Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Debate Play by Play

I never liked political debates. No. Let me restate that. I have never seen a political debate. What happened a few weeks ago was not a debate. There was no argument. An argument presupposes that each party actually listens to the points put forth by the opponent and responds with counterpoints related to the argument. The last debate was mostly just two guys yelling at each other while pretending to talk to other people. Stump speech sound bits overcame reasoned speech, and the signal to noise ratio was unacceptably high.

I didn't want to watch tonite's debate, figuring it would not help me one bit. But somewhere deep in my reptile brain, I felt that I should. And then my wife wanted to. So, taking an idea from Jon over at AVI, and Ben over at 10-4 Good Buddy, I thought I would try live-blogging it. As I watched I typed some of my thoughts.

I'm not sure this post is worth the electrons I'm burning by putting it up here. I'm pretty sure my thoughts aren't that valuable, but such as they are, here they are.

9:05 Will Obama’s stated tax plan work? I don’t know how to judge this. It sounds good.

9: 06 McCain’s use of the plumbers last name is disingenuous. Notice how they call him Joe the Plumber after McCain takes that one impressive shot at the barely pronouncable name.

9:10 Obama name drops “his friend” Warren Buffet. His friend?

9:12 I don’t mind paying a little more.” Says Obama. I guess I don’t mind paying either. But for what? I just realized that I really don’t know what McCain is planning to do regarding taxes. Obama has done a much better job of getting his message out to me.

9:14 We are living beyond our means says Obama. Good turn of phrase.

9:17 McCain needs to be brought back to the question. What would I cut. Across the board spending freeze. “I know how to save billions.”

9:18 McCain hammers the overhead prjector again. A perfect example of the kind of distortion that these “debate” lean on.

9:20 I have never thought that McCain is president Bush redux, but he has not done a very good job during this campaign of coming across as someone else. Too much rhetoric and too little substance. You can cry maverick all you want, but we aren’t seeing it. Glad to see he is finally going to the record and trmping his record. He has never refuted the 90 percent bush vote thing. If it’s true, then what’s the story? How does it relate to obama’s?

9:23 Damn. Obama is so clear in his speech. Ohhhh he just admitted that Mcain has demonstrated tremendous independence on some issues. But McCain is on the defensive, trying to justify himself. From a competitive viewpoint, it’s not a good position.

9:27 McCain says that Obama has not repudiated charges of racism against McCain. I know what he’s trying to do but it sound whiny. Then says he lied about taking public money. I’m pretty sure McCain would have done the same thing if he felt he could raise the dough.

9:30 several times tonite either candidate has made statements about independent observers. That’s an easy thing to say. Who are they?

9:32 Obama: the American people have become so cynical about our politics because all they see is tit for tat. That’s very true. Most of what I’ve heard I feel that I cannot trust. Now McCain takes exception and jumps to defend the “people who come to my rallies.” He is playing heartstrings, but not really addressing Obama’s larger point.

9:35 Obama brings it back to what he is defining at core issues again. He is really good and focused at this. The issue isn’t really the campaign. It is how to govern the country. McCain is still on the attack.

9:37 Obama goes after the Ayers controversy. He says that this has become the centerpiece of the McCain campaign. I’d have to agree. It rings hollow though. Obama looks solid, strong and he doesn’t even appear to be breaking a sweat as he dismantles McCains allegations.

9:38 Let me tell you who I associate with…says Obama. Brilliant!

9:39 McCain says different. They simply disagree on the plain facts of the case. Who tells the truth? I don’t know. I guess you believe whichever you are predisposed to believe.

9:42 McCain says Palin is a Reformer. A favorite buzzword. Bresh of Freth air. His defense of her makes her sound nice, but not presidential. And why does he invoke the fact of her husband being a tough guy? That’s a red herring.

9:45 McCain strongly criticized Biden’s policies. Strong.

9:46 We get 60% of our oil from foreign sources? We need to annex Iraq.

9:47 McCain goes nuclear. I like it. It’s clear and direct. How long will it take? How much will it take? Where will the funding come from? 7-10 years McCain thinks we can get independent. Wow. Obama says in 10 years. Expand domestic production. Offshore drilling. But we can’t drill our way out of the problem. Lists other options but avoids nuclear, a tested and available technology. Why?

9:51 McCain admires Obama’s eloquence implying that he is hedging or lying, or hiding the truth. Shades of Clinton. My wife agrees with McCain that Obama does say, “We’ll look into….” A lot. I’m not sure if this is bad, but Mc is implying that this is a hedge rather than a clear statement of policy.

9:55 Mc accuses O of giving away the farm to Chavez. I can’t see that. Again he is directly opposing what O says. Who do I believe.

9:58 O is very clear about his health care plan. Can he pull this off? I don’t know. But his statements about this being an investment, rather than merely and expense is right on. McCain’s response has a rather blowsy start before he gets to the meat. He gives a long list of “We should haves…” but how do we get there? A $5000 tax credit seems too indirect to me.

10:00 Mc says O is planning a single payer system. I didn’t hear that. He just raise it as if it’s a boogy man. Again, Mc is more about attacking O’s plan than explaining his own. O, wait…Obama is explaining it for us.

10:03 Mc invoke the government as thief motif. Is this true about O’s health care plan?

10:05 Mc stops his tirade. O says…”you just heard my plan…” So reasonable. So clear. Looks in control.

10:10 did O just say that the US Constitution has a right to privacy in it? That’s a pretty crazy claim as such. O names Louie ledbetter. Another name drop, but easier to pronounce than Joe the plumber’s.

10:12 I get up to get a snack. I’m hungry.

10:18 O invokes bill cosby. Parents must be involved. Gutsy. The education version of Carter’s malaise speech – almost.

10:20 Mc draws the line again. O wants Govmnt to do it. Mc wants the people to do it for themselves. O attacks unfunded mandates. Agrees with charter schools. States that his position is the fed gov should help local schools do what they want.

10:23 O says“I don’t think Americas youth are interest groups.” That’s quotable.

10:24 McCain loves to dig O. “I’m surprise you didn’t pay more attention to that example.” He also manages to drag Sarah Palin into his answer. It feels like badly planned product placement.

10:28 Mc says you have to trust us. That’s the key. That’s true. I think regardless of the policies put forth – which are often too tangled for many of us to sort – people will vote for the one they trust.

I think Obama will be out next president. I’m not sure whether that’s good or bad, but I think that’s what will happen.


The Scylding said...

I did not watch - but weary of politics, as we had our election on Tuesday (Anybody notice? Anyone?) - so I enjoyed reading your live blogging after the fact.

But regarding oil: I cannot see the US becoming independentenergy wise. Ever. Canada is currently the biggest single supplier of oil to the US. Quebec also powers the northeastern US though Hydro power. And SK is a major world producer of Uranium. We even build the safest nuclear reactors on the planet.

The major suppliers of US oil, in 1000's of barrels per day, as of Aug '08, are:

Canada 1833, Saudi Arabia 1533, Mexico 1292, Venezuela 1146, Nigeria 1035, Iraq 663, Angola 483, Algeria 348, Ecuador 291, Colombia 247, Kuwait 203, Brazil 169, Chad 139, Azerbaijan 133, Equatorial Guinea 123. Note that only 25% comes from the Middle East.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't it seem that the Repubs are just out of touch. The Economy is such a huge thing- yet the advertisments in our little swing state are about Ayers and his associations. Does anyone really care?

I avoided the debate again. I just cannot bring myself to watch.

Questions: How does the Fed. Gov. do in the education field on a scale from 1-10?

How does the Fed. Gov. do in the business world- Freddie Mac/Fannie Mae? 1-10?

How will the Fed. Gov. do in the Health Insurance world? Any guesses? 1-10?

The Feds should make good law and be the enforcer of the laws. Once the Feds are the ones in charge, who regulates them? What accountability do they have? We need a WALL OF SEPERATION between the business/education/medical world and the government. The Gov. should be the bad guy heavies enforcing good law PERIOD.


Wyman said...

I've grown quite weary of the election as well. I agree that it now looks clear that Obama will be President, unless something dramatic happens in the next three weeks. McCain clearly knows it, too, which is why he's trying to paint Obama with Ayers so hard.

Watching the debates just presses home to me how endlessly exposed to these candidates we are, and yet how little we actually know about what they intend to do as President. I have a vague understanding of their tax plans and energy plans and health care plans, but nothing concrete, and nothing I wouldn't have assumed about any generic Republican or Democratic candidate running for President.

Anonymous said...

Just an anonymous comment on the "right to privacy" in the Constitution. You will not find anywhere in the Constitution the words "right to privacy" being used. However, since the mid-60s, the Supreme Court has recognized a right to privacy as being an integral part of the Constitution that flows from various rights in the constitution that reflect an intent enshrined within the Constitution to protect individuals from unreasonable government intervention in the private lives of individuals. For example, reflective of the idea of a right to privacy are such rights as the right to free speech, the religion clauses of the first amendment, the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure, the right against self-incrimination, among others. The precedent-setting case on this issue is the case of Griswold v. Connecticut. While the majority of constitutional experts today recognize a right to privacy embodied in the Constitution, there have been and continue to be many dissenters.

Dubbahdee said...

Thank you for your lawyerly comment. I understand all that you say. What worries me is the squishiness of the whole thing. For sake of argument, let's stipulate that the right to privacy is indeed "an intent enshrined within the Constitution" (enshrined being a rather loaded word in it's own right. If we then act as if that is a foundational principle on which to build law, things get squishy. We end up with the problem of interpreting the interpretation rather than interpreting the text. In other parts of the constitution, it clearly states that certain rights NOT specifically awarded do not exist. Why isn't that principle applied to the "right to privacy."

I understand the precedence. I think it is problematic and ultimately and enormous can of worms. I would rather see "a right to justice under law."

Dubbahdee said...

I said, "it clearly states that certain rights NOT specifically awarded do not exist."

Better wording would be "Rights NOT specifically awarded do not apply."

Anonymous said...

You have a good point and one that is debated often. I have trouble with the concept myself. If you read the opinion in Griswold, one of the justices - I can't remember which - in a dissent says that he believes people should be entitled to privacy. In this case, it dealt with whether government could prohibit the use of contraceptives. The dissenting justice said he believed people should be able to have access to contraceptives, but that was his opinion and the only method the constitution provided for such matters of opinion was the political process, particularly the legislative process. In other words, it was one of those issues where, if you don't like the law, work to get it changed. In his opinion, it was not the court's role to find a new right in the constitution. Of course, there are many privacy "rights" that we take for granted that would not be protected, then, by such an interpretation. It all goes back to how much (or how little) the constitution should be open to interpretation. Drawing that line can be very difficult.