September 26, 2008

newfound McCain respect

I liked McCain tonight when he said that corporate and Washington greed needed to be beaten down. And I thought McCain was (mostly) articulate, thoughtful, and pretty good at pronouncing Russian names except the once when he sounded drunk. Not that he was, of course.

He did OK for the first 80% of the debate, I thought. I disagree with most of his policy fundamentals, but at least he didn't seem like the doddering, old, out-of-touch fool I had expected. Until the last 20%, when he kept his jaw flapping in childish, thinly veiled attempts at knockout punches even when he'd run over time and both Lehrer and Obama were trying to speak.

He kept winding up for knockout swings but kept whiffing while his opponent looked on in stoic but possibly amused attentiveness.

I can see why white, semi-educated people like McCain's "kick ass" attitude. Talking about Russia, he definitely had the kick ass mojo going, but one wondered exactly how America, with its $700 billion bailout pending and all our troops failing to find bin Laden in Iraq, will go about kicking Russia's ass with one foot while kicking Iran's ass with another while kicking both Iraq's and Afghanistan's asses with the one that is firmly planted in our mouths.

Nice to see he didn't feel much like kicking Packistan's ass, though. Cuz, ya know, he's been there and seen the terrain. He changed Musharraf's diapers once, I think he said.

My favorite McCain moment was when he said, and I quote, "Iran has a lousy government. Therefore they have a lousy economy." OK, OK, I know the converse is not necessarily always true (A => B does not necessarily mean that B => A). But still, it was great timing given that he was only hours before sitting in Washington failing to save America from its lousy economy.

Other moments:

  • I had to scratch my head when McCain called nukes in Iran an "existential threat to Israel." When I look it up now, I see that meaning #1 is "of or pertaining to existence." So I guess he was right. Though I've never heard the word used that way.
  • McCain said Obama didn't know the difference between strategy and tactic. After listing to the debate rage on, I had to conclude that Obama did know the difference and that it was McCain who had them mixed up. Maybe he meant that Obama didn't know the meaning of "strategery." In which case he may be correct.
In the end, I came away less unimpressed with McCain than I was this morning. I still think trickle down economics and kick-ass diplomacy are wrong, and he's clearly in that camp. Obama made their differences on economic policy patently obvious, and he all but asked the American people to think. Think, goddammit, think for once. Trickle down economics does not work. Since Reagan came to power, the gap between the richest and the poorest in our country has grown consistently wider.

I was thrilled that the entire debate seemed truly focused on issues. A lot of it was fluff--both candidates retreated into stumptalk from time to time--but a lot of it was pretty meaty, too, and both gave some good, thoughtful answers showing they knew a thing or two.

But the trick is this: No matter what you do, you can't dodge the fact that McCain is part of the machine. He's been around for four terms. He's an old, white guy. He is in line with most of Bush's fundamental tenets if not specific policy items. And America needs something new.


Stacy said...

McCain's suggestion that the government place a "spending freeze" on all goverment spending except for defense made my stomach do a loopty-loop—and not in a good way.

Sarah Laurenson said...

Wow, Pete. I can't keep up with all these great posts of yours. Thanks for the debate rundown.

Robin B. said...

Hey Pete.

I'll just be happy when the election is over. Honestly. I'm so tired of it all.

Paul said...

pj - wow, quite a political tear lately - right on! Re: the debate: I was disappointed that McPaign was as coherent as he was, and that Obama didn't have a knockout punch. But in hindsite - the next day - I felt really good about it because Obama came off as being very presidential, and very knowledgeable on foreign affairs and policy. That was supposed to be McCane's best subject, and Barack beat him solidly on that.

So it's on the the McPalin-Biden debate - oh the pain!