Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Town Hall Presidential Debate

Debate number two is now in the books. Can I just say I can’t wait for this election season to be over so I could have a normal schedule, better yet, return to a normal sleeping pattern.

Yesterday, I did something different from how I’ve watched debates over the years; went to a debate watch party hosted by national syndicated radio host Michael Baisden at the Gulfstream. The party was incredible, a chance to network with some folks in South Florida and for me, it was something different to do than staying in the comforts of my living room.

Now on to the debate in a town hall setting moderated by NBC’s Tom Brokaw: The questions in this setting were generated by many over the Internet and some undecided voters (more on them later).

The first question came from Allan who asked a question about the economy (surprised?) Sen. Barack Obama was the first candidate to start off with the answers and I was impressed he kept it precise and was up to date with the day’s news about AIG executives frolicking at a posh spa after the government gave them $85 billion bailout. PLEASE punish those executives!!! That’s my tax dollars!

Next up, Sen. John McCain for a follow-up: He started with energy but then he went on this merry-go-round that left writing in my notes: “How? How do you know how to fix the economy Mr. Fundamentals of our economy are strong?” I couldn’t get my answer so I looked forward to the next question.

The question was whom would the candidates appoint as Treasury Secretary in their administration. McCain made a lame attempt at a joke by telling Brokaw “not you!” That fell flat on me and the audience. I was wondering what Brokaw might have felt what did he ever do to McCain (because there were more exchanges to come). McCain mentioned Meg Whitman, the first woman CEO of E-Bay (hmm Carly Fiorina, former CEO of HP must have been banned from his campaign). As he went on about Whitman growing from 12 people to thousands, I thought to myself what a wrong example since E-bay just announced it was cutting over a thousand jobs in the U.S last week (does McCain keep track of business news?)

Now on to Obama about potential Treasury Secretary: He talked about “the Oracle of Omaha” (aka Warren Buffet). Excellent choice! As a former business student and current professional, I will read anything the Oracle proposes. Also, Buffet is an Obama supporter and he’s been talking about raising taxes on the filthy rich for years. So score goes to Obama (again) for having the Oracle on his side.

Oliver Clark, a young black guy in the audience asked the next question of how the bailout package will actually help Americans. McCain corrected Oliver that it wasn’t a “bailout” but a “rescue” package. That correction gave me a pause and I wondered if McCain knew he sounded condescending and I don’t care what term he called it; the package was both a bailout (for the foolishness of Wall Street) and a rescue (to Main Street). He must have sensed what he did because he rambled his way through the question.

But Obama answered the questions by giving examples of the vicious cycle that will happen if the bailout was not passed. Score number three for Obama.

For time sake, I won’t go line by line of all questions but more poignant moments from the debate and the watch party. I think McCain is off his rocker (pun intended) about the issue on the economy because why would he say this statement: “It depends on what we do . . .” But nothing on what we EXACTLY do, then he tried to twist his “fundamentals” gaffe to being the American people. Can I just tell McCain about some new rules: New Rules Sen. McCain! Since you’ve put your foot in your mouth about fundamentals, why don’t you decide NOT to use the word fundamentals in any sentence because we will think about your gaffe about the economy?

A light moment at the party: Michael Baisden asked why does McCain keep checking his notes for the debate. Baisden called the notes “cheat notes.”

Another light moment: When McCain attacked Obama on the question about climate change and green jobs but couldn’t remember what Obama said on the issue that drew his ire. In McCain’s words: “ . . . or something like that” which drew laughs from the audience.

Then McCain referred to Obama as “that one!” Hey about some etiquette PLEASE! That’s a man you’re talking to McCain. Seriously!!!

All in all, I would say I have a whole new respect for Barack after this debate. He kept his cool even when McCain referred to him as “that one” but he knew how to throw the measured punches as on attendee said to me, he show a bit of the “Chicago street smarts” of politics in this debate. So unlike the last debate when I gave my verdict as a draw, last night’s town hall debate was definitely a WIN for the new kid on the block – Sen. Barack Obama.

Tags: Michael Baisden, Town Hall Presidential Debate