Thursday, October 16, 2008


I spent the evening of the most recent and last McCain/Obama debate from Hofstra University in New York at the home of an absolutely delightful Democrat-leaning couple (homemade soup and great company!) in Dallas, Texas. I subconsciously expected an enthusiastic Obama reception and attendant behaviors. While I did find pro-Obama folks, they certainly appeared objective in their perceptions of the candidates and their debate performance. They gave both McCain and Obama high marks for some of their statements and even chastised Obama for his almost smug grin when McCain went on the attack.

I was bored with most of the candidates’ rhetoric and though an eager - almost anxious - McCain made some relevant points about ACORN’s admitted voter registration irregularities and some of Obama’s supposed previous (we hope) associations, the debate appeared to be another draw though I would give a slight nod to McCain. Both threw allegations at the other which were summarily dismissed by each as distortions. NBC validated later that both candidates at times strayed away from the facts. The bottom line is that there are some substantive differences in approach by both the candidates, especially as relates to economics and health care, though they don’t appear to be enough to alienate any one class of sincere voter.

McCain looked to all the world that he was not comfortable being there. His overall demeanor was pained and maybe that’s part and parcel of his horrific Viet Nam past that‘s permanently altered his posture but not his attitude. At times he was like an exasperated, arm waving school boy who was the only one in the class who knew the answer to the teacher’s question. On occasion he huffed and puffed, gesticulated and rolled his eyes while Obama maintained his calm and composure, his smile aside.

One of the great tragedies in this election is that the greater majority of African-Americans (led by the Afrocentrists) are going to vote for Obama for no other reason than he has associated himself with the Black Community (no intellectual process here). There are many others who are also agenda driven such as the Christian faith based, right wingers who will vote for McCain for no other reason than he is White and Christian. Many young voters (perhaps guilty over their grandparents perceived racism) will vote for Obama for no other reason than to show the world how liberal the US has become – that we can Kum By Ya vote a Black Man President of the United States (yes, we are over the 1960’s). It would appear, however, that despite the aforementioned groups, the greater majority will be voting based on what they feel are pertinent issues and for the greater good of our country.

Aside from the predictable “Legalize Marijuana” signs carried by some Hofstra students and a small anti-war protest, the more ascendant of the issues was brought up by McCain - the effect of Obama’s economic policies on small business and the hardships facing average Americans as defined in the personality and situation of one “Joe the Plumber” aka a surprised and almost chagrined Joe Wurzelbacher of Toledo, Ohio. You see, Joe wants to buy a plumbing business that will annually gross over $250,000.00 subjecting him to a higher 39% tax rate under the Obama economic plan. When pressed the day after the debate Joe would not divulge who he was voting for.

I don’t feel that anyone who witnessed this last debate will be swayed to change their vote or migrate to either candidate as both McCain and Obama seemed to be playing to their acknowledged supporters. It would appear that many independents are still undecided and that may be the case until they ultimately occupy the booth and cast their vote.

The Vice-Presidential candidates still appear appropriately rogue with Biden appearing to be mostly opaque though he is the obvious foil for those who cite Obama’s lack of experience. That, of course, conjures up ghastly images of a very likable President Sarah Palin should the Republican ticket prevail and MacCain succumb to his seniority. That scares the hell out of a lot of folks.

Please know that I truly respect and admire John McCain and the tremendous sacrifice and stalwart service he has given our country. I will follow him anywhere… The real tragedy here is that McCain is a truly great Man and American who is probably the better man in this election. It appears, however, that he couldn’t conjure up the fire in the belly or capture that lighting in the bottle that would allow him a more dynamic public demeanor and general acceptance by the populous. Maybe if John had been attired in his dress whites…. But, it’s all about time and space and today it’s Obama’s race to lose.

I was certainly proud of the effort of host Hofstra University and that great Fort Worth, Texas native and CBS icon, Bob Schieffer who most effectively moderated the debate. I was equally proud of my alma mater, Ole Miss, for hosting the first 2008 presidential debate and the outstanding moderation of PBS’s Jim Lehrer, Executive Editor and anchor of The News Hour on PBS. Hotty Toddy…

In closing it seems evident to me and many of my Friends and Family that unless something mind bending occurs, an Obama victory appears assured. CAUTION: There is a danger here and the Democrats need realize that any victory will be the result of a collaboration of Democrats, Republicans, Independents and other like signs, all mostly fed up with the status quo. Any attempt by the Democrats to reassert their traditional, entitled social agendas will set them back twenty years or more. The Republicans (or what’s left of them) will gleefully smack their lips in anticipation of that pendulum swinging back their way (it always does).

The past is prologue.


Ned Buxton

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