Presidential Foreign Policy Debate

Monday, September 29, 2008
We had other fish to fry on Friday evening, so we TiVoed the Presidential Debate, and watched it last night.

Mostly, I'd just like everyone involved to just sit down and shut up, or alternatively, to stop listening to popular media until November 15th. These people make my feet swell. But that's really not an option. I feel pretty strongly about the need to make an informed choice, and that means I need to watch the debates with a critical eye.

Here are my initial thoughts:

- The transparency of the strategies being employed by both candidates are extreme and laughable. If I have to listen to John McCain make one more comment about he's done this work for "many, many years" I will run screaming into night.* If I have to listen to Barack Obama make one more comparison between John McCain and George W. Bush, I will puncture my eardrum with an icepick. We get it. Okay? We fucking get it. Barack's inexperienced, John's a Bush clone. Move on, already, and give me some new information about your own qualifications, ideas and policies. Feet swelling: Stage 1. I better elevate.

- Both candidates are continuing the time-honored tradition of politicians who can't give a straight answer to save their life (or more to the point, the economy). How many times did Jim Lehrer have to ask which of their pet projects will have to be tabled so that the government can afford to bail out our financial system? Three? Four? McCain finally gave a straight (but draconian) answer, and as near as I can tell, Obama never answered at all. Politician = Weasel. Feet swelling: Stage 2. I need ibuprofen.

- Is there some reason the candidates can't debate their differences with one another and not address their comments to the moderator? Jim Lehrer asked them several times to address their remarks to each other, and neither candidate was willing to do so. Too confrontational? Too personal? Nowhere to hide? I guess calling your opponent a douchebag is only acceptable if you don't have to look them in the eye when you do so. Perhaps they should just blog their Presidential Debates, so they can take full advantage of the anonymity = dickhead phenomenon. Feet swelling: Stage 3. Great. Now my pedicure is ruined.

Once the debate was over, my immediate response was, "Great. There's 2 hours of my life I'll never get back." I didn't learn anything new, other than both John McCain and Barack Obama are more professional debaters than the Great Deciderer. I really wish the candidates would use these events as an opportunity to discuss the meat of the matter - their own ideas, plans, and policies. I don't care how eloquently you can trash your opponent. Use this time to prove to me that you belong in the big chair. Not why your opponent doesn't.

And I haven't even begun to research local races and ballot initiatives. The voter's handbook arrived on Saturday, and it's a thick one. I'm quite sure that by the time I'm ready to mail in my ballot, I'll need a hyperbaric chamber.


*And why does John McCain think that all his international "fact-finding" missions make him such a great deal for the American public? When politicians find their way into a war zone, they usually don't find many facts. They mostly find photo ops, and the troops who are there trying to do their real jobs find extra duty so they can protect the asshat politician.

13 comments:

The Mechanicky Gal said...

Coudn't. Watch. Head. Exploding. I was waiting for your summary. Apparently nothing new here, move along.
Politicians really do suck, don't they?
I always have such great hopes, only to have them dashed to the floor. This year is only a LITTLE better than in years past. However, on a better note, I was able to point out some less-than-desirable party stances to a friens who was on the fence. These were deal-breaker issues, of which she was not aware. I feel a little better.

vince said...

Janiece, you absolutely nailed it. I'm tired of politicians. I'm tired of negative ads. Here in Minnesota, where the mudslinging between Norm Coleman and Al Franken has reached biblical proportions, the third party candidate is slowly increasing in the polls. With some media and no TV ads. Because people are sick of it. Me, that's where I'm leaning. Local (city) politics I'm extremely informed on and have my decision made. Some state races I've still got some research to do.

And if I hear one more person tell me they're not going to vote because "it's all crooked and my vote won't count anyway" I'm going to borrow your Shovel of Doom and hit them with it. Hard. More than once.

And like it.

Janiece Murphy said...

Vince, the Shovel of Doom™ is always available to put out the fires of stupidity.

Eric said...

I listened to the debate on the radio Friday night.

My overall impression was that McCain did better than I expected and Obama didn't do quite as well as I'd hoped. I'd call it a tie.

But then, I didn't really expect anything new from either candidate. I think I approached it more as the political version of a basketball game: after all, there really wasn't anything McCain was going to say that was going to persuade me to vote for him at this point, and if I can overlook Obama's vote for telecom immunity in favor of the things I like about the man, it was unlikely he'd say anything that would horrify me into voting for McCain or abstaining. So I mainly listened, to be honest, to cheer for "my team" and to keep track of how the season is going.

All that having been said, and set out for the purposes of disclosing my biases, I do have to take issue with the whole "which programs would you cut" question and Obama's answer being a dodge: I think the events of the past week tend to show that any concrete answer to that question would be wrong. Whatever Obama's reasons for saying you need a scalpel and not a hatchet, I agree with him. You shouldn't anticipate cutting programs you might be able to save, and you shouldn't be promising to keep programs you might have to slice out--so best say you'll look at it when the time comes. (Also: by finally answering a question with no right answer, McCain really left himself open to letting Obama score a soundbite with the "scalpel/hatchet" comment. Just saying.)

That's not to say there wasn't some weasling from both sides at various points--merely that I didn't think that was an example and I thought it was kind of a lousy question.

Serious but semi-rhetorical questions: how many of y'all are really undecided at this stage? We're all pretty informed, intelligent people around here--is there anybody who didn't know enough about the candidates to make a decision months ago? Is there anyone around here who's really straddling the fence, and why?

Janiece Murphy said...

Eric, I thought the question was valid in a larger context. $700 billion is a shitload of money, and it has to come from somewhere. Asking "where" is legitimate in that it also speaks to our unconscionable national debt (which Obama, in fairness, did mention).

I'm sick to death of politicians promising to "end world hunger" but failing to answer questions about who will pay for this miracle. If there's an area in which I'm still conservative, it's in fiscal management. And I mean truly conservative, as in, balance the budget, dumbass, not faux conservative, as in, increase the national debt.

Your hypothetical question is germane. I've been an Obama supporter for some time, and the scandel would have to be pretty fucking horrific to push me over to the McCain ticket, especially in light of his selection for his running mate.

Having said that, however, I will say that my Smart Man, who is both intelligent and well-informed, was undecided until very recently, and is still not set in stone. His current plan is to hold his nose and vote for the lesser of two evils. Which really makes this election no different than any other, actually.

Jim Wright said...

I couldn't watch it. I purely fucking hate debates - I think they are a worthless exercise in mutual masturbation for the tractor pull, reality TV generation.

I read the transcript, and like you I don't see that either of them said a damned thing worth two hours of my time.

Nobody is going to put their neck out during a debate, and neither are going to actually say the things that they don't want the public to hear - i.e. where does the 700billion come from and howcome you two idiots are planning on rewarding the fuckwits who got us into this?

arrgh! I'd like to smack them both with the shovel of doom.

Random Michelle K said...

We had the debate on--my grandmother watched while I played on my laptop.

She yelled at the TV several times, though most of the yelling was directed towards McCain, so I'd call that a win for Obama. ;)

Janiece Murphy said...

Michelle, if Obama won, then where's your ad?

Random Michelle K said...

We don't have advertising at Random (but not really).

We prefer to operate through osmosis.

Eric said...

Where the $700,000,000,000 is going to come from is a good question, but it's one these guys should be answering as Senators, not as Presidential candidates. I mean, it looks like whichever one of them wins is going to inherit the credit card bill in January and then will have to figure out how to pay it. And the kind of budget they send to Congress or tax increase they seek from Congress will depend on what the economy looks like at that point. I guess that was the point I was trying to get at: I don't think either man is in a position as candidates to commit to much. (Indeed, the commitments they have made re: taxes will probably have to change, making their pledges a bit moot.)

On the other hand, it is true that as Senators maybe they should be asked--along with their colleagues in the Senate and counterparts in the House--what the hell they're doing. But that seems to be happening anyway, and the deal seems to be going forward anyway. The bailout isn't exactly popular, and the public and press are complaining, and there are members of both parties registering reservations or outright opposition; that doesn't seem to be slowing much of anything down.

Oh, by the way: I listened with my laptop out, surfing the net. It made the two hours a little less wasted. :-)

Jeri said...

Eric, I like that you used all the zeros, on purpose I'm sure.

My husband and I were actually discussing the same question re: undecided voters. It seems to me that politics has gotten so polarized that the undecided are far smaller in number and the races are decided much more early on.

It doesn't seem to me that very many events this late in the campaign - like debates, speeches, etc - really influence voter choice all that much any more. The only event I can think of that has is the VP selections and that's been a wild ride.

It's interesting to hear, Janiece, that your Smart Man is still researching his choices and reserving judgment - good for him.

I, too, want the political campaigns to GO AWAY AND LEAVE ME ALONE. I'm tired of the ads, the signs, and the constant media analysis.

Can't we have a little Britney and Brad in the press again? ;)

Janiece Murphy said...

Jeri, clearly the endtimes are nigh. Seriously...Brad and Brittney?

Eric said...

Yep, I used those zeros on purpose, alright. I think the word "billion" has sort of become a kind of euphemism at this point: it may have still been a big, hard to fathom number when Sagan was around to use it, but these days it's the "hard to fathom" part that's taken over. You say "billion" and it's kinda meaningless.

I started to go into some detail, and then I realized I didn't have a blog entry for today. :-)