McCain and Obama Debate in Tennessee

The second Presidential campaign debate of the 2008 election took place Tuesday night, October 7 at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. This debate took place when the Obama campaign had been riding high from the bounce from economic conditions that would favor the party not currently in the White House. However, the post-VP debate spin seemed to be moving toward McCain. Tuesday morning’s polling seemed to indicate that McCain was cutting into Obama’s lead. However, I believe that the slight swing to McCain will end with the results of Tuesday night’s debate.

Pat Buchanan noted on MSNBC that McCain likely won the debate on points. Yet, Buchanan noted that McCain missed opportunities to win voters and regain momentum. Obama gained on three fronts:

1) Obama came across as natural, as Kennedy-esque, while McCain appeared wooden and never relaxed. Some Americans may view McCain’s appearance as dignified and serious, but Obama connected with viewers much more so than McCain with a straightforward approach. McCain’s one moment of connection with the viewers was his testimony of his devotion to country that would motivate his service.

2) Obama did well in exposing one of McCain’s worst policies—that of taxing health insurance benefits for workers. While I agree with McCain’s support for tax cuts for businesses, advocacy of taxing the worker’s health insurance benefit will kill his populist appeal. This advocacy is typical of blue blood Republicans who never connect with the working class voters who vote for many Republicans, but those voters never quite feel comfortable with the party of Big Business. McCain’s policy on taxing health insurance benefits is a loser.

3) McCain was placed on the defensive concerning his internationalist, interventionist foreign policy. McCain was forced to defend the indefensible— going to Iraq as a result of 9/11 and his comment on bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, Iran

The sad truth is that Obama is equally the internationalist as McCain. Even worse, Obama would possibly switch allegiances, while at least McCain’s interventionism seems to advocate that which is in America’s own interests. Consider my observations on the dilemma of our foreign policy quagmire:

  • The US is financially busted and can no longer afford to police the world.
  • The US is settling border disputes around the world, but we are not guarding our own borders.
  • The morale of the American people is not lifted by our continued meddling in international affairs.
  • The US is fighting wars, using pre-emptive strikes in violation of the historic Christian position on Just War.
  • Americans have never bought the idea of going into Iraq because of a plot hatched in Afghanistan and carried out by Saudis. We continue to trade with Saudis, but we are fighting Iraq. The dots have never connected and people are not swayed by appeals to patriotism. The public no longer trusts Washington.

Let’s face it—the Republicans nominated a dud when they nominated McCain, over the objections of most movement conservatives. McCain is dull, and has taken positions that will never sell with the American people. However, the alternative of an Obama Administration is unthinkable for those with a conservative, limited government perspective.

This writer has been an active Republican for all of his adult life. But conservative voters are waking up to the fact that the Republican leadership have betrayed their base on issue after issue. The Reagan Coalition is fragile and cracking, but could still coalesce around the McCain ticket for two reasons: 1) Many view Sarah Palin as a true conservative and 2) Obama scares the living daylights out of us!

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