Thursday, October 16, 2008

One Last Debate Post

While I won't go as far as to say he was a "breash of freath air", I (unlike many pundits who declared Joe the Plumber the winner) thought the real winner of last night's debate was Bob Schieffer. Let's face it, we didn't really hear much new from the candidates, but if you watched the debates last night, weren't there at least a few questions that made you yell, "Thank you!!!" at the TV? For example Schieffer's question about the tone of the campaigns was a great one. Along with the economy, negative campaigning has probably been among the top three issues that has influenced how people feel about both candidates. No matter who you thought scored the point on that topic, bringing the mud slinging out into the light of day went a long way towards drawing some of the poison out of the wounds that the negative campaigning has inflicted.

As far as the candidates go, once again I don't think there was a clear winner of the debate. I was much more impressed with McCain's performance in this final round than I had been. Not because I felt he did a better job answering questions, but because he manged to force Obama away from his own talking points and into a more defensive stance on almost every topic. I have to also give him a point on the Joe the Plumber topic. I was waiting for Obama to clearly explain to me why Joe the Plumber didn't have to be concerned about Obama's plan to increase Joe's taxes and spread the wealth around. I never heard that clear answer.

Then Schieffer asked the candidates if they could balance the budget, and what a shit storm of nonsense flew back from both candidates. McCain barked back, "Of course I can balance the budget" and then rather than calmly explain how, launched into a tirade about "goodies" and "pork barrel" spending that he would cut out of the budget. Specifics McCain. We want specifics. Obama didn't do any better. He never said whether he would balance the budget or not. Instead he spent most of his two minutes disputing McCain's claim that he had increased taxes for people earning more than $42,000 per year.

As with the past two debates nothing was said by either candidate that will change the course of the election. Because little or nothing that is new or substantive comes out of these debates, we the viewers are left to look at the more superficial characteristics that differentiate the candidates. This is why Obama has been considered the winner of all three debates by the majority of viewers. Where McCain is flustered, tripping over his words, clenching his jaw, knitting his eyebrows and spitting fire, Obama is calm, clear, concise, and well, presidential. While McCain throws jab after jab at his opponent, Obama with his growing lead in the polls needs only to step out of the way of these punches and appear all-the-more rational by never throwing a one of his own. Arianna Huffington put it best when she said, "It was like a split-screen double feature -- Grumpy Old Men playing side by side with Cool Hand Luke."

Now it's our turn to do the important job of voting. No matter who you vote for, please take the time to get informed before you walk into the polling booth. There are a lot of good sources of information about the candidates, the ballot measures, and the propositions that you can easily access through the web. Take a minute to read the arguments from both sides. If you can't or won't take the time to get educated, please don't vote. Stay home and leave it to those of us who are willing to vote with our brains and our conscience, not just follow popular sentiment like a bunch of sheep.


Joanna said...

I thought Bob Schieffer did a great job. He definitely asked the questions most of us wanted SOMEONE to ask.
I thought McCain, once again, showed a lack of respect for "that one" with the blank looks, eye rolling, and not looking at Obama when he was speaking.
Not to mention, he kinda freaked me out when he did that thing and his neck disappeared - reminded me of Jabba the Hutt.

Steve said...

The other thing that really bugged me was how little the candidates paid attention to the topic of the question. McCain was the bigger offender here and Obama was largely forced to respond in kind. I found it humorous to read the question they were supposed to be answering printed at the bottom of the screen while listening to the points they were actually making. Rarely did the two coincide much. The debate format needs some serious reworking. It's still a good way to understand how the candidate's views differ, so they are useful for that reason. Now it's time for some voting! And hoping that this country can get back on track again.