B12 Solipsism

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Debate 1 Notes

without comments

I’d score the first debate as mostly a draw, which means Obama, as the new guy, won. I don’t recall any sound bites tailor-made for repetition on the 24 hour news shows, nor any obvious gaffes. McCain couldn’t help himself from lying a few times about Obama’s record, but that’s typical behavior. McCain has never been constrained by the truth.

As far as demeanor, McCain seemed petty by not ever looking directly at Obama, nor calling him by his first name. Perhaps McCain was afraid of mangling the word, “Barack”? McCain did mangle nearly every world leader’s name1. McCain fidgeted and smirked while Obama spoke, while Obama was calm and cool, and able to speak in coherent sentences. Again, Obama won this aspect of the debate by looking presidential.

NYT

More than anything, Mr. McCain seemed intent on presenting Mr. Obama as green and inexperienced, a risky choice during a difficult time. Again and again, sounding almost like a professor talking down to a new student, he talked about having to explain foreign policy to Mr. Obama and repeatedly invoked his 30 years of history on national security (even though Mr. McCain, in the kind of misstep that no doubt would have been used by Republicans against Mr. Obama, mangled the name of the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and he stumbled over the name of Pakistan’s newly inaugurated president, calling him “Qadari.” His name is actually Asif Ali Zardari.).

But Mr. Obama seemed calm and in control and seemed to hold his own on foreign policy, the subject on which Mr. McCain was assumed to hold a natural advantage. Mr. Obama talked in detail about foreign countries and their leaders, as if trying to assure the audience that he could hold his own on the world stage. He raised his own questions about Mr. McCain’s judgment in supporting the Iraq war.

McCain made a big deal about earmarks, even as his own running mate requested millions of dollars in earmarks this year. Earmarks are not the biggest economic problem our country faces however, and represent a miniscule part of the annual budget2.

Obama managed to work in the point that McCain forgot who the president of Spain was, even though his delivery was not quite as harsh as it could have been3. For all of McCain’s vaunted foreign policy experience, he seems to have trouble remembering facts about places. McCain also seems to emphasize going to a country makes one an expert. Not sure how relevant setting foot on foreign soil and being escorted around by Secret Service equivalents in a dignitary’s motorcade is to actually learning details and nuance about a country. Similar reasoning to saying that one is a Russian expert because of proximity of one’s house to Russia. You learn more about a subject by reading about it, and talking to experts, at least in my experience. Simply setting foot in Afghanistan is not relevant. Also, Madeleine Albright is not a Republican, so McCain cannot claim her, especially when the Republicans used to ridicule her for attempting to have dialogue with North Korea.

As far as North Korea is concerned, our secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, went to North Korea. By the way, North Korea, most repressive and brutal regime probably on Earth. The average South Korean is three inches taller than the average North Korean, a huge gulag.

(via transcript of the debate)

A brief roundup of some pundit reaction to the debate here including this:

Jonathan Alter on MSNBC: The biggest loser? Sarah Palin. The debates set a standard she cannot live up to.

Footnotes:
  1. such as calling the new president of Pakistan “Qadari” instead of Zardari []
  2. somewhere less than 1% []
  3. though apparently McCain muttered under his breath, horse shit []

Written by Seth Anderson

September 27th, 2008 at 10:16 am

Posted in politics

Tagged with , ,

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