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Oglesby: Both candidates scored points in debate

POSTED: October 14, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Two quick references before getting to today's meat:

(1) Hope you had a ball and full tummy at the Kiwanis pancake breakfast. On behalf of the club, thanks. Saw a lot of you. Turnout was fabulous.

(2) Sorry. I transposed the middle three digits of BULLI's phone number in the last column. Glad a number of you took the trouble to look up the correct number, including some wanting to sign up for the terror course starting tomorrow. If you still haven't, you still can go by the BULLI office on Academy Street (across from the back post office entrance) or can sign up after the class Wednesday. Classes will be in the Brenau South auditorium on Chestnut Street, which parallels U.S. 129 S. toward Athens.

It's easiest to get to the parking lot by turning a double right just before the last red light before I-985. For the old-timers, that's the old Warren Featherbone building, which is now home to Brenau's School of Nursing, INK and the small-business incubator.

Many people have told me they can't understand why any objective person couldn't see that Barack Obama isn't ready for the presidency when compared to John McCain.
I can. Many good, intelligent people believe strongly in the government-knows-best philosophy, income transfer, the welfare state and isolationism. They are being as true to their imbedded philosophy as those of my persuasion are to ours.

My late parents, both multidegreed educators, conceded Jimmy Carter was a disaster as a governor and wouldn't vote for him again, but they voted for him for president simply because he was from Georgia and they felt it was time for a Georgian. Qualification comparisons apparently never entered their minds. That's exactly why I can understand why black voters are likely to turn out in great numbers to vote for Obama.

Friday night's presidential debate exceeded my expectations. Neither scored a knockout punch, as both Obama and McCain came away with wins and losses from their respective viewpoints, leaving a very tight race.
Obama strongly reconfirmed to his economic base he shared their beliefs in "big government knows best" involvement in virtually everything: income transfer, the welfare state and inevitably higher taxes, liberal judgeship appointments.

With the economy on the ropes, his prescription is right down their alley. He solidified that base. His domestic losses were to those who listened objectively and in vain for the substance of how his promises could be accomplished in our real, pragmatic world.

The only foreign policy gains, if any, I could discern would have come from those who hope Joe Biden will have the influence within the administration to handle that. The losses had to be overwhelming from most of the undecided watchers who recognized the unmistakable naivete, comparable lack of knowledge about the subtleties of how diplomacy works and experience.

McCain surprised me in holding even in the oratorical style contest. He would subtly bait the trap in his response to the moderator's questions or Obama's response to them and then egg on Obama with remarks. He'd then stand smiling while Obama time and again did the work for him, demonstrating his lack of knowledge, readiness and experience. Then as the end approached, he nailed the coffin shut with repeated, obvious statements that Obama "still doesn't get it," confirming what Obama himself was proving.

The performance reminded me of the legendary Hall County District Attorney Jeff Wayne, who slyly led criminals into contradictory testimony, then told the juries "it's the little things that count."

McCain wasn't without some losses. He probably didn't please immigration hawks who refuse to either understand or accept the broad reality of the issue.

He came to Washington in hopes he could help broker a quick and suitable economic bailout plan. The Democratic Senate leaders didn't include House Republicans in drafting the plan. They rebelled, costing McCain the quick part of that accomplishment.

As a consolation, it did bring them into the negotiations, which have been going on for several days.
Though their approaches differed, both demonstrated responsibility in heeding the president's call and showing agreement that some bipartisan solution must be reached quickly. It follows my Oglesbyism that "responsible dissent is the prerequisite to progress."

The Democratic-controlled Senate improved President Bush's plan and the House Republican minority was improving that plan.

Despite Monday's defeat of the recovery plan, it's quite possible that the next president will take office ready to take credit for the plan written into law.

Ted Oglesby is retired opinion page editor. Reach him at P.O. Box 663, Gainesville, GA 30501. His column appears biweekly in The Times and on gainesvilletimes.com.



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