The Family (Or most of them)

The Family (Or most of them)
The Family

October 8, 2008

Debating the Debates

Just a little cleaning up to do after the U.S. presidential debate this week...

Who knows for sure, but I wouldn't be surprised if more Canadians tuned into this week's debate in Nashville between Barack Obama and John McCain than they have for the Canadian election debates.
Both countries, of course, have election campaigns going on now. Canada votes on Oct. 14. The Americans vote in early November.

Due to late work nights, some genuine apathy and other issues, I haven't watched one Canadian debate. The only debate I DID watch was the one in Nashville this week. So, s
everal observations.

First, I'd give Obama a B+ for his performance in Nashville. He looked polished, authoritative, reasoned, confident and showed great restraint, in my view, when McCain took stupid cheap shots.

I'd give McCain a D-. I thought he looked wooden, rehearsed, arrogant and he was constantly on the attack. He didn't speak TO the people the way Obama can. It was like he was talking DOWN to people.

I think it's pretty clear now that Obama will win. Any objective person who pays attention to body language and listens to ideas would come to that conclusion, as far as I'm concerned.

So that's my two cents as a non-voting observer who's not trying to hide that he's supported Obama from the get-go.

Now some other points.

If you didn't see the Nashville debate, look at the images above. It was an interesting, one-on-one townhall format that says something about the dynamism of America itself and its ability to make something exciting.

Now look at the image below.

Five politicians (L-R Liberal Leader Stephane Dion, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, New Democratic Party Leader Jack Layton, Progressive Conservative Leader/Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe) sitting around a table.


Now to be fair, and I say this proudly, Canadians probably have a worldwide image of being more global neutrals and pacifists and reasoned -- in other words, a lot more like Obama than McCain -- than Americans.

In other words, not so much flash and panache, as a nation, but more measured, maybe...more open to others' opinions, less likely to storm the bastions and invade Iraq without just cause and more likely to want everyone to sit down and talk.

And I don't say that as an insult to any individual American. Having backpacked through Europe, the Middle East, India and other places, I can vouch for it.

If you had a Canadian maple leaf sewn on your backback, you were always welcomed. Americans? Well, not so much, just because of worldwide perceptions and images.

Right or wrong, America is seen as the all-powerful invader that goes wherever it likes for its own benefit (most of the time) or at least for its allies' benefit and stomps on anything in its way. It's true.

As a Canadian who has loathed Dubya from the get-go, I see in Obama an open, intelligent, sensible saviour much like our own Liberal prime minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau of the 1960s and 1970s -- my lone Canadian political hero.

So that's a segway, of some sort, back into the Canadian election...and the nimrods we have to choose from that head five parties, only two of whom are credible and have a real chance at winning.

They are the Conservatives' Harper, a Bush clone/lapdog who has held a minority government for the past two years and who called this election, and the Liberals' Stephane Dion.

As much as I like the left-leaning Layton of the socialist NDP, the rest of Canada has never voted in his party for government. The other two are marginal.

Duceppe of the Bloc Quebecois leads a one-province party from Quebec that wants to separate from Canada. He's intelligent but he's a one-cause party. Good luck. May's Green Party wants us all to, of course, go green.

We're not ready for that.

So let's focus on Harper and Dion. Dion, first of all, is from Quebec. He has a very heavy French accent and is hard for the rest of us understand.

He looks like a bookworm, isn't very verbose and doesn't speak fluently or very well in the language that most Canadians speak. I'm sure he's super intelligent and very able. But he's not smooth in an Anglais sort of way.

However, his party is the party I have almost exclusively supported throughout my voting years. So I'm caught in a conundrum.

If I had to vote today -- and actually, hell, I'll have to vote on Tuesday -- he'd get my vote.

He'd better be praying that millions of Canadians feel the same way.

But Harper, the ultra-smooth, say-nothing, do-nothing doe-head from Alberta, also might want to start praying.

This guy ran for the leadership of the right-wing Reform Party several years ago, and lost. So he ran away crying and became the head guy at a right-wing think-tank in Calgary.

The Reform Party, because of its ultra right-wing views, could never get elected east of Alberta.

So they quietly died and the Conservatives, who had been banished to the political wilderness, absorbed them all, including Harper. When the Liberals got involved in a messy political scandal, the Conservatives re-emerged.

Guess who was leading them? Harper. With the Liberals in complete disarray, they won a minority government and have been lame ducks ever since.

Harper called this election and here we are, voting before the Americans do.

And basically, we have to choose between a doofus conservative who hasn't a clue and a francophone scholar who can't communicate with the majority of the Canadian electorate.

Why, I ask, does Harper need six Canadian flags behind him? Wouldn't one do? Or is this an inferiority complex showing through?

Or is he just trying to outdo his political hero, Dubya?

My biggest wish -- for America and for Canada -- is that we end up with two governments, come the end of November, that are middle of the road, sensible, feeling, sensitive, reasoned and calm.

Which is anything BUT what we've had for past eight years in America and the past two years or so in Canada.