WHO WON THE FIRST PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE?
By Geoff Metcalf
September 30, 2008
“Opinions are formed in a process of open discussion and public debate, and where no opportunity for the forming of opinions exists, there may be moods—moods of the masses and moods of individuals, the latter no less fickle and unreliable than the former—but no opinion.” --Hannah Arendt
Notwithstanding the proclamations of the main stream media, Barack Obama did not win the first presidential debate. Neither did John McCain, and for sure, the American voter did not get a money shot.
First off, let’s recognize and acknowledge that presidential debates are not so much “events” but part of a process. One debate, although illustrative, is not the complete work. It is not unlike viewing a painting or sculpture in development.
As for who won round one…it depends who you ask, which poll you choose to believe, and what you want to believe.
Drudge had McCain a big winner with 68% of the 350,000 on line voters.
• CBS has 40% for Obama and 25% for McCain
• CNN’s on line poll has 67% Obama, 28% McCain
• NBC had 51% for Obama and 28% for McCain
Opinions are like intimate body parts…we all have them. My view is no more or less valid that your view.
Frankly, I thought McCain did better than expected and way better than the main stream seems inclined to acknowledge. I thought the one “gotcha” moment may have been the warhorse chastising the neophyte over the significant distinction between “strategy” and “tactics.” Obama’s reply that he knew the difference seemed false and was challenged by his own words. Sadly, no one but a handful of military types probably even noticed. Rather, the effort to focus on a ‘gotcha’ was probably Obama misrepresenting Henry Kissinger. “Did to/did not/did to/…oh yeah”
On the main stream media’s Saffir-Simpson scale, Obama won the “sizzle” points, and McCain won the “steak” points. Obama (not surprisingly) demonstrated superior “form” and McCain (again not surprisingly) demonstrated superior “substance.”
Chris Ruddy at NewsMax observed “Obama has a subtle, condescending speaking style…” After, the debate Chris heard a radio call in person say they listened to the debate on radio and “Obama sounded like a professor. Americans don’t elect professors president.” Even Newt Gingrich knows that.
In 1984, Republican Ronald Reagan, in a superb riposte to concerns that he might be too old for a second term in office, remarked, "I am not going to exploit for political purposes my opponent's youth and inexperience." Sen. McCain apparently has no such intention, repeatedly calling Obama naïve and untested. I lost count of the direct and indirect McCain references to Obama as “naive,” not understanding, or rookie perceptions.
When McCain attacked over Obama’s stated intent to sit down with Iran’s nutjob president “without preconditions” he said it was “not just dangerous, that’s naïve.” However, notwithstanding previous declarative statements, now apparently Obama is equivocating (kinda/sorta/maybe a little) and acknowledging the needs for “process” and conditions. However, he then reiterated that he reserved the right “as president” to talk to whomever he wanted, whenever, he wanted…begging the obvious…that he is not President yet….
After the debate I predicted there would be a quick official statement ripping Obama for having taken the name Kissinger in vain and misrepresenting his views. We didn’t have to wait long. Dr. Kissinger responded through the Weekly Standard’s Stephen Hayes.
“Henry Kissinger believes Barack Obama misstated his views on diplomacy with US adversaries and is not happy about being mischaracterized,” the email reads. “He says, ‘Senator McCain is right. I would not recommend the next president of the United States engage in talks with Iran at the Presidential level. My views on this issue are entirely compatible with the views of my friend Senator John McCain.” Which in diplomatic-speak translates to “Yoh Barack! Shame on you!”
I seriously doubt the debate did anything to change anyone’s opinion of the candidates.
The were no major whoopses…unlike Joe Biden’s revisionist history examples of FDR giving TV pep talks before the technology existed or Al Gore claiming to have invented the internet. Unlike Sarah Palin telling Katie Couric she’d “get back to her on that”…the first presidential debate was frankly pretty professional and buttoned down. However, as Yogi Berra observed, “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.…”
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The Presidential wannabe Senators have two more debates in October and their seconds have one real soon. As previously stated, this was not an event as much as a component part of a process. There remains external factors than can, could, and would mitigate whatever does or does not happen in November. A natural disaster, further financial turmoil, the oil market, or another terrorist attack and all bets are off…