When They Go Low, So Do We: The Final Presidential Debate


Campaign 2016 Debate, Las Vegas, USA - 19 Oct 2016

I came to this final presidential debate not looking for more proof that Trump was despicable. I came looking for more reasons to feel some measure of hope about voting for Hillary. And at the beginning of the debate, I got some of that. But it didn’t last long.

You see, this is where it all falls apart for me. It’s clear to most any liberal person that Trump is a liar, an egomaniac, a fascist-dictator wannabe, a misogynist, a racist, shockingly uninformed, and a serious threat. That’s what was obvious, has been, and continues to be. So for me it’s easy to post repeatedly about the horror-show that continues to be Donald Trump.

What seems more difficult and what I wish we would also see, are those same people posting about how Hillary wouldn’t answer the direct question placed to her about the contents of the Wikileaks emails. She turned the conversation, once again and without missing a breath, to the Russians. Forget for a moment that the new Cold War rhetoric being expressed recently is disturbing in its own right and needs to be watched closely. The truth of the matter is that these are two separate conversations. The question was about the content of the emails, not their origin. If you’re willing to overlook the content and her direct refusal to address it, that’s a problem for me. No one gets a free pass because Trump is despicable. And no one – and that includes Hillary’s most devoted supporters – should be okay with it.  Continue reading “When They Go Low, So Do We: The Final Presidential Debate”

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When They Go Low, So Do We: The Final Presidential Debate

McCain Adopts Reagan Approach. Fails: Town Hall Debate


It seemed to me tonight that John McCain decided the best way to reach Americans was to stroke their egos; tell them things will be okay because Americans can do ANYTHING and remind them how great they are. Ronald Reagan made an art of telling Americans exactly what they wanted to hear, even when it was an outright lie. But it was comforting. People wanted to believe it. But McCain’s no Ronald Reagan, despite his admiration for the man. He may subscribe to many of Reagan’s policies, but he has none of the charisma and charm that got Reagan so far and started us down the misguided path that lead us to where we are today.

McCain appeared, at times, doddering and old. He had some strong-ish moments, but they were undermined by moments of confusion and a clear disdain and disregard for his opponent that is simply unattractive. He also felt a need to repeat accusations that Obama put to rest in the last debate. Like claiming Obama does not support nuclear power. McCain also seems to think that Obama not supporting the Troop Surge is some kind of trump card. Most Americans didn’t support the Surge! He’s telling them they were wrong, too! It’s an odd tactic given that the reason for the Surge was to clean up a mess created by George Bush and overwhelmingly supported by McCain. It really works against him to keep bringing it up. But this is one of the problems here. McCain has very little to go on. He talks about his record, but his record suggest he supported most of the causes of the current financial crisis and military crisis. And his suggested strategies for “change” is to continue those very same policies! I also find it odd that McCain thought the notion of NOT raising taxes, particularly for the 0.1 percent wealthiest Americans, was a good idea given the current economic crisis and the fact that we’re currently engaged in two very expensive wars. It doesn’t take a politician to know that someone has to pay for what’s happened here. Obama was right in talking about raising the taxes of those LEAST affected by this economic crisis, like Sen. McCain and himself, as Mr. Obama fearlessly noted.

Now we know I’m biased here, but Obama not only appeared more presidential to me, but his answers and solutions made so much sense and were about all the things that actually make America great; a way of thinking, a true desire to be a leader in the world and not an aggressor. For anyone actually listening–and I hope there were many–Obama outlined a path that could, if followed, return America to the country that people like Reagan and McCain talk about in imagery as they stroke our egos and appeal to our desires, but work against with every policy and every action.

But there are enough people out there who are still suffering from a form of Victim Mentality, something I talked about in an earlier post after the first debate. To invest yourself so deeply in someone or something, to put your trust in someone or something–a person, a government– to even invest your money into it, and then have all the facts point to a reality that you were mislead, lied to, deceived, betrayed in every way… For many people, this is too horrible a thought, too painful a notion to actually embrace. So, against better judgement, they fight even more ferociously in support of that which has hurt them. There is a need to believe it was not in vein, that what was promised IS real and that if they just stick to the path, see it through… I believe this victim mentality is largely to blame for George W. Bush’s reelection. In the face of all the proof, all the death, all the lies, enough people weren’t ready to admit to themselves that they had been taken advantage of, that someone had used and abused their deepest desires, wishes and fears and used those against them. Hopefully, four years later, more people have come to understand the truth, have learned to accept it, no matter how painful, and are ready to take action to right the wrongs that have been made and start the healing process. It will not be easy, and it places a great burden on Barack Obama to do right by the people that elect him, people who are now skittish and afraid to trust. But there is no chance of moving forward without trust. For those who trust McCain and continue to trust Bush, the healing will take a very long time. Perhaps, it will never happen.

As for the debate itself, the Town Hall format was always considered John McCain’s strength. He asked Obama several times to join him in earlier Town Hall format debates. Obama refused each time. And so John McCain’s opening remarks contained a cheap shot at Sen. Obama about this. It was a big mistake that set the tone for the rest of McCain’s evening. However, Barack Obama seemed clearly comfortable in this setting, more so than McCain who came across inauthentic, saying “my friends” far too often while trying to appear casual when, in fact, he appeared a little uncomfortable and “forced”. Not to mention condescending.

I will give Sen. McCain one credit, though. He never mentioned Ayers, Wright or Rezko.

If I had one criticism of the debate itself, it would be Tom Brokaw’s somewhat unprofessional behavior. He seemed to take the candidates talking over their time limits personally, instead of finding a way to adapt to the needs of the debate. His clear frustration and anger at both candidates created a tension that did not need to be there. He became condescending and clearly annoyed. I was also less-than-thrilled with his pick of questions. There are better moderators out there somewhere. Why can’t we use them?

Now let’s move on and see what the early polls are saying.

CNN focus group: Obama wins 54 percent to McCain’s 30.

NBC’s focus group of undecided Pennsylvania voters: Obama 60 percent, McCain 40 percent.

Frank Luntz’s focus group, over at Fox: undecided voters leaned towards Obama because of his position on health care.

CBS’s focus group of independents: Obama with 39 percent to McCain’s 27 percent, with 35 percent of the respondents saying it was a tie.

Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, a Democratic polling firm: undecideds leaning to Obama by a margin of 42 percent to McCain’s 24 percent.

SurveyUSA interviewed 741 debate watchers in the state of Washington: 54 percent thought Obama was the “clear winner” with McCain at 29 percent.

Even Bill Bennett, an American neoconservative pundit, politician, and political theorist who served as United States Secretary of Education from 1985 to 1988, was disappointed by McCain’s performance tonight:

It is widely considered that tonight’s debate needed to be a game-changer for McCain. It seems clear that it was not. So even for those that considered tonight’s debate a tie, it wasn’t enough to alter the direction of this election.

So what are others saying?

Katherine Q. Seelye of The New York Times:

Here, Mr. Obama has a star turn — on foreign policy, Mr. McCain’s supposed turf. Mr. Obama is more forceful than usual, and makes the hunt for Osama bin Laden his singular focus.

The Atlantic‘s Andrew Sullivan:

This was, I think, a mauling: a devastating and possibly electorally fatal debate for McCain. Even on Russia, he sounded a little out of it. I’ve watched a lot of debates and participated in many. I love debate and was trained as a boy in the British system to be a debater. I debated dozens of times at Oxofrd. All I can say is that, simply on terms of substance, clarity, empathy, style and authority, this has not just been an Obama victory. It has been a wipe-out.It has been about as big a wipe-out as I can remember in a presidential debate. It reminds me of the 1992 Clinton-Perot-Bush debate. I don’t really see how the McCain campaign survives this.

National Review‘s Andy McCarthy:

We have a disaster here — which is what you should expect when you delegate a non-conservative to make the conservative (nay, the American) case. We can parse it eight ways to Sunday, but I think the commentary is missing the big picture…

…With due respect, I think tonight was a disaster for our side. I’m dumbfounded that no one else seems to think so. Obama did everything he needed to do, McCain did nothing he needed to do. What am I missing?

The Atlantic‘s Ross Douthat:

I’d call tonight’s debate a draw, which if the dynamic from the first debate holds probably means it was a big win for Obama… Obama was unruffled and consistent – change vs. more of the same, change vs. more of the same, rinse and repeat – and for whatever it’s worth the physical and generational contrast between the two men was very striking in this setting, and especially in the early going McCain seemed to me be showing his age as he delivered his answers. He improved as the night went on, but the vigor gap was palpable.

Taegan Goddard‘s Political Wire:

Tonight’s debate wasn’t even close. Sen. Barack Obama ran away with it — particularly when speaking about the economy and health care… Obama was more substantive, showed more compassion and was more presidential.

In contrast, Sen. John McCain was extremely erratic. Sometimes he was too aggressive (referring to Obama as “that one.”) Other times, he just couldn’t answer the question (on how he would ask Americans to sacrifice.).

The Huffington Post’s Robert Shrum:

The big story tonight: Americans are becoming increasingly comfortable with the idea of President Obama. The “other,” as the Republicans labored to paint him, now comes across as reassuring, a strong and steady hand in a crisis, possessed of that grace under pressure that Americans prize in a president. Obama had it again tonight.

Slate.com’s John Dickerson:

The Winner: “That One.” After their second debate was over, both Barack Obama and John McCain shook hands with the Nashville audience of 80 uncommitted voters. Both were well-received. But Obama stayed longer, and with McCain out of the room, the affection from the swing voters increased. He was mobbed, patted, beamed at, embraced. One woman wiggled next to him. At one point, about 15 voters posed for a group picture like it was the last day of camp…These uncommitted voters wanted to be next to Barack Obama, and the adulation from the audience helps explain why he won the debate. 

Salon.com’s Joan Walsh:

Barack Obama dominated this debate from the very first question John McCain fielded directly, when he condescended to the African-American questioner, a young man named Oliver, who asked how the $700 billion rescue plan passed last week would help the average American. McCain first implied that Oliver and other regular voters wouldn’t know that much about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, then went into the misleading Fannie/Freddie claims…

…Obama came up and broke down exactly how the rescue plan will theoretically (ignore the stock market) help the economy and American voters. Much of the rest of the night went like that. After rather inexplicably telling the audience that “energy independence” was the most important step the country can take to quickly solve the current economic crisis (when most experts agree energy independence will take decades), McCain a few moments later told moderator Tom Brokaw he couldn’t pick a priority among energy, healthcare reform and fixing entitlement programs. It was like he wasn’t tracking his own answers.

CNN’s Wolf Blitzer:

“It’s apparent to say that Sen. McCain has some disdain, I think it’s fair to say, for Sen. Obama. That was very apparent throughout the course of this debate.”

Slate.com’s Fred Kaplan:

Finally, McCain’s baffling statement: “I’ll get Osama Bin Laden, my friends. I know how to get him. I know how to do it.” This is reminiscent of Richard Nixon’s secret plan to win the war in Vietnam—except that McCain belongs to the same party as the current president. If McCain knows how to do this, shouldn’t he have told George W. Bush?

Here are the results of Newsweek‘s Live Blogging poll:

So I’ll leave you now with a great Obama moment from tonight’s debate. It was one of many:

McCain Adopts Reagan Approach. Fails: Town Hall Debate

Joe Biden vs. Ned Flanders: The Debates Continue


Despite the forewarnings in my post yesterday that Sarah Palin might very well do better than expected, I have to confess to feeling quite worried during the first 15 minutes of tonight’s Vice Presidential debate. Partly because Sarah Palin was pulling out her best “Soccer Mom” references, but also because Joe Biden wasn’t doing what Joe Biden does best. He seemed more like a lawyer, more reigned in than usual. And I’m sure this had to do with his desire to be succinct, professional and not at all condescending to Gov. Palin. But thank God as the debate continued, America got to see the passionate, articulate and extremely intelligent man Joe Biden is. Now it’s been said that Americans don’t respond well to someone who seems “too smart” (more on that later), but I thought Sen. Biden allowed us to see the man behind the intellect, something I have always admired about him.

As for Sarah Palin, I believe she did about as good as she could possibly do. And by that I mean she didn’t appear like a deer in headlights, she didn’t find herself at a loss for words, and she didn’t faint outright. But, as friend and fellow blogger Christian Divine pointed out, she was really just Ned Flanders. Without the sincerity.

Palin stuck to her script, didn’t answer the questions she was asked, and played in to her soccer mom persona in perfect 70’s Disney fashion. And what was with all that winking?

There were so many moments from this debate that stuck out for me. But I think it was Sarah Palin’s comment on believing that the office of vice president should have more power that most worried me. That and insultingly calling Obama and Biden’s plans for an eventual withdrawal from Iraq a “waving the white flag of surrender.” Luckily, it seems most people didn’t buy that line for a second as indicated by CNN’s reaction meter of Ohio uncommitted voters:

Dial Line stays flat, flat, flat. Biden touts Obama’s plan, the dial line shoots up. Especially at the idea of Iraqis taking responsibility. Women especially like the idea of the Iraqis spending their own money. Timetables get tepid support. Palin’s accusation that Obama and Biden are waving the “white flag of surrender” sends the line plummeting… 

Following the debate, only one member of the focus group said they had decided to support the McCain-Palin ticket based on the debate; a half-dozen or more said they would now back Obama and Biden.

However, GOP pollster Frank Luntz asked his focus group on FOX (which was, one should note, sponsored by Budweiser, owned by Anheuser-Busch, of which Cindy McCain’s Hensley company is the third largest distributor), and the results were overwhelmingly in Palin’s favor. So who were these people and how could they possibly walk away believing Sarah Palin actually won this debate? Let’s take a look:

But thankfully, this seems to be quite the anomaly and not in keeping with most of the polls so far.

The CBS Focus Group claims Biden the winner with early numbers from a nationally representative poll of 473 uncommitted voters give Biden a more than significant edge: 46 percent say he won compared to 21 percent for Palin. 33 percent said it was a tie.

After the debate, 66 percent see Palin as knowledgeable about important issues – up from 43 percent before the debate. But Biden still has the advantage on this – 98 percent saw him as knowledgeable after the debate. That figure was 79 percent before the debate.

Once again, 64th United States Secretary of State Madeleine Albright had this to say about tonight’s debate:

On question after question, [Joe Biden] demonstrated knowledge, careful thought, and a willingness to make hard decisions. And with every answer, he vindicated Senator Obama’s judgment and showed why he is considered one of our nation’s wisest and most experienced leaders.

He was equally at home with global and local issues, demonstrated an amazing grasp of facts, and gave proof that he is prepared to be a partner who will contribute much as vice-president to solving our nation’s problems.

Americans could not help but conclude that any president would be stronger and more confident with Joe Biden by his side.

Let’s take a look at what else is being said and by whom:

CNN’s Bill SchneiderPalin’s answers do not lack confidence, they lack coherence.

Torie Clarke, who worked with McCain back in Arizona and with the Bush Administration’s Department of Defense, had the following remarks on ABC: I’m so surprised at what we are talking about before and after the debate. Before the debate the speculation was all on Sarah Palin, how well can she do, can she answer the tough questions? Nobody was paying attention to Joe Biden. I think Joe Biden had his best night tonight. He came with one mission, and that was to go after John McCain, and he did it, backed up by facts. I think he did a better job tonight of tying McCain to the Bush administration than Obama did last week.

Matthew Dowd, who worked for George Bush’s communications team while in the White House: I think Sarah Palin did reasonably well. The death spiral she has been on for the last week, she survived. She’s lived another day. She did well. But I think, when the polls come out in the next two, three days, Joe Biden won this debate.

The New Republic’s Michael CrowleyBiden was about right–neither too hot nor too cold… [Palin] won’t be off the ticket, but there will be no second round of Palinmania, either. This was a highly entertaining cultural spectacle which probably won’t have much effect on a race that is now clearly Obama’s to lose.

Talking Points Memo’s Josh Marshall: ...basically a win for Biden because he just did a lot better and it’s Obama-Biden who want the trajectory of the race to stay as is. [Palin] made herself less of an embarrassment and gave core Republicans a reason to stop being embarrassed. But there were a bunch of flatly false or nonsensical things she said — and we’ll see those picked apart over the next few days.

Politico’s Ben SmithThough [Sarah Palin] was chosen for her emotional connection, she was the drier of the two candidates… Biden, meanwhile, was — as he should have been, given his experience and skill at this — a more effective presence, and a more lucid one. He effectively, and emotionally, used the forum to drive the Obama campaign’s core message that McCain isn’t the man for the economic moment. 

The Huffington Post’s Sam Stein: An Obama aide summarizes the night’s proceeding as such: Palin did a good job, as expected, but Biden was the star of the evening, hitting the right tones, coming off passionate and informed and not seeming demeaning in the slightest to his combatant.

Moreover, he adds, when you look back at the tape there was little to any substance in Palin’s answers.

“She could not articulate one place where her ticket differs from Bush,” he writes.

And then, of course, that Republican who pretended to be a Democrat, Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman: I think tonight is not a kind of final college exam. I think the point is who she is as a person…Whether she can answer every detailed question, I don’t think that ultimately matters to the American people so long as they think she passes those other personal thresholds.

As for debate gaffes by both candidates, USA TODAY’s Ken Dilanian and Richard Wolf reported these factual errors:

Tax votes

The claim: Palin said Sen. Barack Obama voted 94 times to increase taxes.

The facts: Non-partisan FactCheck.org called that count, which has been cited before by Republicans, “inflated and misleading.” Examining the 94 votes at issue, FactCheck.org found that 23 were for measures that would have produced no tax increase at all; they were against proposed tax cuts.

Seven were in favor of measures that would have lowered taxes for many, while raising them on a relative few, either corporations or affluent individuals, according to FactCheck.org, which is a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania.

The 94 tally includes two, three and even four votes on the same measure.

Tax rate changes

The claim: Palin said Obama’s plan to raise the top income tax rate would affect “millions of small businesses.” Biden responded that the vast majority of small businesses do not report more than $250,000 in income.

The facts: The liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, citing 2003 data from the non-partisan Tax Policy Center, said in a report that 436,000 tax filers with small-business income — 1.3% of the 32.8 million filers with small-business income — were subject to the top income tax rate. Another Tax Policy Center analysis concluded that “roughly 97% of small businesses would not be affected at all by increases in the top two tax rates.”

Len Burman, who runs the Tax Policy Center, said in an interview Thursday: “The vast majority of small businesses would not be affected by the Obama tax increases” because they are not in the top two tax brackets. He added, “Most small business owners have relatively modest incomes.”

Health care

The claim: Palin said Obama wants a “universal, government-run program” and “health care being taken over by the feds.”

The facts: Obama’s health-care plan does not call for a government takeover. In fact, it isn’t even universal. It would only cover all children. Obama’s plan would give Americans the opportunity to have government health insurance, but they also could pick a private plan.

Energy

The claim: Biden said he has “always” supported clean coal. He said “a comment made at a rope line was taken out of context” by John McCain’s campaign.

The facts: In the video, recorded at the beginning of Biden’s bus trip across Ohio last week, he is seen responding to a question about why the campaign is supporting clean coal. “We’re not supporting clean coal,” he says. “Guess what? China is building two every week, two dirty coal plants. And it’s polluting the United States, it’s causing people to die.”

As the exchange continues, Biden says: “China’s gonna burn 300 years of bad coal unless we figure out how to clean their coal up, because it’s gonna ruin your lungs, and there’s nothing we can do about it. No coal plants here in America. Build ’em, if they’re gonna build ’em, over there and make ’em clean because they’re killing you.”

Mortgage crisis

The claim: Biden said McCain said he was “surprised” by the subprime mortgage crisis.

The facts: McCain’s use of the word “surprised” came in response to a leading question in New Hampshire last December. At the time, he compared it to the dot-com collapse of the late 1990s, adding: “I was surprised at other times in our history. I don’t know if surprised is the word.” Later in the same interview, he said, “When I say ‘surprised,’ I’m not surprised when in capitalist systems that there’s greed and excess.”

Troop funding

The claim: Palin said Obama voted against funding U.S. troops in Iraq.

The facts: Palin’s charge is true, but FactCheck.org has said the statement paints “an incomplete picture.” Obama voted against troop funding once and said at the time that he wanted to fund the troops, but the bill in question didn’t include a requirement that President Bush begin bringing troops home. “Obama cast at least 10 votes for war-funding bills,” FactCheck.org says.

Troop levels

The claim: Palin said success in Iraq has allowed U.S. military leaders to reduce troops to the level before Bush’s “surge” at the beginning of 2007.

The facts: Before the surge, there were about 130,000 troops in Iraq. While plans for troop reductions would get us close to that level, we are not there yet. There are still about 152,000 troops in Iraq.

Diplomacy

The claim: Biden said Obama did not say he would meet with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. “This is simply not true about Barack Obama,” he said.

The facts: At a news conference in New York City in September 2007, Obama was asked, “Senator, you’ve said before that you’d meet with President Ahmadinejad … would you still meet with him today?” He replied: “Yeah, nothing’s changed with respect to my belief that strong countries and strong presidents talk to their enemies and talk to their adversaries.”

Oil company tax breaks

The claim: Biden said McCain’s supports “another $4 billion tax cut for ExxonMobil.”

The facts: This is a claim that Biden has made before. FactCheck.org has called it “somewhat misleading.” McCain proposes cutting the corporate income tax for all companies, not just oil companies. The figure of $4 billion comes from the left-leaning Center for American Progress Action Fund, which found in an analysis that McCain’s tax plan would cut taxes by about $4 billion for the top-five U.S. based oil companies. “But it would also produce a tax cut for companies in other sectors of the economy — a fact Biden fails to mention,” FactCheck.org says.

New spending

The claim: Palin said Obama has proposed $1 trillion in new spending.

The facts: Both the non-partisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget and the conservative National Taxpayers Union have come up with figures close to that — over four years. The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, however, also says Obama has proposed nearly that much in spending cuts.

Tomorrow will clearly offer even more observations. For now, I’ll simply leave you with this:

Joe Biden vs. Ned Flanders: The Debates Continue

Quote Of The Week: Sarah Palin & The Standard Of Intelligence


“Frankly, in American politics, the standard of intelligence and academic excellence is not very high. Deeply reflective people are not common in American politics, and they are often not successful.” —Ross Baker, professor of political science at Rutgers. 

Given this, it’s possible that Sarah Palin may do just fine in the debates. No joke. The expectations are SO low, that she might just end up surprising some folks regardless of whether or not she knows a damn thing.

All she has to do is not seem completely disoriented or confused, answer a few questions as if she were confident in her answers, and people may think she did okay.

Can’t imagine that happening? I have a hard time with it, too, but here’s what former Alaska state representative and gubenatorial candidate Andrew Halcro has to say about debating Palin:

When he faces off against Sarah Palin Thursday night, Joe Biden will have his hands full.

I should know. I’ve debated Governor Palin more than two dozen times. And she’s a master, not of facts, figures, or insightful policy recommendations, but at the fine art of the nonanswer, the glittering generality. Against such charms there is little Senator Biden, or anyone, can do…

On April 18, 2006, Palin and I sat together in a hotel coffee shop comparing campaign trail notes. As we talked about the debates, Palin made a comment that highlights the phenomenon that Biden is up against.

“Andrew, I watch you at these debates with no notes, no papers, and yet when asked questions, you spout off facts, figures, and policies, and I’m amazed. But then I look out into the audience and I ask myself, ‘Does any of this really matter?’ ” Palin said.

While policy wonks such as Biden might cringe, it seemed to me that Palin was simply vocalizing her strength without realizing it…

Palin is a master of the nonanswer. She can turn a 60-second response to a query about her specific solutions to healthcare challenges into a folksy story about how she’s met people on the campaign trail who face healthcare challenges. All without uttering a word about her public-policy solutions to healthcare challenges.

Luckily, the media has not let Palin get away with this lately and her most recent interviews have not been widely considered “successful”. But…

Never underestimate the power of underestimating.

Quote Of The Week: Sarah Palin & The Standard Of Intelligence

And The First Debate Comes To A Close…


So how does one figure out who won? Well, from what I can tell, most of the pundits are declaring this a tie with Obama having the upper hand since he was the frontrunner and McCain needed to knock him off his seat. He did not. That means Obama didn’t lose ground. That means McCain didn’t get any closer to being the frontrunner. Obama has the wind at his back. McCain has a small breeze. But the winds can change in the blink of an eye. And if we learned anything from the last election, no matter how crazy something might seem, no matter how absurd, there are still a large percentage of Americans who will embrace it. Even fight for it. 

Pardon me while I digress for a moment. I was listening to THIS AMERICAN LIFE the other day and host Ira Glass was talking with two guys who spend part of each day running elaborate cons on internet scammers. You know, the guys who email you and tell you their inheritance is tied up somewhere and they need your help (by way of financial support) to get their money and for your good deed you will get a substantial percentage? Well, these two guys scam those guys. One of the most fascinating questions that came up was why these internet scammers don’t eventually recognize when they themselves are being scammed. As one of the men who cons scammers suggests:

They don’t really have an option BUT to believe. It’s the same mentality that some of these victims have. They’ve spent so much, they’ve gone this far, that they can’t really turn back at this point. 

Ira Glass then comments on postings he’d read about “victim mentality”:

Once you’ve given up some money or some time, to actually believe that it’s a scam, it’s just too horrible to think about, and it’s just easier to think, “Oh, this is gonna work out.”

Strangely enough, I think this same “victim mentality” is at play in this election. The past eight years have been an American disaster story culminating in the current financial crises we now face, the two wars we are heavily invested in and the strong anti-American sentiment that is rising daily across the globe. But people are still ready to latch on to a presidential candidate who is supported by the same people and ideologies that gave us the Bush Administration, who has voted with Bush 90% of the time, and who has selected the single most inexperienced running mate in history who isn’t even prepared to do a talk show, no less help run the country (or, god forbid, be its president). And yet almost half the country still supports them, thinks they’re wonderful and will happily vote for them. Even though those same voter’s livelihoods, health, homes and loved ones may be endangered. 

Victim Mentality. 

So, back to the debate. I would love to have seen Obama sweep the floor with McCain, but McCain is a practiced debater. He’s not George W. and he’s not Dan Quayle. He can talk the talk and sound like he knows his stuff. Especially to those not very familiar with the issues or the ins and outs of politics. It’s gonna be hard, even amidst the disaster that is our current government, to convince those that want to believe McCain, to jump ship and support Obama. 

But IF Obama can maintain his lead in the polls, IF he can continue to show himself as a man at LEAST as presidential as McCain, then he might just win this race. But either way, barring any unforeseen events, this race is gonna be close. 

I think 64th United States Secretary of State Madeleine Albright summed it up perfectly:

Tonight was a breakthrough for Senator Obama, who showed himself truly ready to be president. He responded knowledgeably, thoughtfully and confidently to the toughest questions on the economy, Iraq, and terror. Meanwhile, Senator McCain spent so much time attacking his opponent, he neglected to show how a McCain-Palin administration would differ from Bush-Cheney. As a result, Obama answered the threshold question about his candidacy; McCain did not.

Add to that two focus groups, one by GOP pollster Frank Luntz and another by Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg, both declared Obama the winner. Here’s video of Luntz:

According to Ben Smith at Politico:

The mild consensus in the press file was that McCain won, if not in particularly dramatic fashion. The two insta-polls out — from CBS and CNN — found the opposite: That Obama won by a wide margin. CBS had it 39% to 25% for Obama, CNN 51% to 38%.

In addition, Independents in the MediaCurves focus group gave the debate to Obama 61-39. They also think he won every individual segment. 

Time‘s Mark Halperin’s breakdown: Obama A-, McCain B-.

It seems that both candidates made some factual errors during the debate, but Warren P. Strobel and Jonathan S. Landay of McClatchy Newspapers stated that “McCain made the most notable misstatements,” and then proceeded to list them.

Obama spokeman, Bill Burton, points out these little facts of interest:

Number of times John McCain mentioned:
CHANGE: 1 time
MIDDLE CLASS: not once

After Barack Obama and John McCain stop talking on the debate stage Friday night, their surrogates will start spinning. But one high-profile supporter of Mr. McCain will be missing: his running mate Sarah Palin.

Spinning on behalf of the Democrats on Friday night will be Joe Biden, Mr. Obama’s running mate. He is expected to appear live on NBC, CBS, and CNN immediately following the debate.

And so Joe Biden did:

 

Sarah Palin, however, was nowhere to be seen. And her absence speaks volumes.

So I’ll leave you now with clips of two of my favorite moments from tonight’s debate. Enjoy:

 

And The First Debate Comes To A Close…

McCain’s Distraction: Slipping Candidate Calls “Time Out”


McCain has slipped in the polls. The economic disaster that began in America and is now trickling down throughout the rest of the world has put him in a spotlight he’d rather not be in. Why? Simply put, McCain’s policies are the same ones that got us where we are today. What else? Well, McCain doesn’t have a solid solution to the problem and knows that Obama has a good chance of making him look bad in this Friday’s debate. As good a debater as McCain may be, all eyes are strongly focused on the economy and it’s gonna be tricky to skirt this particular issue with stolen slogans and talk of Iraq. 

This morning, Senator Obama called Senator McCain asking him to join forces in coming up with a joint solution for a financial bailout package. While Senator McCain agreed, he made his first move to “suspend’ his presidential campaign and ask that tomorrow night’s debate be postponed. His stated reason? “Country first”. But most agree that Obama and McCain suspending their campaigns and going to Washington would be of little help and might, in fact, delay results. 

Is the country better served by having the two presidential candidates suspend their campaigns–and engage directly in the negotiations, as McCain just urged? I’m not so sure. I, for one, think Congress has been handling this pretty well so far. The Bush Administration came to them with an obviously flawed package. They responded with appropriate skepticism and are busy coming up with what look like sensible alternatives. Jonathan Cohn, The New Republic.

I understand that the candidates are putting together a joint statement at Senator Obama’s suggestion. But it would not be helpful at this time to have them come back during these negotiations and risk injecting presidential politics into this process or distract important talks about the future of our nation’s economy. If that changes, we will call upon them. We need leadership; not a campaign photo op.

If there were ever a time for both candidates to hold a debate before the American people about this serious challenge, it is now.–Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

John McCain has skipped more votes during this session than any member of the Senate except for Tim Johnson, who had major brain surgery. All of a sudden, McCain demands that the presidential race shut down so he can return to Washington? —Nico Pitney, Huffington Post.

[McCain’s] move is a mark, most of all, that he doesn’t like the way this campaign is going… The only thing that’s changed in the last 48 hours is the public polling.–Ben Smith, Politico.com.

So, in the midst of an uproar that McCain has been alienating the press to the point where journalists have dubbed his campaign bus the “No Talk Express“, McCain wants to keep any honest (or even dishonest) debate away from public eyes and ears just a little while longer. Kind of like stalling “Troopergate” till after the election, no? Hopefully this won’t fly and the debate will go on as scheduled. As always, distraction is the best medicine when you find yourself in a jam. 

As Michael D. Shear of the Washington Post pointed out two days ago:

The country may have turned its attention to the economic crisis and a staggering $700 billion bailout proposal, but political operatives still have their eyes on other issues.

Among them, for the Democrats, is keeping track of how long it’s been since the Republican presidential ticket has answered questions from the media. A Web site keeps track.

As of this writing, it has been 39 days and 22 hours since Sen. John McCain last held a news conference (despite having promised to hold weekly Q&A sessions with the press if he’s elected). According to the Democrats, it’s been 24 days and 11 hours since his running mate, Sarah Palin, held one.

Not the most important issue of the day, perhaps. But maybe the most ironic, given where McCain and Palin were Monday: In Media, Pa.

Where they didn’t take questions.

McCain’s Distraction: Slipping Candidate Calls “Time Out”