The presidential debates are finished following the third and final political tte--tte Wednesday night between Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.
But what hasbeen learned, and has either candidate pushed themselves closer to the presidency through their witty, political repartee?
If anything has been made clear, it's the fact that McCain might have torpedoed his shot at the White House by selecting Gov. Sarah Palin, R-Alaska, as his running mate. Palin's performance in the vice presidential debate against Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., was embarrassing.
Using such turns of phrase as "You betcha," "Say it ain't so, Joe" and the ubiquitous use of the word "maverick" to describe McCain -- which Biden obviously thought was a misnomer -- was a joke for someone who isan election away from beinga heartbeat from the presidency.
Biden joked on Oct. 8 at a rally in Tampa, Fla., that if the debates were a five-game baseball series, his party would have won in a three-game sweep following the debate between Obama and McCain on Oct. 7 in Nashville, Tenn.
While the true "winner" of the series of debates might not be so clear cut, the Democratic ticket of Obama-Biden has received our stamp of approval. It's time for change, and Obama's stance on several issues will be the onus of that change.
With the economic slide at the forefront of voters' minds, Obama's plan of a rescue package for the middle class will ultimately benefit more Americans.
McCain announced his own economic relief plan Wednesday to eliminate taxes on unemployment benefits and cut the capital gains tax. Unfortunately for McCain, he was a day behind Obama who announced a similar plan to suspend taxes on unemployment benefits as well asextend those benefits.
McCain's proposed cut of the capital gains tax also makes little sense at this point in time. Capital gains are the profits made from selling an asset. Who has assets these days to sell? Obama questioned this tax cut by saying even smart investors are seeing few profits, so cutting the capital gains tax in half would provide little relief.
Obama also has a clearer plan for education reform. He points out several problems currently facing education, including the shortcomings of the No Child Left Behind Act, the low new teacher retention rate and the soaring costs of higher education.
Obama alsooutlines resolutions to these problems. His education plan calls for a reform of NCLB, which would start by funding the law and also turning the focus of the law from teachers spending the academic year preparing students to fill in bubbles on standardized tests. Instead, he will focus on improving student assessments used to track progress and measure readiness for college.
To increase the retention rate of new teachers -- 30 percent leave the profession after their first five years -- Obama's plan calls for recruiting teachers by establishing college scholarships and rewarding teachers who work in rural areas or inner cities in addition to increasing teacher pay.
McCain has some of the same education goals as Obama. He wants to award teachers with higher pay and more benefits for working in inner city schools. He recognized the principles of NCLB -- standards, accountability, transparency and choice -- were a step in the right direction, but it was not implemented or maintained correctly.
However, McCain's solution for parents that are unhappy with the school system their children are in is ludicrous. He said in an interview with The Washington Post that parents should send their children to a different (better) school just like some members of Congress do. But does McCain realize tat will cost parents even more money to educate their children, and in the current economic crisis people, don't have money to spend on a luxury like that.
McCain has also not done enough to distance himself from the failing Bush administration's foreign policy. McCain supports a continued war in Iraq saying a withdrawal or even partial pullback of troops would be a mistake of "colossal historical proportions." But if it's Iraq now, does that mean it's for the American people?
McCain joked in April 2007 about a military invasion of Iran by turning the Beach Boys' song "Barbara Ann" into "Bomb, Bomb Iran."
A troop withdrawal does not have to be a colossal mistake. Obama's plan calls for a careful, phased withdrawal conducted by military commanders on the ground to be completed by the summer of 2010.
If McCain is elected president, the American people are in store for four more years of the same political ideology of the past eight years.
It is a time for change, and only Obama can provide that.