Thursday, October 16, 2008

Debate III Commentary

As if you haven't had enough of hearing about debates, Obama, and McCain. Well, too bad, my friends, too bad.

For starters, I thought the format and the proceedings of the debate were the best of the three presidential contests. I thought Bob Schieffer asked some very astute questions, which were not always in the template of what the first two debates seemed to follow. I liked that he gave them a little more time to "debate" each other.

I also liked that John McCain was in attack mode all night long. Not only did it show that McCain is going down like his finish the thought, I don't have the cojones to go there. It also gave Obama one last chance to respond (and in my opinion, he did so rather effectively) to all of the accusations McCain's campaign has thrown out there, these last few weeks especially.

I want to include Obama's word-for-word response to the question McCain raised about Barack's vote in the Illinois Senate against giving prenatal care to late-term babies who survived abortion procedures, since this is one of the most insidious and questionable things I've heard about Obama over the previous months. Obviously, you have to trust Obama, and if you don't it won't matter, but I thought he explained his reasoning perfectly:

MCCAIN: Senator Obama, as a member of the Illinois State Senate, voted in the Judiciary Committee against a law that would provide immediate medical attention to a child born of a failed abortion. He voted against that.

And then, on the floor of the State Senate, as he did 130 times as a state senator, he voted present.

Then there was another bill before the Senate Judiciary Committee in the state of Illinois not that long ago, where he voted against a ban on partial-birth abortion, one of the late-term abortion, a really -- one of the bad procedures, a terrible. And then, on the floor of the Illinois State Senate, he voted present.

I don't know how you vote "present" on some of that. I don't know how you align yourself with the extreme aspect of the pro- abortion movement in America. And that's his record, and that's a matter of his record.

And he'll say it has something to do with Roe v. Wade, about the Illinois State Senate. It was clear-cut votes that Senator Obama voted, I think, in direct contradiction to the feelings and views of mainstream America.

SCHIEFFER: Response?

OBAMA: Yes, let me respond to this. If it sounds incredible that I would vote to withhold lifesaving treatment from an infant, that's because it's not true. The -- here are the facts.

There was a bill that was put forward before the Illinois Senate that said you have to provide lifesaving treatment and that would have helped to undermine Roe v. Wade. The fact is that there was already a law on the books in Illinois that required providing lifesaving treatment, which is why not only myself but pro-choice Republicans and Democrats voted against it.

And the Illinois Medical Society, the organization of doctors in Illinois, voted against it. Their Hippocratic Oath would have required them to provide care, and there was already a law in the books.

With respect to partial-birth abortion, I am completely supportive of a ban on late-term abortions, partial-birth or otherwise, as long as there's an exception for the mother's health and life, and this did not contain that exception.

And I attempted, as many have in the past, of including that so that it is constitutional. And that was rejected, and that's why I voted present, because I'm willing to support a ban on late-term abortions as long as we have that exception.

The last point I want to make on the issue of abortion. This is an issue that -- look, it divides us. And in some ways, it may be difficult to -- to reconcile the two views.

But there surely is some common ground when both those who believe in choice and those who are opposed to abortion can come together and say, "We should try to prevent unintended pregnancies by providing appropriate education to our youth, communicating that sexuality is sacred and that they should not be engaged in cavalier activity, and providing options for adoption, and helping single mothers if they want to choose to keep the baby."

Those are all things that we put in the Democratic platform for the first time this year, and I think that's where we can find some common ground, because nobody's pro-abortion. I think it's always a tragic situation. We should try to reduce these circumstances.

So there you have it. I think Obama answered a lot of the allegations coolly. One thought I had during the debate was, if you want an indication of who is more negative, just look at the two candidates throughout this debate. All in all, the two campaigns have both gone very negative, and are almost even in that respect, as you can see on the fact-check links I will post shortly. But on almost every single question, McCain went to attacking Obama. Obama attacked on and off, but much less frequently. When asked about Palin's readiness to be the VP, Obama danced around the question, but did not attack. McCain attacked Biden for like three minutes. If you couldn't see the disparity there, and throughtout the debate, in McCain attacking Obama, then so be it.

A couple other tidbits: what does not having town hall debates have to do with whether the tone of the campaigns is positive or negative. That's about as good an argument as, let's see....if my ears weren't so big, my teeth wouldn't be so yellow.

And how come the tough, battle-hardened McCain, who has been such terrible experiences as a POW, crying about what someone said about him? For being such a tough guy, he sure can whine.

Finally, most idiotic part of the debate: the 900 references to Joe the plumber. If you think I am dumb enough to trust you have the "average american's" concerns close to your heart by talking to some plumber in Ohio, then you have a very low opinion of my intelligence level indeed. But, true to form, many in the media lauded this move by McCain, because they obviously think you and I (probably more so you than I) are morons.

Now, with all that said, I will leave you with a couple excellent fact-check sites where you can actually see who said what, and how factual or untruthful their statements were. I found a good one
here and here. The truth is, McCain supporters will ignore the lies that he threw out, and the Obama supporters will turn a blind-eye to the distortions and lies he spewed. But both are politicians, and they both are slippery. You can't just point out one is a liar, and then trust the other one.

So, at the end of the "debate" process, I certainly have to confirm that my opinion of Obama is much more favorable than the impression I have of McCain. Again, just look at the debate. Yes, Obama smiled and sneered on and off. It's hard not to when you're getting lied about over and over again, I'm sure. It's no excuse, either way. However, McCain snickered, jibed, mocked, and rolled his eyes, as well as interupted on occasion. In my book, that is flat-out rude behavior. It is childish. Obama acted like an adult 90% of the time. McCain acted like an adult maybe 70% of the time. I don't want a child in the White House. I want a mature, intelligent, respectable individual. And on this point, I respect Obama overall, much more than I respect McCain.

From my perspective, the problem is not that we don't know enough about Obama. We have heard allegation after accusation, again and again. And he has answered them, most of the time gracefully, again and again. The one we don't know about is McCain. There are lot of skeletons in his closet, and we haven't even heard about them. McCain hasn't even addressed some of them, even once. I have referred to them a few times on facebook and on this blog. The fact that the media don't bring them up (the liberal media, remember), and McCain doesn't even have to answer, really gives me pause.

But all in all, I am just happy to have a fairly decent debate to finish out the process.

Postscript: Now, a moment of self-effication. I am about as fair-weather a guy as there can be. I cheer for BYU against Wyoming almost every year. Why? Because BYU is better than UW almost every year. I cheer for the Arizona Cardinals only when they play the Dallas Cowboys in football, because my brothers like Dallas. I don't cheer for Arizona any other time, because they are terrible. Point is, I know McCain is going down, and going down in brilliant, majestic, orange and red flames. I'm not going to defend the guy. He doesn't even deserve to win. Besides, the guy said I didn't have to be scared if Obama is president.

And on this rare occasion, I believe him.

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