Last night the nation was treated to the most interesting presidential debate aired in the last eight years. Basically, the hour-and-a-half forum unraveled in the following format:
Jim Lehrer: Senator Obama, how would you say the _______ will affect your plans for the presidency?
Barack Obama: Well, _______ is very bad. The current state of ________ has been mishandled since 2003. If we want to change that, we will have to actually look at the problem and come up with a new solution, not just continue what has failed to work since the 1980s. Senator McCain -
Jim Lehrer: Please address Senator McCain directly. Dadgummit, I'll get two candidates to talk to one another eventually!
Barack Obama (to John McCain): John, you can't look me in the eye and tell me that you have no reservations about the way the current administration has handled _______.
Jim Lehrer: Senator McCain, same question.
John McCain (to Jim Lehrer, not looking Barack Obama in the eye): I want the American people to know that I also feel that ________ is bad. I'm a maverick in the senate. Let me tell you about World War II. There were a lot of veterans of that war. What was I talking about? Oh yes, Senator Obama wants to spend seven hundred billion dollars fixing our infrastructure, giving everyone health care, and making sure our children are educated past the standards of a third world country! That will raise the American taxpayer's taxes astronomically. We can't afford that!
Barack Obama (to John McCain): I have to correct you John. (Turning to the audience) I am going to give tax breaks to the middle class, and stop giving tax breaks to businesses that outsource American jobs overseas.
John McCain (To Jim Lehrer): Jim, please tell senator Obama that he doesn't know what he's talking about. American businesses pay almost 35% of their income to taxes. Why would a business owner stay in the U.S. when he could go outside of the country and pay less? I'm a maverick in the senate. Senator Obama is showing his naivete in thinking that his plan will benefit American families by driving the businesses that employ them out of the country! I mean, he wants to spend eight hundred billion dollars that we don't have on education, our infrastructure, and health care!
Barack Obama (to Jim Lehrer): Excuse me, I have to interject - (to John McCain) On paper they pay more, but in reality there are so many loopholes in the tax structure that many pay less than they would in other countries. (To the audience) My solution is to simplify the tax structure so that it's fair, and to close the loopholes so that there is no confusion over what they pay.
John McCain (To Jim Lehrer): Jim, please tell senator Obama that he's an ass. He wants to spend nine hundred and forty-two billion - that we don't have- on your health, your kids, and making sure that the bridges you drive across on federal highways every day don't collapse on you! And yet, he refuses to fund our troops in Iraq by giving our existing administration as much money as they want whenever they want it! I should know, I've visited a lot of these places. I'm a maverick in the sen-
Jim Lehrer: Oh shut up, I'm sick of both of you.
I don't know whether it was because these were both potential presidents (unlike the last debate), but Jim Lehrer seemed a bit more impudent than usual, telling the candidates to wait their turn, and complaining when they went over the limit. In short, he was acting almost the way he should have acted a few years ago.
Obama did shine in this debate. He stuck to his guns for the most part, and seemed to keep to the issues at hand, though much of his time was spent correcting the mistakes in McCain's blatant attacks on his character.
McCain wouldn't address Obama throughout the entire debate, and consistently flipped between 800 and 942 billion dollars for Obama's plan for the budget, indicating that he really wasn't sure what it would cost and was just trying to throw big numbers out there to hurt Obama's credibility. This, of course, hit the fan when Obama pointed out that the current republican administration has spent almost a trillion dollars in Iraq that we'll never see again. McCain actually got red-faced and angry at one point during the foreign policy section. I normally wouldn't accuse McCain of this, because I actually have some respect for the guy, but his posturing seemed cowardly and forced.
Out of the two, Obama seemed to have an actual understanding of the way a stable and healthy economy works, as proven by history. McCain (as all Reaganomists) stuck to his guns that the trickle-down theory works, despite the current proof that it obviously doesn't - at least in the regards that all it seems to do now is corrupt those at the top to gather more money and wealth and not spread it around.
McCain obviously has a more realistic view on Iraq, having visited the area more than Obama, but wouldn't concede that we had made a mistake in going there. His philosophy of, "we made this bed now we have to lay in it" is true enough, but why is Afghanistan crumbling and Osama Bin Laden still alive? Plus, I'm sure that Obama would defer some of this responsibility to Joe Biden if it came down to the wire, so I'm not so sure that he couldn't handle that either.
McCain felt it necessary to remind us that he will not win Ms. Congeniality in the senate, due to his gruff, no-nonsense sticking to his guns and what he believes in, but when his voting record agrees with the Bush administration 95% of the time, and history has shown that they're not correct for even half of that, one has to wonder whether his loyalties lie with his lobbyists, his party, or the American people (I'll give you a hint - it's not the last one). The question is, can we trust Obama any more?
A friend of mine felt that McCain won the debate, but he's a tried-and-true brainwashed republican conservative, so I don't usually count his opinion in these matters at full value. I would have to say, knowing what I do from my history and sociology classes in school (though it was an art school - I'm not sure how much credibility that grants me) that Obama's plan will work, assuming the senate doesn't gum it up. I mean, we pay the government to do things right, not to make our lives worse as has been the case for the past eight years.
To sum up the debate:
Barack Obama would say what he would do if elected.
McCain agreed with Obama on the tough issues.
McCain then would attack Obama on his lack of experience.
Obama would correct McCain's factual errors.
(You will notice that nowhere in the preceding segment did McCain say what he would do as president.)