After dozens of debates over the last 18 months we have learned a great deal about Barack Obama and John McCain. Last night’s debate was a good representation for each candidate’s run for the presidency. here’ what I saw:
Obama has taught us that is he can command the stage, speak authoritatively and calmly about any issue. As John McCain experienced last evening, Barack Obama is unflappable. We have learned that Barack Obama is no radical and no flaky, apologetic liberal. He hangs out with the likes of Warren Buffet, Paul Volker and Joe Biden. He does not apologize for relying on government not does he hide behind big government to resolve all the pressing issues of the day. Rather, he sees government as useful and necessary to address some of the biggest problems of the day– the financial melt down, and does not get caught up in ideological positions that are logically inconsistent. In short, this is one impressive guy, able and confident to lead.
Are there things he said last night that I can argue with? sure. His response on education policy was tepid and uninspiring. His biggest complain about No Child Left Behnd was that it left the funding behind. In my opinion, the biggest problem wth NCLB is that its design leaves the children behind. But le’s leave that for another day.
The McCain debate turn taught us a great deal about John McCain. Rather, it sort of summarized a great deal of what we already knew. McCain is a free marketeer who cannot integrate his philosophy with the demands of the current financial crisis for government intervention. He refers to oversight and transparency but what he means is regulation. The problem here is that McCain continues to speak the deregulators line albeit one calling for regulation. His comments last evening were flat out largely incoherent.
In terms of temperament he just couldn’t let go of either Joe the Plumber or Bill Ayers, and made the audience uncomfortable as a result. Perhaps more telling about John McCain the candidate and human being was his responses about John Lewis, the audiences at his rallies and about women and choice. Here’s what he did. He vilified a person who he earlier spoke of as a personal hero; he defended racist speech and he dismissively swatted away concerns about women’s health. This is the real John McCain.
It seems most voters saw the same thing.