16 October 2008

Recurrent Themes

I'd like to begin with this joke, which apparently has been a running theme in elections since at least 1946. (I borrowed this from here, and on a side note, compare the version I'm about to type up with the 1964 version. I lament the downfall of our language.): "While he was making a campaign stop in Pennsylvania yesterday, John McCain kept getting interrupted by a heckler who shouted "I am a Democrat!" over and over. McCain was obviously getting pissed, but he kept his anger bottled up long enough to respond to the heckler with, "My friend, can I ask you *why* you're a Democrat?" The heckler said: "My grandfather was a Democrat, my father was a Democrat, and I am a Democrat!" "What if your father had been a jackass?" McCain asked sarcastically, "Then what would you be?" "A Republican!" the heckler yelled back." I'm sure most people have heard that before, but I never did, and I thought it was wildly funny. So funny that I was choking on the pepper in my cheese and pepper sandwich (I know, who eats that for breakfast? I blame my trip to Hungary). Not only did I find this age-old joke humorous, I also thought it cast significant light on McCain's behavior in last night's debate. Because undoubtedly McCain was, as he has been in past debates, quite the jackass. Don't get me wrong here: I think his strategy to be on the offensive for nearly the entirety of the debate was a smart one. In fact, I think it's just about all he could do, at that point. I think some of McCain's attacks resonated very strongly with (undecided) voters, especially when he called out Obama on not keeping certain promises he had made in former debates. What I do not approve, and what makes me seethe with rage during these debates, is McCain's arrogance, and the cocky way in which he looks down at Barack Obama. The way he rolls his eyes while Obama is speaking. The way he grimaces in mock-pain, or mockingly sneers. The way he makes all these little sarcastic comments that absolutely no one but him laughs at. And the way he continually interrupted both Obama and Schieffer. Example (taken from the NYTimes debate transcript):

"OBAMA: I'll just make a quick comment about vouchers in D.C. Senator McCain's absolutely right: The D.C. school system is in terrible shape, and it has been for a very long time. And we've got a wonderful new superintendent there who's working very hard with the young mayor there to try...

MCCAIN: Who supports vouchers.

OBAMA: ... who initiated -- actually, supports charters.

MCCAIN: She supports vouchers, also.

OBAMA: But the -- but here's the thing..." I mean, doesn't that annoy you? He's like a petulant little kid who can't even bear to sit still and wait for another person to have their turn. As Adam mentions, McCain is clearly living up to the label that people have given him. Of course, eveyone is talking about affect: McCain came across as flighty, fidgety, and rather more explosive. On the flip side, he was more persistent, and, for an older candidate, he really didn't look all that bad. Obama, as expected, has perfected the calm and cool technique. Personally I loved the way he smiled and shook his head sometimes when McCain made bogus claims, but at the same time, I'm sure Republican versions of me can just turn around and say that Obama was being as disrespectful toward McCain as I think McCain was toward Obama. As for content, we heard (again) a lot of the same that we've been hearing. I wish one of them would just deviate from those vague talking points, but I guess that really isn't a safe move this close to the election. Other bits and pieces of content that I want to mention (and I have to do this relatively quickly so that I can go get ready and then study for my Mass Media midterm): 1) Joe the plumber, Joe Wurzelbacher, whatever you want to call him, really started to get my nerves bouncing around underneath my skin. While it was mildly amusing (McCain: "Hey, Joe, you're rich, congratulations"), it all seemed like petty fighting going around in the same circles. The same circles we've been hearing debate after debate. 2) I did appreciate the variety in Schieffer's questioning. I'm glad they spoke about education and abortion. And, just, on the abortion topic: Why is it that Republicans are alright with major governemnt intervention in a woman's personal life choices, but not in the economy? Why is it that Republicans fight for the right to own a gun (which, theoretically, has a pretty high potential to get someone killed, especially if you're living in a bad crime city and not just out hunting in the woods), but they immediately swear against abortion? I don't understand those right-wing Christians who are proudly gun-toting. Remind me again why Jesus would ever want you to own a gun, whether to kill people or animals? The Republican lack of logic never ceases to amaze me. 3) Supreme Court. We all know I was listening with ears open for this one. And, let's say I knew absolutely nothing about the candidates other than their answers to this one bit of questioning, my vote would still be for Obama. Not necessarily because I liked his answer, but because John McCain's answer was completely preposterous (and that's not a word I use often, or lightly). And yes, I realize this is all subjective and based on personal perspective, but this is my blog and thus my perspective, damn it, and I think John McCain would completely destroy both the Supreme Court and the precedents of that court, the foundations of the basic rights we know today! Look, you take away one right to privacy, and what are we going to overturn next? Lawrence v. Texas? Our Miranda rights? Let me just get straight to the McCain quote, or else this is going to turn into a rant about the conservative court, and the fact that under McCain, that court would probably just become incredibly right-wing extremist. (And, for a side note, under Obama, the court probably wouldn't become overwhelmingly liberal, so don't listen to any conservative arguments that say so. Because, the fact of the matter is, that any Justice who retires will probably be a liberal one. And so if Obama replaces them with more liberals, well, that just keeps the court the way it is now, in a very tight 5-4 split, most of the time, with conservatives usually getting the upper hand. So that's not really a valid argument). Sorry, I'm continuing: First of all: "McCain: I think that decisions should rest in the hands of the states." ... Then what would be the point of the court in the first place?? It is there for a reason. "McCain: I would consider anyone in their qualifications. I do not believe that someone who has supported Roe v. Wade that would be part of those qualifications. But I certainly would not impose any litmus test." ... Which (hello!!!??) is basically saying that anyone who doesn't agree with him that Roe v. Wade is a bad decision, would not make it onto the bench. Which means (you guessed it) more conservatives! But, no litmus test! But, really, is McCain blatantly saying that anyone who disagrees with his ideology is "unequalified", a much better solution to offer? Personally, I don't think so. I think the major problem with McCain in this debate was the way he wavered back and forth between statements, and when you juxtapose them, they just don't make any sense. I think the major problem with Obama was the fact that he was too dispassionate. And even if his strategy is to remain cool and sidestep attacks, I bet there were a lot of voters who just wanted to see him stick it to McCain, just a little bit. I've seen a lot of people give the debate to McCain, and most of the liberal media obviously gives the debate to Obama. While I think there was good and bad to both, I'm going to give it to Obama by a very slim margin, mostly because McCain's Supreme Court argument made me want to nearly strangle him and because, continuing the theme of his past debates and his whole campaign, McCain acted like a complete jackass... excuse me, I mean, Republican. Now, to shower! Then, to study! Send me some good vibes, please!

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