My intention all along was to stay undecided until the presidential debates. I liked that McCain would sometimes go against his own party and I liked the promise of Barack Obama being the real deal. I was hoping it would come down to a really tough decision that I’d need the debates to help me make.
As it turned out, when McCain went all Palin on me, I was left with no other option than to vote for Barack Obama. At the time, it bummed me out. I really wanted two palitable alternatives. One is better than none, of course, but not what I’d been hoping for.
Now, after seeing last night’s debate, I’m glad I didn’t come into it undecided. Last night’s debate was horrible. This was supposed to help people decide? Good luck!
The chief culprit, of course, were the campaigns themselves. Both teams signed on to the town hall format. Both teams agreed to limit follow ups. What we were left with was a debate where neither candidate was truly challenged by either his opponent or the moderator. What we heard was a lot of talking points.
What we heard from both sides was a bunch of unchallenged lies.
The format allowed both candidates to promise anything and deny everything. “He’s raising taxes.” followed by “No, I’m not raising taxes, he is”. Scintillating stuff to be sure but how it helps someone decide on who to put in the White House I have no idea.
Here’s a few other things that struck me during the course of the debate:
The Format, one more beef, sorry! – When do either of these guys really get challenged to back up their plans and promises? What I’d love to see is someone that Americans agreed was impartial grilling both guys and backed up by an impartial fact checking board. Too much of a fantasy? Sure.
But, how about a format where a journalist was chosen by each camp and the pair were put together to co-host a debate in which the moderators publicly swore they would try to be as unbiased as possible while grilling each candidate as fairly and toughly (is that a word?) as possible? McCain could pick say Sean Hannity (of course, it’s a stretch to call him a journalist). And the Obama camp could pick a liberal leaning journalist not named Alan Combs.
The Camera Angles– who are the media advisers to both campaigns? The camera angles were horrible. I heard that both candidates were told to not move around too much and disregarded that advice. Whatever the case, neither man looked great as a result.
McCain Did Look Old – John McCain moved around last night and the above mentioned camera angles made it very obvious that due to his injuries in Vietnam he can no longer move his arms above his shoulder line. All of my sympathy to Senator McCain for the pain he endured on America’s behalf. None of my sympathy to his advisers who didn’t see that the camera set up would make their guy look like a lumbering old man.
Obama Loves Criticism – I get it. He’s trying not to look angry. But, come on. When someone is slamming you, figure out another expression other than bemusement.
John McCain Has A Lot Of Friends– If only I had a nickel (or a share of AIG) for every time John McCain uttered the words “my friends”. It wasn’t folksy, it was as if he had some rare turrets in which he spouted this rather than curse words uncontrollably.
John McCain Does Not Consider Barack Obama A Friend– I know it was only a misspeak, but referring to the Democratic Nominee as “that one” was a cringe-worthy moment and one that will hurt him in the polls. Especially so, when coupled with several of the nasty sounding jokes he threw out that didn’t result in laughs. John McCain was less likable in this debate. Doesn’t mean he might not be a better president, but it sure as heck makes it less likely he’ll have the chance to prove it.
The Questions Sucked– I can not believe how vanilla the questions were. Actually, I apologize. That would be an insult to a fine and beloved flavor of ice cream. The questions simply weren’t tough and they seemed awfully repetitive. I know it’s all about the economy, but how many ways can you ask the same thing? I thought either the studio audience or certainly someone submitting from the audience would have come up with something better. Maybe they did and we just didn’t hear it?
Some People Know Who Freddie Mac & Fannie Mae Are – Never assume. When someone is asking you a question about the current financial situation at a time when both Freddie & Fannie have figured prominently in it, don’t assume they don’t know what it is. I thought McCain took a real risk in starting his answer by assuming his questioner was ignorant.
Barack Did A Good Job Of Speaking More From His Gut– I think the example he sited of his mom fighting insurance companies while she lay in her hospital death bed during her last weeks was his high point. Obama made you feel he really gets it on more than simply an intellectual level.
John McCain Loves America & Americans– The Republicans are way too guilty and the Democrats are probably not guilty enough of cheerleading America. I love America too. But, I wonder if this year, in this climate, that answering multiple questions by variations on the “America is great”, “Americans are the greatest” theme is enough. Listen, I think Americans are the best too, but even the best need a plan.
Neither Guy’s Got Enough Money– I wish I could have added up all the new spending both guys proposed in the debate last night. The reality is that neither has enough money for all their plans. I love that John McCain is finally thinking about home owners, but can’t shake the impression that at this point he’d promise ANYTHING to get elected. After all, he picked Sarah Palin…
Tom Brokaw Needs To Toughen Up – I love Tom Brokaw. There, it’s out. That said, the agreement was the agreement. So why did he feel he had to tip toe or apologize when he had to rein in both senators from going overtime?
I’m Getting Old – Tom Brokaw has aged. John McCain is no longer the spry guy he remains in my memory. If those guys are looking older than ever, than guess what? I guess I am too…
Time goes by fast.
And if nothing else, that’s what makes it so critical that we tackle our problems as quickly and fully as we can. It would have been nice to have a debate to help us guage who’s up to the challenge and who’s simply a waste of precious time.