Saturday, September 27, 2008

Presidential Debates: Round One

Do you prefer someone who has learned his lines well and can speak in a clear, engaging presidential manner but who doesn't seem to grasp the complexities? Or do you prefer someone who stumbles in his speech and falls into a wincable mawkishness at times but who has a thorough grasp of the issues based on firsthand experience and whose opinions are formed not by a bank of advisers but by himself?

My choice is the latter, but for one thing. At times McCain sounded like he was running for Secretary of State or ambassador to the UN. He talked as if he wanted to be in the trenches, not running the show.

I support Obama because I think the major challenge ahead is to reform the US regulatory framework, and McCain's history as a deregulator and free-marketer make him unsuitable for the task. Let's face it; after Bush's latest maneuver of siphoning $700 billion more out of the treasury there's not going to be any money to do any of the shining reforms of either candidate, and the difference in the candidates' health care policies are moot as neither is possible. The next administration is about cutting spending, managing crises, and correcting bureaucratic problems. It's about the SEC, the world monetary system, food and safety, repairing damage in every sector of government. It's like what Jean Chretien faced times ten, and nobody is going to applaud the administration for the cuts they make, no matter how hard they try to make the cuts fair and humane. (Rae Days, anyone?)

Although I support Obama, I wish his foreign policies weren't so right wing and hawkish. I wanted to agree with him on Iraq, Afghanistan, Russia and Georgia, but I couldn't. He perpetuates US policies that have been harming other countries for years. He didn't seem to have any notion that his policies towards Pakistan might destabilize the country and turn it into another failed state. He didn't seem to have any inkling that a greater US military presence in Afghanistan might create even greater local resistance against an invading force. McCain spoke of winning the hearts and minds of Pakistanis and being very careful to avoid being a bully: he seems to get it. Obama doesn't get it - or more precisely, the advisers who created his foreign policy don't get it - or more likely, Obama's advisers created his foreign policies for domestic political consumption, not real world effectiveness.

This debate was about foreign policy (supposedly), and that's McCain's area of strength. In my book he won hands down on content, if not style. He won't have the advantage in the next two debates.

But Obama risks alientating some of his supporters by failing to live up to his progressive claims. There is not a strong enough distinction between the policies of the two candidates. When voters don't feel that either side represents their views, they may opt for the candidate with the greater experience.

Increasingly I feel that neither candidate is qualified to be president. They're both great senators, but work in the senate is nothing like the executive role the president has. They are both experienced politicians and McCain is the more experienced legislator, but neither of them know how to manage a giant bureaucracy. When I read Bob Woodward's books about the Bush White House, the thing that struck me the most was the dysfunction of its organization: the lack of qualified leadership at the top resulted in second-line commanders making power grabs and confused lines of command, even in the military in Iraq; the administration was simply unable to work effectively (as has continued with this shameful plan for a Wall Street bail-out). I am very concerned that in that sense both Obama and McCain would be "more of the same."


Anonymous said...

I do not agree, I think Obama came out on top.

Yappa said...

To anonymous at 1:19 -

It's an interesting question whether your point of view matters if you have no reasoning to back it up.

I suppose if you were a US voter you could say that you have the power of a vote and so don't need to be rational. But since most commenters on this site are Canadian, that is doubtful.

You might feel in this era of polls that if you express your opinion you might be contributing to a majority viewpoint - that numbers might somehow make you right.

Since you feel that your perspective is important enough to merit writing a comment but you feel no requirement to provide an argument, I have to assume that you are an Obama supporter who is acting from partisan motives rather than any real interest in or understanding of the issues. If that's the case, you're doing the cause a disservice.

Oldschool said...

You must have agreed with at least one of O'Bumma's positions on Georgia . . . he had THREE!!!
I watched the debate . . . Oh . . .Uh . . . I agree with you John . . . Oh . . . ummmm . . .

O'bumma is a rookie . . . his experience in govt is nearly ZERO . . . McCain, of whom I have never been a fan, has forgotten more than O'bumma will ever know about foreign affairs.
Remember O'bumma thinks there's 57 states . . but . . . he could always ask Joe for advice . . . but Joe told Katie the other day that . . . after the 1929 crash, FDR went on TV to calm the American people . . . and Katie never flinched, but neither did most lefties. Why do you suppose that was?
Fact is Hoover was president in 1929 and TV did not exist.
Can't imagine this dynamic duo of clueless clowns running anything . . . lest of all the USA.
And the financian mess that the US is trying to clean up . . .
Couldn't have anything to do with the Klinton policies of forcing Fannie and Freddie to borrow money to unemployed minorities, illegal aliens and the pennyless . . . cause as Bill said "everyone in America should own a house".

The FBI is investigating some of these clowns . . . hope a few land in jail.
Fannie Mae really WAS run right into the ground wasn't it? And guess what? It was DEMOCRATS who did it. Former Fannie Mae Chairman and CEO Franklin Raines was the White House budget director under Bill Clinton. He was also cited by the Washington Post as an economic advisor to...Barack Obama. Obama, in his very short time in the U.S. Senate also quickly became the second largest recipient of campaign contributions from Fannie Mae, ahead of even John Kerry.

Well then, there's Jamie Gorelick. Does that name sound familiar? She served as Bill Clinton's Deputy Attorney General. She installed the Intelligence "Wall of Separation" that helped lead to the disaster we suffered on 9/11. Then she served as Vice Chairman at Fannie Mae. In 2002, she told "BusinessWeek" that Fannie Mae was "very, very strong" and was "managed safely". For her efforts, driving the company to the brink, she received $26 million plus bonuses.

Actually, in large part, it does. Fannie Mae is heavily involved with the Congressional Black Caucus. Interim CEO Daniel Mudd described the relationship Fannie Mae and the Congressional Black Caucus shared as a "family" relationship. The Caucus pressured Fannie Mae to get mortgage loans for millions of Americans who couldn't afford them. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were the worst offenders in this housing loan crisis, which in turn caused so many banking institutions to go down with it. The crisis has had a domino effect throughout our financial institutions. In fact, AIG was in part brought down because it held $600 million in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Meanwhile, President Bush has called for reforming Fannie and Freddie 17 TIMES this year alone! The democrats' fingerprints are all over this crisis.