30 Sep

The September 26 United States Presidential debate:


Two nice men faced each other for a little over ninety minutes. They were civil, accommodating, but lacking in vision. Some of what was lacking might have been the result of moderator’s questions, some clearly due to limitations of the candidates.


The first question that came to my mind: Are these the best and the brightest?


This is not to question the innate intelligence, or acquired knowledge of the two men, but a concern that lacking is the creative brilliance, the vision, and the instinct that makes mortal man into great leaders, and the United States needs a great leader.


The debate did not enhance, or detract from the already accepted notion that Barak Obama is a great orator. Senator Obama, however, is much better at giving speeches, than he is in debates. The debate did not serve to change the perception that Senator McCain is a nice person with vast and unique experience, but not a man with a vision. The debate, in other words, did not change “the balance of power.”


Both candidates were well rehearsed, both committed to memory many facts, including names that they will not remember, nor need to know, tomorrow. 


The purpose of a Presidential debate is two fold. The debate is designed to demonstrate to the public a candidate’s demeanor, and ability to function under pressure; and it is intended to display the candidate’s knowledge and ability to deal with facts that may affect the nation.


Barak Obama, who has proven once, and once again, that he is an extraordinary public speaker, was expected to excel in the area of presentation and performance. It was expected that John McCain’s [much] longer experience would show. Since the demeanor is what audiences see, hear, and feel, it was presumed that Senator Obama would wipe the floor with Senator McCain; that did not happen. It was surprising to see how, in spite of his age; Senator McCain did not appear less poised, or less capable of dealing with the audience.


Since in real life quality of presentations matters only if it affects the effectiveness of what is being communicated, one must give much more weight to content when choosing a President. 


Neither candidate dealt effectively with the financial crises. Obama, more than McCain, missed the fact that the present crises are only a symptom of a much deeper problem. The present situation is critical, but it is less critical than is the problem behind it. It is very important to realize that even if the present financial situation is corrected, its cause will likely bring about other catastrophic events.


The root of present day financial meltdown is in the foundation of the economy. Modern economies are propelled by energy, and in the short-term the United States energy supply is in trouble. Both candidates touched on the issue, but both candidates dealt with long-term solution, while they are facing an immediate short-term calamity.


September 30, 2008


The US House of Representatives finally showed some responsibility by turning down the bailout package. Following are some scenarios that suggest the rejection was appropriate in spite of some added short-term problems on the public and financial institutions,


In order to not deviate from dealing with the Presidential debate, each situation must be limited in scope. Assuming that the bailout does what it is intended to do, what if:


  • 2008 and 2009 are cold years, oil supplies are low and consequently the price of a barrel of oil reaches $200.00, and a price of $9.00 per gallon of gasoline at the pump:
  • OPEC decides to cut production, or even only Chavez in Venezuela cuts supplies to the US
  • A major hurricane shuts down US oil refineries
    • No airline is likely to survive
    • The trucking industry would be in shambles and the prices of whatever they ship will be out of reach for most consumers.
      • Layoffs in the transportation industry would be devastating
    • The inability to heat homes in the colder parts of the country would cause illnesses and a significant added costs to the healthcare system.
    • Utilities cost would be staggering causing many businesses to shut down, and additional layoffs.


What do we do?


Without getting into details, unless the United States is able to come up with a short-term solution to energy supply, the bail out would be paramount to putting a band-aid on a malignant cancer.


McCain appeared more attuned to the time constraints than Obama. Obama was talking about energy independent in some years; McCain did address off shore drilling, nuclear plants, and new refineries.


Energy as the foundation of the economy will require a President with a unique ability to deal with highly complex problems. To deal with the short-term energy problems the United States will have to find a way to get additional supply from those sources that are presently producing refined oil and are in a position to immediately increase production.


The other part of the debate dealt with security, and foreign policy. The candidates did not seem to understand in depth the present day interrelations between security and oil dependency. They spoke of Al Queida, Middle Eastern countries, China, North Korea, and Russia. A great deal was said about Russia, which appears to changing into rogue dictatorship under Vladimir Putin.


Both candidates demonstrated that they were recently schooled on the subject of foreign policy.


Some items of note:


  • Neither candidate tied economic, security, and foreign policy, together.
  • Obama was talking about the failed economy of the last eight years. Not to excuse President Bush, a recession started, ENRON was in place, Bin Ladin was active, and energy policy missing before George W. Bush took office.
  • McCain’s point that for the President of the United States to hold direct negotiation with the likes of Ahmadinejad without pre-conditions would lend Ahmadinejad undue credibility was well made.
  • Since OPEC (with such rogues as Chavez and Ahmadinejad,) and Russia may hold the key to short-term energy solutions, Obama’s insistence that discussion is in order makes sense. When he mentioned that a number of ex Secretaries of State agreed McCain went on a meaningless tangent about being a friend of Henry Kissinger.


CNN was the big loser. Blitzer and company ineptly interpreting for members of the audience what they heard. Then, the CNN highly biased “pundits,” continuously self-proclaimed that they make up: “The best political team on television;” when in reality that statement is arrogant fantasy of a very [intellectually] mediocre group of biased individuals.


There was no outright winner; yet by virtue of not capitulating but rather keeping up with the great orator that Obama is, McCain deserves to be declared the winner.

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