After watching the debate in its entirety last evening, I really am wondering if these are the best two candidates we could find for the job. Naturally, I know it isn't.
I fully understand there are several other fringe parties that run "in name only" campaigns that we can throw our votes away on, but these are the two from which we must choose to lead our nation into an era of troubled times and certain uncertainty. It only further reinforces what many of have thought and said for so long: The best people for the job, do not want the job.
If I were to grade the candidates on style and performance, I thought both were boring to hear. I could have had as much fun at an insurance or real estate seminar.
Without his faithful teleprompter, Obama stuttered his way through and McCain had several moments where he just repeated himself too much. Face it folks, McCain has never been a dynamic speaker and Obama's strength has always been reading a speech that has been carefully written and crafted for him.
In the substance department, I thought McCain had a reasonable edge against someone that has spent the last two years being groomed as the "golden child". In both experience and vision, he outlined some stark differences between himself and Obama.
I think McCain clearly demonstrated that he had an exponentially greater knowledge of foreign policy. Not only does he understand the situation in the war against radical fanatics that seek to kill Jews and Americans, just for being Jews and Americans; he demonstrated that he has a far greater understanding of the situation we are facing with Putin 's Russia. His words rang loud and clear, when he said we need to keep our eyes on the the Ukraine; because this is precisely where the Russians will be looking to undermine and interfere next. And he told us why.
The economy was billed ahead of time as one of Obama's stronger areas. But from what I heard, he doesn't really get it and I was not impressed.
Neither one of them out-shined the other when asked about what they would be willing to give up in order to accommodate this record bailout, now coming down the pike from the halls of Congress. Obama answered the question with what he wanted to spend money on, while McCain just said we had to cut spending. He may have been short on specifics, but to me it showed that McCain at least knows something has to go, while it is overtly apparent Obama still has plans to to spend us into oblivion.
Obama spent the night blaming Bush for everything. John Kerry spent his entire campaign doing the same thing and couldn't win with that very same strategy - when he was actually running against Bush. I cannot understand what makes Obama and his advisors think it will be especially effective, now.
Bush is not running. Trying to tie McCain to Bush, is useless and futile at best.
It is true that in some areas McCain did agree with the President. But there were enough instances where he did break with Bush in policy stances, to make his case as an independent thinker. All Obama's strategy does is rehash the 04 campaign, by creating a litany of complaints with no clear solutions. We know where things went wrong, we cannot change the past.
Did Bush mishandle Iraq? Yes and McCain said so. He said it then and he said it last night. But Obama wanted to one up McCain by saying we never should have gone to war with Iraq, which essentially beating a dead horse. Did Bush drop the ball on this banking crisis? Yes. McCain never defended Bush on this. But he did offer some simulation of a better plan, by emphasizing the need to cut government spending.
The debate for the American people to take up now is not the reasons for going to war, but where we go from here. The debate should not point fingers about the banking crisis either, since both Democrats and Republicans are guilty of wasteful spending.
Obama's camp has repeatedly said this campaign is not about the past, but the future. If so, then can anyone explain why Obama spent the evening complaining about the past eight years? We need a conversation not on failures, we need a discussion on the next four years that will dig us out of the mess we are in.
All in all, to use a boxing metaphor, both candidates were feeling each other out in the first round. Neither scored a knockout, neither knocked the other one down. McCain landed some quality blows, but did not counter-punch as effectively as he could/should have. When looking at the film, he will no doubt see some huge openings where he could have taken command of the fight early and possibly scored a standing eight-count.
One thing about boxing is, you really do not want to leave the decision in the hands of the judges, if it can be helped. You must take the opportunity to exploit the weaknesses of your opponent as early as possible, to get into your opponents head. Even if you do not knock the other guy out early, you must dictate the pace of the fight and dominate him so that he becomes frustrated, and makes a mistake that may land you that knockout punch later.
The judges, in this case, will be the countless pundits and pollsters that will debating this debate for the entire week ahead. They are not always kind, nor are they always fair.
I remember the Leonard-Hagler fight in the 80s, where Hagler was robbed by the judges because he didn't show his usual aggressiveness and ring generalship . Leonard did not win that fight and at best, it was a draw (which should have kept the title with the champion). Instead, the subjective nature of boxing turned a sporting event into politics and awarded the match to Leonard, who never really dominated in convincing fashion.
It is clear that the liberal media wants Obama to win, so McCain must take charge of the fight in the next round and leave no doubt in the American people's minds. He can do that and still look Presidential, he just needs to take advantage of the openings Obama leaves him. We know he can take a punch but he cannot be afraid to counter-punch, making Obama pay for his impulsiveness when it counts.
In this fight, there is no champion, no incumbent to retain the belt in the case of a draw. Both are fighting for an open title. I score the round 10-9 for McCain. How about you?