Saturday, September 27, 2008

First Debate

Frankly I’m disappointed that Obama didn’t do any better than he did in the first debate.

He came off as smart and self-assured, certainly, but he needed to tear into McCain much more than he did.

Repeatedly McCain insulted Obama, calling him inexperienced and naïve, while Obama deferred to the doddering old coot, often pointing out how much he agreed with him.

Polite to a fault, Obama should have countered McCain’s insults by stating that McCain’s vaunted “experience” resides in acting the toad to Bush for the last eight years. If McCain knows so very much about foreign policy, why hasn’t he put that knowledge to better use?

McCain droned on about the supposed success of the ‘surge” in Iraq, and Obama, perhaps restrained by his position as a younger black man trying to placate the racism not only in the American right wing, but also in his own Democratic Party, failed to counter with alternative interpretations—such as that the apparent success of the surge is more properly due to Iraqi-vs-Iraqi sectarian violence that has effectively annihilated opposition in certain quarters of Bagdad.

On the whole, I think the debate was a draw—neither man nailing a memorable soundbite and neither man stirring much new passion or enthusiasm for his candidacy.

McCain performed better than I expected him to, especially as the debate turned towards the Middle East and Russia. Two or three times, Obama tried to pin the manifest failures of the Bush administration on McCain—and yet the overall impression was that McCain was lecturing a student who had got himself in over his head.

What Obama should have been able to make stick to McCain is his and the Republican Party’s inability to stir much loyalty among America’s allies and their failure to make significant inroads to reforming (or vanquishing) its enemies.

Obama mentioned his early opposition to the war in Iraq and yet faltered in outlining exactly how ill-conceived and costly the war has been. Perfect opportunities existed for him to tie the war to America’s current financial crisis. He wasted perfect opportunities to expose McCain’s associations with and allegiance to interests who have profited from the war—and his ineffectual advocacy on behalf of the troops and their families at home.

In so many respects McCain is vulnerable, not least because he has prostituted himself as a mouthpiece of the heinous lies of the present administration. But Obama preferred to concede the matter of McCain’s 25 years of congressional experience, to play the nice guy, failing to point out the blood McCain has meanwhile accrued on his hands and the egg, quite obviously on the old guy's face.

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