September 27, 2008

Les Misbarack

So, the first presidential debate was last night, and I watched it, although I will admit it did not have my full attention throughout. I didn't take notes, so you'll get better, more-detailed commentary from somewhere like However, I would like to note some general impressions.

I would say that McCain fought dirty last night, and I'm not referring to how hard he worked to reinforce the "inexperienced" label Obama has. Although, to rabbit trail into that for just a moment, I think McCain is making a mistake in his approach to that issue. Laying aside the situation with his own running mate in this campaign (which didn't come up), McCain came off looking and sounding incredibly snotty at several points last night: "I'm afraid Senator Obama doesn't know the difference between a strategy and a tactic." *patronizing fake smile*

In any case, what I mean when when I talk about fighting dirty is that McCain is, either cynically or sincerely, engaging primarily in rhetoric that I would not be surprised to hear coming out of the mouth of, say, a Fox News commentator. He is (sometimes very, very subtly) playing to the nationalistic emotions of the public, flexing his own patriotic chops while attempting to make his opponent look decidedly unpatriotic. In doing so, he avoids having to honestly address the real issues, and, in fact, makes that sort of discourse impossible. I think that, more than anything that was explicitly named last night, puts him in the same boat with the current administration. And that's not a boat I've wanted to be sailing in for quite some time.

I think the debate's worst moment last night came during the bracelet exchange. McCain, in a naked play to emotion that could not have been more irrelevant to the topic at hand, said that he had a bracelet given to him by the mother of a deceased soldier. He went on to say that she had asked for his promise that her son would not die in vain, and used that to springboard into a slam on Obama for wanting to "snatch defeat from the jaws of victory." Obama's response began, "Well, I have a bracelet, too . . ."

At that point, I just had to laugh at McCain, but I was also somewhat saddened. I doubt the families of the men who used to own those bracelets feel used, but they have been used. Shame on McCain for bringing that up and lowering the level of political discourse so shamelessly. Incidentally, the mother who gave Obama the bracelet asked that he make sure no other mother had to go through what she has. Obama went on to say that no soldier dies in vain because all of them are carrying out the orders of their superiors for the good of the mission. There's certainly some wiggle room for argument on that point (particularly for someone like who has seen how meaningless war can be), but it was an excellent response to McCain's characteristic jibe.

In the end, I honestly think both candidates showed that they could be president, at least with respect to the debate topics last night. Overall, I was more impressed by Obama's responses on economic questions than McCain's. I also thought Obama came off better (barely) on the topic of Iraq, though both of them made excellent points and I would have liked to see the nuances of the discussion teased out a bit more.

Both men spent a little too much time talking about how wrong the other one had been with respect to the war at various times, and not enough time talking about where it should go. When they did address that topic, however, I think Obama demonstrated a pretty clear direction, while McCain remained bogged down in the rhetoric of withdrawal as defeat. If he becomes president, regardless of whatever good he may do, I think he will keep us in Iraq until hell freezes over, no matter what turn the situation takes.

For the record, both candidates had excellent responses on the issue of torture. I applaud them, and they made me feel that they were both trustworthy in their stance on the issue (whether they actually are is another question, I suppose).

I could go on, but if I did, I'd go on for a long time, and I'd rather not right now. I'd be more than happy to discuss it further in the comments, if anyone has anything to say. This is as good a time as any to drop a YouTube clip. I've had a lot of videos up about Palin lately because, let's face it, that's all anyone seemed to care about for awhile . . . but this one isn't (well, she's in it a bit, come to think of it, but anyway). It's kind of bizarre, but it fits right in with the general Obamamania, and I was amused. Oh, and if the title of this post seemed cryptic, I was referring to this. I spent more of the post on the debate than I had originally intended.

Posted by Jared at September 27, 2008 07:54 PM | TrackBack