Obama vs. McCain: Neither Candidate a Master Debater

Last night’s inaugural Presidential debate, as to be expected, was a supreme disappointment. With a pivotal moment in history, both Barack Obama and John McCain held tightly to the simplified rhetoric of their respective campaigns. McCaIn, who highly touts his experience in foreign policy, failed to distinguish himself high and above his political opponent. In this, he failed and lost the debate. Obama had more than ample opportunity to deconstruct McCain’s positions, but adopted, for whatever reason, a timid and non-aggressive stance. I know being a black candidate in a racist nation has proven to be a tough tightrope walk but c’mon, Obama should be smelling blood and going for the jugular in this optimum moment. In this, he failed and lost. With two wars and occupations ongoing and with an economy in shambles, round 1 of McCain vs Obama played out like a boxing match where the pugilists size each other up, dance, and throw an occasional jab before moving away from each other much to the chagrin of the booing audience.

In this foreign policy focused debate, the most disagreeable moments took place when the subject turned to negotiating with “unfavorable regimes” with or without preconditions (or preparations if you like) McCain couldn’t pronounce “Ahmadinejad,” and compared the Iranian President to Hitler in a sense that he could be the purveyor of a “second holocaust.” The debate soured into exchanges as to whether Obama would have presidential talks with someone like Ahmadinejad all while the two candidate blew smoke up war criminal Henry Kissinger’s ass. The veneration of this supposed foreign policy guru – who though fiendishly Machiavellian is deplorable morally – was such a disturbing point of confluence.

Another gray area of convergence in terms of foreign policy came when Obama referred to Venezuela in passing as a “rouge state” after railing off Cuba and Iran. This is not surprising, but that fact does not absolve the level of disappointment such a characterization brings. This is the Democratic Party after all. The supposedly Uber-Liberal Nancy Pelosi once referred to President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela as a “thug,” and Charles Rangel’s scratchy voice lambasted him in shining defense of President Bush after Chavez famously called Dubya “Diablo.” Indeed, Kissinger’s legacy is at work when the two corporate parties are in agreement in referring to a democratic regime in South America as “rogue.” Though Obama may be less favorable to the coup mongering of the Bush regime, I fail to see how his rhetoric vis-a-vis Venezuela could be helpful to that aim. It is in this scenario where one of the deepest disappointments with the prospect of an Obama presidency are had. The first black president in this history of a nation born of slavery is poised to take up the mantle of a white supremacist driven foreign policy stance toward Latin America.

In finding disagreement with Obama’s definition of the Venezuelan state, it is even more so disagreeable when news of new coup rumblings are surfacing in that country. Venezuela Analysis is reporting that on September 10th a Venezuelan television station broadcast a recently recorded planning session of a coup plot modeled after General Augusto Pinochet’s ouster of Salvador Allende in Chile. Since that time, Chavez, the democratically elected leader of Venezuela, has already confirmed the detention of some of those plotters while others have fled. This is most disturbing – perhaps even more so than the failed 2002 coup. This most recent plot is supremely anti-democratic since Chavez accepted the public vote on not amending the constitution to make for indefinite re-elected presidential terms. He will be ousted by the constitution just as Allende was to be in 1976 had fascism not intervened otherwise.

The U.S. government has without a shadow of a doubt aided Chavez’s opponents through various channels such as USAID and even supported the coup government immediately in 2002. Yes, Mr. Obama, there are rogues in Venezuela just as there are rogues in Bolivia but no, they are not the democratically elected heads of state. The rogues are the anti-democratic coup mongers who find favor with the U.S. government – who in a sense is at least the accomplice to the rogues if not being reckless rogues themselves. I know it’s hard, but try your best to call Venezuela what it is; a democracy. By doing so, you do not have to abandoned criticisms you may have, but if you truly care about restoring the international reputation of the United States around the world, in Latin America, you will fail in that regard if you continue to walk in the shadows of the Monroe Doctrine.

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