Thursday, October 16, 2008

Some thoughts on the third presidential debate

I should say something about the final presidential debate between Democratic candidate Barack Obama and Republican candidate John McCain. I found this debate to be far better than the second presidential debate, of which I fell asleep after thirty minutes--the second presidential debate was just that god-awful. It was a combination of a formless town hall debate, without the town hall, and a crappy moderator Tom Brokaw, who refused to tell McCain to "shut up" after his time limit expired, that really ruined the second debate. Of course, there was the condescending McCain calling Obama, "That One," which just shows the pure anger and hatred that McCain has. The political pundits have called Barack Obama the winner of the second debate. Whether you want to call Obama the winner of the second debate, or a tie, Obama still continued his lead over McCain as they stepped into the third debate. And if you wish, you can find the link to the second presidential debate right here.

So let us get into the third presidential debate. You can view the debate here through MSNBC:

I'll say this, I'm rather impressed with John McCain when he started this debate. He came out rather spirited, and very intent on attacking Barack Obama. He was very much more animated in this latest debate, rather than the first debate, or even part of the second debate that I watched. It is almost like McCain knew that this was the last chance for him to make his case to the American people, and to stop his slide down the polls to Obama. McCain had to come out swinging, or he would see his presidential ambitions blow away in the winds of change. I would guess that his advisers also told McCain to go all out swinging as well. McCain certainly had the best line of the night with his "I am not President Bush!"

And yet, even as McCain came out swinging against Obama, Barack Obama was calm, collected, and so frickin' cool that he could drive even Joe Cool completely batty. During the debate, as McCain was presenting his own talking points, and his attacking points against Obama, Obama would look at McCain, and then just smile as McCain kept attacking. Then Obama would present a step-by-step rebuttal, which would demolish McCain's attacks. As the debate continued on, McCain started getting angry and frustrated over his inability to rattle Obama's cage. Barack Obama looked very calm and presidential throughout the debate. McCain looked constipated at times during the debate. And this is just the body language and mannerisms each candidate presented to the debate--I'm not even going into what they said during this debate. Another little irony I found in this debate was that Barack Obama wore a red tie, while John McCain wore a blue tie--reverse red state, blue state?

Watching this debate, I got the impression that John McCain was, again, trying to rally his conservative base. Looking at the transcript of the debate, McCain brought up the attacks that Obama would raise taxes on everyone, that Obama would be a big-spending liberal, that Obama would lose the war in Iraq, and about Obama's relationship with Bill Ayers and the alleged ACORN voter fraud. All of this was red meat for the conservative base. Even more astounding was McCain's belittling of allowing abortions for a women's "health." That might have scored points for the conservative base, but it also shows how condescending McCain is for a women's life, and reproductive health, in saying that the fetus is more important than a woman's life. If there is one way for McCain to lose the women vote, it is by McCain uttering such a snide remark that shows just how ignorant McCain is on womens' health issues. But again, it is all about appeasing the conservative base here. John McCain went further right in his negative attacks against Obama, in his continued pushing for the hard-right political policies, even as a majority of Americans believe this country is on the wrong track. At the same time, Obama played it safe during the debate, possibly shifting his position towards more of the center, playing for the centrist, moderate, and independent votes. Toss in Obama's coolness verses McCain's angry and frustrating nature, it seems like Obama won the debate simply for being so cool under McCain's angry fire. The conservatives may have loved McCain's performance during the debate, but it is not the conservatives that McCain needs to entice--it was the moderates and independents that McCain needed to win over. And with the anger and frustration emerging within McCain, with his inability to rattle Obama, I don't believe that such emotion will bring the moderates and independents over to the McCain camp--not with around 20 days left to go in the election.

The debates are over. Now we come to the final campaign rallies, political commercials, and the endless McCain campaign smears against Obama. We're heading towards the finish line to this 2008 presidential campaign.

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