The words that, in my opinion, are forever immortalized by my new favorite reporter, Tom Brokaw. Last night during the town meeting style Presidential debate Tom showed his humor to the world, and although the candidates both did amazing jobs of sharing their policies and feelings, Tom was the clear cut winner with that one sentence alone. He had to remind both men of the style of debate their campaigns agreed upon -- questions asked and directly answered with no chance for rebuttal -- and that each response was limited to one minute. When Obama and McCain attempted to follow up on points made by the other Tom threw his hands up on national television basically admitting he was just a guy being paid to sit there. After his comment (yes it is true that both men still maintained lengthy responses to the questions) they both attempted to reign it in somewhat and begin to answer the questions asked of them.
There were a few things I was personally concerned with hearing responses for last night so I grabbed a notebook and pen and began taking notes as each man spoke. It was interesting to hear how both men responded to questions of another Cold War with Russia ruled by Putin, response to Iran and the possible nuclear threat, support for Israel, and how we should locate and remove bin Laden from Pakistan, but those are not the most pressing issues this country faces in my mind. Foreign policy and diplomacy are certainly important as we work to clean up our image around the world but without first taking care of our own people, it will be impossible for us to care about what happens overseas. There were three areas discussed last night which I took great interest in. First, how they prioritize healthcare, energy and social security. Next, anything related to sustainable/renewable energy or efforts to move away from foreign oil sources was another hot topic for me. Finally what they propose occurs with the current issues of overextended credit and debt and what they would do to clean it up.
On the question of prioritizing social security reform, energy and healthcare as President, McCain responded by placing those topics in the order I have listed here although he did indicate we could tackle all three at once (which I find extremely unrealistic). As a person in their mid thirties I am certainly concerned with the state of social security and its future availability but my biggest concern is that I have somewhere to live in the next thirty years before I would need it. If all three issues are put to be discussed and resolved at once I truly believe that energy discussions will fall off the back end in a McCain Presidency. Obama listed his priorities clearly although not once was social security mentioned. He listed energy, healthcare and education as his priorities as President. Obama indicated a desire to invest fifteen billion dollars over the course of ten years toward alternate sources of energy to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. The one thing that did not sit especially well with me there is he is focused on investing in the mythical clean coal technology. Coal is not clean, could never be clean and again is a potentially non-renewable resource.
When asked what each man would do over the course of the next two years to better the environment and create green jobs both responded eloquently but only Obama actually stated how many jobs he would look to create. Although Obama is a supporter of clean coal he also discussed solar, wind, geo-thermal and nuclear (in that order) as potential ways to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and create innovative technologies. He indicated that if a national investment in alternative energy is given attention it could create upwards of five million jobs. McCain briefly referenced the need for more hybrid cars and potential use of hydro power (water) but his main areas of interest were nuclear and off shore drilling. He maintains that nuclear power is safe and clean and he did indicate it will help create jobs but never said how many he would look to open up to the American people.
In response to my final hot button issue of cleaning up the credit debt the people of this country have found themselves in I will be honest, if I had not felt a stronger pull toward one candidate previously this is the question that put my decision over the edge, although he never fully answered the question. McCain discussed a spending freeze, the fact that new jobs should be created, a $5,000 health tax credit, buy back of the loans at the realistic figures they should be at (ie you bought the house at 200K, it is worth 100K, Joe Taxpayer gets to foot the bill for each 100K bad debt as an “investment in the country”) and slammed Obama for talking about raising taxes. Then he uttered unthinkable words; he would reduce people’s tax rate based on the number of children they have. My jaw dropped. I understand that children do bring a tax benefit but as a family who has no children, and no plans of having them, I was completely put off by essentially being told that procreation was one of the only ways to get a break in this country. Will that $500 break pay for a year worth of what is needed to raise a child? I think not. Obama strongly indicated that Washington must lead by example. I paraphrase but he basically said ‘hey, we have a multi-trillion dollar deficit in this country right now, how do you think the American people feel about that?’ He does not want to outright freeze spending but cut it instead and did not mention if he plans to raise taxes as McCain indicated.
Although there are still plenty of topics I do not agree with Obama on fully, I did not feel less of a person for not having children, I feel his investment in the planet will be greater and I truly feel as if he and his wife, Michelle, are far more concerned with helping the people of our country first before jumping into fixing problems of other nations because without the support of the American people the President has nothing to lead but his own agenda. We all see where that has gotten us in just eight short years.
The one thing that pleases me to hear is that both major candidates agree on one fact: this country needs to change.
Please watch the next debate on Wednesday October 15 and see if both men give Dan Vogt a reason to be as funny as Tom Brokaw was last night.
Yes we can.