Friday, September 26, 2008

Thoughts on the debate

Clearly Senator McCain is well versed and experienced in foreign policy. He exhibited a comfort level with distant locales and heads of state that was admirable. I have no doubt that he is qualified from day one to deal intelligently and thoughtfully with world crises. However it also struck me that despite the fact that Senator Obama is at least 20 years McCain's junior and far less traveled, he is no dummie. Senator Obama is every bit as prepared to guide foreign policy as former Presidents Clinton, Reagan, Carter, and Kennedy were prior to their first terms.

Given the outcome of world affairs in the past 8 years, haven't we had enough of "cowboy" diplomacy? Who do we trust to provide the American people with intelligence on foreign regimes... the party who brought us weapons of mass destruction, or the man who believes that repairing damaged relationships with allies and enemies alike will ultimately bring about an end to the current climate of terrorism? I think we stand to gain more by keeping our friends close and our enemies closer.

It's pretty obvious that sending American troops to invade parts of the world where we aren't welcome is a deadly, costly, and an inefficient strategy to stop terrorist organizations. If Senator Obama is successful at restoring America's image, and brings about diplomatic solutions to foreign conflicts, then we might be able to count on these countries to stamp out terrorism within their own sovereign borders.

Senator McCain has been in Washington for 25 years. His campaign staff and advisors are all Washington insiders. Is this who we can count on to clean up the mess in Washington? I believe Senator McCain when he says that he will rein in earmarks and cut wasteful domestic spending. But what is he going to do about health care reform, the solvency of Social Security, and this obscene financial bail-out? His answer, as it has been for the last three Republican Presidents, is trickle down economics.

Senator McCain wants to continue to give the wealthiest 5% of Americans and large corporations tax breaks so that the working class will have jobs (thus fueling the economy). The problem is that under this system the rich get richer while millions of children have no health insurance; veterans with disabilities cannot get benefits; and the working class face the prospect of Social Security insolvency.

I also believe that Senator McCain will not hesitate to spend lavishly on defense and overseas wars... meanwhile our schools, our energy policies, and our transportation infrastructure will suffer as he cuts domestic spending to fund more "cowboy" diplomacy. I'm ready for Senator Obama to bring the policy focus back to within our borders to solve the problems we should've already fixed in the last decade.

Senator McCain is an affluent man who comes from an influential and wealthy family. His wife is even more affluent! There's no way he can truly understand what it means to live paycheck to paycheck. The McCain's don't fret about the cost of filling the family car with gas, buying groceries, or sending their kids to college. When faced with difficult domestic policy decisions, who do you think Senator McCain is going to fight for? The blue collar worker who just got laid off, or the corporation who outsourced her job overseas to increase its share price? The student in the inner city who joined a gang because his public school sports program was cut, or the executive who wants education vouchers to offset the cost of private school education? The disabled solider back from Iraq seeking long-term benefits, or the defense contractor who oversees security for propped up foreign heads of state?

Both candidates acknowledged that cuts in spending were going to be necessary to help pay for this insipid $700B bail-out, but only Senator Obama promised to take care of domestic issues that have been desperately neglected. Senator McCain promised more status quo.

Let's not forget my biggest issue in this election... the choices of running mates. While I was not terribly inspired by Senator Obama's choice of Senator Biden, I am deeply, deeply troubled by Senator McCain's choice of Governor Palin. Her credentials are even more "smoke-and-mirrors" than the debacle of Senator Quayle's candidacy. Senator McCain will be the oldest president ever inaugurated for a first term, plus he has been successfully treated for cancer more than once. So this maverick, this reformer, this elder statesman chooses a running mate with ZERO foreign policy experience, limited leadership credentials, and a record that is summed up by ideological jargon and barbed retorts.

Governor Palin did recite a spirited speech at the GOP convention, but I sincerely doubt that she wrote that speech. Moreover, we have yet to hear any of her positions on key issues. How do you think she would have sounded going up against Senator McCain this evening? I know Governor Palin is pro-life, believes in family values and the right to bear arms, and can articulate a well-written GOP diatribe. But when she ducked the opportunity to speak to the media following tonight's debate, that spoke volumes to me about her preparedness to lead our country. She couldn't even be trusted to deliver an atta-boy for her future boss. You can bet I'll be watching next Thursday night when she debates Senator Biden. I don't think the GOP will be able to send former Mayor Giuliani in her place.

I just can't believe that as voters in the most powerful nation in the free world we are actually drinking the GOP Kool-Aid. The current administration screwed things up for arguably the last 6 years (I'll give President Bush a pass pre-9/11), and now we are going to trust Republicans to lead us for 4 more? No thank you! I'm voting for change.

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