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Presidential Debate #1

  1. McCain won by a large margin

    0 vote(s)
  2. McCain won but it was close

    9 vote(s)
  3. Obama won by a large margin

    10 vote(s)
  4. Obama won but it was close

    12 vote(s)
  5. It was a tie

    7 vote(s)
  1. Sep 26, 2008 #1

    Ivan Seeking

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  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 26, 2008 #2


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    Simply put Obama was the more Presidential. Petulant McCain did himself little good by often not addressing the actual question. Obama seemed much better tuned into the actual questions and engaged in the discussion.

    I think the country has a number of difficult decisions to be made and I think Obama is an honest broker and likely to make more thoughtful decisions than McCain who can't be trusted given his history with banking interests and the disasters they have dragged the country into fueling their greed and of course his Manichean view of foreign policy.

    I think we need thoughtful decisions and artful compromises and that's just not the way McCain comes off.
  4. Sep 27, 2008 #3

    Ivan Seeking

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    I voted Obama by a large margin, but McCain had his moments. I think Obama really hammered him on tax breaks for the oil companies, early Iraq, and McCain's support of Bush ecnomomics. And most important of all, Obama called him on his many lies and misrepresentations of what Obama has said or plans to do. Hopefully people could see that McCain was telling one lie after another; even during the debate! And clarifying that almost everyone will see a tax break under Obamas plan, was crucial. Driving home McCain's continued favoritism for the oil companies was gold. Making the distinction between tax brackets, and the actual taxes paid, was Platinum.

    McCain definitely had the advantage in regards to the surge, but he handled it in such a way that it didn't seem to help him much.

    Biden pointed out the while McCain accused Obama of not understanding the difference between a strategy and a tactic, in fact McCain was incorrect. The surge was a tactic designed to support the overall strategy of enabling political advances so the Iraqis can run their own country.
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2008
  5. Sep 27, 2008 #4
    Obama took that debate. McCain definately shows that he is experienced, competent and able, but we all want a little more vigor in our prez. He pointed at his accomplishments and experience instead of answering the questions directly. I don't agree much with Obama's ideals but as far is the debate went, Obama won it IMO. In these debates it's not so much as to what the answer is as it is how you answer the questions.
  6. Sep 27, 2008 #5


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    No, Ivan, McCain was correct (I didn't watch the debate - I assume you represented it correctly). A tactic is what a small unit does on the battlefield. A strategy is what an entire military force does. In short: tactical=win the battle, strategic=win the war.

    The simplest example is the Vietnam war. The US won virtually every battle, and by a large margin. But the strategic plan of the NVA/VC was not tactical victory, it was strategic victory through attrition and PR. So they won the war.

    These terms came from the military, but are applied in business now as well. A google of "tactical strategic definition" provides many relevant hits. Here's a very good one:
    He actually adds a third level between the two (not the way I was taught), but it doesn't change the basic point.

    Note: the surge is but one piece of the strategy. But that doesn't make it a tactic.

    [edit] [from the google] It appears that liberal bloggers, in an attempt to downplay the success of the surge, are calling it a 'tactical success but a strategic failure'. So perhaps that's what you and Obama are responding to. It's an effective argument. Wrong, but effective nonetheless.
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2008
  7. Sep 27, 2008 #6


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    One thing that I really noticed was how McCain very rarely looked at Obama, either when he was addressing, or being addressed. Obama would constantly look over at McCain when he was directly addressing him. McCain didn't seem to grasp the idea of the debate, instead wanting to answer the questions directly to the chair. Also, not once did McCain look into the camera and address the viewers: Obama would do so frequently. This is only a small thing but, to me at least, speaks volumes. I could never trust someone who doesn't look the person/people they are talking to in the eye.
  8. Sep 27, 2008 #7
    Did McCain just link Obama with the Bush administration?
  9. Sep 27, 2008 #8
    As a republican and an Arizona resident I've tried to like McCain but I can't do it. I just hope that Obama hasn't got me fooled. I'm sick of presidents I don't respect. Bush is a joke, Clinton was as two-faced as they come. I wouldn't have trusted either of them with a key to my apartment. I think, I hope, Obama might give honesty a try in the White House.
  10. Sep 27, 2008 #9
    For a Democrat to be proclaimed a "winner" by the talking heads, there has to be one of two preconditions:

    1. Either the Republican candidate was a bumbling idiot, like Bush in 2004 at the first debate.

    2. It has to be a complete blow out for the Democrat.

    Remember, in 2000 Bush won a debate because that while Gore appeared more knowledgeable about the issues, Bush was more "likable," and therefore he won. So it's an uphill battle for the Democrats.

    These preconditions will change if polls continually show that Americans think Obama won, but I think the talking heads will try and convince Americans he lost. This will probably happen with the next debates as well.

    With regards to the surge, I don't think Obama tried to effectively refute that at all, or at least be cautious about it.

    General David Petraeus himself has said that Iraq remains fragile -- probably because of the large amount of civil war style sectarian violence that is going on (and that's why US troop deaths are down), and that a several areas are still effectively under marshall law -- and he also said the gains are ""not irreversible."

    Obama could have pointed out that we've been told before that we're "winning in Iraq" only to have another large uprising of extremists in various regions of Iraq and then when the US goes in there and clears them all out, they just tend to come back again (in that way, he could make his point that its our precense there that's causing the violence so our being there is not necessary).

    He could have pointed out that Nouri al-Maliki already wants us out of Iraq, and if the surged worked, why does the US maintain well over one-hundred thousand troops in Iraq, troops that could be used in Afghanistan? This would corroborate the point that Obama was making about the need to go into Afghanistan. The violence is down, but only compared to the blood bath that occurred two years ago - Iraq is still one of the most dangerous places in the world.

    With regards to Iran, they ALREADY have an influence in Iraq and Iran supports the current government in Iraq as they see it as a leading coalition of Shia like parties. The fighting in Sadr City and Basra between the Mehdi army and the Iraq government was brought to an end by Iranian interference, and Jalal Talabani played a role in organizing the ceasefires in Basra and Baghadad via Qassem Suleimani. The Iranian influence is stronger than ever in Iraq and their goal is to keep the current Shia backed government in power as they know it is the reasonable way for maintain their influence, so they do not want the situation to overboil nor do they want to see an intra-shia Civil war between the Sadrists and the ISCI.

    So if McCain wins and acts as if the US is the sole decision maker in Iraq he will face increased insurgency resitence and an Iran that will refuse to be marganizled.

    Obama had the chance to explain that the situation in Iraq is not what McCain makes it out to be and he really didn't do that - perhaps because he doesn't want to be seen as "too intellectual." Supposedly, though, he has training in International Relations and is supposedly a candidate of the head, not the heart, so I feel it was a missed opportunity for Obama to take on the McCain propaganda.
  11. Sep 27, 2008 #10
    This is also because of the fact that Sunni Arabs are now taking on al-Qaida in several areas as well.

    I like this piece recently from the Independent:


    You also have to take in the fact that several areas are effectively under martial law and they can't last for ever. The Nineveh looks like Lebanon, very divided, even among different sects of the same religion and/or ethnic group.

    And John McCain is a guy who wrote in his book that he still believes Vietnam could have been won if we continued to drop more bombs on cities and continued to bomb them into submission.

    This is a man who after he was shot down was actually saved from drowning by several Vietnamese villagers (would citizens in the US save someone who was just bombing our country via airplanes who had been shotdown) - who has later referred to the Vietnamese as "gooks."

    Obama missed an opportunity to expose McCain's wrongheaded aggressive stances and his neo-con, Hawkish policies.
  12. Sep 27, 2008 #11


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    Obama could have raised the issue of the cost of the war - the fact that it is based on supplemental spending (not part of the budget) - and the apparent fact (which I'm trying to verify) that the US government is spending more (greater than 50%) on private contractors (paramilitary, mercenary, . . . personnel) than on US military.

    I'd ask McCain, why the US government has 'cut', not increased, support to veterans. Last I heard, the Senate had yet to restore the recent cuts to veterans health care.

    The idea of privatizing the military (with companies like Blackwater) was to save money. But it didn't save money - it just cost more. It also results in a lack of accountability and likely violates international law let alone the sovereignty of whatever country the US-sponsored paramilitary groups operate.

    And once the US military pulls out of Iraq/Afganistan, where do those 10's of thousands of paramilitary people go? Back to the US? Are they going to provide security to entities in the US - with automatic weapons? Or will Blackwater and others simply cut them loose?
  13. Sep 27, 2008 #12

    Ivan Seeking

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    I was quoting Biden. And from what I see, you have said nothing to refute the context.
  14. Sep 27, 2008 #13
    this is America. don't worry we'll start a fight with someone else by then
  15. Sep 27, 2008 #14

    Ivan Seeking

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    It sounds like you and I judge people by much the same means: Look for key indicators of the quality of one's character.

    His constant misrepresentations of Obama's position is another point that has really caught my attention. He doesn't just spin, he lies. I went into this election having a great deal of respect for McCain, but he has all but destroyed my opinion of him. His public ridicule of an eigthteen year old girl [Clinton daughter] also really threw me. I wouldn't have expected such behavior from McCain. I thought he was better than that.
  16. Sep 27, 2008 #15
    I was impressed with the way Obama would say "John..." but McCain always said "Senator Obama..."
    I REALLY like Obama's tone
  17. Sep 27, 2008 #16


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    That mannerism made McCain look shifty, IMO. I think Obama came out on top by a substantial margin. He didn't knock it out of the park, but he ended up looking more thoughtful and honest, and we certainly need both of those qualities in a President after the past 8 years of having neither.
  18. Sep 27, 2008 #17
    20 years. It's been AT LEAST 20 years.
  19. Sep 27, 2008 #18


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    Well ... I know you may want to paint Clinton as dishonest. And about some of the personal aspects of his life, I can't defend his choices. But I surely empathize with the situation he would have been in. But for the zeal of the overly moralistic Right Wing, there but for the Grace of Chance most anyone may have gone. I think he is on the whole a person of good heart, with genuine concerns for others and in his best moments has appealed to the best in people.

    While Reagan may have personally lived more of a clean life in his White House years, his appeal in my opinion was more to the selfish in people. I would like to think that Americans are better than Reagan's appeal to the more acquisitive side of human nature.

    The Bushes have been at their best pedantic and uninspiring, with Bush Senior at least being tolerably educated and intelligent. I can only think that George Jr was dropped on his head as a baby or something and is more the tool of Cheney and Rove and those that are nominally supposed to work for him, than he has been a leader with any vision or persuasive authority.
  20. Sep 27, 2008 #19


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    Here is my analysis of the debate:

    Obama came off as being more in control of the facts and figures. Consistently, he pointed out when McCain was not being completely truthful and he did so immediately, even before McCain was done speaking. That said, Obama let McCain run away with the debate too much. They spent more time talking about what McCain wanted to talk about and this had Obama on the defensive a little too much.

    McCain definitely came out looking like the tough attack dog who has experience and can use it. As I said, he controlled the debate very well. This is good, but it also made him seem somewhat mean. His attacks on Obama, while nothing more than anyone expected, were presented in somewhat condescending ways. When he criticized Obama, he would say "Sen. Obama does not get it." or "Sen. Obama is wrong." all the time referring to Obama in the third person. While saying this, he did not look at Obama either. He looked at Jim Lehrer or the camera.

    Obama, on the other hand, looked at McCain when he attacked him. he referred to McCain in the second person, i.e. "You were wrong." Thus, by comparison, McCain came off as condescending, cold, and seemed to avoid his opponent in the debate, while Obama attacked directly and did not sound condescending in his speech or actions.

    Overall, the winner of the debate will not be determined by who had a better command of the facts (Obama) or who was able to control the course of the debate (McCain). It will be determined by the impressions the candidates gave to the voters.

    Impressions I got from Obama:

    Respectful and direct in his attacks.
    Calm and Collected.
    Knew what he was talking about.

    Impressions from McCain:

    Takes Control very easily
    Indirect and condescending in his attack style.
    Avoided the actual questions more so than Obama.

    Honestly, I don't think the debate did much to break the status quo, which is worse for McCain than Obama. But the winner will be determined by what the people think, in other words by the polls. The CNN and CBS polls seem to show most people thinking Obama won, but of course not many people were polled yet.
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2008
  21. Sep 27, 2008 #20


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    I wonder if McCain isn't like a child who has just found out that lying seems to work in the short run, and still looks shifty and guilty about it. After all, he used to be an honest guy until recently, so hasn't learned to pretend well yet.
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