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My thoughts on the 1st Debate

By Brian | September 27, 2008 | Share on Facebook

Since I’m sure everyone else will do this, I might as well get it out of the way…

Overview
I thought this was one of the best presidential debates I’ve seen in my lifetime. No one cared about what was on who’s lapel, who had what kind of salad, or whether or not the farm animals were wearing lipstick. Here were two men discussing, in detail, their thoughts on the economy and foreign policy. They drew distinctions between each other without resorting to talking-point “gotcha” phrases, defended their positions, and even admitted to agreeing with each other in several cases. I didn’t necessarily learn anything substantive about either candidates positions, but it was an invaluable opportunity to compare not only what they said, but their demeanor, their thought processes, and the logic that brought them to their conclusions.

The Candidates
I was impressed by John McCain’s command of the subject matter. The man has been to just about every nation on earth, is familiar with the geography, the relevant world leaders, and can confidently offer insight into what he thinks is happening next. Here, in my opinion, is the kind of insight that only comes with McCain’s experience:

Now, on this issue of aiding Pakistan, if you’re going to aim a gun at somebody, George Shultz, our great secretary of state, told me once, you’d better be prepared to pull the trigger. I’m not prepared at this time to cut off aid to Pakistan. So I’m not prepared to threaten it, as Senator Obama apparently wants to do, as he has said that he would announce military strikes into Pakistan.

We’ve got to get the support of the people of Pakistan. He said that he would launch military strikes into Pakistan. Now, you don’t do that. You don’t say that out loud. If you have to do things, you have to do things, and you work with the Pakistani government.

I was also impressed by Barack Obama. He displays an ability to break problems down into component parts and reason through them that I, quite frankly, haven’t seen since Bill Clinton. He also made the argument that good judgement is more important than experience. Of course, both would be ideal, but neither candidate is mentioning that these days. Here’s my favorite Obama quote, referring to McCain’s suggestion that we pay for the financial bailout with a freeze on all non-essential spending:

The problem with a spending freeze is you’re using a hatchet where you need a scalpel. There are some programs that are very important that are under funded. I want to increase early childhood education and the notion that we should freeze that when there may be, for example, this Medicare subsidy doesn’t make sense.

The Winner?
As is usually the case, I don’t think I could pick a clear winner (other than the viewing public, of course, but that’s a cop out answer).

My Debate Summary
Basically, here’s what I felt while watching the debate:
[McCain speaks]
Me: Wow, that guy is so impressive. I hope he wins the election.
[Obama replies]
Me: Oh, man, he’s good too! I hope he wins the election.
[Repeat as above until debate is finished]
Me: I don’t agree 100% with either of them, but I think we’re in pretty good hands for the next four years…

Now, the Biden-Palin debate on Thursday – that could generate some fireworks…

Topics: Political Rantings | 2 Comments »

2 Responses to “My thoughts on the 1st Debate”

  1. Ilya says at September 29th, 2008 at 6:33 am :
    Unlike mostly everyone else, I am only in a position to learn how the debate went by reading reports like this. Thanks, Brian!

  2. Brian says at September 29th, 2008 at 1:01 pm :
    Happy to oblige, Ilya, although I’d strongly suggest finding some video (or at least a transcript) online if you’re interested. I gotta believe it’d be pretty easy to find, and I think it’s well worth watching.

    Others, of course, may disagree with me…

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