Hour 1: Presidential Politics and Debate Preview

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Two Hofstra University seniors join us to discuss tonight's debates: Sidhartha "Sid" Nathan is a member of debate club on campus, a founder of POISE free-speech society, and is a supporter of Barack Obama. Drew Bennett is a political science major, current president of POISE free-speech group, technically an independent, he has been a McCain supporter in the past. Then, Lawrence Levy, Executive Director of the National Center for Suburban Studies at Hofstra and a former columnist for Newsday

Aswini Anburajan, reporter for Feet in Two Worlds and a former MSNBC campaign reporter

Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone political correspondent and author of The Great Derangement: A Terrifying True Story of War, Politics, and Religion at the Twilight of the American Empire


Aswini Anburajan, Drew Bennett, Lawrence Levy, Sidhartha "Sid" Nathan and Matt Taibbi

Comments [49]


#49, good point

seth and hjs, check this out:
I hope it's not too good to be true...

Oct. 15 2008 04:34 PM
dan from brooklyn

Regarding the issue of race, consider the following:

What if:

the Obamas had paraded five children across the stage, including a three month old infant and an unwed, pregnant teenage daughter?

John McCain was a former president of the Harvard Law Review?

Barack Obama finished fifth from the bottom of his graduating class?

McCain had only married once, and Obama was a divorcee?

Obama was the candidate who left his first wife after a severe disfiguring car accident, when she no longer measured up to his standards?

Obama had met his second wife in a bar and had a long affair while he was still married?

Michelle Obama was the wife who not only became addicted to painkillers but also acquired them illegally through her charitable organization?

Cindy McCain graduated from Harvard?

Obama had been a member of the Keating Five?

McCain was a charismatic, eloquent speaker?

Obama couldn't read from a teleprompter?
Obama was the one who had military experience that included discipline problems and a record of crashing seven planes?

Obama was the one who was known to display publicly, on many occasions, a serious anger management problem?

Michelle Obama's family had made their money from beer distribution?

If these questions reflected reality, does anyone really believe the election numbers would be as close as they are?

Oct. 15 2008 12:53 PM
Zachary from Washington DC (K street)

I find it interesting that the provost would be so quick to pointing at the failings of community colleges in retaining students until they graduate---awful quick to criticize the competition.. Business is business I suppose.

Wouldn't it make more sense to invest in the quality and prestige of the community colleges so that high school graduates saw them as dignified alternative to going the private route and incurring such massive debt?

Just a thought.

Oct. 15 2008 12:42 PM
Kathryn Chlosta from Dempster Hall

Regarding Obama's Affordable College Plan, I think it is a great opportunity for students and I, personally, would certainly take advantage of it. However, this plan is not enough. A couple of weeks ago, I attended the Law School Forum in New York City. I spoke with the Dean of Admission from George Washington University and she told me that the average law student was spending $70-80 thousand dollars a year in tuition and room and board. $70-80 THOUSAND DOLLARS PER YEAR!! Most Americans do not even make that in an entire year! I would like to ask the panel if they have any other solutions to help make college as affordable and rewarding as it once was.

Oct. 15 2008 11:43 AM

I am a college student finishing up my last year at St. John's. I transferred there from a smaller, but more expensive school because the $47,000/year tuiton was cripling.

Now, to avoid taking on more than the federally subsidized debt, I work 40+ hours/week at a fries-with-that type of job. Balancing school and work is so stressful, but the only option to pay for school from a low income background.

It would be interesting to know the candidates' positions on "cut-off" families just at the cusp for low-income loans like mine.

Oct. 15 2008 11:42 AM
Sharon Lynch from Manhattan

PLEASE consider reading my above comment on extras at college on air.

Oct. 15 2008 11:39 AM
Sharon Lynch from Manhattan

I have a hard time feeling sorry for students who are choosing, as the provost said, to go into such debt so that they can attend a school with great recreational facilities, extra activities, etc. What would it cost if they chose a school simply to study and learn? Sixteen years into a successful career, no one cares where I went to school and I make plenty of money. There's no need for colleges to provide all the glitz they are focused on that raises tuition so much faster than inflation.

Oct. 15 2008 11:38 AM
frank from NJ

Maybe Matthew could have made some payments if he didn't waste time producing songs.

Oct. 15 2008 11:30 AM
seth from Long Island

#36 hjs,

I'm hoping that a sizable majority of undecided white voters can get over their fear of a black man and vote for Obama.
Speaking of blowouts, there are no 2 politicians who I'd rather see on the receiving end of a blowout than McCain and Palin.

Oct. 15 2008 11:28 AM
Harry Burger from Long Island

My alma mater, RPI, made no secret of their policy of "prestige pricing." This means that they increased tuition just to make the school look better. They assume that people applying to schools will believe that just because it is more expensive it must be of better quality. They claimed that financial aid and scholarships would increase to cover the difference, but we can all guess how well THAT worked.

Oct. 15 2008 11:25 AM
Parent of 5 from Cresskill, NJ

We put five children through state colleges in the 80s & 90s by refinancing our home repeatedly. Now in retirement we still feel the effects.

Barrack Obama's website noted he borrowed money to attend Columbia, Harvard and a trip around the world. How did he do that? No mention of grants, scholarships or work and study. If he worked as a community organizer for $12,000 per year how did he repay the loan? Who loaned him the money?

Oct. 15 2008 11:21 AM
Lara Kay from manhattan

ugh! Brian—I can't believe you made that joke about arts majors and serving fries. Without arts majors New York would just be a boring city filled with bankers.

Oct. 15 2008 11:21 AM
Karen C from NYC

I do not understand why the students are not protesting on campuses all over the country.

These student loans cannot be repaid because the economy is contracting, just as housing prices have dropped in relation to the mortgages that have been taken out to finance them.

Oct. 15 2008 11:20 AM
hjs from 11211

don't fool yourself, race is the only thing preventing an obama blowout!

the GOP have consistently failed over the last 8 years and now even the reagan free market dream has become an american nitemare.

Oct. 15 2008 11:11 AM
Evan from New York, NY

I find your panelists' views on race somewhat amusing. They run the gamut from the woman who believes that race is not a factor to Matt Taibbi, who seems to believe that mentioning Bill Ayers is a coded racial message. Sorry, Matt, but anyone under 60 doesn't know that Ayers was viewed as a race traitor. Instead, those of us who do know who he is remember the Weathermen as the group that blew up government buildings and killed cops.
As far as Obama's success goes, notice that most of his victories came in caucus states - i.e., where you have to announce your intent to the group, rather than in the privacy of the voting booth. I wish we were post-racial, but we're not.

Oct. 15 2008 11:01 AM
Joe Corrao from Brooklyn

Hey the change we need doesn't come from Washington, it comes to Washington (tm)

Oct. 15 2008 11:01 AM
hjs from 11211

hint to guest: the liberal democratic primary voter does not represent the 'american' electorate as a whole

Oct. 15 2008 11:00 AM
O from Forest Hills

I am white woman from upstate NY (Albany). I am voting for Obama but I have heard so many of my white friends upstate say they will not vote for Obama just because he is half black. Also, some are still fooled by the rumor that he is Muslim. I remind them of the drama with his pastor and that he attended that church for 20 years and was married by that Pastor.

We have white privilege in America. If Michelle and Barack got on stage with 5 kids and one pregnant out of wedlock for the second time in 2 years, the press would be all over that.

Racism is alive and active in this election.

Oct. 15 2008 11:00 AM
mariya kaushansky from dempster hall

Race has benefitted barack obama. especially in the youth vote. Young people want change and he is different from out usual president. and race is helping him have so much support from young people who thinks he will "change" things.

Oct. 15 2008 10:58 AM
Natalie from Dempster Hall

I think that race issue is there -- whether or not people want to acknowledge that it is there. For some, perhaps, it is more subconscious than for others, but I think the economy is so important right now -- and Obama looks so confident, and presidential compared to McCain right now -- that he will win...despite any uneasiness that certainly exists. I just think it's sad that it takes a crisis for the American public at large to put the race issue aside.

Oct. 15 2008 10:57 AM
Lance from Manhattan

Why are whites the only ones implicated as liars in the Bradley effect (according to Brian's definition)?

People of ALL races may be lying when it comes to admitting to racial bias in voting. In fact, black voters can think that black candidates for office are inferior to non-black candidates yet feel, because they are black themselves, that they are obliged to openly support the black candidates.

Oct. 15 2008 10:56 AM
O from Forest Hills

Inquiring Minds,

Some laws are made in the Congress, but the Supreme Court sets many a precedent that is mandatory law for all other courts in the country.

Judges are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. That has nothing to do with the ballot box. The ballot box picks representatives to vote in the electoral college which will actually choose the President, not the people.

The courts are the way to get things down. Many conservatives want to overturn Roe v. Wade to take away the right to abortion and to not give civil rights to same sex couples.

Obama and Biden will preserve the right to abortion, give health insurance, protect civil rights of same sex couples instead of persecuting them the way if Palin gets in she will chew them and spit them out.

We are going Democrat and Obama will be President in January 2009 when bush, the current resident of the White House, voluntarily leaves office.

How many more days till January 20, 2009 and he leaves office?

Oct. 15 2008 10:56 AM
seth from Long Island

Great points by Matt Taibbi about how McCain campaign playing the race card. McCain should be ashamed of himself for the sleazy, slimy tactics he has used.

Oct. 15 2008 10:56 AM
KC from NYC

It's nice to hear Matt Taibbi, even toned down for public radio consumption.

Oct. 15 2008 10:55 AM

agree w 20 -- democracy now -- what a cherished shaft of light -- truly beyond politics, concerned only w transparency and justice and of course GREAT radio

Oct. 15 2008 10:55 AM
Joe Corrao from Brooklyn


Oct. 15 2008 10:55 AM

ABC's Polling Unit director has a great article regarding the supposed "Bradley Effect." The gist is you should blame the respondent if the study got the numbers wrong. See (

Oct. 15 2008 10:54 AM
BL Producer from Varick St. Studios

[[A reminder: Please keep your comments civil and on topic. Thanks!
-BL Moderator-]]

Oct. 15 2008 10:53 AM
Inquiring Minds

@14 O

...where to start with this. First of all, jurists don't "vote", they "find" and then "join" opinions. Your "voting" idea is exactly what has corrupted the courts.

Second, you should check out the recent Heller case which upheld the 2nd Amendment as an individual right.

What credibility the ACLU had was lost at the moment they claimed that they disagreed with the Heller decision -- but offered no opinion WHY.

Finally, most legal theorists hold that Roe was wrongly decided; so, while you might want a "right" to abortion or same sex unions, you should really try to use the ballot box -- not JUDGES -- to acquire it.

Oct. 15 2008 10:48 AM
KC from NYC

Well said, Democracy Now listener. Just because they report on, say the Latin American politics that NPR and the rest of the mainstream media ignores, that doesn't make them "left leaning" "opinion media" (and wow, talk about a problematic phrase). Good job calling Brian out on that.

Oct. 15 2008 10:46 AM
NWP from CT

Is McCain's selection of Palin a clear signal of electorate he wishes to serve?

The left-wing media has made SO much of the recent opinion that she DID abuse her power in taking action against the policeman.

Oct. 15 2008 10:44 AM
whoindatgarden from Brooklyn

No wonder we will have to go through at the minimum another 4 years of Republican Administration to feel we are really at the bottom. These students are sad reflection of our society. The fact that we have a close race is sad reflection of the social degradation of the mind.

Oct. 15 2008 10:43 AM
Adam Peck from Dempster Hall

The Republican party has long been considered the party of lower taxes. But a recent poll suggests that more people think that the Democratic candidate Barack Obama will lower taxes. Is the economic platform of tax cuts that Republicans have relied heavily on in the past collapsing, or do you think this is a transitive shift during this economic crisis?

Oct. 15 2008 10:41 AM
hjs from 11211

you didn't have to be a financial genius to have moved your money out of the stock market into something safer, months ago. i did it and i'm up for the year cause i got back in friday.

don't gamble if you can't afford to lose

Oct. 15 2008 10:41 AM
Rose from an SRO in Chelsea

Besides all the national and world issues to be concerned about(which I do greatly!), as an adult who has returned to school to get a degree in architecture(I'm looking to build green buildings and improve our infrastructure, not get rich building Trump tower 5) , apparently my future is going to be all about my student loans. which will be multiplied by about 4 because I have to take out personal loans to live off of. I'm looking at about a half million in debt after all is said and done!! Kinda makes one wanna drop out, and if I wasn't already so far in the hole I might.

Obama is the only one who can understand this and offer possible solutions and change.
Not to mention, he's not running with a racist nit-wit named Sarah Palin, so that's a plus. I've lost all respect for McCain, he's totally opted for the very low road. Look at all the ignorant racists around the country that have come out to support him and spew their hate. Truly ugly. And look at the expressions on McCain's face, he's ashamed of his supporters! I would be too.

Oct. 15 2008 10:37 AM
O from Forest Hills


Keep in mind a lot of the justices put on the Supreme Court over the years like O'Connor were conservative when confirmed but voted along a more left wing mindset.

We could appoint a liberal minded person for the S.C. that votes on cases conservatively.

I think we need to be very careful whom gets on the next seats on the S.C. The Chief Roberts is a conservative and so it Thomas. We need some liberals or at least people that will vote liberal to protect civil rights for same sex couples and to protect the right to abortion.

Oct. 15 2008 10:35 AM
Joe Corrao from Brooklyn

NOT everyone is thanking the government for the are so amazingly uniformed and simplistic on these issues...I can't name 5 people that liked the "bailout"

Oct. 15 2008 10:34 AM
michaelw from INWOOD

Americans don't care about one party having control of both the executive and the legislative branch look at Bush's first 6 years.

Aswini Anburajan who is this person why is she up there? what is she talking about.

When Obama supporters speak you just want to run.

Oct. 15 2008 10:33 AM
Ethan from Upper West Side

The "War on Poverty" of my youth has now become "The War on 401(k)s That Have Lost as Much as 30-40%".

Oct. 15 2008 10:33 AM
Rachel from Dempster Hall

The bailout's goal is to restart movement of the credit markets at the top. The bailout is not going to help save finance jobs on Long Island.

Oct. 15 2008 10:32 AM
Eric from B'klyn

It is inaccurate to say that the Dems will control all 3 branches if Obama wins; they will not control the Supreme Court as your guest stated. They may have the next appointments which will be subject to Senate confirmation

Oct. 15 2008 10:28 AM
Joe Corrao from Brooklyn

My Gawd! Can't we talk without using the cliches...central front on terrorism...all the chips on the changer....change is coming...fundamentally change...sad

VOTE 3rd PARTY...or at least be aware that there are more than 2 characters running....

Oct. 15 2008 10:25 AM
Ethan from Upper West Side

I think I need to turn this off now. The cringe factor is way high. Semi-informed people, spouting cliches, and given way too much air time.

bye . . .

Oct. 15 2008 10:23 AM
Joe Corrao from Brooklyn

Sarah Palin shook up politics in Alaska and shifted the corruption to her administration...

Oct. 15 2008 10:22 AM
Joe Corrao from Brooklyn

College/High Schoolers aren't excatly the demographic I care bout us tax payers...

Oct. 15 2008 10:19 AM
michaelw from INWOOD

This is scary listening to these kids.

We're doomed.

Who cares what children in India or China think of the next president???

How can anyone be undecided?

Oct. 15 2008 10:18 AM
Marvin from G. Village

The Republican side guy said that, if Obama were elected, "all three branches would be Democratic." Does he mean by "the three branches" the executive and two houses of Congress? Last time I checked, the three branches included the judiciary.

Oct. 15 2008 10:17 AM
NWP from CT

#1 Is that plasma tv or their blood?

PAYING for college: As usual the reality of any question into causes will always end up in the "follow the money" answer.

Having almost finished purchasing college educations for my two children, I may be able to hear about the financial workings of these providers without becoming homicidal.

Oct. 15 2008 10:08 AM

i would be delighted to hear big picture comments from either candidate on what is "happening" to our "economy."

after all -- take away the veneer of thescience of economics -- pull capitalism out from under democracy's graceful shade -- and what's left but obscene greed? Coveting thine neighbor's plasma?

i'll bet mccain will beat's (my man) obama to this morality play...perhaps because he honestly believes it more?

Oct. 15 2008 09:57 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.