Friday, September 26, 2008

The First Debate

McCain beat Obama in tonight's debate. He wiped him out. Foreign policy is the one area in which McCain is clearly superior to Obama. This one wasn't even close.

William Kristol brought up the analogy of a boxing match on Fox News. If this were a fist fight, McCain knocked Obama down and then kicked him almost to the point of unconsciousness. Obama lay in blood with snot dripping from his nose, whining, "Mommy! Make the bad man go away!"

It is disgusting that Obama holds as one of his foreign policy goals "to restore America's standing in the world." If America is in low standing in world, then there is something wrong with the world, not with America. In effect, high on Obama's to do list is to kiss the butt of every two-bit socialist dictator around the world and to give them boatloads of taxpayer dollars.

Neither candidate is great on the issue of talking to Achmadinejad. You don't talk to man like Achmadinejad; you kill such a man. The very act of talking to a dictator who wants to destroy you is worse than anything that could be said in these vaunted discussions because it gives the dictator moral sanction. How can you wipe out a regime if it is decent and rational enough to talk to? You can't. And that's why Obama is desperate to talk to our enemies: the act of talking itself prevents us from attacking. For someone who voted present over 120 times as a State Senator, it is important to be relieved from any expectation or responsibility to take action. Talking is what politicians do when they pretend to have a solution but in reality have nothing. Obama has nothing. He is all symbolism and no substance.

Even on the economy in the first half hour of the debate, McCain won. Obama's big idea is to redistribute wealth. Hey, there's an original idea! When he talks about tax cuts for 95% of Americans, he means a tax increase for the richest 5%. That's redistribution from the richest to the rest of America. This has been Democrat policy for, I dunno, a hundred years or so? Will the Democrats ever come up with a new idea?

McCain came off as a man who understands that the world is a dangerous place and America must preserve peace through strength. Obama came off as a shallow cipher and an empty suit who wants to appease America's enemies.

In economics, both candidates prescribe more of the poison that is killing us: government intervention. In foreign policy, only Obama prescribes more the poison that is killing us: appeasement. McCain will probably come around to appeasement, but he prescribes a lower dosage of the poison. I guess that's the most one can hope for from a Republican these days.


Dismuke said...

When I listen to the debates to see who "wins" in terms of who gets a boost in the poll numbers, I try to put myself in the mindset of some hopeless pragmatist whose political convictions are totally wishy washy and who only starts to pay attention to politics when the debates start.

I listened to the first half on the debate on the radio while driving. Given the above mentioned standards, I thought Obama was "winning." He sounded sharper and more sure of himself. McCain sounded hesitant and a bit defensive. When I got home, I pulled up a video webcast of the debate on my computer. For awhile, I continued to think that Obama was "winning." He looked more poised, in control and confident. McCain looked old and somewhat clueless like an old fighter who was being beaten up on without him even realizing it.

Again, I was trying to view it as a n utterly mindless pragmatist who had zero background knowledge to properly question either candidate's assertions.

Things started to change on some of the foreign policy questions - McCain seemed to be more relaxed and Obama became fidgety and clearly uncomfortable with the topic.

Ultimately, however, if a person managed to stick through to the very end, I think McCain won the debate hands down by virtue of his performance verses Obamas in the closing seconds of the debate.

McCain looked into the camera and said with confidence and authority:

" I've been involved, as I mentioned to you before, in virtually every major national security challenge we've faced in the last 20-some years. There are some advantages to experience, and knowledge, and judgment.

And I -- and I honestly don't believe that Senator Obama has the knowledge or experience and has made the wrong judgments in a number of areas, including his initial reaction to Russian invasion -- aggression in Georgia, to his -- you know, we've seen this stubbornness before in this administration to cling to a belief that somehow the surge has not succeeded and failing to acknowledge that he was wrong about the surge is -- shows to me that we -- that -- that we need more flexibility in a president of the United States than that....

But, also, I have the ability, and the knowledge, and the background to make the right judgments, to keep this country safe and secure.

Reform, prosperity, and peace, these are major challenges to the United States of America. I don't think I need any on-the-job training. I'm ready to go at it right now."

Despite the fact that he referred to Obama in the second paragraph as "this administration," McCain came across as a very polished, confident, experienced and seriousapplicant in a job interview making the case why he should be hired.

When it was Obama's turn to respond, he had a deer in the headlights look and said:

" Uhhhhh, well, let me just make a closing point. You know, my father came from Kenya. That's where I get my name.

And in the '60s, he wrote letter after letter to come to college here in the United States because the notion was that there was no other country on Earth where you could make it if you tried. The ideals and the values of the United States inspired the entire world.

I don't think any of us can say that our standing in the world now, the way children around the world look at the United States, is the same.

And part of what we need to do, what the next president has to do -- and this is part of our judgment, this is part of how we're going to keep America safe -- is to -- to send a message to the world that we are going to invest in issues like education, we are going to invest in issues that -- that relate to how ordinary people are able to live out their dreams.

And that is something that I'm going to be committed to as president of the United States."

(The "Uhhhh" was left out of the CNN transcript where I got the quotes from)

Obama's "uhhhh, well" made him come across like some awkward teenager trying to do stand up comedy at an improv club. And his subsequent remarks - well, if someone came up with them as an Obama parody, they would probably be accused of exaggerating. The focus of our foreign policy needs to be centered around what children in other countries think of the United States? Hmmmm. I guess it takes a village!

Obama very clearly is a child - a little hippie who has never grown up. He is a child who has a grown-up's haircut and wears grown-up's clothing and can recite the grown-up's words that his speech writers and debate coaches put into his mouth. McCain may look old - but it is very clear from the closing moments of the debate that he is a grown up.

If I were a hopeless pragmatist and utterly clueless about how to grasp the implications of the arguments made by either side but had enough sense to realize that we live in very alarming times - well, I would pick the grown up over the child any day of the week.

Of course, for us, the question is who will do more damage: a grown-up who is a statist or a spoiled brat child who is a statist. Thankfully, I live in Texas so even if I were to vote, it wouldn't matter as McCain will carry my state. That makes it easy for me because I couldn't make myself vote for either bozo.

Oh - and one more thing. One of the things I was kind of hoping for was for Sara Palin to show up to debate Obama instead of McCain on grounds that her boss was busy in Washington with that crazy bailout. Talk about a deer in headlights - the look on Obama's face at the prospect of debating HER would be priceless.

david said...

If America is in low standing in world, then there is something wrong with the world, not with America.

That's a grand-slam, Myrhaf. Thank you for saying it.

Chuck said...

"If America is in low standing in world, then there is something wrong with the world, not with America."

That reminds me of another thing many foreigners are guilty of - thinking we should elect someone based on who *they* like. I read an article by some leftist British journalist in whic he said that if America doesn't elect Obama, it will be the last straw. The rest of the world will have to accept, finally, that America doesn't care what Europe thinks. And so they will be justified in their hatred and enmity toward America.

That kind of thinking always astonishes me. What would these people think if we told them who to elect as their President/Prime Minister? They'd call it American arrogance.

The only thing a rational human being considers when electing a head of state is---in these days, at least---who is the lesser threat to my individual rights? Nowhere in a citizen's thinking is there any room for "what will Europe think about my pick?"

Mike N said...

You're absolutely right about the children anology. The children are in charge of our universities, body politic and media. That children wil be in charge of the nuclear button and the economy is scary. But then, they have been since FDR.

Kyle Haight said...

There's a difference between assets and income. The Democrats advocate higher taxes on incomes, but don't tax assets. Rich people have assets, and can generally structure their income from those assets in ways that bypass the income tax code. (Buying tax-free municipal bonds is a simple example.)

When you jack up taxes on incomes, you aren't really taxing the *rich*. You're taxing upper middle-class professionals to make sure they don't *become* rich. I think this is the true purpose of Democratic tax policy -- to protect the already rich from competition by up-and-comers.

I think the Republicans should propose an asset tax of 20% on individuals whose total net worth is over $50 million. The reactions on the left would be fascinating -- and revealing.

Myrhaf said...

Do we really want the government to start taxing assets just so we can point out the hypocrisy of the left? Once a tax starts, it never leaves, and it only grows bigger. As it was pointed out in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, when the income tax was being debated in Congress, someone suggested writing in a cap of 10% that the government could take. Others scoffed that the tax would never get that big. It started at 1%, I believe, and then grew to where the top rate was, if I'm not mistaken, 95%, before rates were cut. A 20% assets tax would see the state stealing one fifth of everything rich people own. It would practically be a partial nationalizing of everything.

madmax said...

"I think this is the true purpose of Democratic tax policy -- to protect the already rich from competition by up-and-comers."

I'm skeptical of this claim. It makes it sound like the Democrats don't take altruism seriously and are only using it as a cover for personal wealth accumulation. While some altruists might be that way for Machiavellian reasons, I don't think you can say that for the whole party or its intellectuals.

It is a mystery to me why the Democrats haven't argued for taxing the principal portions of people's savings instead of just the interest. Perhaps they know if they did that they would never win any elections on any level. But I have no doubt that they (and their Republican soulmates) will start taxing assets when they feel they can get away with it.

Myrhaf said...

Jesse Jackson, long ago when he was a greater force in the Democrat Party, argued for the government raiding pension funds and redistributing that vast wealth. People like Jackson cannot stand the thought that there are hundreds of billions of dollars, if not trillions, that they can't get their hands on to use for social engineering. No one took his idea seriously and I never heard it again.

Kyle Haight said...

I wouldn't want to see an asset tax actually *passed*. It would have horrifically bad effects, as Myrhaf indicated. But I think the reactions to such a proposal would be very revealing.

MadMax wrote that "It is a mystery to me why the Democrats haven't argued for taxing the principal portions of people's savings instead of just the interest." This is exactly the reason why I think the true purpose of Democratic tax policy is not to soak the rich -- because they don't actually do it. They soak the trying-to-get-rich.

Remember that altruists are always at some level hypocrites. (They have to be, because wholly consistent evil is an impossibility.) "The man who speaks to you of service speaks of slaves and masters, and means to be the master." I don't think that every altruist is a closet Machiavellian, but they don't have to be in order for such considerations to be driving tax policy.

Think of the way the altruist businessmen like Jim Taggart and his cronies used government policy to enrich themselves at the expense of the producers, all while loudly proclaiming their commitment to altruism. That's what's going on in this case, I think.