I, too, enjoyed the finery of verbal evasion and interpersonal sniping that was the inaugural 2008 U.S. presidential debate. Let’s rock some stuff:
- First off, name-dropping: some MBA section friends and I tried to watch the debate at a local A2 watering hole, only to have our peaceful watching interrupted by a hard-partying Michael Phelps and his XL crew of groupies. And yes, that is 100% true. We had to bail and watch the thing on DVR at a friend’s house.
- Notable tonight was the near-complete absence of God talk. Nobody mentioned The Creator, or God’s will for the U.S., and they particularly stayed away from God’s perspective on the Iraq troop surge. Perhaps this just reflects both candidates’ personal approach to religion, but I noted how much it differed from the 2000 and 2004 debates. I guarantee, 9,000%, that Palin will break this newly identified trend within the first ten minutes of the VP debate.
- The following are directly pertinent truths that clearly could not have been spoken by either candidate:
- The government budget is so high because defense spending is completely out of control. (McCain, to his credit, sorta addressed this. Only he can pull that off, what with the POW hell-on-Earth thing and all.) Earmarks don’t matter for 1/100th of a damn. If you really want to save government money, take the Air Force and fold it back into the Army. Seriously, they are a huge waste of cash.
- A nuclear-armed Iran is probably unavoidable at this stage, but that doesn’t in the slightest mean Israel is going to die. Is anybody really discussing a conventional military invasion of Iran at this point in time, even before they have nuclear weapons? Because with Ali Khameini’s interest in regime self-preservation (props to Obama for finally identifying on a national political stage that Ahmedinedjad has very little real power in Iran), the likelihood of a nuclear first strike on Israel is next to zero. If you want to take it to a level that’s really beyond the pale in politically concerned discussion, a nuclear Iran and subsequent Arab arms race could actually promote regional stability through the reduced threat of conventional war.
Discuss. Or in keeping with political reality, don’t.
- The United States — though a permanent fixture on the world stage due to its huge geographic area, natural resources and very large population — is no longer a world-bestriding colossus and needs to find its real friends fast. We don’t know who the candidates think these countries are, because like I said, declining U.S. power and influence is an unspeakable political reality. (Not that I fault Jim Lehrer for not asking — Jim, you’re great, on the serious for real. I met you at that D.C. book party that one time, plus I find it hella cool that you were a Marine and are an awesome, truly objective, non-airhead throwback, so I’m permanently on your side. Please don’t retire, ever.)
- I will never get enough of that “You son of a bitch, I cannot believe you just said that, if it weren’t for all these cameras I’d tear out your throat” smile that the candidates inevitably make.
- Does Barack Obama lose voter points for his correct pronunciation of “Pakistan” vs. McCain’s Americanized version? (And I guarantee McCain knows that it’s “Pock-ee-STAHN” instead of “PACK-i-stan”.) Survey says: points deduction — speak like a ‘Mercan!
- I can’t watch Rudy Giuliani these days without wanting to punch him hard in the mouth. I thought Americans were supposed to hate disdain, and then the Republican party keeps airing this guy who’s just sopping with sarcastic condescension. For real, has there ever been a national political figure as condescending as Giuliani? He’s really crossed some kind of jagoff Rubicon. Good for Giuliani, I guess: he wins at being a slime-oozing hyena. Hooray for the G man.
- All of this debate stuff matters very little, but it’s always fascinating to watch the national discourse try to enshrine the opposite. For instance, I know very few people who would change their vote because one candidate sighed too many times, and yet it has become an article of fact that Al Gore’s sighing was a major factor in his defeat. Nor have I ever seen a presidential debate that involved as much complete ownage as John Kerry’s verbal dismemberment of George W. Bush in the first debate of 2004, and yet we all know how well that worked out for Kerry. Look for some very minor facet of this debate to become a future “turning point” for whoever is elected.
- Do I have a winner? If I’m writing as me, no — they both made some good and unexpected points and hit the essentials effectively. (One Obama supporter with whom I watched the debate lamented that McCain “kicked his ass.” Eh, not really.) If I’m writing as Joe Average, then I think McCain had a slight edge. As Joe Average, I care about the election, but I just don’t have time for all of Barack Obama’s explanations and clarifications. Plus, dude talked more than once about plans that “might work, or they might not.” What? Certainty is the key here, homes, whether the outcome is certain or not.
- McCain tonight reminded me that I really don’t dislike McCain the dude that much. As a matter of fact, under normal circumstances, I think he’d be an OK president. But then he went way beyond acceptability with the Palin pick, and I’ve lost a ton of respect for him after watching her repeatedly demonstrate just how far out of her league she really is. I know he wants to win, but picking someone so dangerously clueless to be the second in command of the United States of America is the complete opposite of all that “country first” stuff he’s spouting. What happened, yo? McCain better have agonized over the soul sale involved in making such a ridiculous and dangerous sop to the political base. I hope he fills us in some day in the memoirs, because a potentially juicy memoir read is the only good thing about that pick.
- That’ll clearly become more important in the future, because I’ve thought for months that a McCain victory is inevitable. I’m sorry, fellow lefties, and while you really never know, I do think McCain has this one locked up. Like I said, I’d mostly be OK with President John McCain, but then you run into this very real possibility: “Ladies and gentlemen, The President of the United States, Sarah Palin.”
Oh, snap. Please, nation: prove me wrong.