Monday, September 29, 2008

Presidential Debate No.1

I’m sure I was only one small part of a huge majority of North Americans who watched the first of three presidential debates last Friday, put on by our friends to the south (the United States). I’ve been asked by some of my fellow Canadians why I bother and I think the answer is obvious. I am aware that I have no say whatsoever in what goes on south of the 49th (or in Alaska or Hawaii) but some of the things they get up to down there will definitely affect me. As the saying goes, “When the elephant farts, it ruins everybody’s day.” So I cooked up some escargot and some freedom-fries, cracked a chilled bottle of flavoured water and fired up the old boob-tube just to watch as Senator McCain repeated himself endlessly (yes, John. They called you ‘the Maverick’. We caught that the first hundred times you mentioned it), pretended that the war in Iraq had started in 2007 (apparently the lack of judgment that lead to the invasion in the first place doesn’t matter), and rambled on about nothing when he didn’t actually have a point to make (the Senator does this in interviews too when the questions cut too close for comfort. I call this being ‘Reaganesque’, although I have to admit that the Senator never did run to hide under a helicopters whirling blades so that he could pretend not to hear the questions, like President Reagan used to do. Good on you, John.) Unfortunately Senator McCain also stuck to the old “you voted against funding for the troops” argument that maybe worked about forty-years ago but which is now merely a sign of contempt towards the voters. Is there anybody out there who doesn’t understand that this was only one small part of the bill and everybody knows that if Senator Obama voted against it then there had to be something pretty repulsive on the same bill. Something you would vote for, John?

I thought that Senator Obama came across quite well. He had his facts at his fingertips, he countered every accusation that Senator McCain made, and he refrained from laughing at the sillier comments made by Senator McCain.

I had been thinking that this election would be another victory for the Republicans, and now I’m not so sure about that at all. The GOP has been misfiring pretty steadily this past while, while the Democrats are staying on target. Of course the current unpleasantness in the US domestic economy won’t be helping the governing Republicans at all, since they have spent the last eight years pretty much ignoring the economy anyway. I would have expected the pro-business Republicans to have done a better job economically, but there you go. Behaving like atypical tax and spend-like-a-drunken-sailor Republicans isn’t helping the cause at all.

Post-debate, and after some pretty sad on-the-spot analysis, I watched Bill Moyers Journal on PBS. Bill Moyers is one of the most intelligent journalists you will ever see, and easily ten-times smarter than anybody on Fox (sorry, that was a cheap shot). I suspect he leans a little towards the ‘liberal’ or ‘left’ side of the political spectrum but on the Journal, nobody gets a free ride (except maybe for Jon Stewart of the Daily Show, but everybody likes Jon) and he treats ‘liberals’ and ‘conservatives’ equally respectfully. The post-debate interview was a rerun from last August with Andrew J Basevich who is a historian, an international relations expert, and a former Colonel in the US Army. He was talking about his latest book, The Limits Of Power: The End Of American Exceptionalism, (which I have not read, yet) and he came across as one of the most common sense, intelligent people I have ever heard. His views on the administration of President George W Bush, the war in Iraq and “supporting the troops”, and on the current version of US politics were bang on. I know this is only a first impression (that may change after I read his books) but he came across as having a considered wisdom that any politician I have seen or heard, north or south of the border, can only dream about.

Anyway… Humouroceros

PS: I am really looking forward to the vice-presidential debate set for this coming Thursday. Now no offense to Governor Palin, but when the Republicans chose her as Senator McCains running mate, they had to see this coming. What the hell were they thinking?

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