Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The First Debate

I've waited to write about the first presidential debate for a couple reasons. One, my sister gave birth to my nephew, Colin, last Wednesday, and I've been busy visiting her and the baby and just keeping tabs on her in general. Two, I wanted to see what discussions would ensue in the media after the debate. However, the bailout bill has pretty much taken over the airwaves, so what happened during the debate was popular for like a minute. But a minute was long enough to see that Sen. Barack Obama came out on top.

Going into the debate, I knew he'd do well, but I also knew the Sen. John McCain would try to use Obama's supposed lack of experience against him. Obama wasn't fazed, though. He gave great answers and, more importantly, sounded presidential. McCain also did well, for the most part, if you only look at his answers. McCain had his missteps, like saying that Pakistan was a failed state or that Obama would be foolish to speak out loud about going into Pakistan after Osama bin Laden, as if Obama were talking about full scale war, which he wasn't. Obama hasn't said he wants to attack or invade Pakistan. He has specifically said that if the U.S. has Osama bin Laden or other top al Qaeda lieutenants in our sights, we need to act, if Pakistan won't. Isn't that what we have been after all this time -- the terrorists? McCain accused Obama of not supporting the troops because he opposed a funding bill that had no timetable, neglecting to mention that he, McCain, also opposed a funding bill because it HAD a timetable. So gee, looks like McCain doesn't support the troops either, by that logic. McCain also argued back and forth about Iran, and this idea that no one would sit down for talks with Iran without preconditions. Obama brought up Henry Kissinger, and McCain ridiculed Obama's statement that Kissinger said he would sit down with Iran without preconditions, stating that "By the way, my friend, Dr. Kissinger, who's been my friend for 35 years, would be interested to hear this conversation and Senator Obama's depiction of his -- of his positions on the issue. I've known him for 35 years." I'm sure Kissinger would, considering that at a Sept. 15 forum, he said just that. Not that he would sit down with President Ahmadinejad, which Obama didn't say, but that he would sit down with a high level member of the Iranian government. McCain again looked like a fool for pointing out something so forcefully, but being wrong.

And it was this foolishness that lost him the debate. Well, that foolishness and more. As McCain should know, voters look at far more than words during a debate. Who acts presidential? I'll tell you it wasn't McCain in this debate, and this is why. It was his condescension. The constant statement of "what Senator Obama doesn't seem to understand." His refusal to look at Obama, as if Obama weren't even there. His refusal to address Obama in the first person. McCain acted as if he were just having a conversation with Jim Lehrer, not a debate. And maybe McCain thinks that makes him look tough. It didn't. It made him look immature. His rambling on about his record, as if people needed a refresher. Yes, we know, you were a P.O.W., you've been in politics for ages, ad nauseam. So if that's the case, why did you get schooled at this debate?

And after the debate, how did McCain try to save face? By airing an ad that pointed out how many times Obama said "John is right" during the debate. Really? That's all you have? Never mind that Obama was being gracious, something McCain knows nothing about, and that after each of Obama's "John is right"s, he followed it up with what he would do better or where McCain was also wrong. If this is what McCain has to cling to, then I feel sorry for him. Or maybe conservatives making a fuss about Obama's bracelet is going to help McCain climb back out from the hole he's found himself. Too bad the fuss is all wrong.

Like his campaign, McCain is becoming a joke. He should have excelled at the debate, by all accounts, but instead, he failed. The polls show Obama even further in the lead. No matter how you look at it. Now, nothing is written in stone. Two debates still remain, and anything could happen. But this debate was on foreign policy, an issue McCain has consistently said he knows more about. Yet, Gallup shows Obama and McCain practically even as far as which candidate debate watchers have confidence in on national defense and foreign policy issues. If McCain was such an expert, shouldn't his "more confidence" number have been much higher? And with Obama's supposed lack of experience, his "less confidence" number should have been higher. The fact that these numbers are so close shows just how much McCain has slipped.

1 comment:

Katharine O'Moore-Klopf said...

One theory as to why the polls show McCain and Obama as being about even says that the polls don't contact people by cell phone, and many younger people have only cell phones—no land lines—so that a large number of people who plan to vote for Obama aren't being counted.