so did you watch the presidential debate this evening, and if so what were your thoughts?
personally i thought the candidates both did an extraordinarily good job of presenting themselves. after a vice presidential debate last week that was a frenzy of personal attacks and rebuttals it was so refreshing to see a debate in which the participants focused on the issues rather than seizing every opportunity to belittle one another. i actually felt good after watching the debate. it's been my opinion up until now that if mccain were elected america's position of power and leadership in the international community during the last two hundred years would be at an end. but he spoke so compellingly on topics of foreign policy that i found myself feeling significantly reassured that he has the wisdom and experience not to lead our country down a path of total destruction. perhaps his choices wouldn't be ones that i agree with, but they would be intelligent, deliberate choices.
obama simply shone. i was trying to think of a word to describe his understanding of the issues facing our country; he's an intelligent man, and a cautious man, but the best word to describe his outlook is "nuanced." unlike i think every candidate who has run for presidential office during my lifetime, obama does not see the world in black and white terms. he showed a detailed and balanced understanding of every issue he discussed, and he based his opinions not on his own bluster but upon sound, respectable research. he struck me as someone who possesses the humility to work in cooperation with other people.
i don't know if it's a deliberate ploy or a natural mannerism, but the way obama hems and haws a bit as he speaks -- hesitates and appears to be making it up as he goes along -- is very reassuring to me. he sounds like he's thinking, and that's one of the most important things i want our president to be able to do. he sounds like he possesses a body of knowledge that he's able to draw from as needed that would serve him well in tackling the unpredictable challenges that would face him in office. obama seems to be a person who has thought not just about winning the election but about actually being the president of the united states. mccain is a compelling speaker but it's all campaign talk, and even in a non-scripted context like this he sounded a bit canned. he seemed more eager to come up with slogans than to respond accurately to the questions he was asked. i have to question whether he's thought much at all about what he would actually do as president -- so much of his rhetoric seems to be focused on the goal of winning.
i found mccain's quiet, reasonable tone within the context of the debate very reassuring. there were only a couple of times where he rolled his eyes at obama or attempted to insert snarky comments. obama was consistently mature and respectful. unlike his running mate joe biden, obama is able to take his opponent seriously and address his attacks without getting emotionally involved.
i really really want barack obama to be president. it was with great reluctance that i voted for gore in 2000 and kerry in '04: both of them were candidates i had significant reservations about and voted for simply because i hoped they had a chance of defeating george bush. for the first time, though, there's a candidate that i think would make a fantastic president. he's an intelligent, thoughtful, insightful person who possesses all of the wisdom and experience necessary for leadership.