Around the World, Bloggers React to Debate

Bloggers around the world are weighing in with their opinions over last night's Presidential debate which left many pundits scratching their heads and American voters hoping for more. How did Senators Barack Obama and John McCain score with international bloggers?

Starting with foreign policy reactions from Pakistan, let's recall what Barack Obama and John McCain said:

Obama: “…every intelligence agency will acknowledge that al Qaeda is the greatest threat against the United States and that Secretary of Defense [Robert] Gates acknowledged the central front…is going to be in Afghanistan and in Pakistan….If the United States has al Qaeda, bin Laden, top-level lieutenants in our sights, and Pakistan is unable or unwilling to act, then we should take them out.”

McCain: “I'm not prepared at this time to cut off aid to Pakistan…We've got to get the support of the people of Pakistan….And we're going to have to help the Pakistanis go into these areas and obtain the allegiance of the people. And it's going to be tough. They've intermarried with al Qaeda and the Taliban. And it's going to be tough. But we have to get the cooperation of the people in those areas.”

Pakistani reaction in the eastern hemisphere is diverse.

Beginning with Riaz Haq, McCain is the winner on foreign policy:

It is clear that Senator McCain is far more knowledgeable about Pakistan than Senator Obama. Mr. McCain has also repeatedly stressed diplomacy and close working relationship with Pakistan and demonstrated his commitment by his actions such as several visits and phone conversations with Pakistani leadership recently and in the past. On the other hand, Mr. Obama has made aggressive statements about Pakistan without making serious effort to understand the issues faced by Pakistanis in FATA.

The most oft-repeated phrase by Senator McCain was “I don’t think Sen Obama understands,” while Obama repeated “I agree with John” more often than any other phrase. Just these two phrases capture the essence of the tone of the debate on foreign policy.

At Teeth Maestro, Dr. Awab Alvi, a Pakistani dentist, suggests Obama won the debate:

I must admit that apart from picking apart a few statements from within the debate, I do not come forth with a clear victor in regards to the issues of Pakistan. Only in an attempt to bring this presidential debate into a wider perspective for the people in Pakistan, one just feels there is a desperate need for change. McCain may actually be attempting to catapult himself as a new face into the White House, proposing a few new ideas, roughly the same approach, and bustling with a hot-looking VP at his side, but at 74 he seems a bit too weary and tired, definitely lacking the vision and dynamism to confront the challenges of the 21st century and its surmounting problems not only limited to the US of A but the greater impact of the US muscle on the entire world. If Bush’s eight years were something to look at as an extension for McCain then I strongly suspect Pakistan will not outlive his four year term.

And from the voices behind CHUP! – Changing Up Pakistan, neither man won the debate, citing the irrelevancy of talking about Pakistan without being there:

If Coalition forces are being killed by militants in cross-border attacks, it inherently threatens U.S. security; that would be true for any country. The difference in this presidential election is that Obama openly acknowleges this reality, while McCain merely chooses to equate it to an attack on Pakistani sovereignty. Ultimately, however, there isn’t an easy answer to this issue, and the next president will be forced to respond to the realities on the ground.

Other than global reactions to foreign policy, the blogosphere is fairly quiet, with a general tone that the debate lacked luster and was boring.

Staying up for two hours in Shopshire county in the United Kingdom, British blogger Colin Drowse composed random thoughts with the subject that the debate made him tired:

I stayed up till 3.30 last night to see the debate and I was disappointed. Obama was fluent and McCain dithered. Not much passion but what did I expect. Will not stay up for the debates to come unless there is a whiff of something special. Hell of an ordeal and I am sure that Palin will whither.

Michael van der Galien of PoliGazette in the Netherlands agreed:

Reading on last night’s debate, and watching clips of it, I cannot help but wonder why debates are held in the first place.

Both men are no (longer) rookies. They’ve been drilled perfectly. Obama was not a great debater when he started to run for president, but he had to do so many debates during the Democratic primary season that he would be a very slow study indeed if he would still come across as a man incapable of responding directly to questions instead of merely giving a great speech.

McCain, of course, is a man with a long career in politics. If he’s not able to debate, and to repeat the standard talking points, he has no business running for president in the first place.

One could surmise van der Galien would find a healthy debate in the mind of Portuguese blogger AG, who enjoyed listening to Obama:

A escolha ficou mais acessível para quem hesita ainda: quem quiser mais de Bush, em versão primeiro mandato, vota McCain. Quem quiser mudar de políticas e procurar melhorar a economia da America e a sua posição no mundo, vota Obama.

The choice became more accessible for those who still hesitate: those who want more of Bush, in the first mandate version, vote McCain. Anyone who wants changes in policies and seek to improve the economy of America and its position in the world, vote Obama.

Canadian blogger Kevin Brennan wrote steadily throughout the debate and humorously opined these wise words:

I can understand how McCain would know that the [Pakistani] border areas haven't been effectively governed since the days of Alexander the Great, since he marched with Alexander's armies.

…Obama just got in a good comment about McCain not wanting to meet with the Prime Minister of Spain. I think McCain came close to losing his temper.

Brazilian blogger Eduardo Guimarães suggests Obama may have won the debate, but muses if Americans will agree with him:

Não sei quem venceu o debate para o conjunto do eleitorado americano porque não consigo pensar como pensa essa fatia maluca e racista daquela sociedade. Mas se vocês quiserem saber como acho que os americanos mentalmente sadios viram o debate entre Obama e McCain, acho que deram vitória para o democrata. Resta saber, porém, quantos são os americanos mentalmente sadios.

I do not know who won the debate for the entire American electorate because I can not think how this crazy and racist slice of society thinks. But if you want to know how I think that mentally healthy Americans saw the debate between Obama and McCain, I think that they give victory to the Democrats. The question is, however, how many Americans are mentally healthy.

Considering pictures speak 1,000 words, perhaps Iranian blogger Saeed Ebadzadeh Mosadegh captured the debate best by displaying three pictures.

What do you think? Are there any viewpoints here that you agree or disagree with?


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