The concept of a debate typically involves two sides presenting opposing ideas reflecting different world views. Tonight was not a debate. What the American people saw instead was Senator Obama presenting coherent answers to difficult questions, while his opponent perpetuated old lies, often unrelated to the subject at hand.
Let's just say what everybody is thinking, but too polite to say out loud. Senator McCain has become the creepy old uncle that embarrasses the family at weddings and holidays. He rants incoherently, repeats himself, lies about the past, and mumbles answers that make no sense. The kids lower their eyes, squirming in embarrassment, while mom and dad pretend that Uncle Mac just said something interesting. Well, we are not sitting around the kitchen table at Thanksgiving; we are electing a president of the United States. Too much is at stake to let the crazy uncle near the liquor cabinet.
Every time McCain takes the microphone, we all cringe just a little, waiting for the next stumble. He rarely disappoints. Let's put everybody out of our collective misery and get Obama into office. The election has become a charade. Any sane person with a pulse recognizes that McCain is not the man for this job.
Good news did come out of the event tonight. The environment was discussed often, and in a variety of contexts. While "drill now, drill often" is not exactly a prescription for energy independence, the notion that we must shift our economy from fossil fuels to renewable energies has become mainstream. We are not debasing ourselves with arguments about the reality of climate change. We no longer question the importance of protecting the environment. What was once considered extreme fringe has finally, finally, become respectful, and central to arguments about our future.
Having given that rosy assessment, however, we are not ready to sing Kumbaya. While both candidates acknowledge the importance of the environment, only Obama (or "that one" as McCain referred to him) has proposed realistic solutions. Just as the implosion of our financial system required drastic intervention by the government, so too will the response to the growing global environmental crisis.
McCain often apes Reagan in stating that the government is the problem, not the solution. He ignores the fact that Reagan increased the size of the federal government more than any his predecessors and instituted the largest tax increase in history. But setting aside that small discrepancy between reality and claim, McCain just voted for massive government intervention into the free market with a $700 bailout, to correct a structural problem he himself helped create while praying to the god of deregulation. McCain is only against government when the sound bite serves an immediate need. With that background, we cannot trust him to devote the necessary resources to shift our economy toward sustainability using strategic incentives to stimulate the market and expanded research into new renewable technologies.
Let's put the old uncle to bed for the night so the adults can have a serious discussion.