Question: How Does an Attack Dog Get Himself Out of the Corner He’s Backed Himself Into? (Alternate Title: The Legacy of Joe the Plumber)

Answer to the Question in the title:  He doesn’t.  He just bites and snarls as he goes down in a flame of fury and poorly executed personal attacks.

Did y’all watch the final presidential election debate?  If I could sum up the exchange between senators Obama and McCain, it’d go something like this:  Unflappable Cool Cat Rebuffs (non-lip-stick-wearing) Desperate Pit Bull.

OK, so here’s what I took note of:  Bob Schieffer of CBS news was, all things considered, an excellent moderator for this debate:  encouraging frank dialog between the candidates who joined him at a common desk on center stage, he attempted to lure them into hot waters with weighty questions, keeping the senators to their time constraints and ignoring McCain’s attempts to engage Schieffer as if they were old drinking buddies on military leave at the nearest watering hole.
So without further adieu, the debate topics in order of Schieffer’s questions: (You will find my own personal editorial comments and questions in red italics, as such.)

1.  The Economy:  How would each respective administration get our country out of this economic mess?

McCain: “Folks out there are hurtin’ tonight.  They’re angry and they’re hurtin’…they’re angry…”  I want to help Joe the Plumber realize his American dream by taking nearly half of the $750 billion bailout package and buying up bad mortgages.  (editor’s question: will this benefit Joe Six Pack too?)

Obama: End tax breaks for companies shipping jobs overseas.  Provide tax cuts for families earning less than $200k/year.  Allow folks to access their IRA’s, tax-free, for a short period of time, if they need to do so to keep themselves afloat in these tough economic times.

2.  As a country, we have a disastrous situation in our national deficit and debt ($1trillion and $450billion, respectively).  How would each administration approach this problem?

Obama: *decrease subsidies to health care companies.  *”cut programs we don’t need”  (editor’s note: like, which ones?). *Encourage government, businesses, and individuals to stop living and spending beyond their means.  (Uh…yeah…that might be a good idea.)

McCain: I’m going to take a big-ass Paul Bunyan-sized hatchet to the US economy and exact an across-the-board spending freeze on every frickin’ program out there.  (Oh, yeah…then I’ll pull out my scalpel and slice away a few more programs like subsidies for ethanol (yeah!) and marketing assistance programs…) (whatever the hell this is…)

And by the way, Senator Obama:  I am not President Bush.  If you wanted to run against President Bush, you should have ran four years ago!”  (snicker…snicker…)  Americans are hurtin’, I tell ya’.  They’re hurtin’ real bad…they’re angry and they’re hurtin’.

3.  In lieu of the recent nastiness quotient each campaign has respectively descended into, can each of you sit here, face to face, and proclaim the same things your campaigns have been claiming about each other on tv and during your ralleys?

***Neither candidate addressed this question directly.  They talked about hurt feelings, false claims, 527 groups, Bill Ayers, etc.  But neither one completely denounced the smear tactics nor fessed up to them.

Obama: We can disagree on a variety of topics without being disagreeable.

McCain: Of course, you know, I’ve talked with Joe the Plumber…

Politics as usual.

4.  Why do each of you believe your choice for a Vice Presidential running mate is the most qualified person for that role?

McCain: Sarah is a woman and a reformer.  She knows big oil.  She knows energy.  She knows about raising a special needs child….

Obama: (In direct response to Schieffer’s question regarding whether or not he believes Palin to be a qualified candidate):  “That is something for the voters to decide.”  (an expertly skirted response) Regarding Biden:  he shares the same values and philosophies as Obama.  He has a proven track record of experience in Washington.  He holds strong to his roots in middle class America.  Oh, and P.S. Senator McCain – Joe also knows that for accomplishments to be made, like finding cures for the special needs children Sarah Palin apparently knows about so well…money will have to be spent on things like RESEARCH.  That’s pretty hard to do when you take a hatchet to the budget.  (sorry, couldn’t get italics to turn off here…)

McCain: Yeah, well…Joe Biden had some cockamamie idea to divide Iraq into three countries…so…THERE!

(a note from the editor:  can you really use the word “cockamamie” in a presidential election debate without committing professional and political suicide?)

5.  What’s your plan to address climate change?

McCain: We can do it…it’s easy…I know how to do it…I know how to do everything…it’s no problem…but let’s talk about Joe the Plumber some more…

Obama: Yeah, right, John.  It’ll take about ten years, Bob.

6.  Healthcare.  It sucks in our country right now.  The cost of it, that is.  And the access to it, for a certain sector of our nation.  How do you each propose to fix it?

Obama: We have to control spending and expand spending all at the same time.  We have to cut the cost of premiums.  We have to get rid of discrimination based on pre-existing conditions.  We have to put money into preventative medicine that will pay for itself in the long run.  We have to make health care accessible to everyone and stop the usage of emergency rooms by folks that ought to be seeing a primary care provider.

McCain:  “My old buddy Joe the Plummer out there…” knows what it’s like to have to pay for health care.  So what I’m a gonna’ do is tax your employer-paid health care packages, give you a five grand stipend and tell ya’ all  to go on out and find your own damned health care coverage.  What Senator Government…I mean…Senator Obama wants to do is…

7.  Roe V. Wade:  Should it, or should it not be overturned?  Would either of you use this as a litmus test when considering appointing a new Supreme Court Justice?

McCain: Hell no.  I’d never use this issue as a litmus test.  I’d only appoint someone based on their ability to accurately interpret the law of the land.  But, that being said, I WOULD NOT SUPPORT SOMEONE FOR SUPREME COURT JUSTICE WHO THINKS ROE v. WADE WAS A GOOD IDEA.  This is a moral issue, damn it, and the government has every right to tell a woman what choice she should make in regards to her own body and her own family planning issues.

Obama: Nope.  No litmus test for me, either.  But I think Roe v. Wade was a good choice.  I think “women are in the best position to make their own decisions…” regarding their own bodies.  And I will support a ban on partial birth abortions as long as it includes verbage about a woman’s health and safety.  But mostly, I think we need to work together in a bipartisan fashion to prevent unwanted pregnancies, increase access to adoption as an option, and improve sex education of our youth.

McCain: Yeah, me too.  (But I’m not gonna’ look at you when I say that, Obama.  I’ll only look at you when I’m directly attacking you or your policies.  No more Mr. Nice Guy…the gloves are off, man…the gloves. are. off.)

8.  Educa–  Ok, I’m all worn out.

So, here’s my final take on things:

Obama:  he’s just plain-ol’ cool as a cucumber.  Nothing ruffles the guys’ feathers, from anything I’ve seen as of yet.  And you know what?  I want our next nation’s leader to be able to do that:  to meet adversity and challenge and difficult discussions with a level head.  I don’t want to see another hot-headed, hatchet-wielding, morality nut taking up space in my paid-for-with-tax-dollars white house.

There was a really interesting ebb and flow of energy during tonight’s debate.  With each question MCCain addressed, you could visibly see his blood pressure rising…like the boyhood bulley from somewhere in his distant past had come out to play.  He was antagonistic, petty and…well…desperate.  He pulled out all his trump cards, and Sarah Palin’s too.  Unfortunately, they tended to be flimsy, baseless, and sometimes flat-out wrong.  (You’d think by now he’d know his running mate’s fifth child has Down Syndrome,  not Autism.)

Obama was calm, cool and collected.  He rebutted with ease.  He quoted statistics without a flinch.  He complimented McCain where it was appropriate, and he attacked with finesse.

On a final note, and not one that even came up in the debate tonight, I have to say this:

McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin had nothing to do with keeping the country’s best interests at heart.  It had to do with being opportunistic, and hoping that over half of the US population would vote for him, simply because he placed a woman on the ballot next to his name.  His choice in Sarah Palin was nothing short of political jockeying and, quite frankly, I feel sorry for her.  She was used by her political party as a puppet; a publicity stunt; a last-ditch effort.  McCain figured we, the electorate, would be so enamored with seeing a woman on his ticket, that it didn’t matter what her qualifications were (or were not), and that any ol’ woman would do.  I’m not buying it, John McCain.  I’m more savvy of a voter than that.

Tonight, McCain tried, weakly, to appeal to families with special needs children by mentioning his less-than-prepared running mate’s own personal circumstances.  Again, I say, “I’m not buying it.”

Sarah Palin may be great at what she does in her home life and in her work as Governor of Alaska.  She may be a stupendous multi-tasker, a fantastic mother, wife and friend.  And if all those things are true, then I say:  my hat’s off to her.  But these things DO NOT qualify a person to be Vice President of the United States.  Not Sarah Palin.  Not anyone.

So, to my faithful, and perhaps new readers:  who DO YOU think won the debate tonight?  What are your predictions for how the remaining twenty days of this election will go?  What do you think will happen on November 4?  I’d love to hear back from you.

next post:  something short and sweet.  I promise.



Filed under politics

12 responses to “Question: How Does an Attack Dog Get Himself Out of the Corner He’s Backed Himself Into? (Alternate Title: The Legacy of Joe the Plumber)

  1. Joe has an interesting take on his encounter with Obama in this interview:

    This interview is disturbing in that he admits that he set out to trap Obama and wasn’t quite truthful in his comments during their exchange. I’m going to hazard a guess here that McCain’s championing of “Joe the Plummer” may come back to bite him in the tush.

  2. Cheryl Peterson

    Your motherhood blog has become progessively more of a political blog. You are frustrated and so am I. So Obama is all about change. He will change the way we view change and give us the change we crave. Did I mention he is for change? I hope so because this country is headed to the dark side in a hurry. McCain is more of the same old bull coming from out of touch career politicians. The Republicans had their chance with W. over the last 8 years and blew it. Of course who knew he was a COMPLETE idiot. And before we pile on the praises of the 8 years of Clinton lets remember it was his administration that started us towards this economic mess. Democrats & Republicans. Funny how politicians who say they are so different are really all the same. They all enjoy the erotic pleasures of spending other peoples money. Lots of it. The national debt meter is out of digits. The governement has the responsibilty of regulation of banks and Wall Street and they blew it. And the government has grown from what the founding fathers envisioned into a giant black hole of spending and debt. I hope Obama is all about change….

  3. Cheryl,

    You’re so right – my “motherhood blog” has become politically distored over the last few weeks. I guess politics has a way of transcending everything, right?

    I’ll be so glad when this election is over so I can return to writiting about what (I think) I know best. Check back later today – I have an AWESOME piece of art work from our five-year-old daughter to share (if I do say so, myself!)

  4. Dave,

    You make some good points…and thanks for the link to the interview with “Joe the Plumber.”

    I have to say, while watching the debate, I kept wondering what “Joe” was thinking…was he incesnsed that McCain was pretending to be so familiar with this guy…even going so far as to refer to him as “my buddy Joe the Plumber.” McCain wasn’t even the one who met him in the first place!

    At the end of the day, politicians are politicians are politicians. Even the great ones, and DEFINITELY the not-so-great ones.

  5. I really do not see what the big deal is on joe the plumber, and how did the media single out this guy since there are dozens of actual sites with company names of “Joe the plumber”?

    Try doing a search in google and there are loads of them, but I bet the servers for these joe the plumber sites are getting strained by the unrealistic media buzz on a political joke by McSame.

  6. hi,
    it was lucky and nice to stop by your wonderful
    good luck

  7. What does Joe Have To Do With it Anyway???

    Let’s face facts here. Neither candidate is good for the country. They were picked by delegates, so we get to choose from the 2 that were selected for us, and this year, both conventions at a local, state and national level intentionaly were penalized so that the choice was made by even fewer delegates (superdelegates).

    This who countries political system is a scam and “We The People” are out in the cold in our own country!

    Sadly, my country does not exist anymore!

  8. sgtphoenix,

    You make some interesting points, here. Would you write more on the issue of the conventions having been “penalized” and thus less delegates being present to vote in each candidate?

    In the mean time, check out this video from last night’s Bill Moyers Journal on PBS:

  9. Cheryl Peterson

    Can you address a motherhood issue that affects so many couples? Sex. I read a statistic that over 40% of married with young children couples don’t have sex at all. I am almost in this group. I know its not as sexy as politics but it is a real issue for some of us out here at midnight in blog land.

  10. Cheryl,

    Ahhh…yes…SEX. Let me do some of my own research, plus collect thoughts on my own experience, plus those relayed to me from my Childbirth Prep. students…and I’ll get back to you shortly.

  11. Just fellow author, a very interesting article , thanks for posting the article, was certainly a great read!

  12. Cheryl Peterson


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