised isn’t good enough. He has to acknowledge that the more you tax a business, the less chance that business has of hiring more employees and increasing the wages of its workers.
Oh, and did anyone notice that Obama suggested a few times throughout the night that he agreed with McCain’s stance on certain issues? McCain only said that Obama was too inexperienced or that he didn’t understand certain issues. Just something interesting that I picked up on.
There was another thing that I didn’t like (and this is really me scolding the country, not the politicians). At one point, Obama said that McCain was wrong when he supported going into Iraq and wrong about the weapons of mass destruction. Talk about a distortion of reality. First and foremost, weapons of mass destruction WERE found in Iraq! Nuclear weapons were not found, but hundreds of chemical weapons were found. These are also weapons of mass destruction! Second, let’s not forget that almost every national politician supported going into Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein in 2003. To look back five years later and say, “What a bad decision,” does nothing to put the decision in a historical perspective.
The last thing that I’ll say about the debate is that Jim Lehrer did a decent job as moderator and I enjoyed the new back-and-forth format. Jim Lehrer is one of those old school newsmen who doesn’t realize that he’s blatantly partisan while on the air, but I thought he did a good job as moderator. Now, as for Ray Suarez who had the hosting duties on PBS – that’s another story! Talk about a biased, defeatist person…
Finally, I just wanted to point out that I tried to log-on to PickensPlan.com after the debate to be a part of his online chat room or discussion or whatever it was and I couldn’t get on his site! If you’re going to spend the money on airtime to promote an online discussion, then have the bandwidth to handle the capacity! Also, while I was flipping around the television after the debate, I found it funny that both ABC News and CNN were advertising their political coverage on FOX News. Kinda funny when you think about it.
Anyway – what do you think? Who won the debate?