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I just finished watching the second Presidential debate between Barack Obama and John McCain. Immediately following the debate, the pundits were already talking about how the candidates “hit all the issues” concerning Americans today.

Excuse me? “Hit all the issues”? Did you hear either candidate mention the fact that the Stock Market plunged an additional 500 points that morning following a 370 point drop the day before?

Did you hear either candidate mention the fact that they had to add another digit to the National Debt Clock over the weekend? (though Senator Obama DID note that the Debt is now $10 Trillion where it was just over $5 Trillion when Bush entered office. I was glad to hear at least that much brought up.)

Another point I was pleased to hear: Senator Obama defend himself against Senator McCain’s criticism that saying “you’d invade Pakistan” as being provocative, to which Senator Obama cited Senator McCain singing “Bomb Bomb Iran“, “threatening to invade North Korea” and announcing “next stop, Iraq” just days after 9/11.

And while Senator Obama (lightly) rebuked Senator McCain’s absurd (and growing) accusation that “50% of small businesses would see a tax increase under Obama’s plan“… an absolutely ridiculous claim. I believe 10 days ago at the last debate, the figure was “40%”, and early on the campaign trail, it was “30%”. Whatever number he’s using this week, it’s been thoroughly debunked over and over again, so to hear Senator McCain repeat it again Tuesday night… especially with a new (and even more absurd) figure of “50%”… and have the figure go largely unchallenged (yes, Obama stated HIS plan, but didn’t address the absurd figure put forth by McCain) was disappointing.

Senator McCain, in his opening response to the question of the current financial crisis on Wall Street, made some news with the announcement of a plan for the Federal Government to buy up all/most/many/??? of the failed home mortgages and renegotiate them so people don’t lose their homes.

Excuse me??? You want the Federal Government to buy all these failed mortgages? How much would THAT cost? 5-10 million homes at $200,000 a piece: $1-$2 TRILLION dollars? On top of the current $700 Billion dollar bailout? On top of your plan to expend the Bush tax cuts to reduce the corporate rate from 35% to 25%? On top of two wars, one in Iraq and one in Afghanistan? Where ya gonna get all this money, John? Crank out dollar bills from the Treasury till the dollar is worth less than toilet paper? When I heard Senator McCain open with this “bold new proposal”, had *I* of asked the question, I immediately would have asked him if he was out of his freaking mind.

UPDATE: Frequent Fox News contributor, Fortune Magazine’s Nina “Love Canal” Easton, also picked up on McCain’s sudden plan to nationalize the home mortgage market, calling it “the sinking ship of Free Market Republicanism.”

BTW: Get your mind out of the gutter. “Love Canal” is a reference to the fact it was Easton that gave us the “Gore says he discovered Love Canal” lie in 2000.

Another overlooked point during the debate: Moderator Tom Brokaw asked both candidates if today’s Russia were still the “Evil Empire” that Ronald Reagan labeled them as over 25 years ago. The basis for such an accusation: obviously their recent invasion of Georgia. Both candidates chastised Russia for its incursion into Georgian territory, but it bothers me greatly that both sides seem to ignore the fact Georgia isn’t exactly innocent here. They did, after all, invade the Russian separatist territories of Ossetia and Abkhazia. But that’s another issue for another day.

What wasn’t discussed was the fact Senator McCain has been pushing NATO Membership for Georgia… a fact he did in fact mention during the debate, but Senator Obama failed to bring up the fact that, had Georgia of been a NATO member when Russia invaded them, the United States would now be at war with Russia (in addition to the current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq). Why Senator Obama didn’t point out this fact is a mystery to me.

Everyone was expecting the two candidates to “go after” each other in a more direct fashion, but neither really did, and the debate probably didn’t change anyone’s mind. Maybe that’s the Obama campaign’s strategy: “don’t rock the boat when you’re ahead”. But in a week where… despite Wall Street coughing up a lung… the McCain/Palin campaigns looked more like Orwell’s “Two minutes of hate” from “1984“, Senator Obama failed to take on Senator McCain directly. He might of at least asked Senator McCain if he truly believed he was “hanging around with terrorists”, forcing McCain to either to come out and make the ridiculous claim himself on national TV or rebuke his own running mate. But candidates speaking to each other directly appeared to be off limits this night, so the opportunity never presented itself. The closest we got to either of the two candidates addressing each other directly was when Senator McCain, while talking about Senator Obama “voting for a pork-laden oil drilling bill” supported by Bush & Cheney (the “off-shore drilling bill”), referred to Senator Obama… not by name, but as “That one“. Personally, I took it as a poor attempt at humor by Senator McCain, but others found it to be rude and demeaning of a fellow Senator.

One thing the pundits and I agree on: there was no “clear” winner in this debate. If you supported McCain, you heard him say everything you already agree with. Ditto for Obama supporters like myself. But this late in the game, with exactly one month to go and the increasingly desperate Senator McCain falling behind faster than a golfer on roller skates, Senator McCain needed to do more than putt for “par”. To those who say this was an “issue-packed hard-hitting debate”, I say, “I must have been watching a different debate.”

POSTSCRIPT: I recently received the following (supposedly funny) email comment from a Republican tool:

On television today, a Democratic operative pointed out that when Obama holds a rally 25-30,000 people show up, whereas when McCain holds one he only draws 10-15,000.

The Republican spokesman replied, ‘That’s because most of McCain’s supporters are at work.’

I’m sure the sender thought this was High Comedy. I replied:

Seeing as how Obama holds his rallies on the weekends, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if this were true. 🙂

Seeing as how most of McCain’s supporters are Senior Citizens, again, I wouldn’t doubt if this is true. 🙂

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