Saturday, September 27, 2008

McCain the clear winner in last night's debate

Sen. John McCain was dazzling last night with more than a quarter century of experience in foreign policy and global travelling, making Sen. Barack Obama look and sound like Gov. Sarah Palin's more knowledgeable brother in the presidential debate.

McCain routed Obama in foreign policy questions, offering answers of been there and done that to Obama's rhetoric from think tanks.

On the economy, McCain was surprisingly strong and Obama unsurprisingly evasive. Obama refused to endorse any bailout plan because he had not seen the language of the legislation. Yet earlier in the day, Senate Majority Harry Reid was touting the bailout plan as based on Obama's four principles for any bailout.

McCain struck a chord with voters in touting the need to cut spending and for Washington to operate on the same standard of living as the American people. Obama danced around the question of what programs -- that he has been offering the American people the past year -- he would have to cut or delay.

Later in the debate, Obama tried to turn to his strength over Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton in that he did not favor going into the Iraq war as McCain and she did. But the Republican presidential nominee effectively turned that point on Obama, saying that the proposition before the next president is not who supported what back when but how will U.S. policy in Iraq be conducted in the future.

As for Afghanistan, Obama tried to take McCain to task for pointing to Iraq instead of that country where action has heated up. But McCain again used his experience of being there in Afghanistan and assessing the situation himself. Obama has just been to the country. And Obama heads a subcommittee that has Afghanistan in its oversight.

Again, Obama is just a bit more knowledgeable on foreign policy than Palin. But she has the advantage of learning from McCain. I don't know who is instructing Obama, but he or she is doing a poor job.

On the Russian invasion of Georgia, McCain scored points on Obama's initial weak response to the invasion that sought to score political points by citing a McCain campaign official as a former lobbyist for victim nation. And McCain, who has met Vladamir Putin, showed how he differed from the president in his assessment of the Russian leader.

"When I looked into his eyes, I saw KGB," McCain said.

I am convinced from listening to McCain that he would not commit U.S. troops to any theater without a plan for withdrawl as well as attack. He has served and he knows the risks. And he knew enough to oppose the president and his strategy in Iraq, resulting in the surge that has successfully lessened the violence and deaths in the nation.

Even though he was the clear winner last night, McCain's campaign still is not going to surge ahead of Obama. McCain still is the underdog. But his campaign is on the move. He returns to Washington to work on the bailout plan. And what happens in the next few days from there could well determine the election.

All that Obama can do is sit and wait.

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