5 Reasons Why Barack Lost the 1st Debate
I co-hosted a Debate Party on Friday night that doubled as a Fundraiser for Barack Obama. The party was fun, the food was delicious, and the people I watched the debate with, including the Bus Chick & people from YES! Magazine and Reclaim the Media, couldn’t have been cooler.
What could have been better was my candidate’s performance. Here’s why this debate was a lost opportunity:
- Too much agreement
- Posturing on Pakistan & Afghanistan
- Nuclear Iran only posing a threat to Israel
- Iran’s army is a terrorist organization
- Venezuela is a rogue nation
(All the references I make here can be seen in the Debate Transcript, courtesy of the New York Times.)
1. Too much agreement
Sure, everybody likes to agree with people. Everybody likes when people agree with them. However, I really don’t like it when Obama goes out of his way to agree with McCain. In doing so, he gives credibility to McCain’s ridiculous positions on pretty much everything (the economy, taxes, terrorism, etc.). Obama is more right than McCain will ever be on these issues. His stances in most cases are fundamentally different. Therefore, the Campaign for Change should a lot less agreeing with those they call More of the Same and a lot more differentiating.
2. Posturing on Pakistan and Afghanistan
Obama has made it alright for Democrats to be complete war hawks with regard to Afghanistan and [of late] Pakistan. Why?
- The people that perpetrated 9/11 are in these places
Weren’t the majority people that perpetrated 9/11 from Saudi Arabia? Why don’t we tough talk them?
- Pakistan is no longer our ally
Since Purvez Musharaf is no longer President, and since he was allegedly our ally, we’re free to do whatever we need to do, even if it involves taking military action within a sovereign nation’s borders. Sound familiar? This sets a dangerous pretext for future preemptive actions…
Obama is better than this, at least I hope so. A different approach to foreign policy, one that will restore our standing in the world & make us more secure, is an approach that focuses on diplomacy all the time, not just some of the time. Democrats are so scared of being called weak. Don’t they know that the most aggressive are usually the weakest? Frank Lucas told me that “the loudest one it the room is the weakest one in the room.”
3. Nuclear Iran only posing a threat to Israel
Moderator Jim Lehrer asked “what is your reading on the threat to Iran right now to the security of the United States?” It’s a good question to get a clue on each candidates approach towards diplomacy & national security. The sad thing is that both McCain and Obama gave the same answer. Obama & McCain both could say enough times about how much of a threat a nuclear Iran was to Israel. Israel? Was the question asked about Israel, or about the United States? I’ve seen question dodging before, but this was the first time that I’ve seen two debaters take cover from the same question in the same bunker. Obama could have shown a clear difference here by simply answering the question. Why didn’t he? Why be so quick to agree with the guy you should be distancing yourself from
4. Iran’s army is a terrorist organization
In their answers to the same question about a nuclear Iran being a threat to Israel, both McCain and Obama said that Iran’s Republican Guard (read: their army), is a terrorist organization. Did you know that we could say that about another country’s military? I wonder if Iraqi civilians think that way about our soldiers? If they think we’re the insurgents, maybe that’s why they want us out and want us dead? Again, this is tough-guy posturing that is not emblematic of a different approach to foreign policy, militarism, and national security. I wonder if this will come up when our next President sits down with Iran’s leadership.
5. Venezuela is a rogue nation
Huh? I’ve never heard anyone but the Bush Administration say this. What exactly have Hugo Chavez and Venezuela done that elevates them to this status? Bush doesn’t like Chavez, I know. By why doesn’t McCain? Because McCain basically agrees with Bush on everything, fair enough? Why doesn’t Barack? I have no idea, but this again speaks to a policy of tough talk and not one of a different approach or of reasonable diplomacy.
The Peril of being a Critical Obama Supporter
I think that Obama left a lot of cards on the table Friday night, the biggest being the 5 laid out above. Since the Obama campaign is about all of us, not just about Obama, it is up to all of us to make Obama be the candidate we need him to be. I don’t want to see anymore points being left on the table. I don’t want to see anymore senseless posturing. I want to see substantive change. I will continue to push for that, no matter who it pisses off, because after the debates, after the election, we have a country to live in and a government to hold accountable, no matter if my guy wins or the other guy wins.
Let’s look at this election for what it is: one step towards change, not the change itself.
One Love. One II.