In watching and reflecting on the 3rd and last Presidential debate of 2008 there are a few immediate thoughts that come to my mind, a more detailed review will come tomorrow. The foremost is the thought that 3 debates, and only 1 for the Vice Presidential candidates, is far too few to really convey to the public the issues facing the nation. The next is that there were several inaccuracies by both of the candidates. And I have to say that this debate was by far the best of the 3.
Going beyond that I have to say that Senator Obama was very eloquent. His ability to debate is quite impressive. He made no major mistakes, and was very sure of his answers.
Yet I think that his answers were stylized and edited polispeak. He had poor answers to several subjects, which if you just listened in a cursory manner, or only heard him speak once, you might have missed. In fact if you have followed the campaigns since before the Primaries, as I have, you would find fault with several subject he spoke on.
Senator McCain was a bit more fiery at points tonight. It was invigorating when he got on the attack, which he has needed to do for some time. But at several points he disappointed as well. While he was less edited in his answers, he also failed to close a subject definitively several times. And he made a major gaff, in my opinion, when he was surprised by the answer of Senator Obama about the cost of healthcare on small businesses.
And speaking of Joe Wurzelbacher I’m not surprised that Obama did not want to discuss him much. The fact is that Obama has clearly stated that he wants to effectively cap the income Americans can make. That he will take money to redistribute to whatever he believes is best. That he does not trust the ability of individual Americans to use their wealth to the benefit of their families and the nation – preferring instead to grow a larger government that will oversee such decisions.
And by the way, Joe the plumber was not swayed by the argument of Obama. In fact he has clearly stated that he will not vote for Obama. Because the tax plans of Obama will mean that in buying the company he will lose money as Obama increases the corporate tax, personal tax, and capital gains tax nullifying future investments. Which means that Obama will either stifle growth of small businesses, or cause those businesses to fire or reduce the hours of workers just to pay the increased taxes.
Another fault of Obama, and this is more the problem of Democrats in general, was his insistence on being firmly focused on the past. He is fixated on placing blame, and living in the past descisions of President Bush. This lead to the best line for McCain
“I’m not President Bush. If you want to run against him you should have run 4 years ago.”
But McCain did not stay consistent in his strength. He failed to demand a clarification on William Ayers, which was never provided. The man was a terrorist, and it is unclear how much influence he had on molding Obama’s political career or when Obama became aware of the past of Ayers, or if their association has ever ended.
McCain failed to exemplify the importance of vouchers and better schools, not just more money for bigger Government run programs. McCain failed to deliver on the importance of having individual choice in healthcare, and how a system based on the Canadian or British models is a system doomed to failure. McCain failed to mention that there has never been a Government Agency or Department that has run efficiently or effectively in the last 40 years, at least.
McCain failed to mention that many of the economic proposals made by Senator Obama are similar to another President besides Herbert Hoover. That President was Jimmy Carter, and the result was double digit inflation, double digit unemployment, and an overall malaise for the nation.
So in the end, the debate was a draw. Neither candidate shone more brightly than the other. Both were able to provide solid arguments for their proposals and views, and point out problems with their opponents position.
But Senator Obama was clearly the better debater. Of course this is not some school competition, there is no blue ribbon award for parsing huge subjects into the equivalent of a soundbite. The next president cannot be elected because of their composure in a debate, or the speed in which they respond to a question with bullet points of their stump speeches.
Polispeak may win elections, and look great on the television. But it does not prove the worthiness of a Presidential candidate. Nor does catchy phrases like “Senator Government” – even if it was an accidental blurb.
I have long ago declared that I am a supporter of Senator McCain. M V Consulting, Inc. has endorsed McCain for President. Evenso I can see and admit that Senator Obama does have some ideas of interest, surrounded and encompassed in a Government that spends far more than it can collect in taxes, is involved in more aspects of individual lives, and controlling the choices we are able to make. That is his national healthcare, federal education, higher corporate capital gains and individual taxes, unfettered abortion, and hand picked energy alternatives really means – Big Government to a degree unseen previously.
You may not agree with that conclusion. You may vote for Senator Obama. That is your right and I respect and admire that, even while I can disagree with your choice. But the debates have made one thing clear to me, we all need to vote because if we do not America may suffer as a result. And in making that choice of who to vote for you should review the records, votes, and campaign promises of each candidate.
Because in the end, 2 years from now, you can look backwards and/or place blame but you can’t undo your vote.