Friday, September 26, 2008

After the first debate

I'd be curious to know what someone thought who hasn't paid much attention to the campaign before; as for me, there was very little new here tonight. They both pretty much took the positions to which we've become accustomed, there were no major gaffes (not that those should matter as much as they tend to), and this debate didn't really advance my understanding at all.

The only substantive issue which was ducked was ducked equally by both McCain and Obama. No matter how many times and ways Jim Lehrer asked the question, neither one came up with a suitable response as to how their priorities would change in light of the massive amount being spent on the bailout. I wasn't surprised, I haven't been impressed by the specifics of either candidate's fiscal program, so one couldn't have expected much as to how their current nebulous program would change.

As for the questions, they were very limited, especially because the "foreign policy" debate spent 40 of 90 minutes on the bailout. We basically heard about Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, and Russia; no mention as to how we might engage the vast tracts of the rest of the world, most particularly our relationship with China and India.

The soft stuff didn't really make a big impression on me tonight. McCain looked really ticked off a couple of times, and he has too great a tendency to go with a Bushian smirk. But, for the most part, neither looked unready for the job of commander-in-chief, so, again, I doubt many minds were changed.

For me, the most bizarre note was McCain's twice saying that he hadn't been Miss Congeniality in the Senate. Given the association of Sarah Palin with that title (and some questions as to whether she actually won it), I would have thought McCain would steer far clear of any such reference. So I don't understand that.

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