For once, I agree with Matty the human hat rack. Last night's debate was about as exciting as watching dog turds turn white.
The saddest thing, I think, about last night's debate is that the Straight Talk Express, to quote Senator Obama, "lost a wheel" and that over 40% of the electorate persist in believing that this sputtering, dieseling jalopy of a bus is a Lamborghini that'll take us on the road to prosperity and peace with honor.
It would be virtually impossible for me to spend enough time and effort to isolate, identify and debunk every lie that dribbled out of McCain's mouth in Tennessee last evening. It's tough to tell what was more frightening: All the lies and erroneous assertions he'd made being swallowed hook, line and sinker by the voters or the possibility that he actually believes them.
On three occasions, McCain puttered around onstage telling us about the $661 billion extra dollars that we're now suddenly spending annually on foreign aid. There were his hysterical claims that Obama wants to raise everyone's taxes and that his health care plan would be a federally-controlled mandate.
Obviously, these lies and distortions can be effortlessly debunked with one click of the mouse, as can McCain's hilarious claims of him calling for reform in the corporate sector as well as the role of lobbyists in government.
There may be truth to Tom Brokaw's promise that neither candidate knew any of the questions beforehand. As strained and pasteurized as the rigorously-screened questions were, not a single one of them, one notes, was allowed to put either man's feet to the fire.
The responses, which half the time weren't actually answered at all (what is the McCain or Obama Doctrine and would we observe or ignore Pakistan's sovereignty in the hunt for bin Laden?) were nonetheless spontaneous or spontaneously answered with stale talking points and repeated phrases.
What angers me is not the campaigns' agreement through the secretive and corporately-funded Commission for Presidential Debates agreeing on what to say as what not to say. Fox's Shepard Smith saw fit to mention Avery and Keating. Obama and McCain did not. That was obviously pre-arranged.
So for 90+ minutes, the young lion and the old shadow-boxed, refusing to stray one step from voting records of which the better-educated of us are already aware. Cuts were inflicted, with McCain wildly flailing and missing and Obama skillfully slipping punches, sticking and jabbing.
But in the end, all they did was clinch and circle eachother, with no haymakers thrown much less landed. And while Obama may have won on style points, the audience and viewers were the ultimate losers.
Unasked were merciless questions that I or any other plugged-in voter would've asked of both men. For instance:
How can Sen. Obama rail against John McCain's 10% corporate tax cut that would put $4 billion in the pockets of Exxon-Mobil when Obama eventually voted for an energy bill in August '05 with $14.8 billion in tax breaks and deferments for those same energy corporations in, then as now, a time of record profits?
And how can a Harvard-educated lawyer not recognize the sheer threat to our fourth amendment rights with the new FISA bill for which you voted? Why should we be comfortable with a president who will merely pick up where the last one left off?
How can Sen. McCain say "we don't have time for on the job training" when his own running mate thinks that living near Canada and Russia allows her to absorb foreign policy experience by virtue of osmosis?
How can you be a maverick when you, by your own admission, "voted with the president 90% of the time"?
But, while the questions were generally good ones, they weren't great questions and were chosen over some that I'm sure would've tripped up even the polished and well-prepared Obama.
And, if we can't challenge them now, how will we challenge them when one or the other gets in the White House?