Your Reaction ?
Pressing commitments forced me to miss tonight’s debate. In view of the lively comment thread sparked by a single, off-hand, political comment from me on Sunday, I’m curious how the readers saw the outcome of Debate III. I’d much rather hear from you than the paid shills on cable news.
October 16th, 2008 at 5:31 am
Upfront, I am admittedly a pro-small business, pro-globalization, free trader. Based on this, I lean towards Senator McCain. I think the fundamental difference lies in how both men view federal government. Senator Obama prefers the federal government has a hand in virtually every aspect of American society. He genuinely believes the federal government can provide universal answers to solve individual problems. His concepts of fairness are disturbing. But for those who are asking "What has government done for me lately?", Senator Obama’s rhetoric tonight will resonate. I think Senator McCain’s performance tonight will resonate with those who expect government to tighten its belt as much as Americans will need to over the next few years. It will also resonate with those who understand that higher taxes on businesses combined with protectionist trade policy will crimp the value of those businesses via smaller profit margins, less R&D, and less market competitiveness. This will result in higher unemployment and more people living off unemployment benefits and government programs as in many foreign countries.
I think everyone understands we need a change from the current administration in many areas of foreign and domestic policy. My only hope is that most voters go to the polls understanding clearly the change that they are choosing.
October 16th, 2008 at 5:49 am
As you no doubt know, I lead toward Sen. Obama, not because I believe government needs to have a hand in everything as generalized above, but rather because after the last eight years, I do think we need a change in policies, not only with regard to our economy, but also in terms of how we approach foreign relations and this misnamed War on Terror.
With that caveat stated, I’ll proceed to my "analysis." I thought initially, Sen. McCain effectively put Sen. Obama on the defensive with regard to many issues, including his tax policy. However, Sen. Obama defended his proposals not only with his usual rhetoric but also a much better command of the issue than many people expected. In fact, for almost every offensive move by Sen. McCain, Sen. Obama had a response waiting, even for the line I thought would be one of the most powerful of the night. This was when Sen. McCani said "I’m not President Bush, if you wanted to run against G. Bush, you should have run four years ago." Sen. Obama, calmly replied, well Senator, if at times I compare you with the current administration is because on almost every issue that matters to Americans, your policies and his are virtually indistinguishable.
Sen. McCain also took the bait and when prompted on the negativity question went hard against Sen. Obama, but Obama though responding to each missive, also tried to move the conversation toward the substantive issues people wanted to hear about. Sen. McCain, although landing a fe punches, did so at the expense of appearing to be pursuing the "old" politics as Obama chided him.
It was at this point, that I think Sen. McCain’s fire almost disappeared, and though he tried to come back, by the end of the debate, Sen. Obama had essentially shown that he not only could take the punches, and deal his own, but also not lose focus of the important issues this race revolves around, particularly the economy.
After watching the debate, I initially called it a draw, which in my mind was a victory for Sen. Obama b/c Sen. McCain needed to win. However, I began to lead toward an Obama victory once I watched FoxNews’ on focus group which handed the victory to Sen. Obama. If even FoxNews’ focus group gave him the victory, then he must have won. I’ve checked most of the polls, and with the exception of Drudgereport, all show Obama winning this debate.
Does it matter? Not that much, except in so far as it leaves the race unchanged, with Sen. Obama ahead, and Sen. McCain still playing catch up.
Of course given my obvious bias, in that I’m almost sold on voting for the Obama/Biden ticket, you have to take my view of events with a grain of salt.
October 16th, 2008 at 5:53 am
Sorry for the typos and missing W’s above, but I’m using my very old Toshiba laptop to write this, and the W button is malfunctioning. Also, since I’m using a Live CD of Linux, it’s a little difficult to use spell check to notice and correct typos. Ah, how I’ve become used to Google and Firefox’s Spell Checkers!
October 16th, 2008 at 9:30 am
[Disclaimer: I’m not a swing vote. I have already made up my mind. I ‘m going to vote for Obama.]
Initially, McCain did a little better than I or anyone I know expected. I was feeling a little nervous….a drip of adrenaline…a little fear. By the end, though, McCain’s bizarre decision to keep bringing up his campaign’s negative talking points set my dial back to zero for McCain. For all his claims to be different than Bush, he hasn’t given me any reasons to back up that claim. He got a one-liner in during the debate, kudos, but why can’t the Straight-Talk Express give me even some teaser reasons to belive he would be a signifigant change?
As far as I could figure, McCain thinks he’ll win the election by appealing to people who make more than $250,000 a year, feel very passionately that we should ban abortion, and who believe that drilling for oil around the US is going to somehow improve their lives. WTF?
Oh, and McCain is trying to appeal to people who are easily scared. The thing is, the country is already terrified of the economy as well as completely burnt out on the election. Maybe I don’t have a particularly representative sample, but in my daily life over the last month, I see dispirited people verging on mild depression. Lots of anger, but unfortunately for McCain, it’s not a righteous Republican brand of anger. Even the democrats are no longer feeling the righteous anti-war/anti-bush anger. The US is now dangerously angry. Everyone is out of their comfort-zone, a little wounded, exhausted, and they really want that light at the end of the tunnel to be the open air and not another express train.
So, after the debate, after McCain had finally owned up to his campaign’s attacks and unloaded on Obama with the smears we all know and love, what were we left with? (Besides the vague feeling of having wasted another evening.)
The feel of two different styles of leadership:
McCain is an angry, inflexible, steely-eyed leader who likes to win battles at the expense of the war. You don’t have to listen to the details of what he’s saying to get the message:
he is more than willing to use fear and anger to get the point across.
Obama is calm, open to discussion, feathers not easily ruffled, focused on a long-term objective. He is decidedly uncomfortable using fear and anger to get what he wants: you have to pay attention when he’s speaking.
Every time I see Obama put under pressure, my opinion of the guy goes up. He’s starting to act like a genuine leader, of the kind we haven’t had in the country for a very long time.
October 16th, 2008 at 11:20 am
McCain was doing very well at the beginning, really seizing the momentum. Then came ACORN, Ayers, John Lewis & "My campaign is all about the economy" all together. McCain came off like a whiner, especially when nearly 2/3 of the country believes he is the more negative campaigner. It was the wrong way to embarass or throw Obama off balance. His bit about Iraqis uniting as Iraqis probably elicited guffaws as well. Obama seemed indecisive, his explanation for supporting free trade with Peru but not with Colombia was painfully convoluted.
Both men looked really, really tired. Their guards seemed to be let down a bit so it was more confrantational (in a constructive way with actual debate about abortion).
McCain did not change the game tonight. Barring a last minute intervention by Bin Laden or some of his ilk, or the "Whitey" tape or something like it, I do not see how McCain wins this.
October 16th, 2008 at 2:11 pm
Ben says a lot that I agree with. And, like him, I plan to vote for Obama.
I can’t figure out why McCain continues to appeal to the Republican base above all. They are not enough to win, and they will certainly vote for him, unless they stay home. Appealing to them by necessity puts independent voters off, and McCain needs them.
As has been said by many, Obama’s body language is much more presidential than McCain’s. Again, I can’t figure out why, unless McCain genuinely is not in control of his grimaces, which doesn’t auger well for dealing with presidential issues. There are ways to learn to control one’s facial expressions and body positions. Yes, that may mean that Obama is the more insincere. (If you can fake sincerity, you’ve got it made!) But, worst case, I’ll take insincerity and the ability to control one’s emotions over anger constantly bubbling to the surface and doing God knows what underneath.
I suspect that the net effect was not large; each man’s supporters will stay in place. But any small effect will be toward the more presidential-looking Obama. These are troubled times, people are tired of war as the answer, and we need someone in control of himself.
October 16th, 2008 at 2:28 pm
I think the debate last night was uneventful and unimportant. Both Sen. Obama and Sen. McCain succeeded in their objectives, Sen. Obama looking presidential and unflappable, Sen. McCain taking the fight to him. Unfortunately for Sen. McCain he looked quite uncomfortable in doing so.
I don’t care for either of these candidates. Not in the slightest. I think Obama is unqualified to be president and McCain doesn’t have the temperament to be president. I’m deeply mistrustful of both candidates in foreign policy areas (of greatest importance to me in thinking about presidents). Their economic views are delusional.
I am leaning very, very reluctantly and slightly towards Obama largely on strategic grounds. I believe that the only hope for Democrats taking ownership of our current foreign policy situation is for a Democrat to be in the White House. At this point I doubt that Sen. Obama will screw up Iraq disastrously (as it looked a year ago he would) and the two candidates would both be likely to screw up in Afghanistan in the same way.
October 16th, 2008 at 2:47 pm
The kind of people who read Zenpundit are not the target audience for the debate. I never watch them. This group — whichever candidate each person is voting for — pay attention to politics and have long ago made up their minds. I know who I am voting for, as does everyone else who reads this blog. We are not part of the group that is undecided until the final weeks of the election.
What the candidates talk about is aimed at that group. As a result, much of it may seem off-angle, trivial or irrelevant. For example Ayers relationship with Obama is something this group knows all about and everyone has processed it and moved on. The pro-Obama people see it as irrelevant, or a sign of mania or desperation on the part of McCain. People like me see it as one more data point showing the kind of default ideology Obama has, and hence one more reason to vote against him. But for many people, probably millions of people, the first time they heard the name "Ayers" may have been last night. McCain’s people decided it could help them to raise it. Since they are losing, they need to do be on the offensive. Barack just has to fend McCain off and run out the clock. The response to this or any other gambit from this group will be of little or no value in predicting its impact on undecided voters.
My sister has a friend who voted for Gore in 2000 because a few days before the election she saw Tipper Gore on TV and thought she seemed like a nice person. This lady is not stupid. She is an RN and a good mother. She just devotes zero thought and energy to politics.
Her criterion may seem trivial, and it is, but it is really the last straw on an accumulation of impressions. The real reason she went with Gore was certainly a lot of things she did not articulate and probably did not remember.
The final decision of millions of voters will turn on similar accumulated impressions, last minute stimuli and, of course, "events, dear boy, events" in the final days up to the election.
It would take a major shift to give it to McCain at this point. But the remarkable thing to me is that despite the utter catastrophe of Bush’s second term, the GOP is actually viable in this election. Obama is not going to get 49 states, like Nixon got in ’72 and Reagan got in ’84, or 44 like Johnson got in ’64, or 46 (of 48) like FDR got in 1936. The country is closely divided, despite the near-suicide of the GOP. We are not yet set for a massive, realigning blowout. That structural fact is the most important take-away.
Assuming Obama wins, can he position himself for a massive, era-defining second-term win like Reagan and FDR had?
Preventing that is Mission One for the GOP.
October 16th, 2008 at 3:22 pm
I think Lexington makes a very good point about the readership of this blog and the chances of the average Zenpundit reader being swayed by the debates. I would imagine that the majority of the readership finds the debates distasteful. It annoys me that the majority of the debate is spent quibbling over details of campaign promises and healthcare/economic/foreign policy plans that are completely theorectical and constructed in a world of rhetoric, political expediency, political pandering, and not reality. I did watch the debate. I did find it boring. I didn’t learn anything new. I didn’t find what I was looking for from either candidate, a sense of leadership and vision.
Call me a cynic but I feel my vote (and I -will- vote) really doesn’t matter because a politician instead of a leader will be the winner (regardless of the outcome). Politicians don’t serve me, they serve themselves and system that keeps them in their position.
October 16th, 2008 at 4:18 pm
"Call me a cynic but I feel my vote (and I -will- vote) really doesn’t matter "
You can always find someone you like less, whom you can then vote against.
"…politician instead of a leader …"
Getting a leader, i.e. an effective politician who is effective in a positive way, is the luck of the draw. No one is entitled to it. We are lucky when we get them, and we usually do not recognize them at the time when we do.
Democracy is the worst system, except for all the others.
October 16th, 2008 at 4:42 pm
MCCAIN WAS LIKE A FIVE YEAR OLD _ WATCH IT ON CSPAN’S VIDEO LIBRARY HERE
October 16th, 2008 at 4:55 pm
All true, but still discouraging.
October 16th, 2008 at 5:52 pm
"I don’t care for either of these candidates. Not in the slightest. I think Obama is unqualified to be president and McCain doesn’t have the temperament to be president. I’m deeply mistrustful of both candidates in foreign policy areas (of greatest importance to me in thinking about presidents). Their economic views are delusional."
Dave summed up my view with the caveat I lean to McCain out of a basic philosophy that I’d be highly irritated by the ideological flotsam and jetsam that Obama would bring in his wake in terms of personnel. Underneath the Clinton-Carter retread appointees at the top tiers would be a sea of long-frustrated wingnuts, eager to make mischief. Obama would be the least qualified president in terms of experience in our history. A calm temperment is not enough ( if it is, heck – then vote for me!)
October 16th, 2008 at 6:14 pm
Lexington offers an excellent point about the readership and more common voters. It resonates after reading Caplan’s "The Myth Of The Rational Voter" for class this semester.
I feel my vote will matter this year because I can at least help impact local elections that matter, such as our governor’s race in NC (getting a 7 term Charlotte mayor who understands crime, education and taxes into power). That at least is something to look forward to.
October 16th, 2008 at 9:11 pm
Even if the "rational voter" is a myth, there is something to be said nonetheless for the system. For one thing, the democracies are the richest and most powerful countries in the world, magnets for immigration — people voting with their feet uproot themselves to get there. I think there is a wisdom-of-crowds effect going on, that derives best options from the array of possibilities, by a symbiotic interaction between super-attuned politicians who want to "reach" voters, and voters who have all kinds of local knowledge and life-experience which is inarticulable. So, I see major elections as Hayekian information seeking processes, like markets, and jury trials, where information including non-verbal impressions and insights and intuitions all come into play. And, weirdly, and compared to other things that people have worked up on the blackboard, it works.
October 17th, 2008 at 12:15 am
Zen, when you say you are "leaning" toward McCain, does this mean you have made up your mind? The world awaits your decision! I am generally on your wavelength, but, in my view, unless one is okay with Palin becoming president on January 20, a vote for McCain is not responsible. I may just have to write your name in.
October 17th, 2008 at 2:47 am
At one time, I was a straight ticket Republican voter. That time is long past though by any measure I’m conservative with a pragmatic and libertarian bent, especially on free speech, property rights and the right to bear arms. Speech and self-defense positions I regard as bellweathers.
Due to the bizarre nature of Illinois politics where the state GOP is part of the problem, I sometimes vote Libertarian or even, on a few occasions, for individual Democratic candidates who are relatively moderate and honest. I’m proud that I never voted for ex- Gov. ( now felon) George Ryan – I cast my vote for Glenn Poshard. Nor did I vote for Alan Keyes who was little better than a clown candidate.
Obama is a pleasant personality and I’m told, a nice man by people I know who have socialized with him or met him. His Senate staff office was more professional and prompt in my experience than either my former congressman ( Speaker Hastert) or my current one ( Bill Foster). That and few dollars will get you a cup of coffee. I can’t vote for Obama due to philosophical differences even if I could get past his lack of qualifications. The man is a naif in foreign policy.
Re: McCain – I’m really bothered by his Russia/Georgia myopia. Seriously. Bad model for strategic decision making. I’m still angry at McCain for McCain-Feingold. I don’t think Palin is any more qualified than is Obama. The only upside – and it isn’t much – is on appointments. They’ll be more to my liking if not always. 2008 -not a great year for me in terms of politics.
That’s where I am.
October 17th, 2008 at 4:43 am
If anyone is interested, I compiled a few weeks ago the positions of Senator Obama and Senator McCain in regards to Northeast Asia:
It is not an opinion piece on which positions are better–I just attempt to provide a comprehensive look at the material each candidate has put out relative to South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, China, North Korea and Russia–and in general terms, material that describes their approach to foreign affairs and free trade in the region.
October 20th, 2008 at 2:49 pm
I didn’t learn anything new about the candidates.
I thought asking the question about their own VP’s was a waste of time?
Questions I would like to have seen:
1) What would be, for your X administration, the US Global Policy Grand Strategy Policy?
2) What would be your process of carrying out national security decision making and operations?
3) Explain what you see as the American dream?
4) What is your immigration policy?
5) Mexico is falling into a Narco-Civil War. What will you administration do?
6) What do see as the role of Government in markets?
7) What will your administration do to increase entrepreneurial activity?
6) Should Cartman fight Wendy (I switched channels to South Park for a moment)?
October 20th, 2008 at 8:33 pm
[…] NotesLast Week’s Debate I never got around to posting my notes, but I ended putting them in a comment at ZenPundit: […]
October 21st, 2008 at 6:06 pm
I am a longtime lurker on this site — enjoy reading, but usually chose to keep my thoughts to myself (Mom taught me that it is better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than open one’s mouth and remove all doubt). That said, I have to agree with Zen’s 17 October post. I don’t like either candidate, and questi0n how this is the best that the greatest country in the world can convince to run. Regardless, after working in three administrations, I am also convinced that the measure of a President is not so much what he does, as who he brings around him to accomplish the "doing." W will not be treated kindly by history. I am fearful of the ex-Clinton policy wonks that will expect to return to a democrat-led executive.
October 22nd, 2008 at 4:07 am
Ah, broke your cherry. 😉
A very good friend of mine worked for Bush the Elder in a close but apolitical ( mil) capacity and then did the same functions for Clinton. She respected Bush pere’ but adored old Bill and seemed to me to have become a devoted Democrat from the experience. She’s voting McCain this year (Evidently the affection did not transfer to the hired help after all).
June 24th, 2009 at 6:53 am
I like this theme you are using… what is it?