Thursday, October 2, 2008

Debate Analysis: Sept 26 and Oct 2

Republicans can breathe a sigh of relief--and perhaps send Gwen Ifill a stipend for allowing Palin to dodge questions all night--as Palin certainly avoided the type of meltdown that seemed increasingly plausible as the campaign has unfolded over the past two weeks. She has shown herself to be so monumentally ignorant that the bar was set so low that her literal survival in the debate was a moral victory for the "ignorance is bliss" crowd, otherwise known as the Republican base. Her insouciance and "aw shucks" demeanor consisted of the mindless regurgitation of a phrase--"corruption and greed on Wall Street"--and a relentless determination to avoid any substantive "debate" but rather engage in a faithful repetition of the McCain talking points, which Obama basically destroyed in the first presidential debate, namely the inability to acknowledge the colossal failure that is the Iraq War and the lucid reality of the failure of the Bush economic policies that have led the country to the precipice of another Great Depression.
Palin, while having no grasp of any relevant facts or statistics, nonetheless did a good job of endorsing a candidate(McCain) whose career has been one of supporting the economic policies that have destroyed the middle class and decimated the nation's financial system. So while she floundered talking about "Joe Six-Pack" and tried to make the case that the $100 million dollar man McCain somehow cares about the concerns of the Main Street workers he has trampled for years in his rush to worship his CEO buddies and lavish them with obscene tax breaks, Palin essentially did what they prayed she would do in the sense that there were no "I'll get back to ya" moments. Moderator Gwen Ifill, whom racist Republicans attacked as being essentially in Obama's camp because of a book that has been advertised since the summer, actually was much too deferential to Palin, as she let her off the hook again and again, even when she evidently didn't understand the term "Achilles Heel," as she made no attempt to even acknowledge the question, let alone respond. Ifill was obviously intimidated into discarding follow-up questions and allowed Palin to retreat to her favorite McCain talking point: "Greed and corruption on Wall Street..." Perhaps she could have been asked to provide a single salient example of Wall Street issues and how to address them...
Biden, on the other hand, was professional, polite and serious, presenting a thorough and analytical perspective of both the current state of the economy and the challenges that face the country in the aftermath of the president McCain bragged about "supporting over 90% of the time." That's not a good record when the president is the least popular in U.S. history. While Palin showed a hapless inability to address the mortgage crisis, let alone speak intelligently about solutions, Biden discussed practical ideas and implications of the Bankruptcy Bill while acknowledging the depth of the crisis. On health care, Palin fled to the same old "tax credit" argument that seems to be the Republican answer for everything, despite the reality that the current economic crash that has led banks to the brink of collapse and a panic that would bring down the entire system has taken place in the context of Bush's unprecedented tax breaks for the wealthy. A layman can see how well this failed policy of trickle down economics works in a system--capitalism-- whose life blood is human greed, pure and simple. That is why we have to regulate the economy, just as we regulate human behavior with those pesky things called LAWS.
Unchecked capitalism leads to rampant greed, and the Bush legacy, in addition to unilaterally attacking countries, will be the complete and utter disregard for even a basic level of oversight of our financial system. Bush and McCain are figures of genuine pathos, and their names will be mentioned with disdain for decades to come, as all Americans literally pay the cost of their criminal activities and those of their trusted friends and advisers.

The final analysis of the VP debate was that Palin exceeded expectations that were so low that one would think she were a 5th grader, but in terms of specific issues she was in way over her head and basically didn't get the better of a single question. She did a good job of memorizing a dozen or so policy positions she was fed but offered no solutions other than the trite tax breaks for the wealthy. That accounts for the perception of viewers who overwhelmingly declared Biden the winner and will certainly be more inclined to support Obama and Biden after witnessing the debate, but it was indeed a moral victory that someone with her limited intellectual capacity could endure 90 minute debate, so hats off to her, heckuva job, Palie!

In last Friday's debate, Obama accomplished his main objective--to convince undecided voters that he is a viable president rather than a neophyte. His clear articulation of his vision and profound insights on all substantive issues reassured undecided voters and resulted in a rush of support that has increased his lead in every battleground state and left a staggered McCain looking like the grumpy old man he is. It's not highly effective to say Obama "doesn't understand" when he is standing next to you essentially kicking your ass on foreign policy issues that are supposed to be your area of expertise, yet that is exactly what happened, as the climactic moment of the debate was the three punch left-right-left combination where Obama looked at the terrified McCain and told him three times: "You were wrong!" about all the major Iraq lies Bush sold the American public. McCain offered no response, as he knows he was indeed wrong about Iraq, as well as every other major policy issue("Fundamentals of the economy are strong...?") McCain should be playing a violin on the Titanic, not running for president, such is his stunning lack of vision and insight in a time of unprecedented economic uncertainty. His campaign is laughably incompetent, and he personifies the GOP dilemma of being an old and out of touch party that is of, by and for an increasingly small minority of rich old men and ladies, with the obligatory white racists thrown in. The times are indeed changing, "my friends..."

1 comment:

Emporor said...

If we were to pull out of Iraq within the next 16 months as Senator Obama proposes, Iraq would not be able to "resolve their differences" and "fix things" on their own. And if that were to ever happen, the price of oil would most definitely skyrocket and our economic crisis would be aggravated even further by inflationary pressures. Not to mention Iranian hegemonic expansion and even more terrorists being spawned as a result of a U.S. withdrawal (and it doesn't matter if it's phased). This will take time.

I believe that, although this war was a mistake, it must be made clear that withdrawing PREMATURELY will have catastrophic consequences for American strategic interests and our credibility. America rebuilt Germany after intense carpet-bombing forays and revived Japan after nuclear detonations. They are both staunch U.S. allies and the number 2 and 3 economies (with respect to GDP) of the world today.

This war was a mistake. But we cannot abandon our commitment and forsake our responsibilities as an international leader. Iraq has the potential to become one of the most powerful and affluent nations in the Middle East (ahem), and in the long-run there is no doubt that arms, development, and energy deals between U.S. entities and Iraqi government/Iraqi corporations will benefit both nations immensely.

The reconstruction will take years and the reintegration of various ethnic groups into a legitimate and competent government is currently happening, albeit rather slowly. Nonetheless, the Iraqi national infrastructure is growing: the Iraqi economy is beginning to reopen, the Iraqi security forces are becoming more capable by the day, and the Iraqi people will eventually come to trust their government, no matter their ethnic affiliations. Case-in-point: Sunni Sons of Iraq fighters are now on the Iraqi government's payroll, and there have been no significant conflicts between the Shia-dominated government and the de-facto Sunni police force. These are very encouraging signs.

The United States can fix Iraq and set it right. It will, however, take at least a decade, as it took 15 years in Germany and 20 years in Japan, for Iraq heal its wounds. Legitimization of the government, modernization of its security forces, reintegration of Iraq into the regional community, and reviving the Iraqi economy are all benchmarks set by General Petraeus's team (you won't hear this from McCain OR Obama). These goals CAN and MUST be met.

Spending 10 billion taxpayer dollars a month in order to sustain operations in Iraq is of course unacceptable, but withdrawing before the mission is complete would be far worse. The only thing you know is that you don't know. One thing is for certain: an American withdrawal would have dire consequences, some of which cannot be foreseen.