Thoughts on the First Presidential Debate

Even as a firm and absolutely unmovable supporter of Sen. Obama, I have to admit that I think John McCain came away the winner of this debate. Not because of his positions or intentions with regard to the best direction for our country, but simply because as I saw it, he outperformed Obama on the stage.

This has been Obama's weakness throughout the duration of the primary campaign as well: being unable to throw a knockout punch in a debate. He is famously articulate and rarely misspeaks. In a debate, what this means is that there are pregnant pauses between his words and phrases because he is deliberately choosing the specific word he's after instead of just letting the jabs flow and backing his opponent in to the corner. I have absolutely no doubt that to read a transcript of the debate, Obama would come off as the professorial diplomat and McCain a worthy but condescending adversary.

There were plenty of opportunities for Obama to step up and just lay it down. His campaign made serious progress last week with the 'enough is enough' message regarding the consistent lies and misrepresentations from McCain's campaign.

Tonight it was McCain wrongly claiming that his own advisor, Henry Kissinger, disagreed with Obama on direct communication with Iran. Obama was right, McCain was wrong and Obama knew it.

At another point, McCain slammed Obama as "the most liberal member of the U.S. Senate". Not 30 minutes later, he was patting himself on the back for the bi-partisan 9/11 commission he was a part of bringing together. It needs to be shouted from the rooftops that Barack Obama's vote in favor of forming this commission was deemed "liberal" by the study that McCain has cited. Expanding health care coverage for children? Also liberal. Creating an Office of Public Integrity to serve as a bipartisan Congressional watchdog? Also liberal.

I just kept waiting on Obama to just say it, "Enough is enough. You know John, you've continually misrepresented my words and my intentions. You've criticized my supposed inexperience in foreign relations and then chosen a running mate who only just got her passport one year ago. You hold a convention that claims Country First and yet you mock the decision I made to walk away from a 6-figure salary to be a community organizer in the Southside of Chicago. You like to claim that you're a maverick but you've voted with President Bush 95% of the time this past year to gain favor with the conservative base to win your party's nomination. And even in this debate, you won't look me in the eye and it disturbs me how comfortable you are looking the American people in the eye and repeating these falsehoods over and over. If 45% of the people are for you and 45% are for me, then fine, let's go after those remaining 10% and see who the American people chose based on the merits of our arguments. But let's do it with facts."

Ironically, frighteningly, one of Obama's strongest characteristics, his desire to rise above the fray and usher in a different kind of politics and civility may be the very thing that keeps him from having the opportunity to do so.

Also, don't miss Laura's post below this one :)

UPDATE : From the Times. Exactly.

McCain kept painting Obama as naïve, and dangerous, insisting that he “doesn’t quite understand or doesn’t get it.”

Obama should have responded “Senator, I understand perfectly, I’m just saying you’re wrong.”

On the surge, he could have said that McCain was the arsonist who wanted to be praised for the great job he’s doing putting out the fire he started.

When Obama took quiet umbrage at McCain’s attack about troop-funding, he could have pounded the lectern and said with real anger: “John, I am sick and tired of you suggesting that I would take funds away from our brave soldiers. I no more voted for that than you did when you voted against our funding proposals that would have imposed a timetable. And unlike you, I did not vote against funding increases for the troops that have come home with devastating physical and mental injuries.”

Through The Years

I had a lot of fun at the site while watching the presidential debate (it was making me very angry so I had to double-task with something silly) and got to see what Brian and I would have looked like in different decades.  I've put my favorites here, but you can see more  here.
Brian in 1970…what girl wouldn't go crazy for that?!

B 1970

Here is my hippie! 

B 1976

It wouldn't be fair to him not to post myself, too, so here is the inner 80's-lover in me:

L 1984  L 1984

I think I could have made it in the 50's…

L 1960

And this is why they call us homo sapiens…

Clara took her first steps on September 6th…just a few wobbly little movements, but they were on her own!  Over the next few weeks she would do that – just 2 or 3 steps – and then not again for 5 hours or a day.  But last Thursday, September 18th, it was like something “clicked” and she just stood up and started walking around.  She did it all night long!  she still can’t go super long distances, but she can get halfway across a room pretty smooth before falling down again! it is like a whole new world just opened up – YIKES!!


And here Clara is clapping! or, is this a video of three adults acting like idiots???


My good friend and ridonkulously talented artist, Jay, has tagged me to participate in a random challenge.

1. Post the rules on your blog
2. Write 6 random things about yourself
3. Tag 6 people at the end of your post
4. If you're tagged, DO IT and pass on the tag

So, 6 random things about Brian D. Rhea:

1. The left and right side of my body have to be symmetrical. For example, if I scratch a finger on my left hand, I have to scratch that same finger on the right, even if it doesn't itch. If for some reason, I tug my right ear, I have to tug my left to offset it. If I don't, it's like there is a tingling on the opposite appendage that stays there until I even it out.

2. My pinkies are crooked. Didn't have an accident, I was just born with it. This was a great asset when I was teaching because I could be like, "Hey, have I ever shown you guys what I can do with my fingers?" *pretend to pop them out of socket, show the crooked pinkies* result: "Ooooh! Mr. Rhea! Gross!!! Arhg!! How do you do that?!!?"

3. My middle name is Duane after my mom's dad who remains one of the most gentle and loving people I have ever known.

4. I keep a journal of all the Van Gogh's that I've seen in person … the date, the museum, and my response to the painting.

5. I hate the way it feels after clipping my fingernails. It drives me nuts. My mom may remember this, but I used to throw a fit about cutting my fingernails as a kid.

6. There was about a 10 year period where I did not eat cereal and could not stand to be around anyone eating it. The sogginess and the clanking of the metal spoon against the ceramic bowl just grosses me out for some reason. I've gotten over it to the point that I will do my best to stay in the room if someone is eating some, and if I make a bowl for myself, I eat it really quickly so it doesn't get gross. Still, I prefer to avoid being around it.

Tag, you're it:

1. Anyone (comment and let us know you posted!)
2. Laura
3. Shaun & Kyndra
4. Mom
5. First Park, Barker or Rhode to see this
6. Shailen

Thoughts on the Campaign

Well, things are certainly heating up now.

Thoughts on the Experience Issue:

After a year-and-a-half of the Republicans attacking what they believe to be Obama's thin resume, John McCain chooses an unknown from a state whose total population would rank as just the 16th largest city in the U.S., right behind Austin and just above Ft. Worth.

The supposedly inexperienced Obama has been the chief executive of a 20-month national campaign with a monthly budget of roughly $36 million dollars (three times the annual budget of the town Palin was mayor of). A national campaign that in upsetting Hillary Clinton, defeated the most powerful political machine in the Democratic party, if not the entire country.

The point is, either John McCain never really believed that Obama was unqualified, or he still believes it and has decided to make a politically expedient VP choice against his better judgment. If he believed it in the beginning but has had his mind changed by Barack's success over the last 20 months, he is taking a tremendous gamble in believing that Sarah Palin is equally capable.

Either way, the Republican party, John McCain, and Sarah Palin like to claim that because of her executive experience as mayor for six years of a town of 6,700 at the time, and then one-and-a-half years as governor of Alaska, she is more qualified than Barack Obama to be President.

If it's as simple as that, then any one of the mayors of Houston, San Jose, Indianapolis or Columbus, Ohio are more qualified than Sarah Palin to be President of the United States.

If it's as simple as that, any one of the governors of the 46 states with larger populations than Alaska are more qualified than Sarah Palin.

If it's as simple as that, Sarah Palin is more qualified than John McCain himself.

It isn't that simple and it's why the campaign process is so important. It makes the candidates better on their way to becoming the nominee, and it eliminates the ones who aren't quite ready to be there. In leap-frogging a rigorous vetting process of any kind, John McCain has rolled the dice on Sarah Palin.

Thoughts on Diabolical Genius

But you've got to hand it to them, there is a genius to the pick. For the past several years, Barack Obama has proven that there is substance to back up his celebrity. Palin on the other hand, is a blank canvas that can be colored in to suit the needs of the day, and they'll push back against the push back, hoping to ride the wave to November 4th.

  • So she can receive raucous applause for saying things like, "I told Congress 'Thanks, but No Thanks' on that Bridge to Nowhere." Even though she didn't. She supported the building of the bridge throughout her campaign and killed the project only after Congress removed the earmark.  And even then, she was still happy to take that quarter of a billion dollars from Congress. 
  • And speaking of mocking things, in her acceptance speech, Palin said, "I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a ‘community organizer,’ except that you have actual responsibilities." Wow, seriously? Any of you reading this know a social worker? Ask them if they have responsibilities. Any of you volunteer at a church? Know a missionary? And my goodness, did it not occur to any of the tens of thousands of delegates in that hall who are working their butts off to get John McCain elected that they are community organizers?

Jon Stewart summarizes some of this absurdity well: