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The Second Debate: What They Don't Know and How They Plan to Find It Out

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Kevin Gosztola       (Page 1 of 3 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   1 comment

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In the post-debate coverage minutes after, the surprises and remaining skepticism voters have received some attention.

MSNBC had Chris Matthews applauding Obama for going after AIG and demanding they give back the money spent on a junket while at the same time describing how McCain came out of nowhere and took a shot at Tom Brokaw when asked who he would have as his Secretary of Treasury. Matthews described how Obama mentioned lobbyists and presumed that he was alluding to the Keating 5 and he highlighted how McCain focused on Obama’s plans to raise taxes. Lastly, McCain would not prioritize energy, health care, and entitlements while Obama would, and Obama struck back at McCain citing how McCain sang “bomb, bomb Iran” after McCain mentioned he suggested the U.S. attack Pakistan.

CNN had their “Best Team” out among computers and two tables. The team was suggesting that nothing new was said to make voters more comfortable. James Carville thought McCain had to win this and didn’t. Bill Bennett, a Republican, said McCain has not been waging a campaign equal to whom he is but did suggest that McCain finished well in tonight’s debate.

FOX News had Frank Luntz with a group of people who he was polling. They were mixed on how John McCain did on the economy. And Greta van Susteren was wishing she had voodoo to predict whether undecided voters in swing states changed became decided after tonight’s debate.

Nothing captured the debate better than the final question.

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How about it? The question was: What don’t you know and how will you learn it? This and Brokaw’s “yes or no” question on whether Russia is an evil empire or not was a surefire doozy.

The two competed to see who could utter the best Yogi Berra-esque phrase. Obama said, “It’s not the challenges you know but the challenges you don’t know that consume you.” And McCain said, “What I don’t know is what the unexpected will be.”

I feel compelled to start listing out Chinese proverbs. Actually, you know what? I will offer my own answer.

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What I do know is that what I don’t know will not be known unless America takes on the challenges that manifest themselves from what it knows it faces before letting America be consumed by the perceived need to confront the challenges that are unknown right now.

Right now, America has a double meaning. It may not be evident in these debates which are really parallel interviews, but America can either mean the people or the corporations/politicians.

When I talk about America, I will be talking about the people. I will not be using cognitive dissonance in the way that Barack Obama and John McCain do.

John McCain and Barack Obama like to use buzzwords like middle class, safe nuclear, clean coal, troop surge, rescue package, terror, al Qaeda, countries that don’t like us, capture and kill, dependence on foreign oil, change, innovation, bipartisan, failed economic policies, fundamentals, grave threat, reform, working families, and also, cronyism, greed, special interests, across the table, and cynicism to piece together messages to the American people that sound like they are populist candidates.

The two use “working families” and “greed” and “middle class” but make no mention of the Taft-Hartley Act or labor unions or consumer protection.

The two use “safe nuclear”, “clean coal and “dependence on foreign oil” but make no mention of solar energy or a carbon tax.

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The two use “rescue package”, “failed economic policies”, “reform”, and “cronyism” but make no mention of corporate power, corporate welfare, and corporate crime.

The two use “capture and kill”, “grave threat”, “countries that do not like us”, “terror”, and “al Qaeda” but make no mention of the military industrial complex.

The two use “fundamentals” and “bipartisan” but make no mention of poverty, single payer health care, or a living wage.

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Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure." He was an editor for

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