Freedom New Mexico
From a political perspective, the big debate Friday night was probably a draw. Given that the electorate is nearly evenly divided on which candidate to choose, the debate results will only reinforce this indeterminate status quo.
Republican John McCain had better answers on the economy. But Democrat Barack Obama had better answers on foreign policy matters. Given that he held his own on Sen. McCain’s foreign-policy turf, Sen. Obama might have helped himself the most, but we’ll leave that for Gallup to decide.
The debate was useful in that viewers got to hear the two senators talk and squabble for a total of 90 minutes. Moderator Jim Lehrer did heroic work trying to steer the candidates away from pre-rehearsed mini-stump speeches and toward giving real answers to direct questions. It was trying work at first, but as the subject headed into foreign affairs, the two candidates fought it out in a direct and occasionally feisty manner. There were not great gotcha lines, but a fair number of little tweaks.
Unfortunately, the two candidates’ positions on key issues are not dramatically different, which reinforces our libertarian take – that both parties are separate wings of the same bird. California editorial writer Alan Bock captured it in a Friday night post: “What’s fascinating is that both of these guys have no hint of a question of the notion that the United States is supposed to run the world. … They have only minor differences as to which countries and which perceived threats are more important and how they are to be handled.”
During the debate, McCain touted his wisdom in calling for the surge – the increase in troop levels that is credited for reducing the violence in Iraq. But