Friday, September 26, 2008

The Heat is On

8:23-And so begins my running diary of Presidential debate #1. What more could you ask for on a Friday night? Kim and I just got back from a quick dinner at the local Applebees. They had a special on their ApplebeeTini so I went for it. Naturally, Kim ordered a tall Blue Moon. It looked a little backwards once they were brought to our table. Anyway, now I’m completely geeked up for an evening with the candidates. I don’t know how difficult it will be to get all my thoughts and reactions down and it may not be all that interesting, but I want to document how this thing goes down. At the moment I’m mesmerized by CSPAN’s coverage of the House of Reps.

8:37-23 minutes away from showtime. I will follow the debate on NBC since it is my default channel for national news. I sort of grew up on NBC and have a strange bias towards the peacock network. Although, the local NBC news here in Philly is pretty poor, so I turn to ABC most of the time.

8:47-Here’s a thought. Some of you know me enough to know which candidate I will choose. But I will not name that candidate during this blog. I will try to keep my choice out of my notes and be impartial. You can let me know how well I do at the end. Tell me who you think I’m backing.

8:55-I just noticed that 20/20 was doing Portrait of a President. At this point, I think I’ve learned just about everything I can about their back stories. I watched a bit of each convention and caught 60 minutes last Sunday. I just want to see them battle on the issues. And now on NBC, bull herding? What the heck is this? I’d rather be working on homework. Just need to hang on for 5 more minutes and the fun begins.

8:58-Pre-emptive bathroom break.

9:00-Here’s Brian. Let’s get it on. And Tom. Snacks for the evening… Water & Hershey Kisses. Simple, no mess.

9:02-The rules are being laid out and my head is spinning. Huh? I hope the candidates understood them because I did not.

9:03-Where do they stand on the financial crisis? We are starting off with the question that has the longest and vaguest answers. And the same words that we’ve been hearing all week. Obama is sporting a glisteny, snow-cone looking hairdo tonight. McCain’s tie is weak. It’s too fat coming out of the knot. Was I supposed to be commenting on their opinions or their appearance?

9:08-Obama takes the lead on giving details on the history of the financial crisis. McCain also claims that he foresaw the crisis several years ago. Now he’s on WWII? Obama brings up the struggling folks on Main St. Both of these guys love the Main St vs Wall St metaphor. Their advisors must have been pushing hard for that one.

9:14-What do you do to fix the crisis? McCain talks about growing government, earmarks and excess spending. I’m not sure how that answers the question but what else is new? Obama continues in kind by mentioning earmarks and tax plans. Is it always this off topic? If you write down the question and then listen to the answers, you’d think they didn’t understand the language of the PBS guy. Here’s an example, Hey, what do you guys want for lunch? Uh, I feel that everyone should have health care. I’m gonna let my fingers rest until the next question.

9:20-O no! Now PBS guy got sucked into the mess and redirects about taxes. McCain makes a point about business tax that I tend to agree with. I heard a report about business taxes in China and other countries which are half of that here in the US. New slogan? “China, now comes in cheap labor and cheap taxes!” Obama rebuffs with solid details of McCain’s health care plan.

9:25-It seems like they are starting to throw some slop. Good stuff.

9:26-What sacrifices does gov’t make to cover bailout expenses? Obama doesn’t know what can’t happen but he will prioritize energy independence, health care, and education. Oh and fix infrastructure. McCain says to generically cut spending. Cut ethanol dollars, defense spending (overruns are bad), and examine agencies closely.

9:30-Obama agrees that cuts are important. PBS guy says, listen up! Answer my question.

9:32-McCain suggests a possible spending freeze, but Obama is not sure about that. McCain starts blabbing about nuclear power.

9:34-PBS guy makes another attempt to refocus. Obama sounds good, talking about recovering from the bailout over time but considering what the priorities should be. McCain responds with more about spending cuts and leaving health care out of the gov’t’s hands.

9:38-Obama cites “Orgy of spending.” Oh so risqué. McCain goes right back to citing his history of opposing big W.

9:39-Lessons of Iraq? McCain gives the history. And a pep talk for the future. Obama asks himself a question… haven’t seen that one yet tonight. A sneaky tactic to gain control. (sidebar-please remember that I’m injecting a bit of sarcasm here and there) He is giving a history of the negative aspects that are probably supposed to be average Joe facts to relate to us. McCain lays out the next President’s role in Iraq, which sounds pretty confident.

9:43-Obama admits the success of the surge but then goes right back to pointing out the negatives. Obama tries to reframe the question but doesn’t have any time to make a point about his ability to lead the military. McCain says the success of Iraq will carry over to the plans in Afghanistan. Obama points out the semantics of their votes on troop funding. It comes across as truthful.

9:50-Obama continues his campaign of more military efforts for Afghanistan. McCain replies with attacks on the details of Obama’s plan.

9:50-What about Afghanistan? I think PBS guy missed the last 7 minutes of conversation, but Obama picks up the torch and runs with it. He loves to talk about this one. Now he brings up Pakistan and even says it properly. He likes to score points in little ways, which probably counts for something. McCain does not want to be involved with military action against Pakistan. This might be an important difference to remember. Troops plus strategy equals success. McCain starts squinting while he’s listening to Obama clarify his position on Pakistan. Obama serves-McCain returns. Back and forth.

9:58-Next topic please. War, bombs, sob stories.

10:00-The one hour mark. Who’s bracelet is cooler? It might be time for some thumb wrestling to settle this issue!

10:02-Look away, I beg you, this is ugly. Obama sucks up to PBS guy, shameful.

10:03-Iran threat? McCain says Iran threatens Israel and the Middle East and drops the word holocaust. He says we can have a league of democracies. That sounds kind of interesting, although he just said France would be in it. No thanks, I’ll pass. Obama clarifies his position about the Iran government. Tougher sanctions, help from non-democratic countries would be good too. McCain points out the need to meet with leaders but only with pre-conditions. Obama says McCain is being inconsistent with his advisers. McCain does a lot of smirking and smiling when Obama speaks.

10:11-How did Spain get wrapped up in this mess? McCain leaves that alone and just does more clarifying on his position. Good feisty back and forth on that one. Maybe the most entertaining conversation so far.

10:16-Russia… what’s up with them? Obama says the attack on Georgia was not cool with him. He would tell them to stop being a bully. McCain says Obama is a little girl. Ok maybe not that far, but he makes Obama look a little overmatched on this topic. McCain is a champion name dropper. He’s got friends everywhere and they have some pretty crazy names. I think his advisers told him to use that to show his familiarity with leaders around the world.

10:21-Redirect by Obama gives ideas for helping Georgia. I’m too tired to come up with a worthwhile joke about this. Only 39 minutes to go. He’s got a plan but changes the subject to energy. McCain says stuff that Obama is offended by. McCain stalls a little to squeeze more time from Obama, but Obama gets a quick rebuttal in.

10:26-Likelihood of another 9/11-McCain says it’s less likely. Gives himself some love for the accomplishments of the 9/11 Commission. Gives details about the way we should do things to avoid future attacks. Obama says we are safer in some ways but brings up negative aspects of progress thus far. More focus on Al Qaeda. Make sure global perception of the US improves to help long-term security. He covers this answer well. Obama makes the point that funding for the war is directly connected to the lack of funding for other social programs. I find this argument a bit weak illogical. McCain brings out his soothing soft voice to ease our minds. He’s got different modes, but he likes to appear calm after Obama gets excited about something.

10:36-Obama’s father had a dream. America is not the same today as it was then. McCain knows how to work with friend and foe. The End.

That ended a bit abruptly and so does this running diary.

So, who am I voting for?

Choose Wisely