Saturday, September 27, 2008

And the Winner Is...

No one. I just finished watching the first Presidential Debate between Barack Obama and John McCain. Now, even though I've admitted to being in the tank for Obama, I'd have to say that neither candidate really knocked this debate out of the park. It was a rather sedate affair to be honest, with the only major sparring match being over whether or not Dr. Henry Kissinger, a McCain advisor, said that the US should meet with Iran without preconditions, a position supported by Obama but not by McCain. (By the way, according to the Associated Press, Obama was correct that Kissinger supported talks with Iran without preconditions, although Kissinger felt these talks should be conducted with lower level diplomats prior to meetings between the actual leaders of the US and Iran.)

During the debate, McCain was fairly condescending toward Obama. McCain often used the phrase "What Senator Obama doesn't understand is..." or some derivation. He also avoided looking at Obama for practically the entire debate. Meanwhile, Obama would divide his time between looking into the camera and looking at McCain, who always seemed to have this punkish smile on his face, as though he were secretly thinking, "Whatever, douchebag!" Of course there were the typical mischaracterizations of each other's records which have become such a staple of American politics. McCain had his deceptive mantra that Obama is against nuclear energy, which is easily verifiable as false. Obama's only issue with nuclear power is what to do with the used fuel rods.

I was surprised that neither candidate seemed to have any real zingers, though they could be saving them for the last debate, which is only a week or two before Election Day. I think I would have liked a bit more aggression from Obama, although since McCain had to prove that he isn't an impetuous hothead I suppose it wouldn't have served Obama to make himself look like a hothead.

Many of the reviews of the debate online gave Obama a slight edge in the debate, if for no other reason than he came into the debate with a 5-10 point lead in the polls and this event probably didn't push the needle in either direction. I certainly agree with the second point if not the first. If you were an Obama fan going in, you're still an Obama fan; if you were a McCain fan going in, you're still a McCain fan. This debate changed nothing. However, since many in the country are only just waking up to the Presidential race, this debate proved a good neutral introduction to both candidates. With only 39 days left before November 4th, this race looks to be another photo finish. It will be exciting to see if either of these candidates can really pull ahead and win this thing cleanly, or if one side will win simply because the other side makes a mistake.

Have fun, and keep living life... and get yourself registered to vote!

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