The Broad is Back!

October 7, 2008

I am not your friend–I don’t even like you!

Filed under: consumerism,economy,New Broads,politics — by maggiec @ 11:05 pm

Tonight was debate number two, and five minutes in, I was already annoyed.  Was anyone else yelling “answer the question” at the TV?

I’m a teacher.  I ask questions for a living.  Before that I was a reporter.  I asked questions then, too.  If someone I ask doesn’t answer what I ask, I ask again, usually in different words, but substantially the same question.  The American people got to ask the questions this time, at a “town hall” type debate.  And they were asking the same questions Jim Lehrer asked at the first debate, because frankly, we never really got any solid answers that first time out.  But we did get plenty of campaign rhetoric.

Frankly, I was ready to give up and leave after 30 minutes, but I stayed the course just in case something interesting was said.  I took notes with a 64 box of Crayolas I bought for my nieces when they visit, and the best thing about the debate is the rainbow colors I’m left with.  But I notice that as the debate went on, I took more notes in red.  According to an art therapist I once knew, when children draw with a lot of red, it’s a sign of anger.  I’m thinking that holds true of note taking debate listeners, as well.

First off, Senator McCain, I am not your friend.  No one in that audience was your friend, and I don’t like you calling everyone “my friend”.  It makes you sound like a snake oil salesman.  And I’m sorry, but I’m seeing you through a different lens this week.  During the last debate, I still admired you on some levels, and I think that my blog of that week reflects that.  But in the interim, I found an article by Tim Dickinson writing for Rolling Stone.  The article is called “Make Believe Maverick” and its subheading is “A closer look at the life and career of John McCain reveals a disturbing record of recklessness and dishonesty.”  If it’s a truthful account, and I assume it is, it’s devastating to your campaign.  It made much of what you said tonight a lie.  And when you said that the country needs a cool hand, all I could think was that was a pretty ironic statement for a known hot head.  The article in Rolling Stone delves further and reveals not only a hot head, but a spoiled kid who got very far on Grandpa’s name and Dad’s influence.  Couldn’t really match Obama’s American dream story.

Senator Obama, I would have liked a little more straight talk, but frankly, I thought you came across well and did “win,” if winner there is.  You made some good hits about Senator McCain’s much vaunted record, and he was visibly angered.  You, on the other hand, kept your cool.  I didn’t like that you invoked 9/11–using a national tragedy for political purposes is just not right.  But I did like your discussion of the teacher making 35K being told to tighten her belt.  Where is she supposed to tighten?

I make a little more than that hypothetical teacher, but I also live in one of the most expensive cities in America.  After paying my rent, I’d be left with less than $8000 a year.  And that’s before taxes.  It’s not that bad, but I’m still making a small salary.  My family has cut and cut and cut.   My dad died in 1972, and if I convert my salary to 1972 dollars, I’m making a third of what my dad made.  That wouldn’t be bad, but in context, my dad was a blue collar worker, a high school dropout.  I’m a doctor–a PhD.  What is wrong with this picture?  Lots, and yes, I should have gone to law school instead of becoming a professor, and perhaps I seem to digress, but I’m scared sometimes.  I’m scared that I can’t afford full health coverage, that I’m skimping on my life insurance, that I am not putting enough away for my retirement, that I can’t afford the educational training my son wants, needs and should really have, that I’m living one paycheck and a mother away from financial ruin.

The financial problems in the US are part of my problem, but teachers being treated poorly in this country, the root of my problem, is the topic for a different blog entry or, even better, a book.  But I think these problems added to the frustration I was building during the debate.  People were asking: how are you, as president, going to help people like us, and no one was answering.  Both candidates answered in general terms, but how is cutting government spending, cutting pork, getting energy independence, yadda yadda yadda, going to help me make my electric bill and gas payments this winter?

This is interesting.  Watching the debate, I was getting angry.  Now sitting here writing this, I’m getting angry again.  McCain likening Obama to Herbert Hoover (a Republican president, by the way) annoyed me.  All most people know of Hoover is the dam named after him.  That’s supposed to be a relevant reference?  Then he referred to the “wonderful Ronald Reagan,” which may have won him some votes somewhere, but it just set my teeth on edge.  And you say it’s “not hard to fix Social Security,” but you never mentioned HOW.  You did say you’d set up a commission.  Right.  That will work.  Name me one commission that ever fixed something.  Quickly.  You’d form a commission to discuss what to do then bring its decisions to, who?  The Senate?  To discuss what to do.  Talking, talking, talking.  We’ve been talking about Social Security for years and years and years.

Obama got me less angry, I admit, but I still would have liked something more solid from him.  I would have liked something fresh–not a rehash of what I sat and listened through two weeks ago.  Is that too much to ask?

I have my comp students reading an essay by Paul Roberts called “How to Say Nothing in 500 Words”.  Roberts is trying to help students do the opposite, but it sounded tonight like the politicians up on stage took Roberts at his word.  Had they only said 500 words it would have been tolerable.  Unfortunately, they said thousands.  Each.


1 Comment »

  1. Hi Dr. Connor, this post reminds me one article I read on the Slate:

    Here in Taiwan, the elections, especially high-profile elections such as the presidential election, always center on the issue of identity (“Chinese” or “Taiwanese”)and China issues.

    Comment by Winnie Shen — October 14, 2008 @ 3:13 am |Reply

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