hofstra university in new york was the scene for the final debate wednesday october 15, 2008 between democratic presidential nominee illinois senator barack obama & republican presidential nominee arizona senator john mccain. veteran cbs correspondent bob schaffer served as the lone moderator. after brief introductions the two men politely shaked hands, exchanged cordial greetings & sat down at a large table facing schaffer, who, at the outset, asked the energetic audience to remain silent throughout the 90-minute debate.
schaffer stressed the debate would focus largely on domestic policy although other pressing issues would be explored. schaffer asked each candidate to focus on the question at hand - being mindful of the two-minute time allotted for responding to each question - while encouraging them to rebut and/or ask questions of each other. each question would be given nine minutes to discuss yet it's improbable to expect candidates in a heated, highly-contested & historical battle to adhere to rules, no matter who's in charge. anita baker kept it real: rules are meant to be broken.
despite various media pundits, bloggers & the like, i neither think about nor care who (supposedly) wins or who loses a debate. what concerns me are the participants' morals, values & principles: hue-man qualities like compassion, humility, integrity, kindness & love. i'm concerned about who can inspire, lead & unify a country in the midst of economic crisis, military unrest & spiritual heartache. the personalities of the two candidates are strikingly opposite, which showed in the debate. obama was calm, earnest & respectful. mccain was anxious, frustrated & manipulative. when i listen to mccain speak two words immediately come to mind: anger management.
i never expect to learn anything new about a candidate in a debate. i expect them to affirm their platforms, rally their parties & seek new voters by any means necessary. what can/will they say about themselves or their views or each other that hasn't been espoused already? much of the debate was centered around refuting each other's mis-guided, mis-informed or mis-quoted statements. thank god for the baseball playoffs. but i digress. at one point mccain admonished obama for not repudiating georgia senator john lewis, who, in mccain's eyes, likened him to 1963 george wallace - "...i say segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever."
mccain said he was hurt by lewis' implications of racial polarization & obama's steadfast refusal to offer a personal condemnation & public apology. obama countered by acknowledging the recent rallies of republican vp nominee alaska governor sarah palin where her supporters rant, in reference to obama "terrorist," or "kill him." mccain said he's made an honest effort to quell their venom yet smiled when honoring his voters, "the most loyal, hard-working, patriotic americans i've ever known." wtf? palin's rallies are reminiscent of a kkk lynching. she smiles through the hate while cindy mccain stands to the side in her thousand-dollar designer outfits. folks in the audience are paralyzed by apathy, credit card debt, depression, home foreclosures, illiteracy, little or no health insurance, rising gas prices, substance use issues & unemployment...yet cindy mccain is perched in prada? i don't think so.
there were moments when both candidates agreed on certain issues like energy independence, reducing american addiction to foreign oil & offering tax breaks to folks who need it. nonetheless, with less than three weeks before election day, i doubt if this final debate did little if anything to sway folks' honest opinions. i believe white folks walk into the booth with an american flag & when the curtain is closed they pull out a confederate flag. i can't prove this with an exit poll yet how did bush win (read: steal) the last two elections? how did he get 10 percent of the black vote in 2004? where do those negroes live & do their parents know?
the latest figures show obama with leads of up to 8 percent across the country yet my cynicism, as well as my understanding of white supremacy, tells me both the undecided & unregistered voters will make a huge impact in the final count. i'm afraid some of the hilary vote will go to mccain by default, especially since he's exploiting the fears of women with the inexperienced & unknown pailn as his running mate, yet we all know a large number of americans are dishonest about their feelings on race. whenever i listen to palin speak three words immediately come to mind: roseanne rosanna danna.
i can only hope folks will vote with an open mind & an open heart. if mccain/palin wins this election i don't know what i'll do. i don't have money to flee america in disgust. but i'll think about it. on the other hand, if obama wins, i'm afraid some indifferent redneck from anywhere usa will put a gun to his head. i don't have the spirit to hurt someone white i don't know in retaliation. but i'll think about it. i wish my 97 year-old great-grandmother eugenia jefferson were here to help me calm my worries. she had a unique way of making me feel safe in her presence. i don't feel safe about this election. not with our his-tory. i think obama will win yet al gore & john kerry had the very same thoughts...
- mark j. tuggle
- harlem, usa
- same-gender-loving contemporary descendant of enslaved africans. community activist, feminist, health educator, independent filmmaker, mentor, playwright, poet & spiritual being. featured at, in & on africana.com, afrikan poetry theatre, angel herald, bejata dot com, bet tonight with tavis smiley, blacklight online, black noir, brooklyn moon cafe, gmhc's barbershop, klmo-fm, lgbt community services center, longmoor productions, nuyorican poets cafe, our corner, poz, pulse, rolling out new york, rush arts gallery, saint veronica's church, schomburg center for research in black culture, sexplorations, the citizen, the new york times, the soundz bar, the trenton times, the village voice, upn news, uzuri, venus, vibe, wbai-fm, wnyc-fm & wqht-fm. volunteered with adodi, bailey house, inc., black men's xchange-new york, colorofchange.org, drug policy alliance, east harlem tutorial program, imagenation film & music festival, presente.org, save darfur coalition, the enough project, the osborne association, the sledge group & your black world. worked on films with maurice jamal & heather murphy. writing student of phil bertelsen & ed bullins. firstname.lastname@example.org.