Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Obama VS. McCain, Round 2.

The two presidential candidates met in Nashville last night for Round Two of their three-part match. This time the event was moderated by NBC's Tom Brokaw, and featured a "Town Hall" format. It seems to me that this style of debate should entail more interaction with the audience, but the eighty observers on hand appeared intensely somber, if not plain uptight. They read their questions off of cue cards, and there wasn't a moment of spontaneity during the course of the evening. John McCain did seize the opportunity to do a bit of bonding with a Chief Petty Officer in the Navy. While this might play well to McCain's diehards, I don't think it will add much to the understanding of the undecideds. McCain has ties to the military? No way?!

In assessing the outcome of this second debate, we must once again return to expectations. Obama had the easier task last night. All he had to do was continue to look presidential and consolidate his lead. By all accounts he did just that. He reassured me by identifying alternative energy as the number one priority of his prospective presidency. He deftly fended off attacks (most of which were repeated word-for-word from the 1st debate), and even made a point of directly addressing some of McCain's distortions. The old warrior himself needed a game-changer, and I couldn't find a single media source (no matter how biased) that suggested he achieved that objective. Meanwhile, mainstream media sources have been quick to point out that the dynamic of this race remains the same. They did seem hesitant about proclaiming Obama the outright victor, despite what viewer polls indicate (this one in particular seems telling).

There weren't a whole lot of new ideas introduced in the debate. McCain tried to hit for the fences with a suggestion that the government should buy subprime loans directly, rather than dealing in mortgage securities. There were a few problems with that proposal. To start off with, one wonders where this idea was when McCain was making his high-profile visits to DC (during his so-called "campaign suspension") to negotiate the bailout bill. The reality is that John McCain didn't favor this approach previously because it was actually Barack Obama that first suggested it. Also, it's clear that the national will would likely not support spending another $300+ billion of taxpayer money to purchase what many have characterized as loans to folks that couldn't afford them in the first place. This is a fundamental contradiction of the GOP's message of personal accountability.

And while we are on the subject of accountability, John McCain notably failed to level the kind of charges that both his running mate and his campaign have been flinging at Obama this past week. There wasn't a single insinuation of treason, nor any suggestion at all that Obama likes to "pal around with terrorists". In fact we didn't hear any mention of names like William Ayres or Jeremiah Wright. Nor did McCain go into specifics when he spoke of his opponent's purported links to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. But Obama wasn't shy in his response. He was upfront in pointing out that McCain's own campaign chairman, Rick Davis, was a paid lobbyist for that very corporation up until a few months ago. Actually, I think Obama showed unwarranted mercy in not mentioning the fact that McCain currently employs at least eight other former Fannie/Freddie lobbyists. But he obviously wanted to deliver a different message.

While we heard a lot of the same lines we've been hearing for weeks, it's notable that there were a few things that went completely unmentioned. John McCain didn't mention the name "Sarah Palin" a single time during the debate. Perhaps that is because he feels a need to distance himself from his attack surrogate, who has been extremely irresponsible on the stump since her handlers decided it was time to "take the gloves off". Palin has been appealing to the lowest common denominator of the Republican base- the embedded racism and the abject fear of people that differ from them. In doing so, she is treading on very dangerous ground. I was appalled yesterday to see videos of her smiling without comment as her supporters shouted cries of "treason", "terrorist", and "kill him" in response to Barack Obama's name.

One has to wonder- is this the position that McCain thought he'd be in a month before the election? Did he know that his loyalists would stoop to this level of hateful invective in the absence of a substantial counterargument to his opponent's platform?

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12 Comments:

Blogger JusticeForNatalee said...

You are obviously out of your mind.

Now..I know why. Anyone that reads anything on the Huffington Post explains it all.

Get a life. There is a real world out there. You live in LA LA land.

You can believe that lie about people saying kill him, etc. etc. if you want. WERE YOU THERE ??

You are so full of hatred that it is pathetic.

Clean up your own back porch before you go cleaning up anothers. Who died and made you the judge ?? Shame on you !

You said...Palin has been appealing to the lowest common denominator of the Republican base-the embedded racism and the abject fear of people that differ from them.

7:36 PM  
Blogger Merge Divide said...

Feel free to have whatever temper tantrums that you want, but the truth is that you are on the wrong side of history.

You support a party that from 2001-06 controlled all three branches of government and presided over:

1. The deadliest foreign attack on US territory in history.

2. An impotent and failing attempt to capture the identified leader of that attack.

3. An invasion and occupation of a sovereign nation that presented no threat to the US.

4. A cover-up over the reasons why we attacked said nation.

5. The steady erosion of civil liberties.

6. A power grab that has made the executive branch into a virtual dictatorship.

7. A doubling of our national debt, after experiencing four consecutive years of budget surplus under the previous administration.

8. The development of the worst financial crisis in (at least) 75 years, directly resulting of decades of deregulation promoted by the same party.

9. The most precipitous decline in international respect in our history.

10. An unprecedented outsourcing of jobs.

11. An energy strategy that entails single-minded fealty to the oil industry, at the expense of the development of alternative, sustainable sources.

Now you want to vote for a president from that same party who is clearly erratic and overly temperamental... a "maverick" who makes jokes about starting World War III. A man who will do anything to get elected, including undermining every single one of his previously expressed principles.

The simple fact is that a vote for John McCain is a vote for a ticket and a party that will continue the policies that are destroying my country. In my mind, that's treason.

8:24 PM  
Blogger Dagrims said...

You wrote: "In my mind, that's treason."

You honestly would level a treason charge on anyone (read: tens of millions) who votes for McCain?

10:20 PM  
Blogger Merge Divide said...

No. I wouldn't level legal charges, given the penalty this nation imposes on that behavior. But it doesn't change the fact that I believe that is what it is.

1:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Check the new extended ad about Obama and Ayers.

10:28 AM  
Anonymous Steve said...

Merge,

While some the charges you list are legitimate, several of the examples you list can't be blamed on just the Republican party.

1. Sept. 11 can hardly be blamed on W since he was in office for 9 months at the time of said attack. And because it's a well known fact that Clinton had Bin Laden in the crosshairs and refused to pull the trigger. The party of Obama is just as much to blame for those towers coming down as the party of McCain is.

5. Give me just one example of how your civil liberties have been eroded. Is your freedom of speech under attack? Because your blog would seem to say no. The civil liberties argument is vague at best and serves no purpose other than to incite irrational emotions in people. It's paranoid, conspiracy-theory liberalism at its worst.

6. Give me an example of how George Bush is a dictator? He drafted the original bailout plan and it got shot down in Congress (who proceeded to fill it with pork in order to pass it). If he was a dictator, couldn't he have just made it law without anyone else's approval?

8. The roots of this financial crisis go back far beyond the time that Bush has spent in office. This debacle is a joint effort of both parties. Between deregulation and the Community Re-investment mandate to give loans to people who couldn't really pay for them, the left and the right are to blame.

10. How is it George Bush's fault that people in India will work for pennies on the dollar? Should he mandate that an American software engineer should work for $6000 a year so his job won't be shipped overseas? Outsourcing is simply a result of an increasingly globalized marketplace. I'm sure you don't mind reaping the benefits when the purchases you make are significantly cheaper because of it.

On a side note, I find it hilarious when someone on the left bitches about outsourcing. If these same foreigners were to come to our country illegaly and perform the same jobs for pennies on the dollar, then you'd say they were just trying to find a better life for themselves (aka: chasing the American dream).

11. The simple fact is that all these magical "alternative energy" supplies don't exist, and are probably decades away from existing. In the meantime, God forbid we focus on trying to obtain the one commodity that fuels our entire nation and our economy.

10:48 AM  
Blogger Merge Divide said...

Steve,

Regarding #1. I've heard your argument many times from other folks. I reject the suggestion that this attack came completely out of left field. Bush was warned about an impending attack. His administration chose instead to gear up for an invasion of Iraq. Ex-members of his cabinet have admitted this. The towers had already been attacked by Sheik Mohammed. It's not like there was no precedent. During transition Clinton and Richard Clarke warned that Bin Laden would be the most significant threat to security. It's all been documented.

Regarding #5. Under the Patriot Act the president has the authority to detain me without a trial or formal accusation, and without a grand jury hearing. The Bush/Cheney executive office has also initiated a widespread program of warrantless eavesdropping on American citizens. I have a problem with that. These are just two obvious examples off the top of my head.

Regarding #6. As I noted in another post, the Bush/Cheney administration has pushed for the revocation of posse comitatus (read about the 2007 Defense Reauthorization Bill). At the beginning of October he deployed a full brigade of the active US army. these troops are answerable only to the President, and the Congress has no power to object. That's a standard setup for a dictatorship. Also- the president constantly issues signing statements that express his willingness to defy congressionally passed laws.

Regarding #8. The only possible way you can tie the financial crisis to the Democrats is through the Clinton Administration's initiative to offer loans to low income borrowers. This has been wildly overstated by those trying to defend the "free market" approach to capitalism. Fannie/Freddie account for a very small percentage of the overall number of subprime loans, and very few of those were mandated under CRA. Furthermore, all subprime loans constitute only a small portion of the current crisis. The bigger issues involve mortgage securities trading and credit default swaps, which were deregulated by Gramm in 1999. Regardless, anyone trying to make the claim that the GOP hasn't been the party of deregulation since Reagan is a purveyor of revisionist history.

Regarding #10. Outsourcing is a result of NAFTA and other free trade agreements that were the result of a philosophy of corporate globalism pushed by the GOP since Reagan. Sure, Clinton helped push it along... but as I've said before- Clinton was the best Republican president since Eisenhower. I'm much more protectionist by nature. And no I wouldn't be OK with immigrants coming here to work for nothing. That devalues labor. I'm not pro-immigration. I think any corporation that hires an illegal alien should face exorbitant and prohibitive fines.

11. Steve, with all due respect, you aren't an energy expert. You have no grounds to say that alternative energy doesn't exist. Have you ever seen "Who Killed the Electric Car"? I recommend it. We have all sorts of technologies (solar, battery, geothermal, tidal, wind, etc.) that we aren't exploiting because the oil industry has a death grip on our policy. For god's sake, the Republicans didn't even want to give tax credits to companies investing in alternative technology. That's shameful. We can't drill our way to energy independence, and we can't force oil companies to drill on the millions of acres that they are just sitting on currently. Neither can we force them to build more refineries. We give them subsidies, and they continue to exploit the current situation. They have no allegiance to our economy. They merely sit back and smile as our foreign policy planners use taxpayer dollars to secure regions where they operate. And we pay repeatedly for their privilege.

4:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh FUCK OFF YOU PIECE OF SHIT.IF YOU DON'T LIKE THIS COUNTRY,MOVE TO OUR ENEMIES COUNTRY.YOU SEEM TO BE ON THEIR SIDE ANYWAY,YOU UGLY PIECE OF SHIT,AND STAY ON YOUR OWN BLOG

10:50 PM  
Blogger Merge Divide said...

ANONYMOUS(!)

From your tone, I can only guess that you are one of those "small town values"-lovin' Sarah Palin supporters. Doggone it.

10:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

check the dead link for "polls..(this ONE seems telling). It leads to a 404 Error...

8:45 PM  
Anonymous Me V said...

get a brain, anonymous #2.
That's the problem these days, too many ignorant assholes like you don't know shit about constructive discourse. THIS IS AMERICA! you know...FREEDOM OF SPEECH. you know what that means? : merge has a right to say what he will, steve has a right to say what he will, YOU have a right to say what you will, and I have a right to tell you that you are AN IGNORANT DUMBFUCK! "...move to our enemies country"??! are you for real?

9:25 PM  
Blogger Merge Divide said...

thanks for the heads up about the dead link. it's now fixed.

10:23 PM  

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