I watched the debate intently. I recorded it. I played it back. I listened to hours of post-debate commentary and despite all the rhetoric, and there was a lot of that in the right wing sector media, Obama won this debate no-contest.
A debate is not about talking over your opponent. It is not about points gained by aggression or emotions raised by non-sequiturs or rhetorical nonsense. It is about logical debate on the topics. Obama gave us plenty of that, McCain did not.
The McCain campaign had ads prepared declaring they had won even this morning, BEFORE they even confirmed that McCain would be going to the debate at all. All of this after the dramatics of the past few days. McCain is a drama-king. He announced he would not go to the debate until the $700 billion bailout was signed. Yet, it was not signed and there he was. He is simply willing to say whatever at the moment to get and keep attention, even if it is under false terms. This seems to be his only consistent m.o. in this campaign. He had a television ad prepared just minutes after the debate, filled with snippets of misused quotes by Obama. He is a scoundrel and his campaign knew he lost. Apparently, he knew he would lose ahead of time.
McCain’s ad used Obama’s words out of context. When Obama said, “John McCain is right…” or “I agree with McCain” it was more to show common ground not to demonstrate he agrees with McCain’s policies. Should we not be looking for reasonable people who want to find common ground with others to lead us as a nation? Or do we want to continue fostering the useless ideology that to disagree 100% is the only way to be true to one’s party. Is it really all about the blue or the red? Should it not be more about the policies that will improve our lives and protect our collective interests? We need a reasonable, flexible President. This is what Obama demonstrated with his willingness to find common ground.
The reason John McCain needed to distort Obama’s gentleman-like behavior was because he lost on the real debate. He could not convince the American people in rational, reasonable or articulate manner that he was superior in matters of foreign relations. He couldn’t even look Obama in the eyes. He was huffing and puffing and fidgeting about. He was completely unprofessional. He avoided answering the questions or responding intelligently to Obama or to Lehrer. He lied about his voting record and the things he had and had not done. And Obama mostly let him.
Why? Some argued Obama lost points because he let him. I disagree.
Obama was trying to be polite. He was trying to debate the way you are supposed to debate. In a debate a topic is brought up, one person opens with an argument, the other gives their argument. The original speaker is allowed a rebuttal and then a counter rebuttal is given from the 2nd person. John McCain seemed to miss this on numerous occasions. He would often go on and on, over Lehrer, over Obama. He was rude and off-point throughout the debate. Obama tried to interject when he was interrupted but he didn’t want to be rude. He assumed any reasonable, intelligent person would not be swayed by such ridiculous tactics. Just because Obama is not rude or angry in his demeanor, does not mean he is weak. He is anything but.
Obama’s reasonable, rational approach worked. It is evident in the polls. It was evident in his answers. He handled himself extremely well and demonstrated unarguably that he is not a novice in matters of foreign affairs. Words you would expect to hear in a real political debate about foreign affairs would be words like diplomacy, legitimacy, discussion, negotiations and phrases like “broader strategic plan” that included something more than just military might. The came out of Obama’s mouth, not McCain, the supposed expert in foreign affairs. Obama also addressed how other countries around the world, including allies (especially allies), perceive us and noted that this is important to international affairs and, ultimately, national safety. It is absolutely vital to national safety. Political legitimacy must not be forgotten. It is tantamount to military might in international affairs. Why is this point lost on so many?
McCain didn’t mention any of these things integral to successful international affairs. Furthermore, he never mentioned the middle class, bettering the lives of every day people, or anything positive at all really. While he was busy being angry and breathing like a dragon, avoiding eye contact with Obama and ignoring Lehrer’s attempts to move on to a new question, he failed to really focus on what he had to offer the country in terms of foreign affairs or national security. And he failed to prove Barack Obama was incapable to lead the country in terms of foreign affairs or to protect the country. Therefore, he lost this debate, period.
Paramount to positive, strong international affairs is diplomacy, tact, calm and reasonable interactions with the leaders of other countries. McCain can’t even look Obama in the eye. He is rude and dismissive. He believes we shouldn’t even engage in conversation with countries who disagree with us. This is not foreign relations, this is forced relations. You must first relate to foreign heads of state to have foreign relations, long before you can have positive relations.
McCain believes we can bully the whole world around but we can not. This has been proven over the past 8 years, time and time again. Ask foreigners what they think of us. Read their newspapers. Once upon a time we were thought of as the beacon of hope, the land of dreams, the forefront of freedom and democracy. Now, we are the ignorant bullies of the world. Even the citizens of our allied countries are raging against us. And McCain is completely out of touch with regards to this entire concept. We are the joke and irritation of the world. And if you think it is not important what other countries thinks of us, think again! If China owns almost a trillion dollars of our debt and we are at war with countries who have or could soon have nuclear weapons. How many more wars can we begin and how many more allies or countries can we alienate before they form an alliance against us? Think about it…
Torture. Military first, no-talking approach to international disagreements. Bullying. Lying. Cheating. Not caring for our own people. Illegitimate wars. Loss of civil liberties. Ignoring our own Constitution. Secret Renditions. Double-Standards with regards to Nuclear Proliferation.
These are the things that are making us lose our political legitimacy and tarnishing the American brand, if you will, throughout the world. We are seen as hypocrites. Are we really so xenophobic we are afraid of talking to people who have different opinions than us? different religions? Certainly, we should not allow terrorism to reign supreme but have we lost all sense of political discourse? of moral discourse? of thought discourse? The mindset of this country has been divided. There are those of us who believe political dissension strengthens us as a country. That we can disagree with our neighbors but not kill them for it or force them to change their views with a gun. And there are those who would have you believe that any disagreement with the Bush policies or the choices made by this country’s leaders in the past eight years, or simply a different ideology is tantamount to treason.
Dissenters are made out to be anti-American, unpatriotic, haters, anti-troops, anti-military… against the U.S. in every way. This is simply preposterous. We love America. We think for ourselves. You should try it sometime.
Obama has a reasonable, comprehensive plan with regards to how he will approach foreign affairs. His will include the real tools of foreign relations. (Diplomacy, tact, discussions…etc.) This is how you deal with people.
Imagine for a moment, your neighbor and you were feuding. He disagreed with the way you keep your yard. You disagreed with the way he kept his. Would it be better to have a formal discussion, to try to work it out diplomatically? Or do you think you it would be better to jump in a military tank and blow him up? It is simply not reasonable. Period. Even if you wanted to go with the latter, how many tanks can you reasonably come up with and how many neighbors can you reasonably alienate or declare war with? After awhile, you will run out of tanks but never of neighbors. Then what? The neighbors will join together eventually, to fight against your military tyranny. And what then?
Obama discussed another international relations point eloquently when he talked of our absence in Latin America, in Asia, and in Africa. He noted our absence in these places is amplified by China’s presence. Even Cuba is present in all of these places. Yet, somehow, we are not represented? How is this? How can we, effectively and legitimately, continue to say we lead the world in democracy and freedom, if we are not only NOT present in many countries in a positive manner but simply bullying them into doing what is best for us, even to their detriment?
Furthermore, when asked if McCain would meet with the president of Spain, he didn’t even know who he was. He was obviously mistaking him with a Zapatista (a Mexican revolutionary group). How can he be a foreign affairs expert and not know the foreign heads of states, even those of our allies? That is simply ludicrous.
“We have weakened our capacity to project power around the world because we have viewed everything through this single lens [war].” — Obama
Obama understands that international relations need more than guns to be successful. We must restore our political legitimacy before we lose the support of the allies we have left.
This is spot on. STANDING OVATION.
Obama knows the fundamentals of international relations. McCain does not.
POINT OBAMA TEAM!
I will go through the debate transcript at length this weekend… till then, keep informed and goodnight.
(And what exactly was the existential threat to Israel McCain referred to with Iran? Does he know what existential means?) And what about McCain’s comment about not wanting to go back and forth… um, this was a debate, isn’t that the point?