Elsewhere during the second debate, McCain announced a bombshell new initiative, saying that, as President, "I would order the Secretary of the Treasury to immediately buy up the bad home loan mortgages in America and renegotiate at the new value of the homes at the diminished value of the homes and let people make those... make the payments and stay in their homes." McCain then rhetorically asked himself, "Is it expensive?" and immediately answered, "Yes."
As a minor aside, Sen. McCain is right: buying up all the "bad mortgages" in the United States would be expensive. In fact, it would be staggeringly expensive. It would require legislation to enable the plan (which means he could not simply "order" this to be done), and it would require an increase in the national debt ceiling. The United States Treasury would be buying the aggregate difference between the principal on every "upside down" home mortgage in the entire nation and the underlying aggregate market asset value of that property, with no upside potential for recapturing that expense if real estate values ever rebound.
That having been noted, let us point out the obvious. A freeze on federal spending and a purchase by the United States Treasury of all the "bad mortgages" in the country cannot happen simultaneously. The U.S. government can do one or the other of two things, here: it can bail out every homeowner who is upside down on a mortgage, thereby blowing the federal budget deficits even farther into outer space than they already have been sent under the fiscal recklessness of the Republicans and the recent bipartisan recklessness of the $700 billion financial services industry welfare bailout; or the government can institute an across-the-board spending freeze that will exclude only defense, veterans programs, and certain entitlements.
It cannot do both, and the very fact that John McCain would declare his earnest intentions to carry out mutually exclusive policiesdeclarations he made on the same night, in the same forum, in the presence of millions of viewerspoints to one of three possibilities about the Republican candidate:
• Sen. McCain is so desperate at this point that, cynically or otherwise, he will promise anything, regardless of its absurdity in context;
• Sen. McCain does not understand that a spending freeze means he and Congress would by definition have foregone opportunities for vastly expensive initiatives;
• or Sen. McCain has lost a crucial understanding he simply must possess with respect to the realities and responsibilities of federal fiscal management as agreed upon by the Congress and the Office of the President.
In any event, what he said during Tuesday night's debate cannot be set aside as a misstatement: in no uncertain terms, without a hint of equivocation, John McCain laid out two compelling policies that are completely and irreconcilably at odds with one another. While voters might find both a homeowner mortgage bailout and a federal spending freeze attractive ideas, it should be pointed out to them that the Republican candidate for President might not be able to deliver on either promise and, as a matter of essential logic, most certainly could not deliver on both.
It would be most unfortunate if voters were to elect as President an individual who discovers fundamental errors in his thinking as learning experiences rather than as matters of prior common sense.
The People (Who Matter) Have Spoken
The Biden versus Palin Debate: Summary Evaluation
Without diminishing Biden's performance, Palin did make his work somewhat easier in that she repeatedly used her time to proffer scripted messages, which meant that Biden was already prepared to counter. To Palin's credit, on several occasions after her original script had been shot down, she simply denied that the counter-argument was true. One example of this was when Biden took apart her weak defense of Sen. McCain's vague plans for Afghanistan by noting that military commanders, themselves, had just declared that an Iraq-style surge in Afghanistan would not work; Palin rebutted by brazenly claiming the commanders had not said a troop-level increase would fail. In her rebuttal, she skillfully avoided using the word surge, meaning she was bright enough to know very well that she was doing semantic parsing on a thin ledge below which was a dungeon of morning-after fact check flogging.
As a side note, a continuing frustration I have with both Obama and Biden is their willingness to concede the Bush Administration/mainstream media notion that the "surge" was, indeed, successful. They really need to stop letting this matter go. To the extent that violence in Iraq has been reduced, thereby leading to a significant reduction in the number of American casualties, the greatest contributing factor was not that massive spike in the number of U.S. soldiers committed to Baghdad and other hot spots; it was, in fact, principally the result of the United States paying staggering amounts of money to potential adversaries to stop killing each other and, more importantly, to knock it off with shooting our GIs. Those "Sunni Awakening Councils" and other misfit organizations of bearded men with guns were the beneficiaries of what were literally pallets of money we shipped over there for the expressed purpose of buying their peace.
Now, let me be clear: there is nothing wrong with bribing enemies to be nice (provided, of course, that when we stop paying them, they'll remain nice, something that did not happen when we stopped paying the religious maniacs in Afghanistan once we no longer needed them to kill Soviet occupation troops). What is wrong is for both Barack Obama and Joe Biden to allow the Bush Administration and its lousy commander, Gen. David Petraeus, to look like military geniuses when all they really did was spend American taxpayer money to bribe unsavory killers.
Moving back to the matter of the debate between Sen. Biden and Gov. Palin, I shall not mince words about the latter. Speaking as a college professor, were Sarah Palin a student of mine, I would have flunked her the second time she completely avoided answering a question put directly to her:
Moderator Gwen Ifill asked Palin to describe the circumstance she considered the "trigger" for the use nuclear weapons, and the frozen-smile governor immediately went on a scripted speech about other countries' alleged nuclear weapons programs.
Palin was asked about her "Achilles heel," and she immediately went into a long-winded advertisement about how great she is, going so far as to let everyone know how very close to genuine, honest-to-goodness trailer trash she is by droppin' her "g" on every present participle like a Country & Western singer cuttin' loose with the good ol' boys.
When asked point-blank whether Iran or Pakistan represents the more significant threat to U.S. interests, Palin twinkle-toed like a ballet dancer wearing helium in her tights.
And, as if to forewarn of her own planned surge of Forrest Gumption, at one point early on, she proudly and defiantly declared that she was not going to let any debate moderatoror anyone else, for that matterdeter her from using the debate forum as she gosh-darned well pleased.
Fortunately for Ms. Palin, she is not my student, so I will have no opportunity other than the Websites of Dark Wraith Publishing in which to issue her a failing grade. It took that woman five small colleges to work her way to a fluff degree for people who cannot cut it in real, hard-core college courses, which are the kind I teach. Palin is the type of student who would have been in my class just long enough to suddenly stand up and blurt out, "Um, this isn't Art Appreciation for Imbeciles 101, is it?"
No, Ms. Palin, this is Hell, otherwise known as preparation for the real world of responsibilities that range from rearing your children properly to being one old man away from the most powerful office on the entire planet.
Although I support neither McCain nor Obama, given that neither candidate is willing to face the depth and scope of the multi-faceted, looming economic crises bearing down on this nation, to the extent that this debate between the dueling seconds mattered at all, it was definitely won by Senator Joe Biden.
Given his opponent, however, that isn't saying much for Mr. Biden.
Given that this race is really between Barack Obama and John McCain, though, regardless of who won, the American people are still faced with the unenviable responsibility for deciding which of two men is best able to deceive voters into believing that we can get our degree in prosperity without making it through Hell, first.
The Dark Wraith will be waiting to hand out the class syllabus for anyone interested in early registration.
Dear God, Senator McCain, What Were You Thinking?
During the interview, Palin criticized the landmark Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade, declaring that she believes abortion rights should be left to the individual states to determine. Once she'd finished her scripted statement, Couric posed a follow-on question, and that's when Palin no longer had a prepared response.
Immediately below is a YouTube video capture, as well as an audio capture (in case the YouTube video gets pulled), of that portion of the interview, followed without comment by a verbatim transcript of Palin's response.
Size: 1.01 Mb
This is the transcript, prepared in house here at Dark Wraith Publishing, of the video segment above:
Couric: "What other Supreme Court decisions do you disagree with?"
Palin: "Mmmm. Well, let's see. There's... of course... in... in the great history of America there have been rulings... that, um, there's never going to be absolute consensus by every American, and, um, there are... those issues, again, like Roe v. Wade, where I believe are best held on a state level and addressed there. So, um, you know... going through the history of America, there... there would be others but, uh..."
Couric: "Can you think of any?"
Palin: "Well, I would think of... of any again, that could be best dealt with on a more local level, maybe I would take issue with, but you know, um, as... as a mayor, and then as a governor and even as a vice president, if I'm so privileged to serve, wouldn't be in a position of changing those things but in supporting the law of the land as it... as it reads today."
Okay, just one brief, dignified comment:
GOD ALMIGHTY! It hurts it physically HURTS to watch that woman suffer.
Senator McCain, have you no decency? Send Sarah Palin back to her own kind.
Dude: Please. For God's sake.
Damn, John: Even the moose head on the wall is trying to reach the channel changer.
Senator, only you can end this. Send her home. Alaska needs her.
The Dark Wraith will now officially have nightmares thinking about old man McCain kicking the bucket and Sarah Palin getting the keys to the U.S. nuclear arsenal.