08 October 2008

The Debate: Draw(backs)

Well, my friends, the count is exactly 19. Nineteen times, John McCain addressed us as his friends last night. And each time he did, I didn't know whether to giggle or to vomit over the side of my couch - the former, because it just started sounding so funny by the end of the debate, and the latter because, well, it just sounded so disgustingly funny by the end of the debate. Not just funny, I thought it was a little bit creepy. Either McCain is a really lonely man, or is very personable and friendly. (I think he was just trying to appear as such, with a little too much force, and a little too overdone). On one end of the spectrum though, if this was his goal, he probably did succeed. He managed to seem friendly with the audience. I'm pretty sure he thanked almost every person for their question, something that Obama did far less frequently. On top of that, he just really tried to put himself at their level: for instance, when he patted the military man on the shoulder, or when he stood off slightly to the side of the seats and got really up and close to the members of the audience. On the other end of the spectrum, he failed to seem personable and friendly to Obama. Not only did he refer to him as "that one" (What? Is he getting so old that he can't even remember the name of his opponent?), but he clearly made uncalled for jokes at Obama's expense. And yes, I understand this is a debate, but that doesn't mean he gets points for being a jerk. For example: McCain: And I'll stop, Tom, and you didn't even wave. Now, what McCain was referring to in this little statement is the fact that Obama had talked over his time and failed to see (or pretended not to see) Moderator Tom Brokaw waving at him. I just feel like it was a bit hypocritical of McCain to make this statement, when his following answer lasted for roughly 2 min (that's a minute over, my friend!). And, according to my calculations (which, I admit, might have a pretty large margin of error, but I think I calculated all of this correctly, although I didn't use a stopwatch or anything so it will be off by just a little bit)... anyway, according to my calculations, throughout the entire debate, Obama spoke for approximately 40 minutes. McCain? Approximately 44 minutes. So, again, a little bit hypocritical there in my opinion. So, on affect McCain won the "nicer to the audience half" (because, as Adam points out in his blog post, Obama does come across as pretty aloof at times), but he didn't really win the "good sport" half. Then again, Obama's affect was pretty much the same as usual: calm, cool, in control. Which is reliable, but at the same time he didn't really get in any good, hard jabs at McCain. Sometimes, I just wish Obama could sound a little bit more passionate. I mean, I'm not saying he has to do all the waving around that McCain seems to do, but just a little bit more excitement might have helped out his affect just a little bit. On content I'm not really sure what to feel. I think they both just blasted us with their usual rhetoric, and I don't think we really heard anything out of either of them that we hadn't heard before. I was getting pretty confused somewhere in the middle of the debate, after McCain repeatedly said that Obama was planning to raise taxes, and Obama repeatedly countered that he was going to lower taxes for 95% of working families. I think it finally got explained, though (maybe. I'm still not entirely sure what's going on with that). I thought, at many times, it became petty politician mudslinging, arguing over a "projector" and the sight details of which bill that who voted for on which day... it just got pretty tiring. I wanted to hear some real answers to some real questions, not the constant evasion we keep getting by both parties. The most blatant example of this, I think (and I thought this while I was watching the debate too) is right here: First, Obama tries to interject to talk about tax policy, but he isn't allowed to continue because they have to ask the next question. So, I thought to myself, well, obviously he's just going to skim the answer of the next question and relate it to tax policy, which is obviously the thing he wants to talk about. And what did he do? Obama: But I think it's important to understand, we're not going to solve Social Security and Medicare unless we understand the rest of our tax policies. And there you go; he spent pretty much the entire rest of the answer talking about his tax plan, and not about whatever question got asked. So, content-wise, I'd have to say that they both did about the same. So, in my opinion, it's pretty much a draw. Because Obama, although he came out steady, also came out relatively boring. And McCain, although I think he did play more on the offense, also came across as really weird and kind of creepy and pretty snobby toward Obama. My last criticism is for the set-up of the debate. I think it's pretty useless to just give the candidates all of this time to spew out answers that we've heard time and time again, and half the time they used the same phrases as before. I think the purpose of a town hall format is to have a succession of questions that really challenge the candidates to give honest, concise answers, without going into all of these rambling projector tirades and tax tangents. If I had been that moderator, I would have made sure they stopped at exactly a minute. Or else, I would have set up the debate so that I could ask a lot of specific follow-up questions that really got to the heart of things. This debate wasn't even that entertaining. Where's Sarah Palin when you need her? At least she's good for something (and let me tell you, nailing down things she's good at is like trying to nail jello to a wall).

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