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i generally abhor politics and tend to stay as disconnected from it as possible, but for various reasons i decided to watch the mccain/obama debate tonight. it's the first political debate i've ever really watched, and it's certainly the longest i've ever heard either candidate speak.

To me the debate was split into two halves: the first half and the second half.

Probably the thing that struck me the most in the first half was the contrast between obama and mccain in the nature in which they answered the questions, as in it felt to me like mccain gave a stronger impression of answering the questions more directly than obama and yet somehow seemed to answer the questions less effectively because of selective omission. By contrast, while obama didn't always directly answer the questions that were being asked, he left me with a stronger impression that he was answering the root of the issue and putting more cards on the table (or better masking the fact that he had cards hidden).

where this was most obvious was when it came to everything about the economic crisis. obama was much more upfront about the fact that it takes the spending of money in the right places in order to fix things, saying that there would have to be "investments". although that term was a sugarcoated way of saying, "we're going to spend money," it stuck out to me as at least an admission and an acknowledgement of that whereas mccain deliberately did not mention anything about spending, as if the mere hint of it would create negative impact. That, as well as other things in the first forty-five minutes or so, raised a flag to me; he left an overall impression, one that he maintained throughout, that was a very "rah rah feel good because we are americans" that felt like a way to mask some of the incompleteness and imperfections of his actual position on the issues at hand.

similarly, i didn't like mccain's wishy-washy answer about the three economic priorities. "we can work on all three things at once" felt like some of the other answers that he gave: either overly idealist or lip-service because he doesn't want to lay his cards out on the table. obama wasn't afraid to put out there what he felt was important and what was realistic in terms of a plan, and that resonated very strong with me.

thus, when it came to that first half, i think obama was clearly ahead at reaching the people who matter the most, although he used the term "middle class america" too much for my taste. Which is a great idea and all to give more to middle class america, but i'm not sure what i think about the concept in general. Lowering taxes for middle america and not giving the CEOs and upper class a tax rate that's relative to that somehow begs the question on a big picture scale, "then what incentive is there for me to excel and aim to make a lot of money? it's better to be right on the edge of being the best, because if i'm the best, i'll get undercut by those that aren't."

if i think about it more, there's definitely a flaw to that particular line of thinking because it's taking a look at it from a purely black and white perspective when it's not so black and white, but so does the approach of lowering taxes for the middle class as far as i'm concerned, the idea that Those That Have A Lot automatically get labeled as "undeserved" whilst those that don't have a lot automatically get labeled as "deserved." i don't think it's that simple, but managing that the right way from the distance that washington has is impossible.

But of course there's more to it than was brought up in the debate as well, and it's not as black and white as i make it out ot be or they make it out to be. Overall i have to say that when reading between the lines it's still the better of the options than i think what mccain tried to sell on the table.

As far as the second half, i think that obama lost some steam with me whilst mccain gained some steam, not because of the content, but the approach to the content. Even though it was annoying to me how much mccain was bragging about how much experience and etc. he had, he got points from me in the fact that he didn't go out of his way to say, "and obama doesn't." It was also at this point that mccain's position and his more direct approach to answering the questions were to his credit.

What i think both helped and hurt obama as time went on for me was that he started to become too reactionary. I say that it helped because it helped him gain favor with the likes of me; i'm always a contender that structure of that sort of nature is supposed to be a guideline as opposed to a strict rule, and i liked the fact that after mccain would attack him with something, obama was willing to stretch the rules of the debate in order to defend the way that mccain was trying to distort him. I think that that's important, to be flexible and to be willing to push some when the context is right. I think that it hurt him, though, becaues most people don't think like that, and mccain used that as a weapon, because even though he was also stretching the rules and format for his own purpose, he was much more practiced at putting on the illusion that he was still in compliance with the form and making it seem like obama was going outside of the boundaries.

Which was frankly annoying, because it felt like another perception distortion, in the same way that he answered the "yes/no" question with a "maybe" as a "well, i followed the rules" so he would have an avenue to speak and elaborate, as opposed to obama who just didn't let himself fall into the yes/no trap in the first place.

overall it's fairly clear that i'm a democrat and an obama supporter, but i think that after a rocky start mccain held his own fairly well - if you couldn't read between his lines for those pockets of moments where he gave out masked lip service. While there were some answers that mccain gave that i felt were solid, enough of mccain's answers felt like they weren't grounded in reality that it makes me even more nervous if he does end up getting elected. "we can put the power in the people because we're americans and we're a strong country. We can work on all of these things at the same time because we're a strong country." Except that he knows as well as the smart ones that Will and Strength alone *can't* make that happen, not with a system that's so vast, complex, and variable. So all he was doing in those instances was instilling empty patriotism, something that i felt obama didn't do at all.

Hopefully the recent history of mccain's flip-flopping positions when it came to the economy continues to resonate with the people and the idea that nuclear power being our prime source of alternative energy comes out as not making more sense than looking for multiple alternative power sources to help the energy crisis.

i think that's it.

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Comments

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pearllessoyster
Oct. 8th, 2008 07:26 am (UTC)
i feel like it was bad that they both pushed the format. the debates are all set up in different formats for a reason, and either candidate's unwillingness to keep to a one-minute response to the question, or let a question rest without continual rebuttal, were pretty unbecoming. anybody who's taken even a semester of high school speech and debate is understanding of how the rules of a debate work, and that that is just how they are.

also, it's important to watch debates and hear candidates speak, if you are going to support and/or vote for them, yes?
lifeofmendel
Oct. 8th, 2008 02:32 pm (UTC)
i understand that that's how debates and all that work, i just contend that the rigidity of it is not the most condusive to us as voters getting the information we need to make informed decisions. It might be one thing if the debate was just about arguing positions on a fact basis, but that wasn't the case here; the discussions were based more on fact distortion. and if either obama or mccain is going to create a fact distortion about the other candidate, i'd rather the form be broken so that i can hear what the other side has to say about it because it gives me a more complete picture. Of course we hear speeches and all of that stuff outside, but the debates are an avenue where we get to see the immediate interplay between the candidates are a unique opportunity. i think that if the form stretched much mroe it would have been chaotic, but the way that it was, it felt just about right.
lifeofmendel
Oct. 8th, 2008 02:35 pm (UTC)
oh, and i've never particularly supported any presidential candidate in the entire history of my life other than a vague notion that i'm much more of a democrat than a republican. any support came from understanding the opinions of other people (friends) who i trust rather than the candidates directly, and it never mattered much anyway because i have never voted.
crackoon
Oct. 8th, 2008 10:48 am (UTC)
That last part is one of the biggest reasons I support Mccain; I'm all for nuclear power being the main source of 'alternative' energy, for obvious reasons. So cheap, so clean, so safe, so efficient =\
crackoon
Oct. 8th, 2008 10:49 am (UTC)
Though everything taken into consideration, I'm still on the fence. Maybe leaning towards Obama.
lifeofmendel
Oct. 8th, 2008 02:14 pm (UTC)
the thing about mccain's approach to alternative energy was that it felt very much like "nuclear is where we should throw *all* of the money" whereas obama felt like, "nuclear is where we can focus *some* of the money in addition to others". the second makes more sense to me because it helps us stay diverse and look at all angles and not reliant upon a single source of energy and a single solution to solve the problem.
miss_skillet
Oct. 8th, 2008 06:24 pm (UTC)
Why doesn't anyone ever want to develop wind-harnessing except T. Boone Pickens? No toxic waste, no Chernobyls.
crackoon
Oct. 8th, 2008 07:44 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I understand. I guess I'm at the point of life where I see the point of view of... I don't know, special interests or something. Being a worker in the nuclear power field, money going into expanding nuclear power = more job prospects for me later in life.
marseille
Oct. 9th, 2008 01:15 pm (UTC)
Three things worry me most about McCain:
1) despite his long career in the Senate, he seems to have learned very little about the world
2)because of his long career, or maybe it's just his personality, he THINKS HE KNOWS EVERYTHING HE NEEDS TO KNOW -- and no one does
3) he reacts suddenly and emotionally to everything, and sees himself as the only one whose opinion matters
lifeofmendel
Oct. 9th, 2008 02:53 pm (UTC)
good points, and in retrospect i can see those playing out in how he handled the debate. there's a fine line between confidence and cockiness, and you're right in that his general my-way-or-the-highway is worrisome.
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