Welcome to WeeklyWilson.com, where author/film critic Connie (Corcoran) Wilson avoids totally losing her marbles in semi-retirement by writing about film (see the Chicago Film Festival reviews and SXSW), politics and books----her own books and those of other people. You'll also find her diverging frequently to share humorous (or not-so-humorous) anecdotes and concerns. Try it! You'll like it!

Presidential Debate at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee

Greta VonSusternbelmont-mansion-002belmont-mansion-021belmont-mansion-006Connie Wilson at Belmont

In a CNN poll of undecided voters, 12 thought that Barack Obama had won October 7th‘s Presidential debate in Nashville at Belmont University, and 10 thought that Senator John McCain had won.

I was present in the Press Room during the Belmont Debate, sitting next to Joan Canete Bayle, U.S. Correspondent for Spain’s “el Periodico” out of Barcelona. One area that Joan was most surprised about was the part of the debate that centered on health care. He said, “The European view is that health care is a right,” stating that Europeans cannot understand our health care system. At one point in the debate, Senator John McCain, the Republican Presidential nominee, said, “Of course they (small business owners) all want to do that (insure their employees and insure their kids).”

No, Senator McCain, they do not all want to do that. I was a small business owner for close to 20 years and I had 2 full-time employees. I made sure that my 2 full-time employees were insured, but my successor had no intention of going the extra mile to insure anyone and, in 900 other franchise centers, there was a real determination to avoid having to insure full-time employees, if it was possible to do so.

The weather was bad at Belmont, but one of the things that impressed the press, with whom I was sitting, was the quality of the free buffet served them. It involved scalloped potatoes, smoked turkey, ham, pecan pie, two kinds of salads and, as one other media worker said (Joe, from the Nashville ABC affiliate in town, who said he had only had 4 hours off in the last 3 days), “It was the best food we’ve had anywhere.” I actually interviewed 2 of the women responsible for the food, Denise Rucker and Kelly Johnson, who work for Sodexho Food Service that put on the great free feed, which I was told was at least partially underwritten by Anheuser-Busch. One neat thing: the famous correspondent in line ahead of me.

The reporter from Spain and I not only discussed health care, he also enjoyed seeing a copy of the Palin drinking game that my daughter provided me with, whereby those who correctly predicted that Palin would say such words as “maverick” during the VP debate would get an “X” and, eventually a “bingo.” We discussed the fact that McCain had said that the U.S. should not sit down with Spain, during a recent appearance, something that struck both of us as incredible, since Spain is (ostensibly) one of our allies.

There was some criticism of the format that I heard after the debate. The Town Hall is one that McCain relishes, but he did not seem to warm to the topics this night, and he did not seem to “win” the debate, which CNN reported as having been seen as going to Obama by 54% to 32%.  While Obama’s numbers went up from 60 to 64% on his favorables at the end of the debate, McCain’s remained unchanged.

McCain did seem condescending at times and he left the room early and journeyed back to his room, which we heard was near Vanderbilt University. (The daughter and I were caught twice in the traffic that was stopped while McCain’s motorcade crossed the town, once as he came in from the airport and again as he left in a huff after the debate.)

McCain came across as a man who did not seem that happy to be in his favorite debate format and he seemed old and cranky. I constantly kept checking his back to see if there was a wind-up key lodged there. He tottered out on the stage looking quite feeble next to his forty-something rival.  The only new piece of information that I heard, from McCain, was that he wants the government to now buy up the mortgages of middle-class people caught in the recent sub-prime mess. McCain, as usual, did not say where the money to do this would come from, and, in fact, kept repeating that taxes must not be raised.

Senator McCain was asked who he would tap to replace Henry Paulson when he leaves, and mentioned someone like Meg Whitman, CEO of eBay. “Someone who inspires trust and confidence,” said McCain.  When Obama was asked the same question, he acknowledged the support of Warren Buffett and, giving no specifics, said, “I’m pleased to have his     The support,” and commented on how the “trickle-down economy” theory espoused by his Republican opponents for the past 8 years just have not worked. He repeated his plan(s) to give 95% of middle-income Americans a tax cut (incomes under $250,000).

At 8:10 p.m., a young girl wearing a “McCain-Palin” baseball cap came by with the first of what would (eventually) become  26 pages of pro-McCain/Palin print material. The Democrats counter by sending out e-mail periodically.

The first “zinger” that I heard either candidate get in was shortly after that, when Obama talked about McCain’s long-time reputation as a fan of “deregulation” and spoke about how he had gone to Wall Street one year ago with warnings about the sub-prime mortgage. He said, “This is not the end of the process. This is the beginning of the process.”

McCain came out, again, with his proposal for a spending freeze that would affect everything except for defense and a few other choice areas to be named later.  This, to me, seems very simplistic, much like Bush’s giving back rebates to the American people in lieu of a workable, realistic plan to address our economic problems.   Obama, when addressing the same question(s), disagreed, saying that he wanted to use ‘a scalpel, not a hatchet” to address the mess in Washington. It was McCain who brought up the figure of 700,000 jobs lost, and he is the heir apparent to his Republican predecessor who set us on this path, so that seemed odd, to me. Obama, instead, mentioned that he got the impression that the American public was willing to come together after 9/11 and that he got a sense that the youth, in particular, were hungry for leadership and a “call to service.” He mentioned doubling the size of the Peace Corps, for example.

I felt that, at this point, Brokaw was a bit unfair to Senator Obama and was, in fact, less-than-fair to him on two occasions during the debate. Senator McCain claimed that Obama’s tax plan would raise taxes on small businesses and, when Obama wished to respond to that, Brokaw cited time constraints and would not allow him to do so.

The question was posed about whether either candidate would give Congress a 2-year ultimatum regarding Social Security. Obama said he would probably need a 4-year term, not 2, and got in another zinger with “The Straight Talk Express lost a wheel on that one.” He pointed out that Senator McCain’s health care plan would impose a tax on small employers’ health care expenditures and also added that CEO wants to give the average CEO on Wall Street a tax cut.

When the discussion turned to energy programs and Obama said, “This is not just a challenge. It is an opportunity,” going on to say that 5 million new green jobs could be produced if we put U.S. efforts into solar/wind/geo-thermal/nuclear and other alternative energy sources, he got in the zinger:  “The big problem was inactivity over the last 30 years, and Senator McCain was in office for 26 of them.” Obama went on to note that the United States has only 3% of the world’s oil reserves, but uses 25% of the world’s oil reserves.  At this point, Brokaw once again shut down Obama, saying, “Gentlemen, you may not have noticed that we have red and yellow and green lights.”  Obama countered, “I’m just trying to keep up with John.”

It was shortly after this that Brokaw said, to McCain, “Thank you very much, Senator McCain,” when he gave a brief response.

Health care received a stirring response from Barack Obama when he said, “I think it (health care) should be a right.  For my mother to have to die of cancer at the age of 53 and to have to spend the last days of her life arguing about whether it was a pre-existing condition,” scored well with female voters. When he followed this fact up with the additional information that John McCain had voted against the extension of the Children’s Health Care Act, it hit home and he ended by saying that it was important to crack down on insurance companies that are cheating their insured.

Obama also noted, of McCain, “he believes in deregulation in every circumstance.”

When asked what they don’t understand, Obama also got in another zinger, saying, “I don’t understand why we invaded Iraq” (rather than Afghanistan.” He made mention of the $700 billion spent, so far, on the Iraq War, the $10 billion a month the nation is spending on this ill-fated conflict and said, “It has not worked for America.”

I was quite amazed at the response to Brokaw’s question about what an “Obama Doctrine” or a “McCain Doctrine” would be.  McCain referenced the fact that today’s troubled times require “a cool hand at the tiller.” He said this more than once this night. All I could think about was McCain’s much-deserved reputation as a hothead and how this qualified him—of all people— as “a cool hand at the tiller.”

Another “zinger” that I felt Obama got in was the mention of the “Bomb, bomb, bomb…Bomb, bomb, Iran” gaffe that McCain committed. McCain—somewhat testily—responded, “I know how to handle these situations and I’m not going to telegraph my punches,” referencing comments that Obama has made about dealing firmly with Pakistan.

Brokaw brought up the news that Britain’s Sherrod Cooper Coals has said that Afghanistan is unwinnable and that “what we need is an acceptable dictator” in that country.  This led Obama to say,

“We are going to have to pressure the Afghanistan government to take more responsibility, and we are going to have to withdraw troops in a responsible way over time.” I talked with a British soldier recently (8/08/08) who had just completed a tour of duty in Afghanistan and said that the situation was deteriorating and was unwinnable.

I thought that Obama’s “ending” statement, made in response to the question from Peggy in New Hampshire (“What don’t you know and how you will learn it?”) was eloquent and inspiring. “The question in this election is:  Are we gonna’ pass on the same American dream to our children?  We need fundamental change. I hope that all of you are courageous enough to move in a new direction on this journey called America.”

McCain’s closing, in response to the same question, was that what he didn’t know was “what the unexpected will be.” He repeated the “steady hand on the tiller” line, which gave me pause, once again, knowing his hair-trigger temper and his tendency to fly off the handle and call his own wife “a trollop” and (the “c” word) on his campaign bus with reporters present. This is not “a steady hand on the tiller.”

As the debate ended, I moved on to a rally for Democratic Senatorial candidate Bob Tuke, who is running against Lamar Alexander, former Secretary of Education.  Three bands played at a rally aimed at Obama supporters and Bob Tuke was present and addressed the crowd, accompanied by his wife and daughter. I exited the hall in a pouring downpour, getting completely soaked, and then had to sit in traffic for the second time today while McCain’s motorcade passed by. (Obama was presumably on his way to a party hosted by former Vice President Al Gore at his Nashville home.

Meanwhile, word came that the Asian market had plunged by nearly 10%, that Toyota stock had plunged 11.86%. that British banks were being injected with $90 billion (and another $200 billion available if they needed it) and that  the Korean Wan had falled on the Asian-Pacific Stock Market, while the Russian markets were down 14%. Hong Kong had cut interest by 1% and Australia’s markets fell 5% before rebounding some.  It was enough to make you feel like Chicken Little saying, “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!” but it is not difficult to understand why the Japanese may be getting nervous about whether cash-impaired Americans are going to be able to buy as many Japanese cars and plasma TV’s in this economy. Paris currency fell by 3.42%. The Bank of Japan announced that it was pouring $20 million into money markets. After 16 days of relative stability world-wide, we now have a global credit crisis with fears of a global recession.

Does anyone anywhere doubt that we need to set sail on a new course of action in the United States both politically and economically after the ship of state has not only floundered here, but is causing the currencies of most other countries to become unstable?

In a CNN poll of undecided voters, 12 thought that Barack Obama had won October 7th‘s Presidential debate in Nashville at Belmont University, and 10 thought that Senator John McCain had won.

I was present in the Press Room during the Belmont Debate, sitting next to Joan Canete Bayle, U.S. Correspondent for Spain’s “el Periodico” out of Barcelona. One area that Joan was most surprised about was the part of the debate that centered on health care. He said, “The European view is that health care is a right,” stating that Europeans cannot understand our health care system. At one point in the debate, Senator John McCain, the Republican Presidential nominee, said, “Of course they (small business owners) all want to do that (insure their employees and insure their kids).”

No, Senator McCain, they do not all want to do that. I was a small business owner for close to 20 years and I had 2 full-time employees. I made sure that my 2 full-time employees were insured, but my successor had no intention of going the extra mile to insure anyone and, in 900 other franchise centers, there was a real determination to avoid having to insure full-time employees, if it was possible to do so.

The weather was bad at Belmont, but one of the things that impressed the press, with whom I was sitting, was the quality of the free buffet served them. It involved scalloped potatoes, smoked turkey, ham, pecan pie, two kinds of salads and, as one other media worker said (Joe, from the Nashville ABC affiliate in town, who said he had only had 4 hours off in the last 3 days), “It was the best food we’ve had anywhere.” I actually interviewed 2 of the women responsible for the food, Denise Rucker and Kelly Johnson, who work for Sodexho Food Service that put on the great free feed, which I was told was at least partially underwritten by Anheuser-Busch. One neat thing: the famous correspondent in line ahead of me.

The reporter from Spain and I not only discussed health care, he also enjoyed seeing a copy of the Palin drinking game that my daughter provided me with, whereby those who correctly predicted that Palin would say such words as “maverick” during the VP debate would get an “X” and, eventually a “bingo.” We discussed the fact that McCain had said that the U.S. should not sit down with Spain, during a recent appearance, something that struck both of us as incredible, since Spain is (ostensibly) one of our allies.

There was some criticism of the format that I heard after the debate. The Town Hall is one that McCain relishes, but he did not seem to warm to the topics this night, and he did not seem to “win” the debate, which CNN reported as having been seen as going to Obama by 54% to 32%.  While Obama’s numbers went up from 60 to 64% on his favorables at the end of the debate, McCain’s remained unchanged.

McCain did seem condescending at times and he left the room early and journeyed back to his room, which we heard was near Vanderbilt University. (The daughter and I were caught twice in the traffic that was stopped while McCain’s motorcade crossed the town, once as he came in from the airport and again as he left in a huff after the debate.)

McCain came across as a man who did not seem that happy to be in his favorite debate format and he seemed old and cranky. I constantly kept checking his back to see if there was a wind-up key lodged there. He tottered out on the stage looking quite feeble next to his forty-something rival.  The only new piece of information that I heard, from McCain, was that he wants the government to now buy up the mortgages of middle-class people caught in the recent sub-prime mess. McCain, as usual, did not say where the money to do this would come from, and, in fact, kept repeating that taxes must not be raised.

Senator McCain was asked who he would tap to replace Henry Paulson when he leaves, and mentioned someone like Meg Whitman, CEO of eBay. “Someone who inspires trust and confidence,” said McCain.  When Obama was asked the same question, he acknowledged the support of Warren Buffett and, giving no specifics, said, “I’m pleased to have his     The support,” and commented on how the “trickle-down economy” theory espoused by his Republican opponents for the past 8 years just have not worked. He repeated his plan(s) to give 95% of middle-income Americans a tax cut (incomes under $250,000).

At 8:10 p.m., a young girl wearing a “McCain-Palin” baseball cap came by with the first of what would (eventually) become  26 pages of pro-McCain/Palin print material. The Democrats counter by sending out e-mail periodically.

The first “zinger” that I heard either candidate get in was shortly after that, when Obama talked about McCain’s long-time reputation as a fan of “deregulation” and spoke about how he had gone to Wall Street one year ago with warnings about the sub-prime mortgage. He said, “This is not the end of the process. This is the beginning of the process.”

McCain came out, again, with his proposal for a spending freeze that would affect everything except for defense and a few other choice areas to be named later.  This, to me, seems very simplistic, much like Bush’s giving back rebates to the American people in lieu of a workable, realistic plan to address our economic problems.   Obama, when addressing the same question(s), disagreed, saying that he wanted to use ‘a scalpel, not a hatchet” to address the mess in Washington. It was McCain who brought up the figure of 700,000 jobs lost, and he is the heir apparent to his Republican predecessor who set us on this path, so that seemed odd, to me. Obama, instead, mentioned that he got the impression that the American public was willing to come together after 9/11 and that he got a sense that the youth, in particular, were hungry for leadership and a “call to service.” He mentioned doubling the size of the Peace Corps, for example.

I felt that, at this point, Brokaw was a bit unfair to Senator Obama and was, in fact, less-than-fair to him on two occasions during the debate. Senator McCain claimed that Obama’s tax plan would raise taxes on small businesses and, when Obama wished to respond to that, Brokaw cited time constraints and would not allow him to do so.

The question was posed about whether either candidate would give Congress a 2-year ultimatum regarding Social Security. Obama said he would probably need a 4-year term, not 2, and got in another zinger with “The Straight Talk Express lost a wheel on that one.” He pointed out that Senator McCain’s health care plan would impose a tax on small employers’ health care expenditures and also added that CEO wants to give the average CEO on Wall Street a tax cut.

When the discussion turned to energy programs and Obama said, “This is not just a challenge. It is an opportunity,” going on to say that 5 million new green jobs could be produced if we put U.S. efforts into solar/wind/geo-thermal/nuclear and other alternative energy sources, he got in the zinger:  “The big problem was inactivity over the last 30 years, and Senator McCain was in office for 26 of them.” Obama went on to note that the United States has only 3% of the world’s oil reserves, but uses 25% of the world’s oil reserves.  At this point, Brokaw once again shut down Obama, saying, “Gentlemen, you may not have noticed that we have red and yellow and green lights.”  Obama countered, “I’m just trying to keep up with John.”

It was shortly after this that Brokaw said, to McCain, “Thank you very much, Senator McCain,” when he gave a brief response.

Health care received a stirring response from Barack Obama when he said, “I think it (health care) should be a right.  For my mother to have to die of cancer at the age of 53 and to have to spend the last days of her life arguing about whether it was a pre-existing condition,” scored well with female voters. When he followed this fact up with the additional information that John McCain had voted against the extension of the Children’s Health Care Act, it hit home and he ended by saying that it was important to crack down on insurance companies that are cheating their insured.

Obama also noted, of McCain, “he believes in deregulation in every circumstance.”

When asked what they don’t understand, Obama also got in another zinger, saying, “I don’t understand why we invaded Iraq” (rather than Afghanistan.” He made mention of the $700 billion spent, so far, on the Iraq War, the $10 billion a month the nation is spending on this ill-fated conflict and said, “It has not worked for America.”

I was quite amazed at the response to Brokaw’s question about what an “Obama Doctrine” or a “McCain Doctrine” would be.  McCain referenced the fact that today’s troubled times require “a cool hand at the tiller.” He said this more than once this night. All I could think about was McCain’s much-deserved reputation as a hothead and how this qualified him—of all people— as “a cool hand at the tiller.”

Another “zinger” that I felt Obama got in was the mention of the “Bomb, bomb, bomb…Bomb, bomb, Iran” gaffe that McCain committed. McCain—somewhat testily—responded, “I know how to handle these situations and I’m not going to telegraph my punches,” referencing comments that Obama has made about dealing firmly with Pakistan.

Brokaw brought up the news that Britain’s Sherrod Cooper Coals has said that Afghanistan is unwinnable and that “what we need is an acceptable dictator” in that country.  This led Obama to say,

“We are going to have to pressure the Afghanistan government to take more responsibility, and we are going to have to withdraw troops in a responsible way over time.” I talked with a British soldier recently (8/08/08) who had just completed a tour of duty in Afghanistan and said that the situation was deteriorating and was unwinnable.

I thought that Obama’s “ending” statement, made in response to the question from Peggy in New Hampshire (“What don’t you know and how you will learn it?”) was eloquent and inspiring. “The question in this election is:  Are we gonna’ pass on the same American dream to our children?  We need fundamental change. I hope that all of you are courageous enough to move in a new direction on this journey called America.”

McCain’s closing, in response to the same question, was that what he didn’t know was “what the unexpected will be.” He repeated the “steady hand on the tiller” line, which gave me pause, once again, knowing his hair-trigger temper and his tendency to fly off the handle and call his own wife “a trollop” and (the “c” word) on his campaign bus with reporters present. This is not “a steady hand on the tiller.”

As the debate ended, I moved on to a rally for Democratic Senatorial candidate Bob Tuke, who is running against Lamar Alexander, former Secretary of Education.  Three bands played at a rally aimed at Obama supporters and Bob Tuke was present and addressed the crowd, accompanied by his wife and daughter. I exited the hall in a pouring downpour, getting completely soaked, and then had to sit in traffic for the second time today while McCain’s motorcade passed by. (Obama was presumably on his way to a party hosted by former Vice President Al Gore at his Nashville home.

Meanwhile, word came that the Asian market had plunged by nearly 10%, that Toyota stock had plunged 11.86%. that British banks were being injected with $90 billion (and another $200 billion available if they needed it) and that  the Korean Wan had falled on the Asian-Pacific Stock Market, while the Russian markets were down 14%. Hong Kong had cut interest by 1% and Australia’s markets fell 5% before rebounding some.  It was enough to make you feel like Chicken Little saying, “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!” but it is not difficult to understand why the Japanese may be getting nervous about whether cash-impaired Americans are going to be able to buy as many Japanese cars and plasma TV’s in this economy. Paris currency fell by 3.42%. The Bank of Japan announced that it was pouring $20 million into money markets. After 16 days of relative stability world-wide, we now have a global credit crisis with fears of a global recession.

Does anyone anywhere doubt that we need to set sail on a new course of action in the United States both politically and economically after the ship of state has not only floundered here, but is causing the currencies of most other countries to become unstable?

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