The First Presidential Debate

My single insight is that when McCain responds to a question, he responds from the position of the isolated ego -- "I did such & such. . ." -- whereas Obama responds as a member of a group -- "we must do. . . such & such." McCain wants to be president because it will fulfill his personal ambitions; Obama wants to be president in order to accomplish things beyond himself. McCain responds with anecdotes about his personal experience, telling us that he has been to Russia, or Pakistan; Obama responds with an analysis on which to base his proposed actions.

Author: jd

Joseph Duemer is Professor of Literature Emeritus at Clarkson University in northern New York state. His most recent book of poems is Magical Thinking from Ohio State University Press. Since the mid-1990s he has spent a good deal of time in Vietnam, mostly Hanoi. He lives with his wife Carole & five terriers (four Jack Russells & one Patterdale) on the stony bank of the Raquette River in South Colton.

5 thoughts on “The First Presidential Debate”

  1. Interesting art visuals are added at Bill Knott under poets on this blog. Photos at In A Dark Time are good. The first debates deserve comment in correct standard English, nevertheless I find myself listening to “The Church’s One Foundation” – in my opinion, this hymn is written in church-like rhetoric. The debates also receive and deserve art-like behavior. Surely your blog entry comments on an important point – rhetorical style.

  2. I was surprised by my own reaction to the debates. All I could think about when it ended was how God-awful Jim Lehrer’s questions were. I recalled my anger in 2004 when he moderated an entire foregin policy debate without a single question pertaining to Abu Ghraib. He was similarly lackluster last night. Regarding the candidates, I’m uncomfortable when Obama resorts to tought talk regarding Afghanistan and Pakistan, but I guess I understand why one who opposes the war in Iraq needs to establish some creds for toughness.

  3. Chris, I’m not fully on board with the idea that we need to frame Afghanistan as the central front in the war on terror. That front is intellectual & political, not geographical or military. I, too, understand Obama’s positioning even while hoping that his other remarks — about US relations with allies & international reputation — reveal a broader % deeper understanding of the problem.

  4. Agreed. Moreover, whenever Henry Kissinger is cited as an authority on how to go about foreign policy negotiations our collective crap detectors need to sound off loudly.

Comments are closed.