If only I could vote :-)

I’ve been a keen observer to the US presidential election campaign. Not so much because I could vote, but because I believe that world policies and priorities are somewhat influenced by what’s happening in the US.

Living in Singapore, with access to everything from BBC, CNN International, al Jazeera to TVRI, I can say that international media are generally leaning towards Obama. Meanwhile, when I open different US-based online newspapers or TV channels (Fox News, CNN headlines), most of them is leaning either towards Republican or Democrat.

So watching the presidential debate, live, is my only chance of getting messages directly from Obama and McCain without biases from media analysts. I watched all three presidential debates, and here’s my take from them:

And your point is … ???

Throughout the debate I tried to memorize as many specific messages and plans from each candidate. And here’s what I got:

On Obama’s side:

  • Those who earn less than $250K a year won’t see a single tax increase
  • The US will be energy-independent in 9-10 years time, with a focus on clean energy
  • Every kid should be given a chance to go to college by providing them with a $25K college credit (not sure if this is annually or throughout the 4-year period) in lieu of military or community service
  • Those who already have a health care plan with their employer should keep it, while those who don’t can apply for government health care plan which will be low cost because with such a large number of applicants, the government has a bargaining power to tell insurance companies to cut insurance cost
  • His government is prepared to sit down with friends and foes without pre-conditions
  • He will end the war in Iraq and focus the overseas military operations in Afghanistan, diverting it back to fighting al Qaeda and terrorist networks
  • No to same-sex marriages, however the civil rights of those practicing same-sex relationship should be protected
  • No to late-term abortion, but allow the continuation of unwanted pregnancies to be decided by the woman

On McCain’s side:

  • We will not raise taxes
  • We will give an additional $5K worth of health care protection to each American household
  • The US will be energy independent
  • The surge in Iraq is working well so it will continue
  • No meetings with foes without pre-condition
  • No to same-sex marriages
  • No to abortion

I don’t claim my notes to be accurate. I’m simply trying to recall the things that they said on the debate, with my limited understanding of the important issues in the US. However, from the above notes, it’s clear that Obama got more specific message across, some of them down to the details. He stated a lot of “whats” and “hows” while McCain was still stuck to just flashing out the “whats”. At least to my naked eye, Obama scored one point here.

So who’s the daddy here?

In the first debate, McCain was trying to establish himself as the experienced senior trying to kid Obama around. He wasn’t very successful, but there were a few moments where I thought Obama did look rather inexperienced. For someone as eloquent as Obama, I was expecting more of him during the first debate. However, in the third debate, the table was turned around. McCain looked like a cranky kid that nags for candy while Obama appeared as the calming and in-control father figure. Throughout the three debates Obama had grown from eloquent to presidential. He scored another point here.

Better orator doesn’t necessarily make a better president, but it helps big time. When you can communicate your plans and policies clearly to your citizens, you manage the anxiety of the people and move on to inspiring them. When you can justify succinctly why certain ideas need to be made a priority before the Senate or Congress, your ideas have a higher chance of approval. When people understand your words and language, they can instantly connect with you because they would think, “This guy knows what I’m going through.”

For an ordinary citizen like myself, it would be comforting to know that my leader speaks my language, and I can actually understand what he’s talking about.

So, if I could vote, it would be for Obama.

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