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The Second Debate: What's Wrong with this Picture

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Despite the unfortunate fact that presidential debates depend mostly on impressions, images and perceptions, the real purpose, namely the substance of the debating points of each candidate, is unattainable in a medium that has been referred to the "glass teat"- or one that encourages us to "amuse ourselves to death."-  A careful examination of the memorized answers and retorts to each innocuous question reveals the appalling absurdities of the policies advocated by each candidate.  In addition, the format of the debate and the choice of moderator preclude any real truths surfacing from these artificial exchanges.


McCain's response to the question about how Main Street will recover from the bailout to the large institutional investors, was a proposed  payout to mortgage holders in danger of losing their homes.  This response is absurd on two levels.  The bailout was a monstrous failure for the very reason that the package was handed out to the very institutions that caused the crisis in the first place and not to the people who were suffering as a result.  McCain was proposing that on top of the $700 billion gift to the corporate criminals whose recklessness and irresponsibility created the crisis, he would pay out further funds to those who held tenuous mortgages.  Did anyone bother to ask about his plan to finance this proposal given the huge debt and deficit dragging down the economy?  Furthermore, did anyone point out that McCain had been constantly accusing Obama of being a liberal over spender and that McCain's package would cost far more that Obama's earmarks.


Obama correctly identified healthcare as a right but did not even hint at a universal single-payer system which has been adopted by all other Western democracies.  There was no reference to a plan to rescue those living in poverty or near poverty who can't afford medical insurance.  Obama seems to divide the American people into two classes; the wealthy and the middle class.  Apparently the 85 million people living in poverty or near poverty are somehow not deserving of even an honorable mention in Obama's policies.


On the question of energy, both candidates are living in the past advocating clean coal, nuclear energy and offshore drilling.  Conservation and alternate forms of energy were limited to a cursory mention rather than the main focus of an energy plan for the future.

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Foreign policy is where both candidates fail miserably to understand the realities in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.  Neither seems to realize that the Afghani people now support the Taliban because they are attempting to drive the murderous, heathen occupiers from their land and that the Taliban are gaining strength and control more than 50% of the country.  Furthermore, America's allies, the warlords, have not improved the lives of women or anyone else for that matter.  At least the Taliban stopped the opium trade whereas the warlords have captured 90% of the world market.  In addition, it is astounding that neither candidate seems to be aware of the negotiations in Saudi Arabia between the Afghanistan government and the Taliban.  Encouraging and supporting the peace negotiations would seem to be a far more effective and civilized tactic rather than sending more troops to kill more innocent people.


Setting aside McCain's reference to "that one"- and his passive aggressive attacks on Obama and Obama's composure and ability to focus his eyes on McCain the entire time during which he was speaking, the substance of the debate could induce a nation-wide state of depression and longing for a third candidate who is critical of corporate power and the proclivity of both Obama and McCain to prostrate themselves at the alter of corporate money and influence.   Wait a minute.  There is such a candidate, namely Ralph Nader.  Unfortunately, the perception of the American people is that he is a lunatic and radical who is not to be trusted.  Is something upside down?

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I have been a professor of political science at Seneca College in Toronto. I have published five books the last of which "Selling Out: Consuming Ourselves to Death" was released in May/08. As well, I have been featured in CounterPunch, Z (more...)

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