Notes on the Second Presidential Debate

In 2008 Presidential Elections, Commentary, politics on October 8, 2008 by Editor Z

Tonight’s debate started off tedious and I found it less exciting then the last one, though it got more energetic as it unfolded. The only real news maker is that McCain said he wants to buy up bad mortgages, a move that makes many in the conservative base none too happy and reminds them of why they hated him to begin with. Thus those of all political persuasions can find something to not like John McCain for, the Democrats hate his tactics against obama and support for the war, independents hate his economic policy as well as his dramatic metamorphosis from the transparent anti-establishment republican of 2000, and republicans can hate him for wanting to get the government to buy up bad mortgages.

But while there were few significant alterations, there were a few moments that will make debate history. For example when John McCain was asked by moderator Tom Brokaw as to whom he would appoint as treasury secretary if elected president, he responded by saying “Well Not you Tom.” An awkward instance and I saw a few befuddled faces in the audience I was watching the debate with up at Westfield State College. An odd attempt at humor and in these times when the economy is dropping like acid at Woodstock and we are fighting two wars, the electorate is not exactly in the mood for a few giggles.

Obama also once again re-stated his opposition to the War in Iraq and took McCain to task for his past forecasts of a quick and peaceful war and subsequent peace in Iraq that over 4,000 American lives later we found was outright erroneous. But the moment that could well go down as a sort of “I knew Jack Kennedy, Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine, Senator You are No Jack Kennedy moment” came after McCain referred to Obama as reckless on foreign policy when he stated that if their was actionable intelligence about the whereabouts of top Al-Queda leaders including Osama Bin Ladden, that if the Pakistanis couldn’t pursue and eliminate him that a President Obama would ensure that the U.S Military would.

In an odd break with the sort of Neoconservative bravado associated with McCain, McCain stated that this was improper and that we should to use the Theodore Roosevelt mantra “Speak softly and carry a big stick” and alleged that obama was merely “talking loudly”. Here Obama landed a punch that no doubt was the big moment of the debate and likely will in the end will be the most remembered instant and exchange of all the 2008 presidential debates. My apologies it is much better on video when McCain actually interupts Obama when he states “Senator McCain suggests that somehow, you know, I’m green behind the ears and I’m just spouting off and he’s somber and responsible.” Obama then hits back hard:

The temperatures rose again when the debate veered into national security, as Obama rebuked McCain for saying he wanted to attack Pakistan , over his vow to hit Al-Qaeda targets, in the country if Islamabad would not.

McCain cited the maxim that the United States should “talk softly, but carry a big stick,” and slammed his rival who he said “likes to talk aloud.”

“He has announced that he will attack Pakistan,” McCain said.

Obama hit straight back, citing a YouTube video from last year taken on the campaign trail which showed a McCain joke misfiring when he sang “bomb, bomb Iran” to the tune of an old Beach Boys hit.

“Senator McCain suggests that somehow, you know, I’m green behind the ears and I’m just spouting off and he’s somber and responsible,” Obama said.

“This is a guy who sang, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran, who called for the annihilation of North Korea. That I don’t think is an example of speaking softly.”

McCain once again showed his cantankerous and crumudgeoned side when he refereed to Obama as “that one” when he asked rhetorically who had voted for a past Bush/Cheney energy policy. Some pundits say it made Mccain look older, like a grandfather referring to one off his grandchildren (which exactly is what McCain needed to do, look older than he actually is). Almost instantly Obama Campaign communications director Bill Burton sent out a statement via e-mail about this.

And in terms of coverage post debate, radio right winger and Fox News talking head Sean Hannity has made much of Obama’s William Ayers and Jeremiah Wright, but it is interesting to see Hannity on the defensive when Obama communications Director Robert Gibbs brings up a past guest that Hannity had on his tv show the other night, who is an anti-semite. Funniest part, Hannity refers to himself as a journalist. Yeah sure, Hannity is about as much of a journalist as Hugh Heffner is a celibate monk.

And well we are on past associations Sean, how about your drug dealing and terrorist dealing Iran Contra buddy Oliver North or Watergate Burglar G Gordon Liddy, or how about radio talk show host and Anti-Semite Hal Turner? Hannity might want to cease this McCarthyistic Guilt by association because his hands aren’t exactly clean either.

In terms of at least style it was like the Kennedy-Nixon debates in 1960. Obama, who like then Senator Kennedy came out into the arena looking youthful and buyont, telegenic, and sounding articulate and informed, while McCain came off more as then Vice President Nixon, appearing sour, uncomfortable, and awkward as he often wandered out of the frame of the camera.

Response of the night this via Andrew Sullivan. Whether or not you agree with this statement or assesment of the second presidential debate, one has to cede that the following seems to be the most animated quote of the night in terms of the commentariat. here is a quote from Will Wilkinson:

Gut read. Obama owned it. This election’s over unless he murders and eats the flesh of a child on live television.



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