Following Senator McCain's "barking poodle" stroll on Washington, I was
happy to see him grace the American people with his presence at this first
presidential debate. The candidates stood toe to toe for nearly ninety
minutes, each taking few opportunities of direct challenge, leaving it to
moderator Jim Lehrer to orchestrate and re-orchestrate the interaction.
The real debate is being played out right now, as pundits and viewers
analyze, argue, and dissect the presentation in search of a winner. Since
I don't know who the winner will be, I figured I'd talk about the loser.
That would be, you and me.
In a discussion that was meant to be principally focused on foreign
policy, neither candidate uttered the words "Palestine" or "Palestinian"
John McCain, celebrating himself as a maverick, reinventing his voting
record, and name-dropping world leaders, simultaneously re-exhibited his
enduring ignorance of the cultural dynamics that led to his misjudgment on
Iraq in the first place. Senator Obama, at least gave a little nuanced
oxygen to the conversation in his statement that Ahmadinejad may not be
the most powerful man in theocratic Iran -- an often mis-advertised
political and cultural evaluation.
The result is another frustrating piece of American media that is at once
far too polite, and at the same time, dismissive of an American public's
need to know anything beyond jingoistic self-aggrandizement.
So, now I'll go out, throw back a couple of sakes at the sushi bar, and
re-play this thing in my head. I'll wonder about the state of Bill
Clinton's political menopause, and the gullibility of a nation searching
for a daddy. And then I'll find a way to giggle. I'd like to see a
debate between John McCain and his own vice-presidential choice, were she
his opponent in the presidential race. The picture I'm seeing of that
exposes both as car salesmen: one of Rolls Royce's, the other of used
pick-ups. Somewhere in between there are hopeful young people following
an elegant professor from Harvard in belief of a better day. I want those
people to win. Bottoms up. (This is not an economic pun...or is it?)