Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Guest Post: More on the Debates

Since I don't have time for a long post today I wanted to make sure, if you didn't happen to see it, this great comment on the blog. It includes some great insight into the upcoming debate as well as how Obama should handle the issue of the surge. I can say, with almost certainty, that it was placed by a friend I once heard described by a neutral party as "erudite as shit." I have edited the formatting.
-Vox Populi

Obama scored better and more often than did McCain -- not only at the level of intellect and policy -- but also of stature. Hopefully Biden can do the same thing on Thursday.

Biden will be faced with something of the opposite of the challenge that Obama faced on Friday: while people were looking to see if Obama, despite his limited time in elected office, was "ready" to be president and he needed to come off as down to Earth (as opposed to being an aloof elitist (a la Gore or Adlai Stevenson)), everyone knows that Biden knows the ins and outs of both Washington and foreign policy the difficulty will be whether he can convey that vast wealth of knowledge while maintaining a respectful tone toward Palin. Regardless of whether you think Palin deserves to be talked down to (I, for one, think she does), Biden needs to resist the temptation or risk eliciting sympathy for Palin. As this blog mentioned previously, Palin is someone people relate to and see pieces of themselves in. The average person does not know the ins and outs of foreign policy but likely still considers himself or herself capable of making (and expressing) foreign policy decisions--perhaps by listening to their gut and being sure never to blink. If Biden's attacks seem too mean spirited or smack of a know-it-all smugness, those who like Palin may sense that their own intelligence and judgment is being impugned as well and thus might respond negatively.

On a completely different note, I must say that while I thought Obama generally acquitted himself nicely I was surprised by his answer on the surge in Iraq. Obviously this was a point where McCain felt particularly confident and where he could really press Obama and try to score some points by noting the differences in their respective stances on the surge. Obama answered McCain by trying to draw a distinction between a strategy and a tactic, a line of argument that in my view was ill-conceived. Rather than argue about the differences between a successful tactic in service of a failed strategy, I thought he should have opted for an answer that I thought he had used rather successfully in the debates during the democratic primaries. The argument ran something like this: Our military, is of course, the strongest in the world and given the right number of troops and the right military equipment they can achieve any military objective that it would be prudent for us to ask of them. But the problem in Iraq has moved beyond military objectives. What we have in Iraq is a social problem, not a military one. So of course the surge worked, it was a military objective carried out successfully by our brave men and women who are the best soldiers in the world. But that does not change the fact that the Iraq government has failed to meet all of its social and political deadlines. The government of Iraq this year is running at a huge surplus [I think its around 80 billion dollars, if i remember correctly], while American tax payers are paying millions of dollars a day and America's children are putting their lives at risk everyday. With the military objectives of this war largely complete its time for us to turn over the country to men and women of Iraq and to the government that they elected and to bring our sons and daughters home.

Just my two cents.

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