Norman Debates
A boy's best friend is his... ability to not answer any quest...
(for an alternative post, where instead of talking about politics I talk about less controversial tech things and am thus less likely to offend people, go here!)

Last go-around, I thought that both participants in the debate were reasonably well-matched and competent. This time, I simply can't agree with that assessment, though that seems to be the politic (ha!) way that the newspapers are going about it. Granted, I'm not an undecided voter, but Obama gave me absolutely zero reason to regret my decision to vote against him.

My two biggest problems may have been with the last two questions of the night (as I recall them). The last question was a stupid HR question of the type we've all been asked in job interviews: "what don't you know and how would you learn it?" (presumably I missed where Brokaw asked "what qualifications would you bring to this office?" and "if you became aware that another president was stealing from the cash drawer, how would you react?").

McCain, if somewhat ineloquently at first, said he didn't know what was coming in the future and then gave some Independence Day-style gung ho "I believe in America" speech about how we would persevere anyway. Trite, but fine. Obama instead decided the best way to handle a closing speech would be with a rambling, discursive essay on... something... that may have been in Flemish for all it related to what Brokaw had asked.

This seemed to be a theme throughout the night, or at least what I saw of it--McCain giving at least marginally credible, if at times uninspired, answers, and Obama giving inspired answers that were nonetheless like responding to the question "how much is four times six" with a letter, or possibly a recipe for chocolate chip cookies. They may be great cookies, Senator, but nobody gives a fuck.

More subtle, for my money, was the immediately preceding question: if Israel were attacked, would the United States intervene unilaterally or wait for support from the United Nations. McCain's answer suggested that we would like to put pressure on Iran through multinational bodies, rightly pointed out that action in the UNSC was likely to be stalled by Iranian fascist-dictator bedfellows China and Russia, and concluded on the trite, but at laest unambiguous answer, that the bottom line was we could not allow a second Holocaust. Fair enough. For his part, Obama said mostly the same thing, although he felt compelled to drag numbers into it, which didn't really add much to his argument for me but at least didn't hinder it. He didn't seem to come to a conclusive answer, but that's fine; they were both roughly on point.

The question had been asked by a former Navy CPO, i think--I don't remember the exact details. In the event McCain thanked him for his military service, offered a handshake, and gave some cutesy saying--"everything I need to know I learned from a chief" or something like that. They were, at least, clearly on the same page. Now, Obama is obviously not on the same page, and let me be the first to say that's fine. It could be argued--and indeed i would so argue--that the American presidency does not demand jingoism. But Obama, for whatever reason, felt compelled to offer a thanks as well. Fair enough--I think, or would hope anyway, that civilians can do that. But the way he did it felt, to me, so flippant, and so dismissive--"first off let me thank you too," said in a rushed sort of monotone--as to sound phony.

I was deeply unimpressed. My friends watching were unimpressed, although they remain supporters. The news is calling it an Obama victory because McCain failed to "change the momentum". Whatever the fuck that means; I don't know.

I admit to being torn on some things. I dislike the way the campaign is going negative--though we all knew that it would--and I wish it didn't have to be that way. On the other hand, I also think that Obama has been let off far too lightly for his associations with less than savoury characters, particularly those who remain somewhat darling figures in the American political far left. I'm sorry, there's a point at which "it's not politics; they weren't friends" doesn't hold water anymore. It's that association--can you imagine someone running for a police position who had campaigned in support of an unrepentant drunk driver trying to brush that off? No. It's the association--failing to repudiate Rev. Wright while attending his church as long as he did, and only later coming out against it? No, we call that bullshit. And the hell of it is, I wouldn't mind if Obama expressed his support for people like Ayers or Wright or Odinga--if he would at least be honest about it, as opposed to trying to pretend like it was a non-issue. The company you choose to keep says something about you.

Because I hold a somewhat unpopular opinion, namely that Sen. Obama is unfit to hold the office of president, I have tried to keep my writings here in check, and I'll largely continue to do so, particularly as people become more entrenched. But man did that debate suck.

/a
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