My initial objective was to write about the presidential debates this weekend. I watched 2 of the 3 debates, and after having heard some of the insidious exchanges between the candidates, I decided I would look up the transcriptions of each debate at nytimes.com, comb through them the remarkable lines that stood out in my memory, and let what was said speak for itself. I figure every other political figure has probably done enough analysis on every word and facial tic that my own two cents won’t be worth much.
I will say, however, that the only reason I am not in an utter American panic, right now, is that 1) I barely have any money worth losing in this Economic Crisis, so the state of the stock market doesn’t much matter to me, and 2) I am so confident Obama is going to win that I am not wasting my time worrying over what the state of our country will be if McCain wins. If I thought the latter had a chance of winning, I would currently be looking into the process of getting my work visa for England.
Now, on to Debate #2:
“My friends”—said by McCain in the beginning remarks of nearly every one of his answers. Obviously his political tactic was to force the public to equate their American identity with that of “friend of John McCain,” but if he truly were addressing only those who considered him a friend, would he be speaking to very many people?
(Im)Proper Figures of Speech
The Simile, Strangled
MCCAIN: Well, you know, nailing down Sen. Obama's various tax proposals is like nailing Jell-O to the wall. There has been five or six of them and if you wait long enough, there will probably be another one.
A Mindful Metaphor
OBAMA: I think it's important to understand, we're not going to solve Social Security and Medicare unless we understand the rest of our tax policies. And you know, Sen. McCain, I think the "Straight Talk Express" lost a wheel on that one.
Being a little too optimistic
MCCAIN: Let's look at our records, my friends, and then listen to my vision for the future of America. And we'll get our economy going again. And our best days are ahead of us.
Someone who just doesn’t understand
OBAMA: Well, you know, Sen. McCain, in the last debate and today, again, suggested that I don't understand. It's true. There are some things I don't understand. I don't understand how we ended up invading a country that had nothing to do with 9/11, while Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda are setting up base camps and safe havens to train terrorists to attack us.
“Joe the plumber” said by McCain in the beginning remarks of nearly every one of his answers. If this debate was directed to Joe the Plumber, then McCain might have a chance at winning the election.
The Ideal Tax Policy
MCCAIN: Nobody likes taxes. Let's not raise anybody's taxes. OK?
On Hurt Feelings:
SCHIEFFER: Senator Obama, your campaign has used words like "erratic," "out of touch," "lie," "angry," "losing his bearings" to describe Senator McCain.
Senator McCain, your commercials have included words like "disrespectful," "dangerous," "dishonorable," "he lied." Your running mate said he "palled around with terrorists."
Are each of you tonight willing to sit at this table and say to each other's face what your campaigns and the people in your campaigns have said about each other?
The response: McCain wants an apology
MCCAIN: A man I admire and respect -- I've written about him -- Congressman John Lewis, an American hero, made allegations that Sarah Palin and I were somehow associated with the worst chapter in American history, segregation, deaths of children in church bombings, George Wallace. That, to me, was so hurtful…. I hope that Senator Obama will repudiate those remarks that were made by Congressman John Lewis, very unfair and totally inappropriate.
But Obama wants to stick to the issues
OBAMA: …now, I think the American people are less interested in our hurt feelings during the course of the campaign than addressing the issues that matter to them so deeply.
But McCain still wants his apology
MCCAIN: …again, I did not hear a repudiation of Congressman....
So fine, Obama will deviate, if that’s really what McCain wants…
OBAMA: I mean, look, if we want to talk about Congressman Lewis, who is an American hero, he, unprompted by my campaign, without my campaign's awareness, made a statement that he was troubled with what he was hearing at some of the rallies that your running mate was holding, in which all the Republican reports indicated were shouting, when my name came up, things like "terrorist" and "kill him," and that you're running mate didn't mention, didn't stop, didn't say "Hold on a second, that's kind of out of line."
MCCAIN: You've got to read what he said...
OBAMA: Let -- let -- let...
MCCAIN: (interrupting) You've got to read what he said.
OBAMA: Let me -- let me complete...
[And the debate continues in this vein for an unnecessarily length of time, during which Schieffer servs as an instigator every time McCain seems to lose steam.]
On what was Left Behind
OBAMA: I do think that it is important for the federal government to step up and help local school districts do some of the things they need to do. Now we tried to do this under President Bush. He put forward No Child Left Behind. Unfortunately, they left the money behind for No Child Left Behind.
Why to vote
SCHIEFFER: This concludes the final debate. I'm Bob Schieffer of CBS News, and I will leave you tonight with what my mother always said -- go vote now. It will make you feel big and strong.