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Republican Role: Defend Capitalism?

Republican Role: Defend Capitalism?

In an MSNBC story today Senator Jeff Sessions, from our neighboring state of Alabama is quoted:

Fellow Alabama Republican Senator Jeff Sessions also opposes helping the auto industry. “Once we cross the divide from financial institutions to individual corporations, truly, where would you draw the line?”

Just a second here. Line? What line? Look in your rear view mirror. That thing way back there, practically out of sight? That’s the “line.”

You see, congress may have passed a law providing relief to “financial institutions” but the actual money goes to–you guessed it–corporations. But the line was crossed many years ago when the government decided to rescue Chrysler, after which Lee Iacocca was known to run about posing as a champion of capitalism.

I’m not a purist on capitalism, but I do think we need to realize what we’re actually doing. The most socialist actions we’ve taken recently are not proposing minor chances in the structure of redistribution as provided by the tax code. It’s in these gifts of capital to private industry.

It’s good that Republicans are working on opposition to this type of activity, though I don’t think they will be very successful. There’s too much fear in our economy right now. I noted during the election that I was in kind of a reverse of the rest of the country. I thought I’d give McCain an edge on the economy and Obama the edge on foreign policy–not that McCain had a large edge.

So what do I think ought to be done? Personally I would not directly aid these industries at all. We have a problem in this country regarding deficit spending, but most importantly we carry out deficit spending on projects that will not produce anything later. In other words we borrow money from our children and grandchildren with no prospect other than that we will have to borrow some more from their children and grandchildren in order to pay them back.

But deficit spending is not necessarily bad in the short term. What is bad is when deficit spending becomes essentially eternal, when we will carry on building the deficit even when an emergency is past.

Two elements would be necessary in any plan for me to feel unqualified support for it. (Note that I’m aware that nobody is waiting for my unqualified support!) First, it would have to accomplish goals that I generally think can be accomplished well by government, such as building infrastructure. (I include basic education as an infrastructure issue, so building schools would be acceptable.) Improving this country’s infrastructure would have the potential of improving our economy down the road, providing those infrastructure projects were well chosen.

Second, we need a commitment to ending the spending, and making a corresponding reduction in either taxes or in the deficit (depending on how the work was financed) when the mission was accomplished. I have little hope that such a commitment would be made and kept, but since I’m writing almost entirely about fantasies–nobody’s going to do this stuff–why not fantasize about that as well.

In the meantime we’re going to be stuck with debates on whether we are giving money to “institutions” or “individual corporations” carried out by people who ought to know better. Or perhaps they do know better but don’t feel like admitting it.

Reflection after the Election

Reflection after the Election

Since I had decided long ago what my vote would be, and the man I thought the better (though not nearly perfect) candidate won, it was enjoyable for me to watch. I really don’t want to dwell on the details.

The greatest problem for President-Elect Barack Obama may not be any of the crises with which he will need to deal, but rather the huge number of hopes, some of them contradictory, which have been read into his person. His election is an historic accomplishment, but as he correctly pointed out in his victory speech, last night was not the change. Last night simply provided the opportunity to accomplish the change. The work starts now.

Any politician discovers that the promises of the campaign trail, even when sincerely meant, are very difficult to deliver. Actual government involves working with many people and it requires compromise. Compromise is, well, compromise. But in Obama’s case, many people have filled the words “hope” and “change” with their own dreams.

I disagree with those who say that Obama was undefined. He made enough policy proposals so that we can know what he wants as well or better than we can with other politicians. But by simply seeming bigger than the moment and than any one person to so many, he has the burden of much more than he actually tried to promise.

Senator John McCain, on the other hand, goes back to the senate. In 2000 I hoped he would be the Republican nominee and I would have voted for him. In 2008 he appeared to be the fractured candidate. I believe his greatest failure was in not running a campaign as his own person.

The urge to draw in the base of the Republican party conflicted with many of his own views and positions. One thing every political operative should know is that you have to put a message in your candidate’s mouth that your candidate can present successfully. John McCain never presented the attacks on Barack Obama in a convincing manner.

I’m not one who objects to negative campaigning simply because it is negative. Rather, a candidate needs to know positively why he is the best person for the job, and negatively why the other guy isn’t, and he needs to present both cases. Adding a conservative candidate to the ticket doesn’t necessarily bring all that candidate’s potential supporters to you, and it doesn’t guarantee you won’t lose any of yours.

The bottom line here is that almost any message, consistently presented, would be better than shifting message from day to day. McCain couldn’t decide how far to go with attacks because, I believe, his heart wasn’t in them.

I wonder how it would have worked for him to campaign as who he is while letting Sarah Palin campaign as who she is, while simply stating that he had chosen to broaden the ticket and that the Republican party was big enough for both of them. It would go against conventional wisdom, and I have no basis for saying it would work, but I wonder if it could be worse. Governor Palin sounded sincere in the attacks. I don’t particularly like her, even though I did at first, but she does have a voice and a natural audience.

In any case, I sincerely hope that McCain will now become part of a center oriented group in congress that will work with President-Elect Obama to give him an alternative to working solely with the left. McCain returned to the man of 2000 in his gracious acceptance speech. These speeches may not mean much, but I hope they do.

As always, I will pray for the leaders of our country, all of them, as they face many difficult problems.

Obama and the Socialism Charge

Obama and the Socialism Charge

I’m interested in how one can take a rather ordinary set of proposals and make them incendiary just by providing a label. And sorry, my conservative friends, I don’t buy into the “but he really is a socialist” line. The basis of the socialism charge is specific–Obama’s tax plans–and a response to that particular point is what is needed.

This charge has been one of the many reasons my respect for McCain has deteriorated over the course of this campaign. The fact is that both campaigns are supported tax proposals that redistribute. We’ve had them for decades, and very, very few people would support completely getting rid of any redistributive element in the tax plan.

Flat taxers? Actually not such a totally bad idea, though I think if people looked at their proposed tax bill under flat tax, they might be less excited about it. But you know that exemption of a certain amount of income under a flat tax plan? That’s redistribution.

Alexander Lane of Politifact covers the major points in an article on CQPolitics, Sorting Out the Truth on McCain’s “Socialism” Allegations. McCain, Palin, and the Republican base are just plain abusing the word “socialist.”

PS: Yes, I know this source is biased–it’s biased against the Republican bias.

So Long to Public Campaign Financing?

So Long to Public Campaign Financing?

I had mixed emotions about Barack Obama’s choice not to accept public financing of campaigns. On the one hand, as an advocate of free speech, I believe that public financing and campaign spending limits are a threat to free speech precisely where it needs to be most free. But on the other hand, I dislike flip-flops, and this was.

What I would have liked to have heard was Obama or his spokesman tell us that, having seen how individuals, when fired up, can produce the necessary campaign cash, he had realized just how important freedom was in a political campaign, and thus changed his position. I don’t regard changing your mind for good, publicly stated reasons to be a bad flip-flop. Doing so for political expediency is another matter.

But I do welcome the fact that Obama’s campaign has underlined already existing questions about public financing. CQPolitics has an article on the $150 million Obama raised in September:

Obama had initially promised to accept public financing if McCain did, but changed his mind after setting primary fundraising records. His extraordinary fundraising is bound to set a new standard in politics that could doom the taxpayer-paid system. Many Republicans have begun to second-guess McCain’s decision to participate in the program.

In a way it’s nice to see this campaign highlight the problems with public financing, an issue on which I believe both candidates are wrong.

Not About Joe the Plumber

Not About Joe the Plumber

The furor over this poor guy has illustrated to me one of the problems of presidential campaigning in America. It’s not about analyzing policies to determine who they impact, to what extent, and for what purpose, nor indeed it is about whether the policies will accomplish that purpose. It’s rather all about engaging people’s emotions.

I was reading AllahPundit over at HotAir who is quoting a report that Joe the Plumber may be in trouble for plumbing without a license. It’s not that I object to the law being enforced. I even think that someone who lives in a glass house and then invites the hail of rocks should be prepared for the results. That doesn’t mean I excuse either the people who point out the person in the glass house, while failing to mention, nor do I excuse the rock throwers.

The proper issue here is tax policies and who they impact. Joe the Plumber was supposed to put a face on that issue. If the McCain campaign was doing their job, they would have figured out whether the business was worth $250,000 (or perhaps much less), or was bringing in $250,000, and they would have discovered whether that was gross receipts or profits. Then they could have determined whether Obama’s tax plan would make it impossible for this particular person to own a business or not.

On the Democratic side, the proper response is simply that Obama’s tax plan does not tax this poor man to anything like the extent claimed by McCain, and that in fact his taxes will drop. So his complaint is that if he manages to make over $250,000 per year at some later time, he would be taxed more heavily on part of that income. Now that is a legitimate issue to discuss, because I want Joe the Plumbers all over the country to be interested in growing their businesses. It’s just not as emotional as the question of whether or not he can buy the business now.

Here’s the thing. It can’t possibly be news to my conservative friends, but they sure are acting like it is. Businesses already have to pay taxes, and just like any other expense, those taxes might make it impossible for you to start or expand your business. That’s going to be true at any tax rate.

You have to ask more about taxes than just whether they are bigger or smaller. What are they spent on? Who is getting taxed, and how much?

We’re hearing a great deal about redistributing income. Some people are acting as though one candidate won’t redistribute while the other will. Actually, there is redistribution now and there will be redistribution then. The question is by how much, and what will it be spent on.

I don’t hear Republican activists complaining about either taxes or budget deficits when the war in Iraq is on the line. Democrats are not complaining generally when it’s social programs that are involved.

Now my pro-war friends will probably point out that the war in Iraq was, according to them, a necessity. We have to defend ourselves; we don’t have to provide health care for everyone. So we will spend on an invasion of Iraq irrespective of income, but we won’t do so when people have no health insurance. We can pull together the money, or more accurately pretend we have the money (and a government can get by with pretending for a long time), for Wall Street, but not for individuals.

But in fact any war, and the war on terror is no exception, involves deciding how to apply limited resources to accomplishing one’s goals in the war. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again–the war in Iraq was a horrible strategic decision. It wasted American and Iraqi lives, and it wasted resources that could have been spent better elsewhere. It was not a necessity.

We need to start looking for the details in these kinds of issues. When we borrow as a government it’s important to ask what we’re borrowing for. If we’re raising taxes, we need to ask what we’re going to accomplish with the money. If we’re building infrastructure, that’s one thing, while if we’re borrowing just to keep the basics running, that’s another. It’s sort of like home finance. If you’re borrowing to buy a practical family vehicle, that’s very different from finding you have to put your electricity bill on a credit card.

Both parties have been lying to the American people and pretending that we can have what they offer without having to pay for it. In this case, I find Republicans more guilty than Democrats recently, because they always propose lowering taxes, but are much less forthcoming on lowering expenditures. Then they spend their time throwing rocks at Democrats who propose modest increases to pay for a small portion. I’d be more inclined to defend the Democrats is they were proposing amounts that would actually pay for their programs, but if they did they wouldn’t need my defense; they’d be losing so badly that nothing could possible help.

So while on the one hand this isn’t about Joe the Plumber, in another way it is, because politicians who believe that you, the voter, can’t handle a rational discussion of policy want the issue to be about whether that one guy can buy a business, one that turns out to have been out of reach in any case.

So the tax policy discussion is bypassed and we can sling emotions around the blogosphere and a bit in the media, yet at the end of the day, few people know more about the actual tax proposals than they did before.

The McCain Campaign and Comebacks

The McCain Campaign and Comebacks

In an article on MSNBC discussing how Obama is moving into some traditionally Republican territory, I found this quote:

McCain, for his part, was returning to the argument that Obama’s credentials are too thin for the White House, his campaign and the Republican National Committee releasing ads focusing on experience and judgment.

Here’s my problem with this: I’m asked to trust the running of the country to a man who can’t run a campaign. Oh, I know how the political operatives work, and I’m willing to discount some of the problems as a clash between McCain’s honorable inclinations and the demands of real life politics. But the bottom line is that a man who would be president needs to set the tone of his campaign and run it.

I’m not talking about going negative in this case, though I dislike a nasty campaign. Some negatives are quite appropriate. It is not wrong to point out where your opponent has failed, and thus how you would presumably do better. But there are false negative themes and irrelevant negative themes, and one needs to be able to tell the difference. (Note: Just because your partisan supporters think something is true, doesn’t make it true.)

But if one goes into a negative campaign, one needs at a minimum to do so competently. Just how far are we going to go? How are we going to handle the fallout if it doesn’t catch on?

After clinching the nomination, McCain had a fairly strong environmental proposal. Where did it go? The twists and turns of his campaign have been quite entertaining, but not constructive. When you swing too many different ways you don’t satisfy all the different factions; you tend rather to anger them all.

McCain wants to talk about judgment, but he doesn’t appear to have the judgment to choose a campaign focus and run with it. He should have noticed long ago that the “Obama isn’t up to the job” theme wasn’t really working all that well. Or maybe he just didn’t play it well enough. I’m not sure which. But he certainly hasn’t made it happen. And whether partisans on either side like it or not, the choice of Sarah Palin muddied the waters on the experience issue. I think the contortions of folks on both sides to try to explain how the experience issue goes their way are riotously funny. Democrats, presenting a young and relatively inexperienced candidate (something I don’t mind, by the way), should have just kept their mouths shut about Palin, and Republicans should have responded in kind.

It seems to me that McCain should have decided who he was, decided just how far he might compromise to keep the base of the Republican party, and just how far he would compromise to attract others, and then stick with that theme. I don’t know if he would win with that approach, but it’s hard to imagine him doing much worse.

Campaigning and governing may not be the same thing–indeed they are not. But keeping on message, managing a staff, setting the tone, and presenting oneself as in charge are all characteristics that are helpful to a president. McCain is arguing that he has better judgment and is a better leader, but he’s failing to demonstrate that.

I recall a baseball coach talking to my son who is a pitcher. He frequently got into a jam around the 3rd or 4th inning, but then his pitching really picked up and he would pitch his way out of the jam and look good for the rest of the game. The coach noted that being able to pitch out of a jam was a good thing, but suggested he not go to that well too often!

I think McCain has nobody but himself to blame for the position he is in now. It is not impossible for things to change, but thus far, he has displayed an almost uncanny talent for making things break the wrong way. He may be the comeback candidate, but if you try to come back from the brink too many times, you may find that it just doesn’t happen.

But Can a CONSERVATIVE Vote for Obama?

But Can a CONSERVATIVE Vote for Obama?

I find it rather easy to answer the question of whether a Christian can vote for Obama. To summarize, a Christian can be politically liberal or even socialist, for that matter, and would presumably vote his or her beliefs. There is no requirement that a Christian be an American style conservative. Thus it should be noted that my vote is shaped by my values, which do not coincide with those of American conservatism today, especially on issues such as the war on terror, the environment, and immigration.

But I find it much harder to understand how a conservative can vote for Obama. I would guess that there are a couple of possible reasons. A conservative:

  • … could feel that the Republican party has betrayed conservatism, and that the best future for American conservatism involves at least four years of a liberal president.
  • … might feel that McCain did not merit their vote for various reasons, and thus vote for the only other alternative who might win.
  • … might choose to vote on personality and a perception of character rather than issues, in other words, desiring a liberal of good character over a(n) (overtly) conservative scoundrel.

As someone who generally votes based on issues, and often finds the choice rather balanced because of my more or less center positions, I have a hard time comprehending some of these options, though real people hold the positions I noted.

One might look at this article from Christopher Buckley, son of William F. Buckley. He plans to vote for Obama, and it doesn’t sound like he agrees with him very much on policy. His arguments focus on temperament and intellect, not on policies and positions. Some of the things he dislikes about the McCain campaign are the same as my objections, but those were not the deciding factors for me.

I should note, while linking to an article about how negative McCain has been, that he has tried to reign in his supporters a bit, as is shown in the following video (HT: brian d. mclaren):

How Much Pandering and to What End?

How Much Pandering and to What End?

I’ve been very disappointed in the way this campaign has gone. Not that it’s that much more nasty than any other campaign. As I recall from previous elections, things get pretty emotional and nasty. My disappointment has been in the candidates who could have done much better for the country.

Obama made a mistake, in my view, when he declined (or failed to arrange) the series of town hall meetings that McCain proposed. At the time the conventional wisdom was that it would have been McCain territory all the way. I don’t think so. I think things would have worked out well for the American people, and we might have gotten to hear the two men discuss issues.

But at this point McCain is definitely taking the lead in nasty, and that’s also a disappointment. In 2000, I had every plan to vote for him. The election was a done deal by the time he got to my state. I even considered very temporarily registering as Republican to vote in the primary.

Since that loss McCain has been pandering more and more to the right wing of the party, including folks he once condemned, such as Pat Robertson. If you want to know someone I think is a crazy associate, I’ll name Pat Robertson. It’s not that I think his ideas are the craziest around, but he also has a more substantial following than any of the crazier people I could name.

David Corn wrote a column on CQ Politics that expresses my thoughts about McCain better than I could. He says:

Many of the folks in charge of the McCain campaign don’t really care that much for him. Worse, they are treating McCain as a generic Republican candidate–smothering whatever once was special about him. And McCain has allowed this to happen. He has emasculated himself.

Just so. McCain isn’t really this nasty at heart and he can’t bring off this kind of criticism properly. Couple that with the fact that the criticisms that are front and center are pretty lousy fodder to work with and you have a losing strategy.

Normally one plays to the base in the primaries and broadens out in the general. I hear the calls of right-wing Republicans for a more vigorous tone and I have to wonder who they think they’re going to reach in that way. The people whose emotions engaged in that way are pretty much already engaged. You might get a few. But you also get moderates like me who are not entirely with Obama on policy issues and have seen McCain do some good things, but are turned off by smears and guilt by association.

David Corn discusses some of the groups that have endorsed McCain and the way the rallies are going, and then he says this:

But it’s hard to get over past hatred. And at the recent rallies, McCain supporters have been displaying disappointment that he has not been truly there for them–in that he has not pummeled Obama as the terrorist-hugging Socialist they know he really is. (And he’s probably a Muslim, too!) They appear to be worried that even after all that pandering McCain is still not one of them.

That’s the problem with pandering. It’s so very, very hard to pander enough to get the panderees on board. They are just so slow to forgive you for not being absolutely one of them. McCain’s well conceived plan to get some judicial nominations through the senate, for example, is not enough to endear him to liberals, but certainly enough to leave conservatives angry forever.

It’s a fundamental problem for politicians. Being yourself isn’t supposed to work. You have to be not all things to all people, but the right things to the right combination of people. If that’s not who you are, you may wind up looking out of place. That’s what McCain looks like to me.

How a Christian can Vote for Obama

How a Christian can Vote for Obama

Laura at Pursuing Holiness has a post titled How can Christians support Obama?. She begins:

I am frustrated almost beyond belief that any Christian can support Obama. . . .

She then outlines the reasons she has for believing that we cannot support Obama and provides links, describing these points as “well-substantiated.”

Laura’s post falls into a category that I’m not even bothering to read these days on either side of this election. I am frankly quite sick of the hostility and partisan, absolute certainty of so much of the blogosphere. But Laura writes quite a number of good things, and though I often disagree with her quite vehemently, she has enough of a reputation to get me to give it a read.

I was tempted to write, “Simple–just complete the arrow using the nice black marker provided. That’s how we fill out a ballot in this county.” And in Florida there might be a point. We do want to get our votes counted right this time. But I think I’ll respond a bit more.

I’m not going to respond point by point to the various charges, providing my own list of counter-links that I believe are reliable, or giving my own explanation. (It’s an explanation when I do it; spin when the other guy does.) I had to make a decision as to whether I was going to engage on all those issues during this election, and I decided not to, because I have better things to study. I still read some things about them, but I don’t report or pass the information on, because I believe if I did I would be obligated to back up what I say and respond to challenges. I don’t have the time. So if you want “the other side” you’ll have to search for it yourself.

What I have noticed here is that partisans on both sides simply use different sources of knowledge and different standards for their own candidate and the other candidate. To Democrats Barack Obama is ready for the job, even if they didn’t think so earlier. To Republicans he is dangerously inexperienced and unpredictable. Cue Sarah Palin and the positions reverse. There are plenty of nasty things out there about Sarah Palin, and quite frankly, the “substantiation” score is about equal, in my view.

I know neither Republicans nor Democrats will believe me, but that’s OK. Also, you may inundate me with links and proofs, but I’m really not taking much time, and when I do take the time I will read something from each side if at all possible, or use the more reliable sources, in my experience at places like and (Cue accusations of bias against those sources.)

Here are several quick points. It’s not just that Christians are voting for Obama. Obama himself is a Christian. You may not like his brand, but he has expressed a Christian testimony openly. I’m not going to stand in judgment of that. I do not mean that one cannot judge actions; I’m simply saying that I accept that testimony itself at face value. So one could ask simply how could one Christian (me) vote for another Christian (Obama).

I would note here that I would give Obama equal consideration if he actually was Muslim, or atheist, or any other faith, though I doubt I would have the opportunity to vote for him in the general election. A Muslim or an atheist would never make it that far.

But let me get to another point. I reject completely the equation of Christianity with any particular form of politics. I do not accept that “socialist policies that will harm America,” (see Laura’s post) for example, are necessarily anti-Christian. Since I tend toward more capitalist policies myself, I would often argue that socialist policies will fail, but that is a failure of strategy, not of moral intention.

Further, we are not seeing an election of socialism vs capitalism, but rather a choice between two different mixes. There is redistribution of wealth now, and there will be after the election. The question is, how much, from whom, and to whom. I like Obama’s mix on that point better than McCain’s.

On one of the most important moral issues of redistribution, redistributing our expenses into the future through the national debt, I have no faith in the Republican party any more. Odd how they always talk about balanced budgets and reducing spending but when all is said and done the deficit goes up. Bill Clinton (Democrat!) actually managed to reduce it and produce a surplus. Odd that, no?

But let’s bring up the one nasty issue where I think the facts will not be in dispute–Rev. Jeremiah Wright. My only complaint there about Obama is that he ditched his pastor too quickly. I would have preferred that he express his disagreement with specific points but keep his friendship. At the same time I recognize this as a difficult decision. I do believe that from a political point of view Wright was a loose cannon. At the same time, I believe that we in America have no tolerance for a prophetic, convicting voice. I listened to the things for which Wright said America would be damned, and I found that list rather damning. Those are things of which we should repent!

But no, we don’t want to be criticized or questioned. We just want to be comfortable. Well, for me, Christianity is not about being comfortable. I’m not saying those who vote Republican are less entitled to the name “Christian” than I am, but I am saying that they are wrong, dead wrong, when they pretend that their vote supports Christian principles to a greater extent than those who vote for another party.

I plan to vote for Barack Obama because:

  • I support generous treatment of immigrants. It’s likely he won’t be generous enough for my tastes in the way we deal with the alien living amongst us (Leviticus 19:33-34, which I do believe expresses an applicable principle).
  • I believe that we need to protect the environment. Energy conservation of natural resources and alternative sources of energy need to go before new drilling. Sorry, but so far the experts have me convinced on global warming, but even without that, I would believe we need those same priorities.
  • I believe that our foreign policy of attacking people who attack us, and then attacking people who might attack us, while using up our resources in occupying foreign countries is bad both morally and strategically. Obama has far and away the better foreign policy, and I trust him much more with his finger on the trigger. (Here I seem to disagree with the majority of the American people–I’d give McCain a slight edge on the economy, but Obama the edge on foreign policy, just the reverse of the polls.)
  • I believe that we need health care reform. I’m disappointed with both plans, but less so with Obama’s. We’re not using capitalism here either. What we’re doing is taxing hospitals by requiring them to see people in emergency rooms even if they can’t pay, and then failing to provide a way for them to get decent care. That is essentially taxing the hospitals without admitting it, and is a very expensive and expensive way to provide primary care.
  • I believe we need more judges on the supreme court who are interested in individual rights. I probably won’t get that, but in lieu of that I’ll accept balancing the court a bit with a different set of errors instead.
  • I would not make my choice solely on these points but let me note that I believe it will be good for our country to have an African-American president. I like the idea of having a graduate of Harvard Law School who taught constitutional law as president. I think “community organizer” is an excellent resume line for a president of the United States. I don’t object to Obama being relaxed in front of a camera or pronouncing “Pakistan” correctly, and I wouldn’t mind having a president who can both craft and present a good speech.
  • Finally, I believe Republican stewardship has been miserable, and I won’t reward them with my vote. They should reap what they have sown.

I think this list will be satisfactory to very few people. It will simply stir up all those points of disagreement. So let me answer the question more directly: I can vote for Barack Obama as a Christian because I agree with him on many more points than my conservative Christian friends (who are many) do. I have come to different political conclusions than they have. We all desire to follow Jesus, but we disagree on how.

Am I right? I think so, but that is obviously a subject for discussion. What I won’t do is discuss the accusation list. It’s much easier to produce an accusation than to rebut one, and not being a politician it’s a game I’m not obligated to play.

Not Watching the Presidential Debate

Not Watching the Presidential Debate

. . . was very relaxing.

I actually never watch these debates because they are more a tribute to those who plan the event than to anything that either candidate is capable of saying. I would like to see a debate which allows the two candidates to confront and challenge one another. The real story of these debates shows up in the polls of who won. It’s not about who knows more, it’s about body language and who manages to present himself better.

With reference to handling the campaign, where does experience apply? It seems to me that McCain has shown a massive inability to manage his own campaign or to choose the right people to do so. I started out the summer leaning toward voting for Obama but quite capable of being swayed. Both candidates have swayed me–negatively–but McCain more so than Obama.

If he was going to go negative, he needed to back it up at the debate. I can’t imagine that those supporters who heard him claim he would go after Obama during the debate are happy. (I base this both on transcripts and on analyst comments.) To someone who has watched politics for decades, this doesn’t look like a coordinated plan. The Republican party is not being well-served.