Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Tonight’s debate

This was, I think, John McCain’s best performance. He was consistently on the offense, setting the tone of the debate, and forcing Obama to react.

Of course, all Obama has to do is try to run out the clock, and he will likely be able to do that, as he did with Hillary Clinton.

I have to write 150 words about the debate and the way forward for the campaigns for the Atlanta paper, to appear on Sunday. Any suggestions?

I will say that this was the best of the three debates, because it approached most closely what we actually mean by a debate, with give and take. Bob Schieffer did a pretty good job of asking good and difficult questions, and the candidates responded less frequently than usual with canned answers.

My only disappointment with McCain was his judicial answer, which I found lacking in coherence. He’s right to argue that "elections have consequences," but that doesn’t square well with his claim to focus only on qualifications. He could have stressed constitutionalism much more than he did and he could have pounced on Obama’s blather about judges who stress fairness and looking out for the little guy, which perhaps ought to be the job of our representatives, not our judges. McCain’s wisecrack about the statute of limitations was on point, but insufficiently well-developed, frightfully close to the kind of Dole Senate-speak that we saw in 1996.

Discussions - 11 Comments

If you expected McCain to pounce on Obama's "blather" it would have taken longer than the allotted debate time. It is disheartening to say this but Obama is a better liar than Bill Clinton. So many people I talk to don't care what he is saying so much as they "like him." The deception is frustrating and if the American people were voting with full knowledge of what BHO really stood for, I could live with it. It is the fact that he is dodging and weaving and getting away with it that really bothers me. Blather indeed.

Joe, tonight Obama expanded on this subtle but frightening thematic line in foreign policy, that you must tell your allies what's wrong with them and what they must do, while you sit down with America's adversaries to negotiate "without preconditions." In the last debate, it appeared regarding his arrogant treatment of Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. It had appeared previously in his "even handed" rebuke of Georgia to stop fighting after Russia invaded. Tonight it appeared in his preposterous demand for Colombia to give liberal Democratic-style treatment to labor unions or else he won't treat with them, and the absurd complaining about Canada. Mc pointed out his desire to meet with our enemy Chavez and previously his talk about sitting down for a chat with Ahmad. BO is positively dangerous, arrogant, and naive about international relations, and America will have to pay the price for his weaknesses, I'm afraid.

Advice for Prof. Knippenberg on the op-ed: Just avoid Lawler's defeatism, and slam Obama as hard as you can.

I think it is a stretch to expect anything from McCain on "constitutionalism" (or a reasonable position on the judges), since the man does not have anything resembling a conservative view on this.

Are we indulging in some wishful thinking here, simply because McCain is a member of the GOP?

How much more dangerous, arrogant, and naive can a leader be about international relations than Bush? It just amazes me that "dennis" can have these powers of discernment in the future of Obama and yet have lacked them so historically, so fatefully, in the never-to-be-forgotten foolishness of Bush-Rumsfeld-Cheney. But at least american 'weakness' has been successfully removed from the hearts and minds of people the world over!

I think that ren is going to learn--the hard way--that the thing that his buddy Barack and his nemesis W. Bush have in common is a naive disregard for the importance of political persuasion. Bush thinks it means asserting fundamental truths about the nature of freedom and then acting on them as though the mere stating of them is enough to move even the most hardened hearts and minds. Obama thinks that it means giving a demonstration of how clever and likable and "open minded" you are. Neither one of them really understands what it means to work in the national interest. They both have tethered themselves to abstractions that--however worthy (and even this is debatable)--cannot, in themselves, serve as the foundation for good foreign policy. In other words, they both lack prudence. McCain could not, exactly say that (and, anyway, it is unclear how much prudence he's got) but the prophecy that we're going to get (at least) another 4 years of confused foreign policy after this election looks to be true. It's just that it now appears that it will be coming from a different quarter than the prophet proclaimed. Perhaps we can hope that other countries will be so confused by these policies that they will be too stunned to act much in the next four years and, by then, perhaps we can elect someone who actually understands our place in the world and how to protect it.

Very good points about Obama and Bush, Julie. I think you're right. Another thing Ren will soon learn is that Iraq has been won - it's a policing action now. History will note the shrill cries of "quagmire", "lies", and "civil war" against the backdrop of a democratic ally in the heart of the Middle East. Now we're off to wrap things up in Afghanistan - any predictions as to how that will turn out?

I think that ren is going to learn--the hard way--that the thing that his buddy Barack and his nemesis W. Bush have in common is a naive disregard for the importance of political persuasion.

Ah Julie, I think you are 100% wrong about this. Obama has shown (his handling of Wright, for instance) that he is an excellent persuasive politician. I think conservatives are engaging in wishful thinking when they say he is a pure (liberal) abstraction...

Another thing Ren will soon learn

No doubt “Ren” will soon be learning many things, but a realistic view of the polis? I'm looking out my window for bovine's on the wing...:)

I understand your criticism, Christopher, but you may be forgetting that for Barack Obama persuasion means something entirely different than it means in the dictionary. That's because Obama does not engage in persuasion on the level of appealing to the reason of his listeners. It appears that he does not even believe in the possibility of reason in the sense that you (?) or I do. For Obama, there is no objective truth in the universe; there is only a narrative of common experiences (usually gripes). So, yes, he is very good at dissembling and seeming to strike a chord of sympathy with people (Clinton was also a master of this) but he does not make an appeal for their minds. He does not make an argument about right and wrong. Everything is 'one the one hand' and 'on the other hand.' He will do this in international affairs as well--chastising our friends who are not "persuaded" by him and also never taking a firm stand against our enemies (or even acknowledging them as enemies) until he has his back against the wall. Then he will be likely to lash out in a most imprudent fashion. Again, he will be angry that his brand of "persuasion" has been spurned. I mean, he's Barack Obama. He's 'the one.' He's the leader to move us forward out of the cynicism that ties us to such arcane notions as right, wrong, true, false, and--indeed--reason itself.

Yes Julie good.Obama does not believe in the possibility of reason. Keep saying that. Demonize our enemies, for we possess all knowledge and truth. Obama denies objective truth, for we are the prophets of truth. Our opponents are demons. Sound the trumpets. Elijah and Jezebel meet. I see a kindred soul in you, Julie Ponzi. Advance God's kingdom on earth. Tear down the wisdom of the wise, the false prophets. Just like Pastor Muthee told us Julie, we apostles. We dominionists should enter more of these websites, Julie, for only we have reason and objective truth.

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