Saturday, September 27, 2008


Trying to look at last night’s presidential debate from an objective perspective I think both McCain and Obama showed intelligence, perspective and concern. Neither looked bad, no mistakes and both proved themselves capable of defending their thoughts. I’m sure partisans on both sides will say one of the two clearly won/lost the debate but I didn’t see that. I saw two men who both very ably could handle the job of president.

So how or why make a choice? Well here is what I saw:

• McCain does clearly have more experience especially with foreign policy
• McCain has a world view that is very strict/rigid, things such as it is wrong of Obama to say he (or senior members of his administration) would meet without pre-conditions leaders of rogue nations
• McCain clearly feels our military strength and safety are critical at this time

• Obama was clearer in his plans, multiple times he laid at 3 and 4 point plans of what he would do. Did he give full details? No, but given the limited time to speak that is to be expected
• Obama was willing to admit when he was wrong (the outcome of the surge) and when McCain was right
• Obama talked about the future and how we need to change internally as a nation as well as externally (how others perceive the U.S.) in order to be successful

The most noticeable difference to me was how McCain addressed Obama, especially on Iraq and Georgia. McCain very much talked down to Obama, calling him naive and inexperienced. When Obama disagreed with McCain he attempted to do so in a more cordial manner, for example saying that 10 days ago McCain had said the economy was fundamentally sound, which was clearly wrong. Obama didn’t call McCain naive or inexperienced or lacking in knowledge because of this he just stated the facts.

This difference in how McCain and Obama handled themselves speaks very clearly to their styles of leadership and how they will proceed. We have had eight years of leadership with very clear black and white views on issues (Iraq is a rogue nation we must attack), “Mission Accomplished”, a lack of willingness to talk to Iran, North Korea etc. without first meeting our demands. Where has this style of leadership gotten us? A war in Iraq that was based on misinformation (outright lies about weapons of mass destruction), a standing in the international community that has fallen dramatically and internally a nation that is very split, everything is either blue or red (there is no middle ground).

After watching McCain last nigh it was very clear to me this is the same style of leadership he utilizes and will employ as president. Obama on the other hand was very open to looking at options and trying to resolve issues through digging into them. For example, McCain said he would consider a spending freeze due to the economic crisis. Obama said while he might consider one, a better method would be to look at programs and cut what can be cut in some, add to others, but really look at the budget and make changes where needed. When it comes to spending there are no clear cut answers (we can’t spend any more anywhere) there needs to be an understanding and issues addressed on a basis of what is critical.

McCain through out the campaign has said he has and will reach across party lines to improve the country, yet last night he at no times showed where or how he would do that. Obama through the course of the evening gave examples where he would work with many others (across party lines or international borders) to resolve problems. Seems to me I’d rather have a person willing to admit they need to work with others to make a better life then a person who is condescending and acts superior. A good leader knows how to motivate, negotiate, work with others and communicate to succeed. Obama displayed his abilities on those skills are more refined and natural.

No comments: