Posts Tagged ‘debates’

debate #2

October 8, 2008

I found the debate last night pretty boring. It seemed like pretty much standard talking points the whole way through, and even when questions were mildly interesting, the candidates managed to ignore them and just deliver their stump speeches, which if you’ve been paying any attention, you’ve heard a hundred times already.

I was surprised this morning to find that a bunch of people found Obama’s answer to the question on health care to be one of the best parts because that was one part that I found extremely irritating, since I actually thought the question was interesting and he skipped it to give his standard spiel. The question was about whether it’s okay for health care to be a commodity but he didn’t even acknowledge that he was going to ignore it or anything, just went into robot mode and described his health care plan (which of course still allows health care to be a commodity, not to say that’s wrong, but he never took up that aspect of the question – do we want competition or security & care in our health care – it’s a tough area, really…)

Basically, what came across to me is that undecideds are just people who don’t care about the election. This has been going on two years already; if you don’t already know Obama’s health care plan, you obviously don’t care about the election. This should be a time when we get to ask about details, like, for instance, why have a commodity based health care plan instead of one like Clinton proposed that was government backed? That could have been an interesting discussion about how industry affects medicine, treatment, preventative care; about if government slows things down and gets red tape in the way; about where in the scheme of infrastructure health care belongs. But Americans are just too stupid for that high level of a debate. Instead, it was back to a talking point he’s been repeating since 2006, a little spiel about “this is what I’d do”, and on to the next one.

For me, this is like Al Gore vs. Bob Dole. How can either of them win? I mean, yeah, I’ll take Al Gore and I’m pretty sure America will too but god is it boring to watch. I liked Tom Brokaw’s little slip-up, “If either of you win the presidency…”



September 27, 2008

I don’t think anyone really won any votes with that debate. It seemed to me that the best anyone could have done was retain votes – swing voters who were considering switching sides might have been convinced to stay with the guy they were leaning toward, because both guys sort of did well enough if you were sort of inclined toward them to start with. But I don’t think either side did well enough to reach out to pull someone across from the opposing side, to swing voters who really didn’t know which side they were going for, or swing voters leaning one way to switch to the other way. So I think it was a wash, ultimately.

Basically, no one was inspiring. I thought Obama was marginally better, but I’m biased toward Obama’s views to begin with, so I can hardly count that as an objective perspective. His manner was still a bit too Gore-bot, and somehow he didn’t seem to really get into the material, excited or interested in explaining it, but rather just listed answers and told tired stories (that bracelet war was pathetic). McCain was meaner and generally more simplistic, which didn’t win any points with me, and his repetition of the “maverick” and “miss congeniality” stuff was stupid. His condescending attitude and refusal to even look at Obama bothered me, but could be a useful strategy among some voters, I suppose.

But it seems as if Obama could have responded a little more sharply and energetically at times – like, McCain used Madelaine Albright as an example of how we send the Secretary of State to negotiate with axis of evil states – that’s the Clinton administration, pre-no-tolerance position – the question is whether Colin or Condoleeza has met with these guys. Or on the economy and overspending, why did Obama not bring up how much the war has cost us, and how much bad strategy and poor military planning have cost us overall? He could have framed that in a way that wouldn’t just have been “liberal peacenik”, if that’s what he was trying to avoid. It seemed like he wasn’t in the moment, but just turning to parts of his speeches. I liked that Jim Lehrer tried to get them to go at it, but overall the whole thing felt tired… It got a little better toward the end, and it did seem as if they were sort of warming up, so maybe future debates will be more interesting, but I’m not impressed.

You want an energetic debate, by the way: check out NYPL: Zizek v Levy, e.g., reminds you of what it’s like when people who actually care about topics, and think deeply about them, talk to people they disagree with. What a completely different world that is from presidential debates…

rumors, impressions

September 26, 2008

This claims that rape kit rumor has been debunked, and points out that journalists have been really unreliable in this election cycle… Unfortunately it’s unclear how reliable they’ve been all along, but it’s the bloggers who debunk, because there’s enough of them that at least a few care about the accusations being made, and look into them, and since information is so readily available these days, the truth can be found…

Perhaps the trouble is just that there is so much information in every direction that journalists don’t have time to investigate every single rumor that crops up – I just heard on the radio someone who had looked into this same story and couldn’t come up with a definitive answer on it, though he came up with nothing to support the rumor (seems pretty debunked, actually, since she’s denied it, but he left it at “unknown” – which honestly seems unfair, like “who can say if he’s a muslim”…)

(I watched All the President’s Men on an airplane a month or so ago, and couldn’t help comparing how different research was at the time, and how innocent it seemed to be – reporters always honestly calling and stating they were reporters and asking for statements, and writing things down, all very straightforward. I’m sure in order to get the quotes they had to say who they were, but it really struck me as a whole ‘nother world)

Regarding McCain’s break from debates and so on, as Brian Lehrer pointed out this morning, in a supposed attempt to get away from partisan politics and the presidential race so that real work could be done, McCain only increased attention on partisan politics and the presidential race, by bringing it with him to Washington. He could have let Congress work on the bill in peace, but by focusing attention on it, making the time it gets finished symbolic for both democrats and republicans, there’s now a whole lot of silliness focused on it what wouldn’t otherwise be a deadline (well, not to the same degree, anyway). He’s not helping the situation, and clearly could have provided his input from the road… But this may still give the impression to some americans that he is hard at work while Obama is off campaigning. I hope that isn’t the outcome, but it isn’t the details that get remembered.