A Newb’s Perspective on the First Presidential Debate
On Friday night Jackie and I decided to forgo getting drunk and opted to watch the Presidential Debate instead! We joined our Political Communication class in the Dever Auditorium (located on campus at Westfield State College) where the debate was being aired on a big screen. The communication course is taught by Professor Tom Gardner, a longtime activist and Bunt girl favorite.
Westfield State professor David Smailes gave the audience a talk before the debate began. He asked us what we hoped to get out of watching the debate. Jackie answered the question (good job Jack-Jack!) and then immediately regressed to age seven. She took her shoes off, put her feet up and loudly whispered to me, “is this inappropriate?” God yes, Jackie.
Anyway, Smailes got me thinking. What do I hope to get out of this debate? Well, I’m not very politically informed. My parents are democrats, so I say I’m a democrat. I know the basics about both McCain and Obama but when it comes to the finer details of their policies I’m fuzzy as a peach. But maybe this newbie approach is what the readers of Buntology need. Somebody who is taking the candidates’ arguments at face value.
OK, here we go.
Jim Lehrer jibber jabbers. Introduces candidates. McCain and Obama talk for about five minutes and already Jackie is being annoying. She keeps whispering that she wants candy and “Barrack Obama is so hott!” I’m legit about to move my seat.
First question: Where do you stand on the financial recovery plan?
Obama talks first. Damn, he is hot. He seems a bit nervous, though. He’s definitely trying to bust the stereotype that he doesn’t do a good job speaking off-the-cuff but still seems a little rigid.
“…I’ve put forward a series of proposals that make sure that we protect taxpayers as we engage in this important rescue effort. Number one, we’ve got to make sure that we’ve got oversight over this whole process; $700 billion, potentially, is a lot of money. Number two, we’ve got to make sure that taxpayers, when they are putting their money at risk, have the possibility of getting that money back and gains, if the market — and when the market returns. Number three, we’ve got to make sure that none of that money is going to pad CEO bank accounts or to promote golden parachutes. And, number four, we’ve got to make sure that we’re helping homeowners, because the root problem here has to do with the foreclosures that are taking place all across the country.”
McCain is emo right off the bat. “I’m not feeling too well tonight…” Something about Kennedy in the hospital. Way to play the fatal illness card, McCain.
“And I do have a sad note tonight. Senator Kennedy is in the hospital. He’s a dear and beloved friend to all of us. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the lion of the Senate.”
McCain goes on to answer the question. I think?
“I’ve been not feeling too great about a lot of things lately. So have a lot of Americans who are facing challenges. But I’m feeling a little better tonight, and I’ll tell you why.
Because as we’re here tonight in this debate, we are seeing, for the first time in a long time, Republicans and Democrats together, sitting down, trying to work out a solution to this fiscal crisis that we’re in.
And have no doubt about the magnitude of this crisis. And we’re not talking about failure of institutions on Wall Street. We’re talking about failures on Main Street, and people who will lose their jobs, and their credits, and their homes, if we don’t fix the greatest fiscal crisis, probably in — certainly in our time, and I’ve been around a little while. But the point is — the point is, we have finally seen Republicans and Democrats sitting down and negotiating together and coming up with a package.”
Get to it, get to it.
“This package has transparency in it. It has to have accountability and oversight. It has to have options for loans to failing businesses, rather than the government taking over those loans. We have to — it has to have a package with a number of other essential elements to it.”
McCain farts around for a little while longer and finally says that we need to create more jobs and eliminate foreign dependency on oil. Ding ding ding!
So after the first question McCain leads Obama on the Verbal Diarrhea scale with a 1-0 score.
Once the debate wheels start turning Lehrer encourages the candidates to not be pussies and look at one another when they are addressing the other person. They are both being little babies. Finally Obama starts acting like a real man. He is like, angrily staring at McCain as he talks (without moving his upper lip. McCain never friggin moves his upper lip!!!)
What’s all this chatter about Wall Street and Main Street. What ever happened to Easy Street?
For the next half an hour…
McCain “Blah blah blah.” *upper lip unmoving*
Obama “Blah blah blah, that’s not true, blah blah blah, that’s just not true.”
Verbal Diarrhea continues for a while longer…
I just hope amongst all this mouth dookie somebody uses the expression pork barrel spending. Instead, McCain makes some weird metaphor for an old pen. I think it was the kind that you press down on a piece of paper and it makes a huge ink spot. I hate those pens because it always ends badly when I use them during a class I’m bored in. Kind of like being bored in the shower with scissors. Bye bye bangs.
“We Republicans came to power to change government, and government changed us. And the — the worst symptom on this disease is what my friend, Tom Coburn, calls earmarking as a gateway drug, because it’s a gateway. It’s a gateway to out-of-control spending and corruption. And we have former members of Congress now residing in federal prison because of the evils of this earmarking and pork-barrel spending.”
YYYYES! I don’t know what pork-barrel spending is exactly, but I just picture a pig with money in his ear. Oink oink, Republican Party.
McCain calls Obama out and accuses him of $932 million in requests for pork-barrel projects during his time in the Senate.
“Now, Senator Obama didn’t mention that, along with his tax cuts, he is also proposing some $800 billion in new spending on new programs. Now, that’s a fundamental difference between myself and Senator Obama. I want to cut spending. I want to keep taxes low. The worst thing we could do in this economic climate is to raise people’s taxes.”
Oooh! Obama with the rebuttle!
“I — I don’t know where John is getting his figures. Let’s just be clear. What I do is I close corporate loopholes, stop providing tax cuts to corporations that are shipping jobs overseas so that we’re giving tax breaks to companies that are investing here in the United States. I make sure that we have a health care system that allows for everyone to have basic coverage. I think those are pretty important priorities. And I pay for every dime of it.”
Obama is so cool and hot and confident. McCain is so nervous and jumpy and sweaty, like he is losing his V-card or having some other equally awkward sexual encounter.
Lehrer asks the candidates “What are you going to have to give up, in terms of the priorities that you would bring as president of the United States, as a result of having to pay for the financial rescue plan?”
Obama: “There are things we needs and things we have to have.” He then goes into a long speech about his energy plan but never really answers the question.
McCain: “We have to cut spending.” Doh. Being prez seems so easy.
More verbal diarrhea and none of Lehrer’s attempts at getting the candidates to focus more on the question are helpful. I feel like I’m watching Celebrity Jeopardy on SNL and the contestants just refuse to understand the question.
Oh and during this question about spending, Obama finally brings up Iraq. Talk about the elephant in the room. Or should I say camel?
“Let me tell you another place to look for some savings. We are currently spending $10 billion a month in Iraq when they have a $79 billion surplus. It seems to me that if we’re going to be strong at home as well as strong abroad, that we have to look at bringing that war to a close.”
$10 mill a month! What?!?!
McCain with the rebuttle:
“Look, we are sending $700 billion a year overseas to countries that don’t like us very much. Some of that money ends up in the hands of terrorist organizations. We have to have wind, tide, solar, natural gas, flex fuel cars and all that but we also have to have offshore drilling and we also have to have nuclear power.”
I wonder what the terrorists are spending the money on. Clothes, DVDs, Burger King… the possibilities are endless.
A few minutes later Obama used the phrase “orgy of spending.” SOLD.
Ugh, if McCain makes one more joke about not being voted Miss Congeniality. You’re not Sandra Bullock, you’re not a maverick. You’re stifled!
They’re talking about the war now. Apparently we’re winning. Obama is getting so pissed. There are so many shit eating grins being passed back and forth I can’t deal.
Who is this General Petraeus everyone keeps talking about. It’s like he’s important or something.
McCain says some stuff, Obama keeps saying “that’s not true, that’s not true.”
My attention span is starting to wane…
McCain’s voice reminds me of somebody… hmm… oh yea he sounds like Casey Kasum, host of the American Top 20 countdown. “And now, number five on the countdown…pork-barrel spending!”
The candidates talk about how to deal with Afghanistan and the war.
“We should end this war responsibly, we should do it in phases,” said Obama.
Meanwhile McCain thinks we are winning the war and that we need more time in Iraq so that our “plan” is successful. Rome wasn’t built in a day people!!!
McCain then busts into a story. Everybody loves a digression!
“I’d like to tell you, two Fourths of July ago I was in Baghdad. General Petraeus invited Senator Lindsey Graham and me to attend a ceremony where 688 brave young Americans, whose enlistment had expired, were reenlisting to stay and fight for Iraqi freedom and American freedom.
I was honored to be there. I was honored to speak to those troops. And you know, afterwards, we spent a lot of time with them. And you know what they said to us? They said, let us win. They said, let us win. We don’t want our kids coming back here.”
McCain says something about “having some straight talk” which is ironic because he just told a story about some lady giving him a bracelet in honor of her son who was killed in combat outside of Baghdad. His long wistful stories remind me of my Grandma who talks the exact same way. Grandma I know you passed your driving test “with flying colors” and McCain I know you were a P.O.W. now shush.
Apparently Obama has a bracelet too. Wtf. I want a bracelet! Gimme gimme gimme!
OK so I just napped for about a half an hour. Sorry Gardner! Am I an asshole or are the candidates just boring? Did anybody say pork-barrel spending while I was asleep?
What do you think the likelihood is that there would be another 9/11-type attack on the continental United States?
McCain? “I think it’s much less than it was the day after 9/11. I think it — that we have a safer nation, but we are a long way from safe.”
Alright, keep talking…
“And I want to tell you that one of the things I’m most proud of, among others, because I have worked across the aisle. I have a long record on that, on a long series of reforms. But after 9/11, Senator Joe Lieberman and I decided that we needed a commission, and that was a commission to investigate 9/11, and find out what happened, and fix it.”
DON’T CARE. NEXT!!!
“It is important for us to understand that the way we are perceived in the world is going to make a difference, in terms of our capacity to get cooperation and root out terrorism. And one of the things that I intend to do as president is to restore America’s standing in the world. We are less respected now than we were eight years ago or even four years ago. We have weakened our capacity to project power around the world because we have viewed everything through this single lens, not to mention, look at our economy. We are now spending $10 billion or more every month.”
Fo’ sho. We gotta spread our wings, America. It’s time for you to find yourself!
The two wrap the debate up by telling a few more anecdotes. Did you know that John McCain was a veteran? Either way. I’m tired, you’re tired, Jim Lehrer is tired. Let’s call it a night, shall we?
Click here to watch the debate for yourself & be sure to watch the Vice Presidential Debate on Thursday, October 2nd. For those of you who attend Westfield State College the debate will be aired in the Ely Lounge at 8:30 PM.