Archive for the ‘Presidential Debates’ Category
In the first of several debates, Presidential candidate Barack Obama clearly demonstrated his command of the facts, his intelligent and articulate analysis of the economy, and held his own against McCain in foreign policy. McCain, who was widely viewed as superior in foreign policy, should have trounced Obama – but did not. Instead, Obama sparred with McCain for over 90 minutes answering questions confidently and responding to McCain attacks decisively. In one such attack, McCain accused Senator Obama of promoting an attack against Pakistan and doing it loudly – which he felt was inappropriately handled:
We’ve got to get the support of the people of — 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.
Obama responded quickly:
Nobody talked about attacking Pakistan. Here’s what I said.
And if John wants to disagree with this, he can let me know, that, if the United States has al Qaeda, bin Laden, top-level lieutenants in our sights, and Pakistan is unable or unwilling to act, then we should take them out.
Now, I think that’s the right strategy; I think that’s the right policy.
And, John, I — you’re absolutely right that presidents have to be prudent in what they say. But, you know, coming from you, who, you know, in the past has threatened extinction for North Korea and, you know, sung songs about bombing Iran, I don’t know, you know, how credible that is. I think this is the right strategy.
McCain, on the other hand, appeared to be uncomfortable and defensive at times – even mispronouncing some leader’s names:
Now, the new president of Pakistan, Kardari (sic), has got his hands full. And this area on the border has not been governed since the days of Alexander the Great.
That may seem like a minor point, however, when you are billed as superior to Obama on foreign policy, that kind of mistake is bad – especially when your opponent (Obama) made no such mistake in over 90 minutes of off the cuff debate.
On the economy, Obama came through loud and clear as the candidate that was clearly for helping Main Street, while McCain came through as the candidate who promoted programs to help Wall Street – both by his own statements and by Obama’s criticism. In fact, McCain had to be asked twice to give an answer on his opinion of the bailout plan because he spoke about the economy vaguely in his initial statements. Obama on the other hand immediately laid out his plans on what needs to be done.
OBAMA: You know, we are at a defining moment in our history. Our nation is involved in two wars, and we are going through the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.
And although we’ve heard a lot about Wall Street, those of you on Main Street I think have been struggling for a while, and you recognize that this could have an impact on all sectors of the economy.
And you’re wondering, how’s it going to affect me? How’s it going to affect my job? How’s it going to affect my house? How’s it going to affect my retirement savings or my ability to send my children to college?
So we have to move swiftly, and we have to move wisely. And I’ve put forward a series of proposals that make sure that we protect taxpayers as we engage in this important rescue effort.
No. 1, we’ve got to make sure that we’ve got oversight over this whole process; $700 billion, potentially, is a lot of money.
No. 2, we’ve got to make sure that taxpayers, when they are putting their money at risk, have the possibility of getting that money back and gains, if the market — and when the market returns.
No. 3, we’ve got to make sure that none of that money is going to pad CEO bank accounts or to promote golden parachutes.
And, No. 4, we’ve got to make sure that we’re helping homeowners, because the root problem here has to do with the foreclosures that are taking place all across the country.
Now, we also have to recognize that this is a final verdict on eight years of failed economic policies promoted by George Bush, supported by Senator McCain, a theory that basically says that we can shred regulations and consumer protections and give more and more to the most, and somehow prosperity will trickle down.
It hasn’t worked. And I think that the fundamentals of the economy have to be measured by whether or not the middle class is getting a fair shake. That’s why I’m running for president, and that’s what I hope we’re going to be talking about tonight.
McCain, on the other hand, didn’t have many specifics about how to fix the economic woes or about his support for the bailout plan.
MCCAIN: And, Jim, I — I’ve been not feeling too great about a lot of things lately. So have a lot of Americans who are facing challenges. But I’m feeling a little better tonight, and I’ll tell you why.
Because as we’re here tonight in this debate, we are seeing, for the first time in a long time, Republicans and Democrats together, sitting down, trying to work out a solution to this fiscal crisis that we’re in.
And have no doubt about the magnitude of this crisis. And we’re not talking about failure of institutions on Wall Street. We’re talking about failures on Main Street, and people who will lose their jobs, and their credits, and their homes, if we don’t fix the greatest fiscal crisis, probably in — certainly in our time, and I’ve been around a little while.
But the point is — the point is, we have finally seen Republicans and Democrats sitting down and negotiating together and coming up with a package.
This package has transparency in it. It has to have accountability and oversight. It has to have options for loans to failing businesses, rather than the government taking over those loans. We have to — it has to have a package with a number of other essential elements to it.
And, yes, I went back to Washington, and I met with my Republicans in the House of Representatives. And they weren’t part of the negotiations, and I understand that. And it was the House Republicans that decided that they would be part of the solution to this problem.
But I want to emphasize one point to all Americans tonight. This isn’t the beginning of the end of this crisis. This is the end of the beginning, if we come out with a package that will keep these institutions stable.
And we’ve got a lot of work to do. And we’ve got to create jobs. And one of the areas, of course, is to eliminate our dependence on foreign oil.
Obviously, McCain had more to say on the economy as the debate continued, but the point here was that he was slow to initially respond on the most important crisis facing America today and was on the defensive about House Republicans torpedoing the bipartisan Senate agreement taken to the White House – since it is widely viewed as a McCain led attack on the initial plan.
Interestingly enough, polling has shown that Obama won the debate by a large number of uncommitted voters (CBS & CNN poll) on the economy and foreign policy. However, I have never been a strong proponent of polling because I believe the media to be conservative (for the most part) and often polls are skewed to the right-center or right of any issue. Even so, the polling is interesting – even when you factor in a skew to the right:
40% of uncommitted voters who watched the debate tonight thought Barack Obama was the winner. 22% thought John McCain won. 38% saw it as a draw.
68% of these voters think Obama would make the right decision
about the economy. 41% think McCain would.
49% of these voters think Obama would make the right decisions about Iraq. 55% think McCain would.
CNN went beyond that actually finding that Obama won on Iraq issues:
Who Did the Best Job In the Debate?
Who Would Better Handle Economy?
Who Would Better Handle Iraq?
Overall, I think Obama has a clear victory in this debate – even if you rank him equally with McCain on foreign policy (or close but behind McCain) the damage is there. McCain’s strongest perceived issue – foreign policy – was no knockout punch to Obama. In addition, with the economic turmoil facing the country right now, McCain seemed out of touch and vague on the details of both his support of the bailout plan and what he might do as President to fix the mess. In hindsight, leading a Republican House delegation to the White House to scuttle the bipartisan Senate agreement on the bailout plan probably was a gamble that only helped Obama and hurt McCain.