A friend of mine did this comparison herself following the debate last night, and I thought it was a good idea. I wanted to comment on hers, but rather than hijack her own thoughts, I thought it would be constructive to make my own response.
I wonder sometimes though how already being a decided voter flavors the way that we hear and respond to such debates...
The Bailout Plan:
I don't think that either of them really said much of anything new or comforting. Neither seemed to really be able to explain to the American public what was going on or why the bailout was needed. It seems that the problem is everywhere from the mortgage crisis to a helping hand to wall street - but the real problem is that everything is intertwined and a piece of it all stopped working last week. Listen here for the best and only real explanation of the crisis that I have heard that makes sense
Obama had the edge in that he got to answer first. He stated four clear points. McCain basically reiterated those same four points, with a few exceptions. It is hard to think about McCain really wanting to go for it, based on his history of deregulation.
I was disappointed that neither directly answered Jim Lehr's question about what priority would have to go. At least not at first. When McCain finally said he would impose a spending freeze, I thought Obama's response that a spending freeze takes a hatchet to a problem that requires a scalpel was very on point.
McCain - C, Obama C+
Taxes and Earmarks:
I really don't care that much about earmarks. Well, I do and I don't. The truth is that our representatives don't get re-elected unless they do something to help out the folks back home. And that is a good chunk of what earmarks are... I'll pat your back, if you'll pat mine. Some things just wouldn't ever get through Congress on their own. I understand this from working in the legislative process at my own Annual Conference. I had an amendment to be made, someone else standing at the same mike had a different one, and we both realized that alone, neither would have the time to get through. So we sat down together and combined them into one amendment and voila - problem solved, we both got to be happy, and I think, everyone was better off.
If fighting earmarks and reforming washington is McCain's #1 goal - couldn't that best be done from a seat in the Senate? I guess the piece I don't understand is why he think that being President is going to give him the ability to really enact that type of reform.
I also don't agree with any of McCain's tax plan. Those who make the most (often at the expense of those who make the least - especially when you consider CEO salaries and how very little trickledown that has to the workers) should NOT be getting even more breaks.
Obama's plan makes complete sense to me. Tax the well-off a bit more. Thereby, you will have the money for more education, healthcare, and energy independence. I guess, I also have very little problem with government involvement and some moves towards socialism. I think that a free capitalist economy will always be oppressive to some and inordinately rewards others. There need to be checks and balances - I value equality more than freedom. (and that's what mkes me a liberal! and proud of it!)
In the debate however, Obama kept getting caught in dealing with McCain's taxes and earmarks and could have spent more time articulating his own policies... i guess that will have to wait for the economy debate... ALTHOUGH - he did a much better job of responding to the idea that the economy and foreign policy are innately linked. I don't think that McCain really did that at all.
McCain - D, Obama - B
McCain is very well traveled. He has met many people in the world and understands the problems of the world. But to be honest, I understand things very differently. McCain sees the world in black and white, good guys and bad guys (all the more evidenced by Sarah Palin's response to whether or not we should second guess Israel... if you haven't seen it - gasp!). I simply do not see the world that way and it scares me to have another person in the white house who does.
Obama on the other hand is willing to sit down at a table with someone and have a conversation. And I respect that. It is the type of leadership that our country needs if we are to regain our standing in the world. And he also is fairly well traveled and the international community seems to respect him.
I think that the most telling indication of how each of these men would respond in meetings with people they don't agree with in the world was the way they debated. McCain refused to LOOK at Obama or address him directly. Obama continually spoke directly to McCain, affirmed the parts of McCain's argument that he could agree with and then proceeded to show how they were different.
McCain - C, Obama - A
Overall Grade: McCain C-, Obama B