Obama Pulls Knock-Out Punch and Wins Debate in Unanimous TKO

The Obama - McCain First Presidential Debate

John McCain was able to get a last-minute permission slip from his mom – or President Bush, or whomever – and came to Mississippi. By all accounts, Barack Obama slaughtered him in the first presidential debate – all accounts except mine, that is.

Sure, polls of undecided voters immediately following the tête-à-tête showed Obama winning the day by roughly two-to-one. Sure, Obama was smart, confident, well-mannered, and “presidential” while McCain continued to speak petulant nonsense, displaying the same loose understanding of the concept of a “failed state” as he has of the “fundamentals of the economy”. Sure, the talking heads unanimously called the win for Obama. These were sweet accomplishments for the Illinois Senator, who certainly had the more difficult challenge on the evening. After all, what can be tougher than debating a guy for whom language has no fixed meaning.

Still, Obama failed to do the one thing he absolutely had to do to win this election: assure America that he is not black.

Victory can be Mr. Obama’s in November, if he will simply play the double-secret-reverse-race card. If we’ve learned anything from the past eight years, it is that people will believe the dumbest goddamned shit, so long as it is told to them by a guy wearing a flag pin on his lapel. If Senator Obama had simply looked America in the eye and declared his whiteness, the election would be in-the-bag. It’s the one change many Americans in swing-state-hell could believe in.

How hard can it be for Senator Obama to utter the two little words – “I’m white” – that would surely deliver an electoral landslide? If McCain can change something as profound as his innermost beliefs in mid-election, why can’t Obama change something as superficial as his complexion?

Perhaps Obama is simply too stubborn to be president!


16 Responses to “Obama Pulls Knock-Out Punch and Wins Debate in Unanimous TKO”

  1. 1 smita 8 October 2008 at 9:30 am

    MBJ, you totally nailed it with this post! The extent to which the American people are willing to suspend disbelief to avoid changing their paradigms is unparalleled.

    But you also highlighted what is probably the most fundamental difference between Republicans and Democrats. Republicans are faithful to a fault: willing say anything, believe anything, buy anything as long as they can do it without admitting they were wrong and can keep their party in power.

    Democrats, not being “an organized political party,” are the opposite: Fickle in the extreme.

    So we have the Right glowing over Sarah Palin’s remarkable and unprecedented debate “victory” and swearing that not only is she qualified to be president, she’s probably the most qualified candidate in America. And then we have the Dems, criticizing Biden for what was probably his best public speaking performance ever! If Obama wins, I wonder if the Democrats will even last until inauguration day before they start criticizing him.

    Isn’t democracy wonderful?

  2. 2 Amit 8 October 2008 at 1:25 pm

    And then there’s this if one bothers to look beyond the mainstream D/R: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pN24rhMI9IE


  3. 3 smita 8 October 2008 at 11:04 pm

    That lot defies description. They combine the worst of both the stereotypes noted above :-))

  4. 4 Amit 9 October 2008 at 8:41 am

    I’m not sure who you are referring to by “that lot.”

  5. 5 smita 9 October 2008 at 10:17 pm


    I meant the self-disenfranchising, quixotic crusaders like Ralph Nader who decide the system is broken and choose to magnificently tilt at windmills rather than battle the real problems we face.

    Don’t get me wrong. I think the two party system sucks. But India’s adventures with multiparty rule–in which a tiny minority (sometimes just one petulant leader, even) can topple a government–don’t inspire my confidence either.

    Ralph Nader achieved earthshaking paradigm shifts in his career, and we have him to thank for much of the health and safety we now enjoy. Imagine where we might have been today had Gore won the 2000 election and Nader become part of the cabinet. Instead he convinced just enough people there was no difference between the two parties to wreck the election without having any positive impact on the outcome. Instead, he undermined the credibility he spent a lifetime building.

    Ironically, greedy, power-hungry Republicans like Jack Abramoff, Trent Lott, Bob Ney, in their thirst to pillage and enervate government, have been far more effective at dismantling the current system than Nadar/Gonzales can ever be.

    I’ve voted Green Party whenever they’ve been on the ballot. And in safely blue California, I could do so again. But I’ve sat through too many election nights where my vote was barely a footnote in the returns. But this time I’m hoping my team really wins.



  6. 6 Amit 10 October 2008 at 7:15 am

    Instead he convinced just enough people there was no difference between the two parties to wreck the election without having any positive impact on the outcome. Instead, he undermined the credibility he spent a lifetime building.

    Smita, I think it’s best we agree to disagree, as I certainly do not see this issue as you do, specifically, your use of phrases like “wreck the election” and “undermining his credibility.” :)
    Use of such phrases makes a lot of assumptions and I just don’t see things that way, and I’m not convinced how continuing to vote for the “lesser evil” is going to move us in any positive direction. I’m not at all impressed by Obama (too much hype, not enough substance, flip-flop) and I don’t believe in “holding my nose and voting.”
    As for positive outcome, people like Nader, Wellstone (RIP), Gonzalez *inspire* me to get involved in politics, in ways that insipid people like Obama, Clintons, Bidens never do. So, I follow my heart, even if it’s considered quixotic.

  7. 7 Amit 10 October 2008 at 10:59 am

    [..] quixotic crusaders like Ralph Nader who decide the system is broken and choose to magnificently tilt at windmills rather than battle the real problems we face.

    Smita, one more comment on this. In my analysis, the system *is* broken. Boring debates that exclude contrasting viewpoints (on how many issues did Obama/McCain agree with each other?), convenient redrawing of districts/gerrymandering by *both* Democrats and Republicans in their respective states to ensure easy re-election, restrictive ballot-access laws to facilitate exclusionary democracy, both parties taking money from special interests and doing their bidding – these are not just Nader’s points, but facts – many of which are also supported by those on the right side of the political spectrum (Bob Barr, Ron Paul, and to some extent, Buchanan has also mentioned some of these points in the past).

    I’d be interested in your views on how the Democrats are going to fix this system, let along acknowledging the problems in the first place. Have you heard any Democrats talk about these issues? Most of them and their supporters even as of today, conveniently pile on Nader for 2000, yet not once has anyone mentioned the disenfranchisement of thousands of black voters in Florida in 2000 that led to Bush being handed the presidency. Or if Gore had won his home state Tennessee, Florida would have been inconsequential.

    I don’t know for sure if supporting the GP or Nader will solve our problems, but I do know for sure that supporting Democrats is not going to fix the problems in the system. I’d love to be proven wrong by Obama though – let’s wait and see.

  8. 8 mbjesq 11 October 2008 at 2:00 am


    A functional third party would suit America just fine, for many of the reasons you and others have been clamoring about for decades. But not all those reasons are equally compelling. Chief among the shibboleths is that “there is no difference between Republicans and Democrats.” It makes a nice sound-bite, but it is utterly foolish.

    And speaking of fools, let’s talk about Ralph “Nadir” Nader. His one legitimate achievement was the Corvair research, which lead to the creation of the Consumer Products Safety Commission. Since then — and we are talking about the 1960s — it is poor Ralph who has been “unsafe at any speed.” Overmatched and intellectually lazy, he lent his name to any of a thousand product defect campaigns without either doing the basic research himself or informing himself of the junk science behind many of the crusades. He played a shallow game of demagoguery on which, to my continual astonishment, no one ever called him.

    His 2000 presidential campaign gave the country a chance to see him as he really is, and as he had been for more than three decades: a man with a firm grasp of the simplistic, an utter cluelessness at the more profound levels of economic and political policy, an effective rage-against the-machine populism, and a callous disregard for who might get hurt in the exercise of his self-centered agenda.

    Talk to me about third parties when you have non-morons ready, willing, and able to contest elections and govern. Certainly the Republican primary provided ample evidence that it is hard enough to assemble a qualified presidential field when there are just two parties.

    The Green Party was effective and laudable when it focused on local and state elections. By interjecting itself into the presidential race — especially with an idiot like Nader — it takes a step backward, not forward in terms of credibility.



  9. 9 Amit 11 October 2008 at 11:38 am

    Wow Mark. You are quite an expert at putting up strawpeople, then feel smug about demolishing them using your vague generalizations. Good for you, but I understand – you Obamabots need to rally behind “The One” and of course, anyone who dares to point out The One’s shortcomings needs to be taken down. Your rhetoric about Nader, which is a repetition of MSM’s vitriol, is wasted on me as I’ve done my research. So save it.

  10. 10 Amit 11 October 2008 at 12:02 pm

    Oh, one more thing. I find your support of “democracy in India and people power” (Pondicherry) and your verbal diarrhea against Nader while addressing none of his ideas/issues pertaining to democracy in the US, somewhat paradoxical, if not hypocritical. But I’m sure you’ll be able to rationalize it away using your lawyer skills – please go ahead. :)

  11. 11 umiblog 11 October 2008 at 3:04 pm

    Hi Amit,

    I hate to intrude on your duel with Mark, but I was unable to respond to your earlier post, having been stabbed in the hand during a fierce battle with an avocado :) so am piping in now.

    I don’t disagree with any of your complaints against the system. Yes – the system is skewed in favor of a few. Yes – important issues go unsolved because the solutions conflict with powerful interests. Yes – in general both parties are equally rife with corruption, though I think in recent years the Republicans have trounced the Dems even in this.

    In fact, I’ve been saying for a while that I now think India’s democracy is just as good as America’s. If we have ignorant people in Bihar voting in exchange for blankets or cash, we have ignorant people in the heartland of American voting in exchange for platitudes.

    I love Don Quixote as a story, but it is about a man who couldn’t fit into the real world and sought refuge in an imaginary one. In the process he often did more harm than good, and more to the point, never actually changed the reality he was trying to escape. Therein lies the problem.

    Paul Wellstone was a remarkable man. He knew that he couldn’t change the game by standing on the sidelines and shouting epithets at the players so he got on a team and tried to change their plays from the inside.

    While idealism is important and holding politicians to the highest standards is essential to maintaining a real democracy, we should should heed Voltaire: “The perfect is the enemy of the good.”


  12. 12 mbjesq 11 October 2008 at 10:29 pm


    If there is a similarity between the political situation about which I write in Pondicherry and Ralph Nadar’s incessant presidential bids it is this: there is no shortage of political parties, but a shortage of honest capable people.

    In Nadar’s case, the problem is an intellectual dishonesty and, as Smita aptly points out, a detachment from reality; whereas in Pondicherry, the problem runs to fundamental immorality and outright corruption.

    You fail to note that I absolutely concede the question of whether a third party would be good for America. You and I agree on that.

    We disagree on Mr. Nadar. If you have really “done [your] research”, you can’t help but see him as an egomaniac who rode an initially well-deserved reputation as a consumer advocate to a position of authority and respect completely unmerited by his subsequent activities. This was long before he decided to stir-the-pot of the 2000 presidential elections. It is somehow unsatisfying, as well as absolutely gut-wrenching, that his reputation was ultimately tarnished as the man who gave us eight years of George W. Bush, rather than as the charlatan he was for decades preceding that dismal episode.

    My criterion for a viable third party in America is simple: it must be a credible alternative, not just a spoiler or an alternative-for-alternative’s sake. I was living in London during the rise of the SDP in 1981. Shirley Williams, Roy Jenkins, David Owen, and Bill Rodgers were legitimate statesmen, with a real agenda and a clear message for change. While the SDP did not survive for long, it can certainly be argued that it had a long-term moderating influence on Labour, which was the reason for its creation to begin with.

    It would take some convincing to persuade me that multi-party, parliamentarian power distribution is any more effective — and any less corrupt — than the dialectical two-party system. As in the U.K., the emergence of a credible threat to the existing power structure could have a beneficial moderating effect on partisan excesses; but the credibility can only come from accomplished leadership and a governance vision that extends beyond the meta-political desire for structural reform. These are precisely the qualities that American third party alternatives lack.



  13. 13 Amit 15 October 2008 at 7:50 pm


    Russ Feingold is another courageous and principled man (like Balamohan in Pondicherry), and I admire his stance on issues. He is one of the few Democrats to vote against the Patriot Act and authorization of Iraq war. Another one is Kucinich. But what are their *achievements* in the Democratic Party? What do they have to show for their efforts? Their protest votes were drowned out and didn’t stop those bills from passing. Kucinich was barred from attending a debate during the primaries, and his fellow Democratic candidates didn’t even protest – including that philandering pretty boy making some noise about abuse of corporate powers – or ask for his inclusion. Kucinich didn’t get enough support for his impeachment efforts from his own party – this is when the Democrats controlled both chambers. Disgraceful!!

    I think Democrats like Feingold and Kucinich should join the Green Party instead, and help it grow. Their efforts are wasted in the Democratic Party – effectively tilting at windmills. So it’s better to tilt at windmills in the Green Party or with Nader – at least it’ll be fun tilting in good company.

    Have you seen the Democrats try and make a move to the left after they gained control of the Congress in 2006 elections? I haven’t. As Dr. Evil said, “Throw me a frickin’ bone here.” Anything. Let me know if you’re aware of any signs that tell you that Obama and the Democrats have a plan to move to the left in Jan 2009.

    Ultimately, I have to look at their voting record, and on all major issues – bailout of corporations, Iraq war, FISA, eavesdropping on citizens, habeas corpus – they have voted with the Republicans and Bush instead of putting roadblocks. Where’s the difference?

    They confirmed Condi Rice as Secretary of State. They confirmed the Supreme Court judges (Alito and Roberts) instead of filibustering. That’s another fear tactic brought out and parroted word-for-word every four years – “OMG! The Republicans will appoint terrible judges.” Well, let the Democrats say no, like they did in the past, which resulted in Blackmun being appointed to the Supreme Court. (I’m sure you know about Blackmun and his role in the famous decision. And he was appointed by Nixon – a Republican crook.) When people raise a stink about Scalia, do they also bother to find out if the Democrats voted against him when he was nominated? Yup. 98-0. Sweet difference.

    Have you checked Obama’s voting record in the Senate? You should.

    So anyone who thinks that just having Democrats in control of WH and Congress will result in rainbows and flowers everywhere is most likely delusional and in for a disappointment. The question to ask is not whether Obama will be “better” than McCain, but why are we not holding Obama to a higher standard?

    You agree that the system is broken. So how will continuing to vote for Democrats fix the system when it is not in the interests of Democrats to fix it? Just hope and pray?

    I totally agree with your quote of Voltaire, but I doubt that the Democratic nominee can be defined as “good,” more like “lesser evil” which still makes him evil. Why set our standards so low? Besides, according to our globe-trotting friend here, Nader is a “charlatan” so he can’t be “perfect” in the sense you used the term. So Voltaire’s quote doesn’t apply here. :) :)

    Anyway, if you’re voting in California or any other Blue state, it’s a non-issue – vote for a third-party (GP) and help them reach 5% nationally so that maybe in a decade or so, our friend here will consider voting for them. Or at a minimum, vote for third-party candidates at state and city level positions. I can’t believe we’re even discussing this as if we’re in a swing state where our vote still matters!! I doubt if Obama even campaigned in California, other than to maybe attend fundraiser events – you know, those $1000/plate dinners. ;)



    Unless you were displaying your sense of humor, your last comment is so laughably ridiculous that I won’t even bother responding to your points. If Nader is a charlatan, by the same metrics, Obama would land much lower. You’re also grossly mistaken – I’m not here to convince you to vote for a third-party, or to find out what your criteria is that would make His Highness consider voting for a third-party. (So nice of you to deign.) That’s for you to decide if/when you say “enough is enough” with the corrupt Democrats who have repeatedly displayed they have no backbone. I’m not your moral agent.

    So let’s agree to disagree. And thanks for providing the space for discussion.

  14. 14 Amit 15 October 2008 at 8:06 pm

    I love Don Quixote as a story, but it is about a man who couldn’t fit into the real world and sought refuge in an imaginary one. In the process he often did more harm than good, and more to the point, never actually changed the reality he was trying to escape.


    Please check your assumptions about “fitting in”, “real world”, “harm” and “good.” As I mentioned earlier, Nader/Gonzalez have motivated me to get involved in politics. That’s a very tangible and measurable change of reality for me. Ultimately, one has to support honest, moral and courageous people and hope that others will join in.

    If for you, that translates into supporting people like Wellstone in the Democratic party (though I wonder what percentage of Democrats in the Congress are like Wellstone today?), good for you.

    There’s no one right way – I’ll follow the way that I think is right for me, and the same goes for you. Isn’t that the difference between sanatan dharm and Abrahamic faiths? :)


  15. 15 Smita 23 October 2008 at 9:58 pm

    Hey Amit,

    Those are rather a lot of assumptions to check – let me get back to you on that. But I’m glad if Nader has inspired you to get involved.

    I think the abiding weakness of democracy is that the more it succeeds, the lazier people get about carrying their share of the civic burden. Inevitably, this leads to abuse of power and the expansion of forces that undermine that very democracy. It’s all a very strange paradox: You have to go to the most undemocratic societies to find people fighting most courageously and actively for their rights and freedoms. In the most successful democracies you’ll find people in a selfish daze as their rights are blatantly snatched out from under them.

    It seems this year, the Nader effect is having a different impact. He may be more likely to win McCain voters than Obama voters.

    Ultimately, though, it seems to me that true leadership depends as much (if not more) on the ability to inspire and lead people than it does on policies and ideas. I think Reagan and Carter both proved that in very opposite ways. And that’s why I’m excited about an Obama presidency.

    But I’ve been feeling more and more anxious as the election approaches — Rev. Dobson and his pastors are praying for a “miracle!” Imagine what they’ll say if McCain does manage to win. Being spared these throes of anxiety may well be one of the biggest benefits of supporting Nadar.



  16. 16 mbjesq 24 October 2008 at 12:10 am

    Indeed, Smita, ignorance and delusion are always good recipice for anxiety relief.

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