Last night’s presidential debate, broadcast live in 55 countries, was no game changer. Barak Obama appeared collected and presidential while McCain, agitated and condescending at times did an excellent job at appealing to his base.
Both candidates managed to avoid really addressing the financial crisis. While both men advocated spending cuts, neither discussed where they would cut spending when 40% of the budget is allotted to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. McCain suggested a spending freeze and Barak Obama impressed upon the American people the importance and urgency of a financial bailout.
When asked about how they would deal with the potential nuclear threat posed by Iran, both candidates were bellicose in their response. Obama, however, supports meeting with Irani heads of state and negotiating peace. McCain, in his most condescending tone, called this suggestion “dangerous”, and accused Obama of being naïve, and legitimizing the ideas of a rogue state by agreeing to negotiate with them. Obama called McCain’s accusations preposterous and cited former Secretary of State, Dr. Henry Kissenger as a supporter of his ideas.
As expected, much of the debate was centered on Iraq. McCain continued to insist that the surge in Iraq has been successful while Obama continued to remind him that a surge would have been unnecessary if we weren’t in Iraq in the first place. Jim Leher, the moderator, asked the candidates what lessons we have learned from the war. John McCain, a Vietnam veteran, responded that the lessons from both Vietnam and Iraq are that we cannot bring our troops home defeated. The gloves came off when Obama said that the US shouldn’t have ever been in Iraq and that the United States military should have finished the job in Afghanistan and crossed the Pakistani border in an effort to locate and destroy Al Qaeda cells operating in that nation. McCain insisted that it was blatantly irresponsible for Obama to threaten Pakistan in such a way but was quickly reminded by his democratic opponent of the incident in which he so flippantly threatened to bomb Iran to the tune of the Beach Boys.
All in all the debate was rather boring and it really didn’t make any waves nor was it the kind of debate that will change any minds.