Thursday, October 16, 2008

Debate! (pt. III)

¡Hola! Everybody…
I’m going to risk sounding arrogant and say that I consider myself a leader.

I’m serious, I’m a leader, always have been, even if reluctantly. But I am not the “strong, silent” type leader. I’m one of those loopy leaders that will give you pause. I believe it is exactly this quality that makes me a leader because it makes those around me rise up to the task. I am a fallible leader, but I believe that leadership is not about infallibility, it is about relationships. However, I think my greatest ability as a leader is my ability to walk into a room, take an accurate assessment of the mood of the room, and resonate with it.

This ability -- the ability to understand and be able to respond to people’s feelings -- is what I look for most in a leader.

I will be in prison all day today running my women’s prison workshop.

* * *

-=[ Debate III ]=-

First, what is it with McCain and Palin and they’re imaginary friends, “Joe the Plumber” and “Joe Six Pack”?!! And here we are three debates and McCain has yet to utter the phrase, “middle class.”

::blank stare::

“I think everybody understands at this point that we are experiencing the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression...”

And in this way Obama began to make his case to the American people. This was a powerful and risky statement, but it served Obama’s purpose well because h was speaking directly to the mood of the nation.

The Great Depression was the spark that lit the beginnings of America’s second great era of the middle class. By 1929, after a series of massive tax curs for the wealthy by two successive Republican presidents, the gap between the elites and the working class was greater than it had ever been.

Does this sound familiar? Well, it should. This gap has reached these dimensions -- for only the second time in history -- once again. The result then was the October crash and the Great Depression that followed.

Last night, McCain pulled out all the conservative talking points. Much like Hoover, who in 1932 ran his campaign under the slogan, “Prosperity is just around the corner,” McCain proved he is woefully out of touch with the concerns of the American people. Few Americans today are buying into the idea of trickle down economics -- the quack economics that claims if we give the wealthiest one percent of the population tax breaks (welfare for the rich), that we all are going to somehow benefit. This is the conservative game that is most responsible for the crisis we are facing today and people are feeling it.

McCain scored a hard right when he said, “Sen. Obama, I am not President Bush. If you wanted to run against President Bush, you should have run four years ago.” But McCain has little footing here since his policies mirror the same disastrous trickle down policies employed by the Bush Administration. Obama slipped McCain’s wild right hook and scored a devastating body blow when he responded, “…if I occasionally have mistaken your policies for George Bush's policies, it's because on the core economic issues that matter to the American people, on tax policy, on energy policy, on spending priorities, you have been a vigorous supporter of President Bush.”

McCain never recovered from that blow for two reasons -- and this shows Obama’s intelligence. First, he forced McCain to say her wasn’t Bush and in that way, he fell into the trap. It’s like me saying, “Don’t think of the elephant.” Well, because of how our brains work, in order to erase a negative, we first have to think about it. In that way, the so-called take-away line of the night -- what some pundits called McCain’s best moment -- has him defining himself in terms of Bush’s administration.

The line is being played 24/7 and it actually reinforces the Bush connection.

Obama’s counterpunch, not getting as much air time, but effective nonetheless took McCain over the edge, “… if I occasionally have mistaken your policies for George Bush’s policies, it’s because on the core economic issues that matter to the American people, on tax policy, on energy policy, on spending priorities, you have been a vigorous supporter of President Bush.”


Another point that was also a subtle but debilitating blow to McCain was the trap Obama set regarding the bullshit ads around Bill Ayres. He challenged McCain to say it to his face. This was a calculated move, people. This is where McCain lost big time. He began to look very angry, his body language was uncomfortable to watch, he sighed, blinked compulsively, and even twitched quite a bit. In short, he looked and acted like an angry old man.

When the issues are discussed, Obama has the advantage in that his economic policy calls for the wealthy to carry their share of the tax load. It’s that simple. McCain kept repeating the falsehood that Obama would raise taxes, when in fact, he will raise taxes only for the highest percentile of the tax bracket. Middle class folks will not have their taxes raised.

The big blows came on tow points: healthcare and abortion. Obama took apart McCain’s health care plan masterfully, showing that it’s really a tax increase for working people that will be catastrophic to the industry. McCain’s is actually the same approach used for the banking industry and we all know how great that turned out to be.

On abortion, I think McCain committed his greatest blunder. He belittled the health concerns of women in the discussion of late term abortions. I can tell you that woman of all political orientations had to find that condescending, nasty, and insensitive.

Here’s Obama’s response to McCain on the issue, “With respect to partial-birth abortion, I am completely supportive of a ban on late-term abortions, partial-birth or otherwise, as long as there's an exception for the mother's health and life, and this did not contain that exception.”

McCain, increasingly agitated and by this time acting erratically, responded, “That's the extreme pro-abortion position, quote [uses fingers], ‘health.’”

A stupid, stupid response. He shot himself in the foot with that one.

In the end, McCain didn’t present a compelling case for the office of POTUS. He was out of touch with the concerns of the American public while Obama spoke clearly to those concerns.



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