Saturday, September 27, 2008

Political Comment: First Debate a Draw, So Obama Wins

Good Morning Bloggers - My view is that both candidates did a good job last night, and even though McCain kept Obama on the defensive more, I think Obama's solid performance was critical.

John McCain pointed out many times last night how he has the experience and voters know him. Obama simply had to prove he was well informed and could keep up with McCain. In my opinion he did a good job keeping up and more. He was knowledgeable and assertive, even questioning McCain's judgement in many areas.

McCain might have impressed some people with his combative style, but not me. I think America is instinctively turning away from that style after eight years of Bush. I don't know it hurt him or not, but McCain was slightly hunched and angry and far too dismissive, rude, and condescending. He didn't treat Obama with the respect he deserves. I really didn't like the way McCain never looked at Obama - it made him look small and petty. For all those who thought Obama was too polite, I disagree. Obama needed to show McCain respect. The American people would have been offended if Obama treated McCain poorly in any way.

Some clarification from
  • Obama said McCain adviser Henry Kissinger backs talks with Iran “without preconditions,” but McCain disputed that. In fact, Kissinger did recently call for “high level” talks with Iran starting at the secretary of state level and said, “I do not believe that we can make conditions.” After the debate the McCain campaign issued a statement quoting Kissinger as saying he didn’t favor presidential talks with Iran.

  • Obama denied voting for a bill that called for increased taxes on “people” making as little as $42,000 a year, as McCain accused him of doing. McCain was right, though only for single taxpayers. A married couple would have had to make $83,000 to be affected by the vote, and anyway no such increase is in Obama’s tax plan.

  • McCain and Obama contradicted each other on what Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen said about troop withdrawals. Mullen said a time line for withdrawal could be “very dangerous” but was not talking specifically about “Obama’s plan,” as McCain maintained.

  • McCain tripped up on one of his signature issues – special appropriation “earmarks.” He said they had “tripled in the last five years,” when in fact they have decreased sharply.

  • Obama claimed Iraq “has” a $79 billion surplus. It once was projected to be as high as that. It’s now down to less than $60 billion.

  • McCain repeated his overstated claim that the U.S. pays $700 billion a year for oil to hostile nations. Imports are running at about $536 billion this year, and a third of it comes from Canada, Mexico and the U.K.

  • Obama said 95 percent of “the American people” would see a tax cut under his proposal. The actual figure is 81 percent of households.

  • Oama mischaracterized an aspect of McCain’s health care plan, saying “employers” would be taxed on the value of health benefits provided to workers. Employers wouldn’t, but the workers would. McCain also would grant workers up to a $5,000 tax credit per family to cover health insurance.

  • McCain misrepresented Obama's plan by claiming he'd be "handing the health care system over to the federal government." Obama would expand some government programs but would allow people to keep their current plans or chose from private ones, as well.

  • McCain claimed Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower had drafted a letter of resignation from the Army to be sent in case the 1944 D-Day landing at Normandy turned out to be a failure. Ike prepared a letter taking responsibility, but he didn’t mention resigning.

Overall, I think they both did a good job. I think Obama - being a poker player - is keeping his cards close to his chest. I think he plans to poke McCain more and more over the next three debates, hopefully leading to an angry McCain in the end. Like Reagan in 1980, all Obama has to do is communicate competence and strength, and I think the American people will accept him in November. Your reactions?

Saturday's Political Comment #1 - Michael

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