Sunday, August 17, 2008
Gun Slinging Maverick Vs Mr. Slick
Last night's first debate of the Presidential contenders, primarily focused on morals and faith based issues was probably the best format and execution of a debate in recent history. I still support the idea that the setting places too much connection between religion and politics, but one has to give kudos to Rick Warrens even handed monitoring versus recent shameful political pandering by media pundits in the same role.
What I missed in this format is the interchange of ideas and being able to observe the reactions of each candidate to what the other says in real time. I also think McCain had a significant advantage being last and able to leave the final impression(s). Some have even suggested he was somehow able to hear or know the questions ahead of his turn since he seemed to know the questions and his answer before Warren was finished asking...or...he was just very well prepared. I hope it's the later. A more fair and comparative format would be to have both candidates on stage at the same time and exchange back and forth the "first turn" on the various issues.
What continues to crystallize for me between these two candidates is their very different approaches and temperament about the issues. You have the hard talking, maverick positioning, decorated war hero John McCain versus the more liberal, slick, conversant, intellectual Barack Obama. Both men in my view have pros and cons...and I'm still leaning towards 3rd party candidates which represent my personal platform preferences. Yet, I have to take interest in the two front runners if only to get a feel of how things will be depending on who wins the Presidency of our country.
Most people will vote which "image" or personality they most identify with...unfortunately. John McCain represents to me the gun slinging maverick who says he is going to give you the straight truth, stand up strongly against our enemies, and represents the "old guard" and more traditional views of American tradition and positioning in the world. I used to like McCain more, even when I didn't agree with him, when he was the independent maverick voice of the Republican party. Unfortunately he has sacrificed much of that integrity to political convenience in his campaign for the Presidency. I also don't like the amount of slime and negative campaigning he and the Republicans are falling back on as they feel very threatened by the upstart politician, Obama.
Barack Obama has succeeded in turning the process on its ear as the most successful and well spoken minority candidate in our country's history. His personality and approach is much less combative or confrontational. He has succeeded in galvanizing a whole new demographic of Americans into the political process including youth, minorities, and the poor or displaced in American culture. To that extent, I applaud and WANT to like and support him. Unfortunately, behind all the imaging and intellect is more of the typical liberal agenda of bigger government programs, higher taxes and more government intervention in the marketplace...all of which I oppose.
I WANT to support the strong aggressive "Patriot" message of McCain of "getting" all our enemies and standing up to everyone in the world. Unfortunately, I don't think he will have the money and forces at his disposal to live up to the rhetoric. The current administration has burned through most of that. I fear someone putting out "tough talk" on my behalf who doesn't have the size or substance to back up the talk with action. After all, it was George Bush's tough talk against Hussein and Iraq that forced us to back it up when Saddam called us on it. Now we face challenges on many fronts, including Russia, to America's authority and controls in international affairs. I personally think our foreign policy is in tatters and we no longer have the money to buy our friends with. Unfortunately, history shows us time and time again that when an empire gets unrealistic about its capabilities to control territories it holds influence over...it quickly recedes in size and stature in the world. I fear the militarization talk of McCain in face of our current combined problems as a country.
I WANT to support some of the social message and idea of pursuing international dialogue in solving our conflicts and challenges that Barack Obama represents. If words and enforceable agreements can be negotiated in place of guns and warships by engaging everyone on a rational basis...I would be more for that than spending our remaining wealth and soldiers lives on warfare. To me it has been obvious that the current administration has been more dictatorial and bilateral in their decisions than consensus oriented with our international allies. Yet, we can't rebuild our defenses and our economy by just putting more government programs in place and redistributing wealth in our own country. Just reshuffling the tax codes and getting us out of international conflicts won't rebuild our economy nor guarantee a strong defense of freedom and democracy. Obama would need to make some major changes in his platform before I could vote for him.
So, who will be the next leader of the "free world"? A gun slinging maverick, or a slick talking negotiator? Both candidates have flip flopped on various issues of importance. At the end of the day, they are both just "politicians"...with skeletons and moral issues in their past. We should not put too much importance or trust on either one of them to get our country out of our mess. In my mind, it will be up to each of us Americans to find consensus amongst ourselves and demand that government reflect the "will of the people". There is too much "taxation without representation". There are too many "career" politicians manipulating our process. We too easily relinquish decisions for war to our imperfect and fallible President and executive branch of government. We are asking too much of government and too little of ourselves. This is the core difference we will need to see to rebuild our country's greatness. The power of ONE...to change and influence the world.