Well, the third and final debate is about a day old, and the winner is Bob Schieffer, who proved to be the least execrable of the moderators. This earns him no points at all. I do vainly hope that this will finally bring us to give up on the presidential candidates' debate in these United States. I still wonder at the idea that McCain wanted ten town-hall debates with Obama. Even if he proposed it only to revel in the refusal, the revelry is over.
I thought that McCain clearly lost the debate. Pass over the inkblot of his behavior, which caused me to wait for him to finally snap and pop his senatorial colleague in the face. McCain doesn't understand conservatism at all, and when he uses the word, he seems to mean maverick independence, which is not conservatism. He doesn't understand conservatism, nor does he believe in it, and he will not champion it (except by coincidence). McCain doesn't have the stomach for a fight, and doesn't know what ground to fight Obama on.
During the debate, Obama said nothing, risked nothing, gave us nothing. He just eloquentated and looked calm and smooth, and let McCain appear to be a crazy old man, which said McCain seemed most willing to do.
That blasted Christopher Hitchens
Well, that's all fine, and maybe I should follow the advice of Christopher Hitchens, my god of politics, who posted online (a) before the debate that we should vote for Obama, and (b) that Obama won the third debate (and the second). As I pointed out on "the Fray," Hitchens endorsement of Obama barely mentions Obama, and concentrates solely on McCain's faults, as does his review of the most recent debate.
Since Hitchens has spent the campaign writing delicious attacks upon Obama and defenses for McCain, I think I may suggest that he may ignore facts and opinions worthy of respect regarding these two men, he goes too far in ignoring everything he's written and said up to this point during the campaign. As he's pointed out in other pieces, a polemicist likes nothing better than to quote himself. He's now made it quite impossible to do this, taking a position so "contrary" that he contrarifies himself.
Up to these democracy-poisoning debates, I was all for the senator from Arizona. Of course, there was the unavoidable reason in a binary choice: he is, being himself, not the other man. But, he had his own points. Upon accidentally becoming a POW, he conducted himself with honor and integrity, according to his own account which, I believe, has only received collaboration. (No, Best Friend At Work, this is nothing in itself, but it is quite something with some company.)
He seems accepting of homosexuals and non-caucasionals, which is important to me, at least. (He might still be a sexist, for all I know -- I have no information about that, and I don't think that his veep choice is an indicator either way.) He seems inclined to fiscal conservatism, though this is contradicted by his public promises to individuals met while campaigning that he'll do everything he can to see that they personally succeed in some particular enterprise they're struggling at. He seemed to understand some time ago that we were headed down the path that led us to our current "economic crisis." How much more to his credit it would be if he'd managed to "reach across the isle" (and back to his own side of it) to do something to prevent it.
Let's not forget the "Saddleback forum," wherein McCain very impressively "whupped" Obama's "you-know-what."
I actually swore off McCain after his cigarette joke. If you're not familiar with this, McCain gave the figure for cigarette exports to Iran, and said that maybe that was a way to kill Iranians. When Reagan was co-running the Cold War, he didn't talk about killing Russians -- he knew that Russians wanted freedom and all that. McCain's Iranian jokes are both at the expense of the Iranian people rather than the rulers. I found this much more horrible than Obama's comments about going into Pakistan, (comments which have now been implicitly endorsed by the present administration).
When it comes to his membership in the "Keating Five," his role seems fairly mild. About the circumstances surrounding his divorce, I am ignorant and I don't see how I could get the intimate information I'd need to judge this.
His candidacy is, it seems to me, a purely selfish affair. This is my impression of many recent presidential contenders: I can't see that they want to be president because they want certain things achieved -- they're running for the presidency to, well, to get the presidency, hold it, and then stop. McCain isn't campaigning for Republicans (who can't stand him) or for Republican principles. He wants to be president just to be president, and to, I guess, hope Joe the Plumber get his license and his business and not pay more taxes, and to do similar items for other persons and families he's met during the campaign.
Another minus is that McCain has no idea how to run himself or his campaign. His one good ad, instead of taking his punk-kid opponent seriously, laughed at him -- and was lost in the swamp of serious, less effective ads which followed. I think his campaign has finally abandoned the dull "but is he ready to lead" slogan.
I'm sorry, but I don't mind his temper. Where I work, all the managers are limp Richards, who are calm and poised, and completely worthless and ineffective. I'd love it if the big boss was a slightly deranged, principled jackass.
For me, Obama's first minus is his party. His party's policies toward capitalism, welfare, and such fiscal issues, do not achieve their promised results or other positive results. I'm probably more aligned with his party regarding equality issues, but they do seem to find a reasonable position without even touching the brake. The actual votes and, let's say, money movements, show the senator from Illinois to be a very dedicated Leftist (1-2-3-4)and supporter of black racial solidarity in its ugly forms.
I am sorry that this section is undeveloped, but after all that's happened up to now, I don't feel the obligation. He seems to me to be another Clinton without the sex. He is, as Hitchens phrased it for someone else, running to satisfy his inner demons. I think he's seeking office to erase the rejection of his father and mother. He may not pal around with domestic terrorists (ret.), or America race-power preachers -- but I don't detect anything in him that would find the idea off-putting. He might be able to think his way to an moral position, but nothing below his neck would get him there without a few good hours of deliberation inside his skull.
You know the completely gorgeous chick at school? You'd be in the bathroom after noon, touching yourself up in front of the mirror, and in would walk this woman, as stuck up and (may I say) arrogant as she is unconscious of it, look in the mirror, shrug to say, "Perfect needs no help," pause to point out some touch up you either missed or hadn't gotten to yet (just to be friendly), and tap-tap-taps over the tile floor to the door. That's Obama: sailing through life on his beauty and eloquence and ability to make you believe that he's just about to achieve something good, in spite of never having done so.
I wrote elsewhere: "Perhaps you've seen quoted the lovely line, '"Hello," he lied.' Marvelously applicable.
"Barack Obama is not someone who lies now and then. Barack Obama is not a liar. Barack Obama is lie.
"Barack Obama lies when he's talking. Barack Obama lies when he's telling you what he said days ago. Barack Obama lies when he tells you what someone else said. Barack Obama lies when he listens. Barack Obama lies when he's sitting and Barack Obama lies when he's standing. Barack Obama, asleep in his bed, fills the air of his bedroom with lie, makes the very air a lie, so that his family must keep the windows open, crosses and garlic on the walls, the exhaust fan going 24/7."
Obviously, calmness, eloquence, discipline, and thoughtfulness are pluses. Education and intelligence are pluses. Being able to lie convincingly is certainly a plus -- if I could do that, I'd've knocked many job interviews I'd had out of the park and be sitting pretty. I think, in personality and the way I think, I'm a lot closer to Obama than to McCain -- but this is not a plus for me or for him.
Therefore, McCain's for me
My dad used to teach at Xavier. His approach to his fellow faculty members was much as McCain's approach to Obama in a debate: off-putting, disrespectful, judgmental, and frightening.
My dad got into quality control right at the start, when Japanese industry was beginning to adopt it and American industry was still ignoring it. He ate it up, studied hard into an understanding of it, and pushed it all he could, finally getting it into the course catalog.
A few years later, a new faculty member joined his department. He was some kid who'd evaded Vietnam by going to college. He talked up quality control, the others on the faculty ate it up, and he became the big quality control man on campus.
That opportunistic rooster suction-creator is Obama, and McCain is my dad.
(Of course, the thought of President Mydad does bring LBJ's "Daisy" ad to mind...)