STAFF EDITORIAL: Final debate missed opportunity to provide concrete details
Who is "Joe the Plumber?" Who cares? He won’t be our next president. The most important question is: Who are senators John McCain and Barrack Obama?
In the third and final presidential debate, they skirted many real issues and wasted valuable time on how the other is running his campaign. Obama accused McCain of running too many negative ads, as McCain said the same of Obama.
In this debate, the two addressed each other and spent much of their time exchanging barbs. If these exchanges had been substantive and issue-based, then it could have been a true debate, filled with valuable information and evidence for voters to use to make an informed decision.
Forty minutes into the debate, the candidates actually dove into the question posed by moderator Bob Schieffer of CBS News. Unfortunately, the question was about their running mates. This question was another missed opportunity to enrich the knowledge of voters.
After a slow start, the issues were finally addressed. McCain insists on expanding drilling in the Gulf of Mexico immediately. Obama said he would "look at it." Wisely, both agreed that U.S. energy acquisition and usage is directly tied to national security.
Health care dominated much of the debate, and the debate exposed stark differences between their plans to get more Americans insured. Obama’s plan would allow those uninsured to enroll in a government-sponsored health plan. He also said he would lower health costs, though he never addressed how this will happen. McCain repeated his support for a $5,000 dollar incentive for families to use toward any health plan they choose. Though helping families afford health insurance is laudable, the true outcome will ultimately be determined by health insurance companies, which hold control over much of the U.S. health system.
Unfortunately, the valence issue of abortion was raised by Schieffer. Roe v Wade’s impact on the country and the possibility of it being overturned was included. McCain stated his Federalist ideology as reason for opposing it and possibly opposing a Supreme Court nominee who supports it. Obama’s support for the court decision is based on citizens’ right to privacy but wouldn’t use it as a "litmus test" to apply to a potential Supreme Court nominee.
The candidates were at their worst behavior during this debate – laughing during each other’s responses and interrupting. Too little time was spent on what we as voters needed to hear, though there were some valuable nuggets of information. For better or worse, this is what we have on which to base our decision.