Friday, September 26, 2008

McCain versus Obama debate analysis

Although neither candidate specifically outlined exactly what they would do to confront the current economic challenges we face, the one answer we did receive was a very important one: the debate tonight in no way hindered or hampered the ability of this nation to confront the economic challenge. That was John McCain's initial message and clearly, he was proven wrong.

But there was a fundamental difference between McCain and Barack Obama that came out clearly. McCain was determined to attack McCain and hammer away at two points that he, McCain, has been to many of the foreign nations that are today the focus of our foreign policy disasters, and Obama has not; and, that McCain has "more experience" than Obama.

McCain argued that Obama opposed the "surge," but Obama came back strong and pointed out that the real problem facing this country is not one strategy of sending 20,000 troops to Iraq to help our 125,000 existing sodliers already there, but rather the flaw in entering Iraq in the first place. The Surge that John McCain championed repeatedly as an attack on Obama is nothing more than a short-term band-aid that has done nothing to resolve the fundamental challenge we face int he war on terrorism. Iraq was the wrong move after Sept. 11, 2001 and McCain did not speak out when the need for leadership and experience was in demand. McCain silently supported the Iraq war and that is the fundamental error that has led this nation to where it is today.

While Obama spoke to the American people, McCain spoke to the debate moderator Jim Lehrer. While Obama spoke to McCain, McCain seemed uptight and focused either on Lehrer or on his notes. McCain showed that he has the mental stamina to engage in a toe-to-toe debate with Obama and that his age is not an issue -- at least in this debate -- but an advantage of experience. And McCain deserves points for being tough and driving home over and over again his two priority messages.

But neither candidate offered a real solution to the nation's economic turmoil, other than their fundamental beliefs in how to address the bigger pictures that have led us to this economic challenge.

The debate was productive and Americans were given a chance to finally see, four weeks before the election, who the candidates really are facing off no-holds-barred and in open and wide debate and discussion. The fact that this debate might not have taken place is problematic for McCain.

This debate is not about who won or who lost but rather that the American people were finally given a chance to see the two men, one of which will become this nation's president, speak on the important issues. The debate was broadened from its original focus from foreign policy to include the nation's economic challenges.

Both candidates did a good job of presneting their side and newither side made a major mistake. So in the end, neither side lost anything. And did it change any minds? Probably not.

The deciding factor for most Americans will probably not come from the debate tonight but rather from the bigger, fundamental issues that each candidate brought to the debate.

McCain represents the existing policies represented by the failed presidency of George W. Bush, and Barack Obama represents a change from the past failed policies. If McCain failed in any area, it was in failing to distinguish himself apart from Bush's failures, Bush's errors in entering Iraq, and his failure to properly confront the challenges in Pakistan and Afghanistan where al-Qaeda exists.

-- Ray Hanania

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