Last night’s Presidential Debate at Hofstra University was clearly the most entertaining of all the debates. John McCain, as advertised, came out swinging – hell bent on whipping Obama’s you-know-what. In the beginning, I thought McCain might actually have a shot at winning the debate – especially with his line about “I’m not George Bush. If you wanted to run against Bush you should have run 4 years ago.” This was something John McCain needed to say…months ago. Barack Obama has hammered McCain relentlessly for months on his close voting record with Bush on the main issues that voters care about. That is why the vast majority of Americans think that Obama is better suited to handle the economy.
Once the debate focused on the negativity of the campaign, that is when McCain’s ship started to sink. McCain telegraphed that he was going to bring up Bill Ayers in the debate and I think moderator Bob Schieffer was all too happy to oblige. Obama’s trademark cool and calm response torpedoed McCain’s argument right out of the water. Obama explained that he served on a school reform board that was established by a former ambassador to Ronald Reagan and also included several other Republicans. He did not mention that the board’s founder, Mr. Annenberg, was also a MCCAIN SUPPORTER. Obama also clearly denounced Ayers actions of the 1960’s when Obama was just 8 years old and repeated that Ayers is not an adviser nor will be one. He went on further to demonstrate the type of people that he WOULD associate with on policy matters – people like Warren Buffet and Senator Lugar.
I suppose attacking Obama on Ayers was what McCain’s base wanted him to do and was one of the few options left that might have made an impact, but McCain had to know that Obama was ready and waiting to defend himself – and defend himself he did.
From that point on, McCain was reduced to a grumpy, face gesturing, hysterical note taking buffoon.
He defended Sarah Palin as a role model to women everywhere and a reformer. Um, Senator, you do realize that she was found guilty of abuse of power by a bi-partisan commission and took in a lot of earmarks that you so vehemently detest? You do realize that most Americans feel that she has no business coming within 1,000 miles of the Vice President’s office? I feel that Obama missed an opportunity there – he was trying to take the high road and “leave it up to the American people to decide” – but this is a woman who has stood by as supporters at her rallies have called Obama a terrorist and have suggested that he be killed.
And about those supporters…
My head was spinning when McCain tried to defend that attack from Obama by going on a nauseating rant about all the fine service men and women who show up at the rallies and are being disrespected. I don’t know if the people shouting “Terrorist!” and “Kill Him!” were in the military, but if they were it still doesn’t make it right. McCain also claimed that he has repudiated every salacious comment made by his supporters – NOT TRUE. When the chairman of the Virginia GOP linked Obama and Osama bin Laden as two people with friends who bombed the Pentagon, McCain said he would have to look into the “context” of the statement. WHAT?!
As the facial distortions and ferocious scribbling ensued I thought the McCain ship kept sinking faster and faster. By the end of the debate, when the conversation shifted to the Supreme Court and Roe vs. Wade, I felt that McCain alienated a ton of women when he chastised Obama’s voting on a partial-birth abortion bill in Illinois. Obama pointed out that the bill did not include a provision for cases when the mother’s life was in danger. McCain’s response about questioning the validity of what “in danger” really means came across as cold and inhumane. My wife, who had tuned out most of the debate, sprung up and threw her book at the TV in disgust. Additionally, McCain did not show compassion for the Ledbetter pay discrimination case, citing statute of limitations issues – again not what women – especially independent women want to hear.
I didn’t even get into the Joe The Plumber storyline, because frankly, I don’t think it deserves the attention it will get from the media. If Joe The Plumber is going to make $250,000 a year from his plumbing business AFTER all of his expenses – then damn it, he SHOULD pay higher taxes. I know doctors that don’t make $250,000 a year. I work as an IT Consultant – putting in a lot of hours, and I make $120,000 a year. If I get a 4% pay increase every year, it would take me 20 YEARS to reach a salary of $250,000. Bottom line, I just don’t think that middle class people who are living paycheck to paycheck are going to feel bad for someone making $250,000 having to pay a little more taxes. In a world where Warren Buffet pays less taxes than most of his employees, there’s a problem.
So, as we race to the finish line in what has been the most exhausting Presidential campaign, at least in my lifetime, I think it has become clear that Barack Obama is the calm steady voice of change that America really hungers for right now and John McCain is the arrogant, erratic, fighter pilot that got shot down in Vietnam because he strayed from his assigned mission. In this critical turning point in American history, erratic is the LAST quality we need in a President.