The Vice Presidential Debate

October 4, 2008

Last night I watched the Vice-Presidential debate. So, before I move on to posting articles I’ve put on the backburner during the current news blitz that has gone on this past week or two, I have to make a few points about that debate.
First of all, I do feel like both candidates proceeded with politeness and dignity. This is worth noting, because if you watched the first debate between Obama and McCain, you must have noticed the total lack of eye-contact by McCain. He never looked Obama in the eye, he never really even looked straight at the moderator Jim Leherer either. While Obama was politely addressing McCain as “John,” which is common for senator-to-senator, McCain never called Obama by name and spent most of his time glaring and staring at the floor while Obama spoke. So, it was very nice to see both Senator Biden and Governor Palin treat each other with dignity.
The next important point worth noting is that the “meltdown” by Palin never occurred. Many of us who had seen her disastrous interview with Katie Couric thought there was at least a chance that Palin would stumble and err grievously. She maintained her composure and made no large, noticeable “screw-ups.”
But, I must say, although I felt after watching the Obama and McCain debate that both sides had stayed fairly well toe-to-toe debating the issues and that a clear victory was shaky for either candidate, I definitely feel that this VP debate ended with a clear winner-Joe Biden. I know that conservatives reading this will say that I feel this way because I’m a supporter of Obama and Biden already, and yes I do support them–I do share their viewpoints on most of the issues at hand. But simply looking at the debate in terms of arguments and points, it seems clear that Biden won. He kept his focus on McCain and the mistakes McCain has made. He pointed out specific plans that would help America with the economy, foreign policy and the environment. Biden never backed down from a question and he always had facts on his side. Palin supporters and people who feel that she “held her own” during the debate commended her for answering what she wanted to answer and for “controlling the conversation” at certain points–this is something I feel shows how Biden was superior. Quite often Palin would change the subject–if a question came about that she didn’t know the answer to, or if the answer would display the validity in the other side she skirted around the question; she changed the topic completely, quite often never addressing the actual question put forth. Palin resorted to “style” and “lingo” to prove her “just-like-your-neighbor” demeanor. “Joe Six-Pack,” “Darn right,” “Say it ain’t so, Joe,” “I was at a children’s soccer game,” “hockey mom,” and many other similar phrases poured out of her. She complained about “wall street greed and corruption” several times, and called the McCain ticket the “maverick” ticket a half dozen times. Biden turned the ‘maverick’ comments back at her by pointing out the fact that McCain has not been a maverick on the economy, on the war, on the environment and on practically any matter that actually matters to the American family. Seriously, which is more ‘maverick?’ Continuing the Bush tax system that gives the top 5 percent of the wealthiest Americans the biggest tax breaks or the alternative, the Obama/Biden plan to give the biggest tax cuts to the middle-class and taxing that top 5 percent more to cover the plan? Biden was even asked if taxing the wealthiest more is “class warfare,” and he correctly pointed out that where he is from, it’s just ‘fair.’ If you make $250,000 a year, even if you were taxed 8 percent of your total income each year, you would still make at least 150,00 a year more than many in the middle class– you can afford to be taxed more to help get the economy strong again, how can that not be fair? It makes sense that by giving the majority of Americans (the 95 percent that make below that $250,000 threshold) the most incentives and the best tax cuts, it will aid that 95 percent and the economy will grow again. If the majority of Americans are working, spending and prospering, the top 5 percent will probably do even better as a result. It’s much easier to see wealth ‘rising’ to the top and reaching the top 5 percent and thus benefiting them as well than it is to imagine the wealth of 5 percent “trickling down” to the rest of us– we’ve had that economic policy for years and it doesn’t work.

A few other things worth mentioning from the debate:
*Palin stated that by working with folks like Giuliani, Romney and Lieberman, McCain has shown how “diverse” and “bi-partisan” he is. Well, all of these people are very conservative and share the same basic political philosophies. Only one, Lieberman, is a Democrat, and he has always been a Democrat pretty much in name alone.
*There were two moments during the debates I felt disappointed. One, when asked if he would support equal rights for homosexuals in America, Biden responded with an enthusiastic “yes, of course,” and went on to mention that his ticket would work to implement policies that bring about the necessary equality, in working to ensure gays can receive medical benefits for partners, hospital visitation rights, etc. This was great, but when asked if he and Obama would ever suggest gay marriage he responded that they would definitely not. Well, Palin stated that she and McCain would “of course” want gays to have rights such as hospital visitation and would “be able to sign contracts” and such but emphatically stated that marriage was between “one man and one woman.” I think Palin wants to support only the gay rights she absolutely has to, but I feel Biden shied away a bit to maintain the support of moderates and conservatives. I think his stated plans with Obama for gay rights are great and I was proud of his positive and strong support. I think that Obama and Biden would be liable to support equality in all forms by allowing some sort of gay marriage if it weren’t such a “controversial” issue for middle America.
The other troubling moment was when the candidates discussed Israel and Palestine. “I’m glad we both love Israel, that’s something we have in common,” Palin said during the debates. The blind support of Israel as a nation is troubling not because Israel shouldn’t be our ally, but because we refuse to acknowledge any wrong-doing by them. Both Biden and Palin stated being strong Israel supporters. It’s considered in poor judgment to state anything else in American politics. But how can a man like Jimmy Carter, who knows more about the history and policies and politics of the middle east than any other modern American leader, be one of the only American speakers to come forward and acknowledge that wrong is being done on both sides of the Israel-Palestine conflict? How can his claim of Apartheid in Palestine be overlooked and ridiculed by so many when what is going on there can be called nothing but apartheid since the separation of the Palestinian people is apartheid by its very definition? This should not be considered racist to state–both Israel and Palestine have done wrong and both sides must be brought together to provide peace for that region.

Anyway, many people said that Palin “tied” in the debates simply by not making any major blunders. So not embarrassing yourself in front of the American viewers is enough to “tie”? If that’s so, we are in very sorry shape as far as standards go.

Okay, a break from current events for my next few posts. In honor of the rapidly approaching Halloween season I plan to post an article about the best in Horror Films and Books of all time. I also plan to post the article I promised a few blogs back, the “Why I Loath Wal-Mart and What Can be Done” piece.

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