After watching the presidential debate on October
7, it became quite clear that the both candidates were
battling outside factors while discussing the status
of our country.
Unfortunately, the 'town-hall' style of debate was
disjointed and damaging to the flow of debate on both
sides. Both candidates had trouble adhering to the time
restraints, and this only became more distracting as
the debate wore on.
John McCain, who has been successful in the past using
this particular format, suffered from a lack of connection
to the audience. He was never able to establish a rhythm
of speech, and this was quite detrimental to the overall
appeal of his oration.
Barack Obama's usually excellent elocutionary skills
were somewhat lacking as well. The complete lack of
response in the audience seemed to affect him, as he
paused several times, as if anticipating a response.
While exasperating moderator Tom Brokaw because of
timing issues, neither Senator McCain nor Senator Obama
gave much of a showing in relation to content either.
Senator John McCain's economic approach did bring
some fresh options to the table, for he introduced a
new potential policy during this debate. Senator McCain
introduced a plan to allow the Secretary of the Treasury
to buy all the homes with defaulted mortgages and then
resell them back to the former owners after adjusting
After the debate ended, however, political analyst Donna
Brazile stated that the new economic bailout legislation
already provides for the same idea. Whether or not this
is true, this was the only new argument addressed during
this debate. It gave Senator McCain a much needed boost
at the beginning of the debate, but as the night wore
on both candidates began to belabor the same policies
and ideas that the public has been hearing since the
beginning of the race.
Senator Obama also left something to be desired. He
introduced the same arguments and policies he has been
supporting since the beginning of his campaign. He did
manage to refer to education and college affordability,
unlike Senator McCain. This could quite possibly have
endeared him to the younger voting demographic that
is still dealing with student loans. This gave him a
boost in content, but proved to be non-sustainable.
In a time of economic recession and consumer fear, neither
candidate seemed to give many concrete ideas or policies
relating to reform. All the answers remained very general,
with a lot of filibustering. Surprisingly, neither candidate
discussed the plunging stock market, though they did
give lip service to the need for economic reform
Familiar foreign policy arguments
Senator McCain stressed the fact that the General Petraeus'
surge policy in Iraq had been successful, despite Senator
Obama's lack of support. He stated that a similar policy
of "gaining the support of the people" would
be successful in Pakistan. Fortunately, Senator McCain
was finally able to connect with a former member of the
military in the audience, which benefited his stylistic
Senator Obama defended his earlier calls to invade Pakistan
if necessary (i.e. if the government refuses to comply)
and "to meet with the Iranian government without
Despite Senator Joe Biden's claims to the contrary during
the vice presidential debate, Senator Obama did state
that he was willing to meet with Iran "without preconditions"
to allow for more open diplomacy. He and Senator McCain
both stressed the importance of involvement in Afghanistan.
Foreign policy differences
On foreign policy, McCain used the traditional argument
that he has the necessary experience. Answering a Pakistan
question, he briefly referenced "Waziristan, where
I've visited-a very rough country" to emphasize
how seasoned he is on foreign policy issues.
But Obama scored big when he turned the inexperience
argument on its head by saying, "There are some
things I don't understand. I don't understand how we
ended up invading a country that had nothing to do with
9/11, while Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda are setting
up base camps and safe havens to train terrorists to
With that answer, Obama placated liberal pundits who
said he hadn't been aggressive enough in the last debate
and positioned himself as a Washington outsider.
Candidates fail to cover new ground
Throughout the debate, both candidates called each
other's voting records into question and were very accusatory.
Regardless of personality, neither candidate seemed
to offer significant differences when discussing economics
or foreign policy. Both candidates relied heavily upon
previous knowledge and did not give many new opinions
or policies for analysts to discuss.
As usual, Senator McCain continued to stress his "maverick"
status, military history, extensive voting record, and
his ability to reach across the aisle, while Senator
Obama continued to stress his own voting record, the
failure of the "Bush doctrine," and the importance
of the middle class.
Both performances were incredibly underwhelming, and
offered no real reason for Americans to change their
votes. Neither candidate seemed willing to go out on
a limb to garner support. With so much of our future
riding on this election, both men need to live up to
The American people are looking for answers: concrete,
factual solutions to the problems they face in their
everyday lives. Senator Obama and Senator McCain: stop
beating around the bush and give us some answers!