Friday, September 26, 2008

Debate winner depends on P.O.V.

Who won the debate tonight depends a lot on your point of view.

Part of the time, I watched through my 57-year-old eyes. I'm closer in age to Barack Obama, but my life experiences are more akin to those of John McCain, 15 years my senior. No, I wasn't a P.O.W., and I didn't marry an heiress. But I did grow up during the Cold War and Vietnam, and those experiences shaped me. Despite my liberal outlook, the old battles and grudges of the Soviet-U.S. face-off are still with me. One big Super-Power against another. The Arsenal of Democracy vs. the Gulag of Godless Communism. I know that the world is a much more complicated place. But I can't change my life's building blocks. And neither can John McCain. Tonight, when he went off on a long diatribe against Russia invading Georgia and Putin being a Soviet apparatchik in the KGB, I knew what he was talking about. I grew up with that kind of lingo, that sort of world view.

But Glasnost started in the 1980s and the Berlin Wall fell in 1989. My son turned four that year. The Soviet Union was gone by the time my daughter was born in 1993. Talking to them about the Soviets and apparatchiks and the Cold War and all the rest is like talking to them about the Crimean War (McCain mentioned Crimea tonight, which made me recall all the lines to Tennyson's "The Charge of the Light Brigade"). This is ancient history to my kids. They like history. But it's not current events. It's not NOW.

And that's what Obama talks about -- NOW. Health care and student financial aid and housing foreclosures and Iraq and Afghanistan. Stuff that is happening NOW and not THEN, back in the old days when the Soviets existed.

How do the young people see McCain? As someone who was born during the Great Depression, was a kid during World War II, went to Vietnam in its early days, and now is old as the hills and twice as dusty. He could be their grandfather of even great-grandfather. Obama? He could be their father. He has a pretty wife and two little kids. He's a guy with energy and vision. He's a guy they can relate to, and work hard to elect.

Who won the debate? Ask a 23-year-old.

1 comment:

Michael said...

As a 38 year old I fall in between your age parameters, and I have to give points to Obama for holding his own on McCain's strong suit of foreign experience. How do I view them? I think McCain probably has those same feelings bubbling up concerning Russia, Iran et al as you do. But we do not have the resources to fund any sort of conflict at this time, and I think Obama is our best chance at employing diplomacy. We need cool and collected, not hot under the collar.

I very much enjoy reading your blog, by the way. Good stuff.