Thursday, October 16, 2008

Speaking their language

What struck me about last night’s debate was not that McCain was throwing everything including the kitchen sink at Obama, but that he seemed to be going to great lengths to appeal to his right-wing fundamentalist base by touching on many of their pet issues as he could and using buzz words that only really mean anything to that small demographic group.
It was a given that McCain was going to raise the non-issues about William Ayers and ACORN (though interestingly nothing about Rev. Jeremiah Wright), and Obama was ready with his responses which effectively neutralized those attacks. But McCain went further by raising Obama’s vote in the Illinois Senate against the so-called Born Alive Infant Protection Act which is really only familiar to people on the far fringes of the anti-abortion movement. Why McCain thinks he needs to appeal to people like TTFKAM is beyond me.
Nevertheless, Obama’s answer was definitive, noting that state law already protected the life of a baby born alive (not to mention the Hippocratic Oath) and that the act was simply an attempt to chip away at abortion rights and was unConstitutional in its present form.
McCain then decided to throw himself under a bus by mocking concerns about a woman’s health in respect to abortions. His complaint that the definition of “health” is stretched too far is a common tactic of the far right, but it is not commonly discussed in polite society so he came across sounding crass and cold. Obama, on the other hand, made it clear that he wants to seek a middle ground that will help reduce the number of abortions without taking away a woman’s choice in the matter.
Ultimately, I thought it was clear that Obama won the debate as the polls later confirmed.

On a side note, I was disappointed to see that infant mortality rates in the U.S. are still high.

Infant deaths in the United States declined 2 percent in 2006, government researchers reported Wednesday, but the rate still remains well above that of most other industrialized countries and is one of many indicators suggesting that Americans pay more but get less from their health care system.
Infant mortality has long been considered one of the most important indicators of the health of a nation and the quality of its medical system. In 1960, the United States ranked 12th lowest in the world, but by 2004, the latest year for which comparisons were issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that ranking had dropped to 29th lowest.

It is interesting to note that the U.S. is even behind Cuba in this all-important measure of our nation’s health.

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