Before I begin watching the debate, I would note that McCain has all but pulled his campaign out of the state of Michigan. Obviously, I'm a homer and all who wants to overstate the importance of his home state, but by doing so he almost guarantees that Obama wins the election unless McCain can lock up Florida. That is, unless the public perception of Obama rapidly deteriorates before the election. With that being said, and with Palin throwing the first few daggers on "Crusty Old White Guy's" behalf about Obama's ties to "terrorists" earlier this week, I look for some blood to be drawn tonight. Shall we find out? I believe we should.
I am fully aware that the opening question in both debates thus far has been directed to the democratic candidate on domestic economic policy, thereby causing me to launch into an "Adam Smith" like diatribe. Recognizing that no one in my viewing audience likes Adam Smith diatribes, I'm just going to TiVo through the first question and avoid the prospect of that happening yet again altogether. Especially since as I type this I see that the first question is an economic policy question directed toward Obama. Question about the Wall Street bailout: McCain goes Palin and does the"Wall Street to Main Street" analogy. I know that is supposed to make me think that they have the interests of the common person in mind over the elite stock trader types, but I'm sick of it. Seriously, how much is it to ask that I don't hear another empty fucking label like "hockey mom," "maverick," "celebrity," or "from Wall Street to Main Street" ever again? Also, did Palin have an affair? I just saw something about that in one of the tabloids at the grocery store today. God I hope she did, that would be a fucking hilarious contradiction on what she is supposed to stand for.
Obama's first response is super bumblefucky. I am very disappointed,as I had hoped he would clean that up between the debates. De-......uh......regulate...re-....uh.....regulate. I'm confused, and it is way too early for my head to hurt this bad.
Tom Brokaw talks REALLY fast. I mean REALLY fast. I think he might be some sort of a political robot. Also, the design of the town hall sucks. The candidates, or at least Obama, keeps looking directly at the audience as he speaks, not realizing that his back is to the camera THE ENTIRE FUCKING TIME! Come on people, he either has to know this shit, or someone should have told him where to position himself for the camera before the debate!
Next question: A lady, who can barely read her own question (which she apparently scribbled on the palm of her own hand 5 minutes before the debate), asks how can we "trust either of you with our money with both parties...got us into this global economic crisis?" Say what??? Obama wants to invest in healthcare, deal with energy to prevent foreign dependency, make college more affordable, and find a way to milk rainbows for their pots of gold (I only made one of those up). Yet somehow he thinks doing so will result (under his plan) in a net spending cut........No, no it won't. It sounds great, but I promise you it won't. Healthcare affordability alone would necessitate a MAJOR tax increase and/or a MAJOR spending increase. McCain responds by noting that he has a record as a bipartisan reformer. Obviously, McCain needs to distance himself from Bush. What he needs to say is that "the presidency of G.W. Bush was a complete failure. You know it, I know it, the whole American public knows it. President Bush strayed from the party's principals...my principals. The Republicans, as a party, starting with myself as a leader, need to take our party back with NEW innovative policies and tax cuts that adhere to the principals that took this country out of stagflation and the energy crisis of the late 1970's, much like the crisis we are currently facing today." Is that so tough? I just made that up in less than 30 seconds, isn't that along the lines of what disenfranchised Republican voters want to hear? McCain ABSOLUTELY needs to SLAM Bush in order to distance himself from the ramifications of the current economic situation. He can't tiptoe around it because he doesn't want to hurt Bush's feelings. If he doesn't slam Bush, he has no chance of winning this election. I am pleased to note that someone has got to McCain and convinced himto turn his throat tumor away from the camera. In fact, I hardly even notice it tonight. However, could he tense up his shoulders a little bit more and look like a tiny, angry, balled up old man?
Obama makes a great statement about U.S. citizens taking the initiative about making energy changes in their everyday lives. Kind of reminds me of Kennedy's "ask not what your country can do for you,but what you can do for your country" statement, but without trying too hard to be that. He also notes our need to develop alternate energy sources and domestically produced fuel efficient cars. This is an excellent reach out to the interested constituent/challenge to those who want to make a difference. By far, my favorite moment of the debate thus far.
Question on three important policy priorities: healthcare, energy, and Social Security reform. McCain thinks all three can be accomplished at once. Obama thinks we need to prioritize. He wants to deal with energy right away and free ourselves from dependency on foreign oil within 10 years, which I'm all for. I especially liked how Obama subtly made an analogy to Kennedy making the challenge to put a man on the moon, an amazing feat that the country was able to put its mind to and accomplish. Obama is definitely drawing on those who compare him to Kennedy without blatantly throwing it in the public's faces and begging for their affirmation. He just drops a JFK policy reference and smoothly moves on. Second, he would deal with healthcare. Third, he would improve education (did I miss the question? I thought the third issue was Social Security reform? Oh well, if Palin can talk about whatever the fuck she wants to talk about, then so can Obama). Anyways, both candidates were solid in terms of their vision for addressing these pressing issues. Unfortunately there is not enough time under this debate format to go into any specifics, which is highlighted by Brokaw's zinger that unless the agreed upon time limits are enforced we will be facing a time crunch bigger than the Federal deficit. We'll give that round to Brokaw.
Question on whether a deadline should be set for Congress to address Social Security. Obama wants to....all right. I need to address this. Can McCain move his right elbow? Seriously. I attributed his rigidity to holding the mic while talking, but they just showed him in the background while Obama was speaking with that elbow still engaged in a locked position. Does he have Bob Dole pen envy? His left arm clearly moves. I mean, he hits the "gosh darn" motion with his left arm every time that he refers to the audience as "my friends," which is like twice every sentence. Moving on, Obama kind of drops the ball by acknowledging that he would probably not set his goals on addressing Social Security funding within 2 years, instead hoping to take care of that issue within his first term. Candidates have been pushing this issue to the backburner for at least 16 years now because of the political blood bath that it might become. I'd like to see someone with the chops to stand up and put a bright line date and challenge for Congress to address this issue.
I generally prefer privatization of markets, as you know, but I am a bit uncomfortable with McCain's plan to give employer's tax credits so they can shop for the best health care plans for their employees. Right now the issue is that there are not enough affordable plans with decent coverage on the market for employers to choose from. From my experience, right now you either get minimal coverage at a lower cost, or you are subject to a plan that routinely doubles in premium every year. The answer is two fold. Cutting unnecessary health care costs (starting with the Federal government and the horror stories of fraudulent billing), and developing some sort of universal benefit floor (either from a public or private provider) that treats everyone relatively the same. In fact, I may even be in favor of some level of minimal coverage provided by the government as a safety net, which can be supplemented by plans provided by private employers and insurers.
Interesting debate on foreign policy in Pok-E-ston, Afghanistan, and the Tolly-bon (thereby making me incredibly giddy). Brokaw has completely lost control of the debate at this point, allowing each candidate to completely disregard their time limits. This is actually a good thing, because it is the first time all night that we have gone into a substantive policy debate instead of references to key words and catch phrases. Regardless of how you stand on the issue, at least we know exactly what each candidate believes in doing in regards to the Middle East.
Question on U.S. policy on Russia. It kind of scares me that Obama all but calls out Russia as evil. He's certainly not winning any friends there if he wins. McCain has a similar stance on Russia's recent aggressions, but tip toes around the issue a little more diplomatically. On the other hand, Obama follows up his hard line approach on assisting Israel against any Iranian threat by noting that he would use any and all diplomatic options to prevent any such threats from coming into fruition. That's the Obama I want to hear. The U.S. does not need to be running rogue in the eyes of the international community. If all other options fail, fine, but let's get the cooperation of NATO and the UN in some of these more difficult situations.
And fittingly, the debate concludes with McCain and Obama embracing directly in front of Brokaw's teleprompter so he can't read his sendoff. Brokaw handles it in good spirits. In fact, speaking of spirits, old Tom was probably the first one in line to get a drink after the debate ended.
All in all, the candidates again were exceptionally cordial. I was sure McCain would attack Obama out of desperation, but it never manifested. I thought both candidates performed fairly well. I particularly enjoyed the end of the debate where they basically ignored the agreed upon format and got into the details of their respective policies. That part of the debate was actually pretty even. McCain still seems a bit rehearsed though, and his constant use of the term "my friend" made him seem as if he was forcing his friendly side on America. You either come across as warm and likable or you don't. Adding "my friend" to every sentence just makes it seem as if you are trying too hard, and nobody likes the guy or girl who tries too hard. On the other hand, Obama just has that natural likable swagger about him, even when he is bumblefucking around.