The Discerning Texan

All that is necessary for evil to triumph, is for good men to do nothing.
-- Edmund Burke
Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Debate of MANY Missed Opportunities

Who won the debate? Well, like many subatomic particle physics experiments, it probably depends subjectively on who was observing.

For example: MOST independent Americans and/or "Reagan Democrats" believe in the wisdom of the American worker and American ingenuity. MOST independents believe that given an opportunity to compete in the free marketplace and to explore our own rich resources, we could do it better and more efficiently than anyone else, provided that the government would simply get out of the way (all of the angry left's twisted contortions to the contrary).

MOST Americans do not want another 9/11 to occur--even Democrats--and a large majority would never have predicted that we would have gone this long since that horrific day without being attacked again. There are of course reasons why we have not been attacked again (along with a little luck)--reasons that McCain obviously did not want to bring up because they also involve his predecessor. While some Independents might disagree as to what all the reasons and underlying causes were, in truth most of us have little or no idea what actually has transpired behind the scenes since 2001, in this existential war against our virulent jihadist enemies. Most of us have no idea how many times we came close to getting hit again, or how many plots have been foiled because of our "playing offense." But when it comes to our National Security, is our feigned ignorance really "bliss"? Or should someone who wants to be our President actually, you know... point it out??

And does not this economic crisis also threaten our National Security??

For me a Presidential debate is one of the few opportunities that candidates have to communicate over the media's cheerleaders, those 24x7 purveyors of promoting Democrat candidates and spinning untenable policy positions in order to decieve as much of the electorate as possible. Debates provide some of the few opportunities that Republicans (especially) have to speak and connect directly with the voters, especially those "independents" in the middle who will decide this election. Reagan was masterful in this regard. As a Republican, you have to be good at it, because the odds are always stacked against you by the media's goo-goo eyed worship of these leftist idiots.

And let's face it: it isn't always easy to convince confused and conflicted Americans about what is true and what is not, especially where economics are involved. For a politician to pull it off they must have a good grasp of facts, history, and the way the world really works. The beauty of debates is that--regardless of the undeniable bias the media throws in our way, and regardless of the disservice this partisanship does to a functional democracy's ability to make wise decisions--here is one a golden opportunity to for candidates to communicate ideas well enough to educate the uneducated--and to refute the talking points of the baying hyenas and spinmasters in big media.

But--to be successful you have to actually take advantage of those opportunities. And therein lies the rub.

Yes I thought McCain did "better" in the debate, I will stipulate that. However, I was sorely disappointed that Maverick allowed Obama to play "rope-a-dope" for so long. Obama is a master of twisting a question into a speech that has nothing to do with answering what was asked, and McCain ought to be dogged enough to corner Obama in this weak mealy-mouthedness. Facts, for example can be a good thing, when they are delivered in a timely and effective manner. But for facts to be effective, you have to actually speak them.

Friday night, Obama threw out some real whoppers; some down the middle fat pitches that McCain could have easily hit out of the park... yet he did not even swing at them. In going out of his way not to lose his "famous" temper and/or to appear "Presidential", McCain failed to take advantage of the very killer instinct which served him so well in the primaries (often to my own chagrin...).

Perhaps my own opinion about these missed opportunities are colored by my having spent so much time reading books like Sowell's spectacular Basic Economics: A Common Sense Guide to the Economy (also available btw in iTunes or at Amazon as a "book on tape"...). Truly if there was just one book that I had to pick for every American to read and fully comprehend, this would be the one. The beauty of Sowell's exposition is that it is interesting, easy to understand, contains numerous real world examples to explain each concept, and otherwise is virtually inarguable for people with any common sense, intelligence, and a knowledge of history. I've read this book twice now and also have listened to it a third time via my iPod. This is a book that gets better every time.

So yes: it is possible that I do not consider economics to be rocket science, because I had (in Sowell) one of the best teachers alive. Whereas most people seemed intimidated and turn glassy-eyed when the word "economics" is even mentioned. That of course is the fault of our educators--because (my opinion)--they don't want you to know the truth when it comes to Capitalism and why it works. But of course this also stems from the fact that they don't understand it either--and they don't want to.

Fine, then: maybe in normal circumstances you would not make a huge effort in a debate to do a bit of "plain speaking" about economic principles. But these are not normal circumstances, and it is too late to change the reality of where all of this built-in big Government socialism (see: Freddie and Frannie...) has brought us: the World is in an economic crisis. And our next President has to deal with that.

So frankly I don't care if the people don't understand or like the topic--we have to try and make them understand, not to run away from the question. McCain had several opportunities to explain how we got here...but he didn't. McCain had a number of opportunities to prove that it was Government Intervention (and corrupt intervention, at that...) enabled by repeated Democrat pandering to interest groups championing untenable business principles--all in the name of "providing greater opportunity"--THAT is the reason many banks are collapsing like dominoes as we speak. Don't we deserve to know that?

McCain missed THE perfect opportunity to explain which Party was instrumental in precipitating the crisis... but he couldn't bring himself to do it. That would be "too partisan" I guess...

Yeah, well so is Stalinism.

Maybe McCain hasn't read enough Thomas Sowell--it is hard to know. But if that is the case, then maybe he should read some... (email me John, seriously: I'll buy you a copy...)

Unfortunately McCain did not consider it to be worth the risk of overcoming an innate American economic illiteracy in order to take advantage of several clear openings that Obama presented to him the other night. You see: when you are debating a Marxist on economic policy, it should not be that difficult to score powerful points, nor to demolish strawmen like the ones that were coming out of Obama's mouth. There were a number of occasions in that debate where I felt like John McCain could have dramatically slammed the door on the Democrats' fear-laden mythology about the free markets.

Alas, he didn't take advantage of those openings; McCain apparently still does not understand that when there is no media to "translate" whatever Populist tripe his pollsters tell him that the Public actually believes, a debate provides the perfect opportunity to walk away from all that cheap, dishonest, transparent crap (which both candidates have been regurgitating ad nauseum)--and to expose the unwashed electorate to the blessing of actual truth.

Don't you get it, Senator? Once people can see the truth, they will thank you, not blame you. You have survived a living hell as a young man; why then is it so difficult to level with the American people about the Genesis of this financial crisis?

Senator, you have been a politician for most of your life, yet you seem not to grasp a basic truth: ALL politics is partisan. And when your opponent is championing an economic ideology that has now come close to DESTROYING this great country, it IS acceptable to point that out... Yes, sometimes we have to come together, and we do when we have to (see this weekend, for example). But 99% of the time politics is bloodsport. It is a zero sum game. That sucks from an intellectual point of view, but it has always been that way. And it still is preferable to not having a choice in the matter. Therefore: is IS OK to stand for something, and to defend it--especially when you are in the right...

Friday night, John McCain might have taken great leaps in actually explaining to the American people just what the hell has been going on since the days of Carter, all in the name of "fairness"; he could have clearly laid out to the unaware the great lengths to which our Government (led by Democrats) has gone to overtly and covertly sneak provisions into law which have since then forced at gunpoint the very banks now going broke to provide "opportunities" to individuals and businesses who they otherwise would never have given loans to, that is: had sound business judgment and not social engineering become the "PC" standard for issuing credit.

But apparently McCain and/or the paranoids handling he and Sarah Palin's campaign (why are they hiding her???) don't think it is worth the risk of being honest with the American people about the CAUSE OF THIS CRISIS. It was not "8 years of Bush", John... It was 31+ years of Liberalism run amok in our Government.

Perhaps he doesn't think we can handle the truth. But the reality is that: as a free people we will not be able to endure much longer living under the continued perpetuation of the BIG LIE. So who is going to address that?? Are we so afraid of ticking off ACORN and other purveyors of bankrupt social "equality" that we dare not speak the truth about the root cause of this crisis??

Thus, we step ever closer to the precipice of "Paradise Lost"; not because McCain did not have plenty of opportunities to reveal the truth about the Democrats and their empty ideology--but more because he let those opportunities pass.

I'm not the only one who has been thinking in these terms; John Pitney has also recognized a number lost McCain opportunities (emphasis mine, read the whole thing here):
More important, he missed chances to score points on Obama. Here are a few: Early in the debate, Obama asked rhetorically: “The question, I think, that we have to ask ourselves is, how did we get into this situation in the first place?” Instead of talking abstractly about greed, McCain might have said: “Senator Obama wants to know how the trouble started. He might ask his close adviser Jim Johnson, who headed Fannie Mae and got an exorbitant pay package.”

Obama promised that we would deliver a tax cut to 95 percent of Americans. McCain could have said: “Senator Obama has made a lot of promises. In 2005, he promised that he wouldn’t run for president. In 2007, he promised that he would work aggressively to ensure public financing of the presidential campaign. In 2008, he promised to fire any staffer who attacked Governor Palin’s family. He broke all those promises. And now he promises to cut your taxes. Right.”

Obama claimed that he “stood up and opposed this war” when it was politically risky. McCain might have replied: “In 2002, Senator Obama said he was against the war. Two years later he said, ‘There’s not that much difference between my position and George Bush’s position at this stage.’ Then he went back to opposing it again. So he was against the war before he was for the war before he was against it. Senator Obama should compare notes with Senator Kerry.”

Obama listed a number of energy options, including “clean-coal technology.” That line was perhaps McCain’s greatest missed opportunity of the night. “It seems that the real debate here is between Senator Obama and his running mate,” McCain might have said. “A few days ago, Senator Biden said — and I quote — ` We’re not supporting clean coal.’”

“And by the way, Senator,” McCain could have added, “your running mate claimed that he was the first person to support solar energy 26 years ago. Actually, the first major legislation on solar energy came years before that, and Senator Biden had nothing to do with it. At least he didn’t claim that he was the inventor of solar energy. That was God.”

There are more debates to come. Perhaps McCain is holding some one-liners in reserve.
Perhaps. But he blew several opportunities in the first debate; how many more openings will Obama give him? How many more chances will there be to explain the differences between what Obama is calling for and how the world really works?

McCain had a chance Friday night to put Obama down for at least an 8-count. Yes Maverick may technically have "won" the debate on points. But Obama still lives to fight another day. And that is too bad.
DiscerningTexan, 9/28/2008 02:07:00 PM |