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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

September 30, 2008 at 4:46 PM

Presidential debate

Hold candidates accountable for claims

I’ve just finished reading “The claims and the truth” [News, Sept. 27], regarding fact checking of statements made by Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama at the first presidential debate.

I find it astounding that anyone can sling any falsehoods they want at a debate, and there is no accountability as to the credibility of their statements.

It would be a great service to the voters of this country if, after each debate begins, there be a listing of false statements made by each candidate at the previous debate. We’ve suffered through too much delusional thinking and revisionist history from the Oval Office lately, and I’d like to hold those vying for new tenancy there to a reasonable standard of truth during the approval process.

— Stephen Salamunovich, Seattle

McCain lied more

“The claims and the truth” article opens with the statement that “Both presidential candidates distorted the facts Friday in their first debate.” This supposedly “fair and balanced” comment gives the impression that each man is equally guilty of lying in order to win the White House.

But those who don’t just conclude “to hell with both of them” and stop reading right there learn that Sen. John McCain was guilty of warping the truth in four of the five issues examined. In other words, McCain lied four times as often as Obama.

In fact, Obama’s only listed offense was when he “substituted ‘can’ for ‘may’ ” in a comment McCain made about “muddl[ing] through in Afghanistan.”

By contrast, McCain’s claim that Obama voted “to increase taxes on people who make as low as $42,000 a year” was condemned as ” ‘simply false’ by the nonpartisan FactCheck.org.”

McCain has proved he will lie and flip-flop on any issue to get into the Oval Office. That’s some “straight talk” to which the rabid fans of the “maverick” are willfully deaf. America doesn’t deserve McCain — or, God help us, Sarah Palin — as president.

— Michael Spence, Tukwila

It was a tie

After viewing Friday night’s presidential debate, I found myself shocked at what I had just watched [“First debate wasn’t a game-changer,” News, Sept. 28]. In my opinion, the debate couldn’t have been more of a tie.

Sen. John McCain seems to be stuck in his past experiences, while Sen. Barack Obama is so focused on the future that he appears to care little about the past. This was evident in the language they each chose to use throughout the night. McCain repetitively said, “Sen. Obama doesn’t understand,” and Obama repeated that he agreed exactly with what McCain was saying.

I think we would all appreciate some forward thinking from McCain. He cannot be so focused on the past that he does not plan for the future. However, I also know that without a clear understanding of the past and without vast experience, there is a lack of understanding in how to approach the future. Therein lies the problem for Obama.

In my opinion, the debate was more of a series of defenses, stories, examples and promotion of their candidacy than a question-and-answer session. Many of the questions were not even answered, because the opponents continued to remind viewers of things they were first to accomplish or support, rather than give a clear idea of how our nation would function with either as our president.

— Morgan Prospek, Bothell

McCain’s behavior disrespectful

While watching the first presidential debate, I was disgusted at Sen. John McCain’s behavior. To refuse to look Sen. Barack Obama in the eye — or to even look at him at all — and to smirk and sneer when Obama was speaking was belligerent, childish, disrespectful and rude.

We try to teach our children that this type of behavior is unacceptable, yet, here was a U.S. senator engaged in a debate for the highest elected office in our country, demonstrating such unprofessional behavior. Is this how McCain, if elected president of the United States, would treat heads of foreign governments, particularly those with whom we disagree?

How is this type of behavior going to win back our friends and allies and help return the United States to our former status in the eyes of the world community? McCain considers himself a maverick, but in reality he is a loose cannon with unstable behavior. McCain’s attitude, personality and temperament make him unfit for the Office of the President of the United States.

— Elaine Dimon, Mill Creek

Neither were prepared

The spirited debate between the presidential candidates — Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama — was all the more interesting in that neither candidate had had time for intensive practice. However, credit goes to Obama for being willing to go forward with the debate.

One McCain’s arguments against Obama was that he “lacked experience” and “was not ready for the job” appears almost as an anachronism in view of his choice of Alaskan Gov. Sarah Palin as a “running mate.”

— Doreen W. Badger, Bellevue

Oval Office not the place for paranoia

I heard something in Friday’s presidential debate that deeply disturbed me. I heard Sen. John McCain say that when he looked into the eyes of Russian President Vladimir Putin, he saw the letters KGB. I also heard McCain say he does not want to sit down with the president of Iran because of threats toward Israel.

To me this sounds very paranoid. The chances of anyone wiping out another country are almost nil. But a paranoid U.S. president has attacked a nation before. We got into the war with Iraq because of paranoia over weapons of mass destruction. That paranoia resulted in the loss of life of thousands of our children.

I, for one, do not want another paranoid president.

— Claire Gonder, Seattle

Obama’s ideas strong

Last week brought more wild, hotheaded changes of direction from Sen. John McCain, ending with the non-stoppage of his campaign that led him to debate on Friday night anyway.

What America needs in time of crisis is less drama, not more. We need steady, clearheaded leadership, not cheap gimmicks.

Sen. Barack Obama’s debate discussion laid out a clear plan for America that includes the middle class. Obama’s ideas will strengthen our economy and create jobs. It’s worth noting that McCain never mentioned the middle class once in his speech, while Obama made the middle class a clear focus in his responses.

Our domestic security is predicated on a strong economy at home. Obama has the new ideas to help solve these problems, and the debate in Mississippi made that perfectly clear to me as a viewer.

— Jennifer Hauseman, Seattle

Thanks a lot, Rove

Political strategist Karl Rove has been busy. His tactics, introduced to the world in the 2000 debates and buffed to a shine in 2004, have now reached their zenith.

Sen. John McCain spent most of his time on Friday evening misrepresenting his own positions, lying about Sen. Barack Obama’s record and platform and hurling accusations of naivete at his opponent. Obama was forced to spend much of his time refuting false claims, correcting misquotes and trying to explain his positions to the American people while being pelted with a barrage of nonsense.

What a waste.

— Erin Byrne, Auburn

McCain heeded rides’ warning

Anybody who questions why Sen. John McCain refused to look Sen. Barack Obama in the eye during Friday’s debate has obviously never ridden the Indiana Jones Adventure ride in Disneyland, where one is warned, “Don’t look into the eye of the idol!”

— Doug Hartsock, Kirkland

It’s no contest

How can Friday’s meeting of presidential candidates be considered a debate? Why didn’t Sen. John McCain look Sen. Barack Obama in the eyes and establish some kind of personal contact? He stood in his own world and showed what a shallow unprepared candidate he truly is.

McCain put forth his many anecdotes and gave Obama multiple put-downs, but he did not offer any resolutions to the financial crisis, health-care crisis or any other ongoing crisis in our country, except to say the war in Iraq is being won and that he’ll keep it going.

There is no contest as to who the next president should be.

— Roberta Hill, Edmonds

Republican debate tactics tiring

I don’t know if it’s a tactic or a strategy, but the Republican use of the derisive and dismissive laugh when losing an argument has grown stale.

Sen. John McCain used it so often in the debate that I feared his face would crack. Add the somewhat new tactic of interrupting as the time expires, thus, getting in the last word, and one has to conclude that there are no issues for McCain to run on.

— Garth Culver, Snohomish

Comments | More in Economy, Election, Energy, Politics

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