What to Watch for in Tonight’s Debate

27Sep08

Self-explanatory. Here goes.

1. First 5 minutes–Normally this is the most boring part of the process, but this is certainly no ordinary debate. Will the moderators openly say they will allow more than foreign policy/national security to be discussed? The candidates will anyway.

2. McCain shows up; but there’s no deal done–I know it is an attack on McCain, but hey, he asked for it. Let’s be honest, McCain thought he would arrive in Washington as the deal was being polished off and he would take credit for making the final push through. That didn’t happen. So McCain is going to have to explain, with the situation arguably more tense than it was on Wednesday, he now feels he should debate. Obama is going to take credit for convincing him, and this will anger McCain. That could be fun–if Obama plays this right.

3. McCain is more experienced on foreign policy–or is he?–The NIE will not be declassified until after the election, but even with that, expect Afghanistan to be a major point of contention tonight. Obama has remained consistently in favor of bringing more troops to Afghanistan–it’s arguably the one thing that hasn’t been challenged about his positions–and now Afghanistan needs more troops. Bush secretly went into Pakistan, something Obama said he’d be willing to do, and something he took a lot of flack for.

But then there’s Iraq–Most Americans do believe we were tricked into that war, and Obama was always against it. But McCain has done an unbelievably (and that’s the word for it) good job of selling “the surge” as “his” panacea to all of Iraq’s problems. It isn’t but that’s not what this is about. How will Obama look when McCain brings this up?

4. Off of that, and most importantly–will the moderators actually challenge the candidates on the amount of troops needed in both Iraq and Pakistan? Because McCain said he “didn’t disagree” with reinstating a draft to catch Bin Ladin, but Obama hasn’t really indicated what will happen if a) we stop paying Sunnis not to attack us and our allies in the country 2) what happens when Iraq breaks into civil war after we leave (if it doesn’t, it’ll be close). What happens when Iran comes in?  What if McCain wants to bomb Iran; better yet, as we found out recently, what if Israel wants to bomb Iran, and they ask McCain for the green light? George W. Bush was smart enough to say no, is McCain really dumber than W?

As you can see I have extreme problems with both candidates on these issues. Don’t get me wrong, Obama’s better. But I would like both candidates to be a lot more detailed and honest on their plans–this is life and death, and beyond a bailout package

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