A commentary about sports, media, and interpersonal relationships encountered throughout everyday life.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Pennsylvania Debate: 1st Half, non-issue fluff. 2nd Half: Real Issues.

The first half of tonight’s “debate” between Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton was absurd. The debate began at 8 PM Eastern and literally no real issues were covered for the first 50 minutes. The tide turned once George Stephanopoulos and Charlie Gibson focused on the withdrawing of troops from Iraq. Before this turnaround occurred at 8:50 PM, anyone viewing the debate received tabloid garbage news from both Obama and Clinton.

But whose fault is this? Is it ABC’s for actually posing questions about sniper fire in Bosnia, racist ministers, and shady individuals know by each candidate? Not entirely. If you dig down into the belly of the beast, it is each of the politicians who are to blame. Looking back to a three-way attack Sen. Obama faced about his minister, Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Watching this exchange, it seemed more like a trashy talk show than a Presidential debate.

However, it wasn’t strictly Obama who was on the receiving end of “issue” attacks. Gibson and Stephanopoulos also attempted to, again, make Hillary Clinton talk about how ridiculous her sniper fire story in Bosnia was. Is this really a pressing issue? This question counts as the third time that this absurd story has swept through the mass media. The first was when it initially “broke.” The second, when former-President Clinton decided to randomly bring it up at a talk he gave just over a week ago. The third comes tonight.

It really baffles me that these two stories that the American people have had force-fed down their throats are coming up again! Not only that… but taking away from the time that two candidates for the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES could be discussing REAL ISSUES! It is disgusting that the first hour of this two-hour debate was on nonsense that people really should not base their votes on. Especially since the second half of the debate hit real issues that people should take into consideration when casting their ballots next week and in November.

In the issue of Iraq, Hillary Clinton had her best showing thus far. She spoke about not knowing what will happen if US troops are withdrawn from Iraq. However, Sen. Clinton said that we do know that troops are continually in danger and dying in Iraq if the United States remains overseas. This is the first time that I can remember, that Sen. Clinton took a solid stance on the removal of troops from Iraq. She also listed three specific factors that remaining in Iraq will result in: (1) Iraq will continue it’s dependency issues and passive approach to independence so long as the US remains. (2) The U.S. Military will continue to be stretched thin as troops will be forced into third, fourth, and fifth tours of duty in the Middle East. Lastly, (3) The U.S. will not give its full attention to more pressing issues (e.g. the economy).

However, this strong position began to fade once Sen. Clinton and Sen. Obama addressed the social security crisis. During this juncture, Sen. Obama called Clinton’s bluff about waiving a magic wand and fixing the social security crisis. At this point, I was expecting a specific approach or example that Sen. Clinton had up her sleeve. No. Her response was, “We’re gonna work it out, we’re gonna make it happen.” ABC went to commercial right after that “response,” and I sat back and wondered… Was that really just her response? If there was any chance of her running away with this debate, it fell flat at that very moment.

The debate closed with a lack of commitment on gun issues and a lack of furtherance on propositions of transforming affirmative action at some point down the line. It’s hard not to think that both candidates could have expanded on both of these issues that they danced around if the entire first half of the debate was not spent delving through non-issues. It saddens me to know that there are some people who turned off the debate after an hour or less. Those who did so only received information about irrelevant topics (like church minister and imaginary sniper fire) that could potentially decide for whom they case their votes, and that is a sad reality of our political coverage.


Mike Plugh said...

If ABC sickens you, send them an e-mail here.

Matt C said...

It's amazing how, in a debate featuring two viable candidates, instead of actually making them discuss real issues, moderators choose to harp on stuff more fit for the Enquirer. Great analysis of the debate; hopefully there will be another before this primary season ends so that the candidates can work to get this bad taste out of everyone's mouth.

Paul Levinson said...

Excellent analysis, Brian.

bfadds said...

Matt-- I'm with you on this. I cannot see this being the last debate before the DNC. That would really be an anit-climactic end to what has been a long, enduring race run by both candidates. I'll be crossing my fingers.

Thanks for comments all!

mike's spot said...

Did you really expect much substance there at the end though? You'll be hard pressed to get an actual response from anyone from here on out.

I still think Obama pwnd. Hillary though- he was far closer to actual responses on questions.

bfadds said...

Mike E-- Yeah. My particular favorite was when he pressed Hilary on what EXACTLY she would do about social security. Her response: "We'll Figure It Out..." Haha, sounds like a Presidential response to a problem like that right?

BTW... if you thought they danced around those issues, I was laughing as they both awkwardly tip-toed around your favorite amendment (Right to Bear Arms).

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Joanne said...

Brian you hit it right on the nose... Keep up the good work!

Elizabeth said...

Great points, Brian. I initially put all the blame on ABC, but you are right... the candidates have a responsibility to discuss the important issues.