Thoughts on Last Night’s Debate

Debates, Presidential Elections, US Elections, US Politics
John McCain and Barack Obama shake hands to begin debate.

John McCain and Barack Obama shake hands to begin debate.

I don’t have enough thoughts to write up a whole debate review, but I would like to point out two answers from Obama last night that I thought stood out. This is the second debate and the umpteenth time we’ve heard these two speak so there is very little that we have not already heard. That said, I thought Obama’s response about health care was effective. I won’t go in to how the primary candidate who took such heat for not having a mandate in his health care plan now has to answer to charges of forcing people to get health care. His best answer was about deregulation of the insurance industry and allowing insurance companies to sell their products across state lines.

And the reason that it’s a problem to go shopping state by state, you know what insurance companies will do? They will find a state — maybe Arizona, maybe another state — where there are no requirements for you to get cancer screenings, where there are no requirements for you to have to get pre-existing conditions, and they will all set up shop there.

That’s how in banking it works. Everybody goes to Delaware, because they’ve got very — pretty loose laws when it comes to things like credit cards.

And in that situation, what happens is, is that the protections you have, the consumer protections that you need, you’re not going to have available to you.

That is a fundamental difference that I have with Senator McCain. He believes in deregulation in every circumstance. That’s what we’ve been going through for the last eight years. It hasn’t worked, and we need fundamental change.

He gets a little bit muddled in that first paragraph, but his overriding point — that allowing companies to sell their products across state lines without having to comply with the regulations of the state they are selling too will give us the lowest common denominator of consumer protection. It is exactly what happened with the credit card industry, just as he said. The reason I think this was such an effective answer is that this is the first time that I have heard a candidate articulate this problem, and I think Americans are more open than ever to this argument.

Another great answer came when a question was asked about what sacrifices would be required of the American people.

You know, a lot of you remember the tragedy of 9/11 and where you were on that day and, you know, how all of the country was ready to come together and make enormous changes to make us not only safer, but to make us a better country and a more unified country.

And President Bush did some smart things at the outset, but one of the opportunities that was missed was, when he spoke to the American people, he said, “Go out and shop.”

That wasn’t the kind of call to service that I think the American people were looking for.

And so it’s important to understand that the — I think the American people are hungry for the kind of leadership that is going to tackle these problems not just in government, but outside of government.

I have heard him say something similar to this before, but I thought he nailed this one because 1) he was careful to call it a “missed opportunity” and not a Bush screw up and 2) he brought in the idea of government not doing everything for you, thus beating the conservative on stage to what should have been part of his answer.

I also thought McCain did much better in this debate than he did in the first. His answer to whether or not Russia is still an “evil empire” came across as honest and knowledgeable.

Depends on how we respond to Russia and it depends on a lot of things. If I say yes, then that means that we’re reigniting the old Cold War. If I say no, it ignores their behavior.

Obviously energy is going to be a big, big factor. And Georgia and Ukraine are both major gateways of energy into Europe. And that’s one of the reasons why it’s in our interest.

But the Russians, I think we can deal with them but they’ve got to understand that they’re facing a very firm and determined United States of America that will defend our interests and that of other countries in the world.

McCain’s biggest problem at every debate is and will continue to be that he is making arguments and detailing plans that just are not what most Americans want right now. Eight years ago, deregulating the insurance companies might have sounded like something worth trying. Before we blew our collective military wad on Iraq, we might have been able to talk tough to Russia and to believe that we rule the world’s roost. But things have changed dramatically since the roaring 90’s, and most Americans can see that.

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