The town hall debate at the Grand Ole Opry between the two presidential candidates just wrapped up, and in the end I feel that things haven't changed significantly enough to sway anybody's opinion either way. There will be a third debate next week, which I am looking forward to, but before that, I'd like to share my thoughts on a few things before my feeble mind forgets them.
For one thing, I disagree with the format for these debates. Two minutes to answer each question was obviously insufficient for both Obama and McCain, as they both went over time to address some key issues. Furthermore, having only one minute for the reply was also not enough, but then again it's down to how the candidates choose to answer these questions.
Because it was a town hall format, the questions came not from the moderator but from the audience and from US citizens thru the the internet. I liked the questions that they chose for each candidate, and the best one I heard was from one of the women in the audience who asked, how can they trust either candidate with their money, when both their parties played a part in creating the current financial crisis. Both candidates were very congenial and calm in their responses. The questions all came from undecided voters.
This debate centered on both domestic and foreign policy. The issues were on energy, healthcare, the war on terror, relations with Pakistan, Israel, Iran, North Korea and Russia. In terms of domestic issues, Obama wants to cut taxes for 95% of Americans, while McCain wants to, to paraphrase him, "leave taxes alone." In foreign policy, Obama was pro-diplomacy while McCain said a bunch of things on how Obama was wrong about Iraq. Pakistan was a sticky issue because Obama said that they would if necessary supercede Pakistani sovereignity in order to nail Bin Laden, and McCain misinterpreted those words into "Obama says, we will invade Pakistan", which isn't surprising given the Republican party's preference for character assassination.
In the end there was a lot of rhetoric thrown around, and I think this is partly due to the campaign fatigue of having to repeatedly make the same promises. Once either becomes president he will have to follow through on those promises. There was also a fair bit of finger pointing between Obama and McCain, and some amount of breaking the format in order to address issues raised between the opponents. On diplomacy issues, from an international perspective, I would have to say Obama wins. From a purely jingoistic American stance, McCain might have a slight edge, but saying that brings bile up my throat.
So, in the end, since both candidates implore the voting public to look at their respective records, I would still vote for Obama. He is more consistent, he's kept a level head in the last year, and has always looked the moral victor. Joe Biden looks like an excellent Vice President, and well. Look at the alternative.
If there was one channel I was watching the debates on, I'd choose Al-Jazeera. No crap analysis from Wolf Blitzer, thank you. I like that they were more dynamic with their analysts and included university students in their discussion. There was even a heated argument between two of their correspondents before the debate which was funny, between Democratic and Republican advisors. Plus it helps that I have huge crush on their female anchor, Ghida Fakhry. Drooools....................