(4) Edith Hathaway discusses the 2008 Second Presidential debate (written 7 Oct 2008 + follow-up, post debate, written 10 Oct 2008)

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Edith writes (Tuesday, 7 Oct 2008):

(Copyright © 2008)

The second U.S. Presidential debate will be held tonight in Nashville, TN at 8:00 PM CDT in a Town Hall meeting style. It is the one debate to be held on a Tuesday, ruled by Mars.  (In Vedic astrology, the planetary day runs from sunrise to sunrise, Mars-ruled days beginning at sunrise Tuesday through sunrise Wednesday.)  As with the first presidential debate in Mississippi, Tennessee is a Red state, guaranteed to have a majority Republican vote in the November election. Even so, audience members must be undecided voters, and will have some participation in the debate.

Like the two previous televised debates, including the most recent Vice presidential debate, the Ascendant of this chart is Aries. It is aspected by benefic planets Jupiter and Venus, lending a civilized tone to any event. (They were also the planetary rulers of the days the previous debates were held: Venus rules Friday, and Jupiter rules Thursday.)  However, there are some changes with the faster moving planets. Though Mars remains with Venus in Libra, as of Sept. 25, transiting Moon is now in late Sagittarius on the 9th house cusp from the Ascendant at 27:33 Aries. The Moon remains in Sagittarius until 11:10 PM CDT - well after the debate is ended.Edith Hathaway on 2008 Presidential Election

Tonight we also have the overlay of aggressive Mars, God of war, as well as the idealized and warrior-like (even if optimistic) energy of Moon with Jupiter in Sagittarius. Being a Mars-ruled day, generally Tuesdays are good for surgery and for athletic competitions. The subtle hand of diplomacy is not favored on Tuesdays, nor are elections, as they tend to be more contentious. Generally, it would be better to avoid holding elections on Tuesday, as in the USA, or on Saturday (Saturn-ruled).

Similarly, with an event such as a debate, even though we might like to see the candidates really go at each other more directly, the aggressive atmosphere in this case has already heated up between the campaigns. And it is more difficult to contain on a Tuesday. How can we expect each candidate will handle this heightened atmosphere of aggressiveness? We know that Mars tends to compete and fight harder when it’s on the losing end, or perceives that it may be losing. The McCain campaign has been sliding downwards in the polls, and perhaps to combat this trend they have announced they will do more to attack Barack Obama on both his “character” and his alleged “association with terrorists.” On Saturday Oct. 4th, Sarah Palin on the campaign trail started another serious barrage of anti-Obama attacks, saying: “The heels are on… the gloves come off.”

Therefore, at tonight’s debate we can already expect whichever candidate is down in the polls to come out swinging harder. McCain is known to have a fierce temper, and it is not easy for him to hide it. Transiting Sun close to his natal Ascendant will add to this already innate quality, as will transiting Mars at 8:37 Libra, which aspects his natal Moon at 4:03 Capricorn. (His natal Moon is already receiving a wide aspect from his natal Mars, heating up the mind, and causing potential agitation and/or creativity.) By contrast, some of Obama’s supporters have been frustrated that he doesn’t hit harder when facing a political opponent.  For Democrats, this is an especially difficult issue, as too often they have lost elections by being too gentlemanly while the Republicans have the “gloves off.” 

But though fierce in his drive towards the presidency, Obama has never been an openly angry warrior. We cannot expect him to change suddenly. During his teen years, he learned as a young black man how by making “no sudden moves” he would be less likely to appear threatening to white people. He became immersed in the study of race relations, and vowed at an early age to serve to improve them. (He writes about this in his autobiography, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, 1995.) Astrologically, Obama’s natal Moon is at 10:02 Taurus, in Krittika nakshatra, receiving a close aspect from Jupiter in Capricorn. Moon is exalted in Taurus, and benefits considerably from an aspect from Jupiter, both in terms of good judgment and optimism. It is best if the Moon is otherwise unafflicted to benefit fully. Obama’s Moon meets that condition, and  gives him a steadiness and calmness for which he is well known. It also tends to make him deliberate before speaking or taking actions. This is not an impulsive planetary combination, which is more likely if Mars is contacting Moon and/or Mercury. McCain has both of those conditions in either his birth chart or his Navamsa (9th harmonic) chart, accounting as well for an orientation towards military action and service, for which he, in turn, is well known.

At 8:00 PM tonight, the Ascendant is in a late degree of Aries, and changes to Taurus very quickly into the debate, at 8:07 PM CDT. The nakshatra of Krittika rises, and extends until 8:41 PM CDT. (Krittika nakshatra runs from 26:40 Aries through 10:00 Taurus.) The planetary ruler of Krittika is the Sun, and its ruling deity is Agni, Vedic god of Fire. Krittika is about cutting and burning, and its highest motivation is purifying.  One of its key symbols is the golden plate of armor. As with all fire signs, there is the fire to achieve goals, and the potential of military action, especially in Sagittarius, where Jupiter’s religious or philosophical zeal is added into the equation.

Reading the condition of the transiting Moon from each candidate’s natal Moon, McCain has the edge, as transiting Moon in the 8th house from Obama’s natal Moon is not considered favorable, and could throw him off. But Obama’s Jupiter is in early Capricorn, also in Uttara Ashada. This is also his Dasa lord (the lord of his current 16-year planetary period) – which may help to modify the inauspicious transiting Moon position. Examining the Tara Bala  (tr. Moon nakshatra to birth Moon nakshatra), both candidates are somewhat vulnerable, as all three are in Sun-ruled nakshatras. McCain’s natal Moon is also being fired up by transiting Mars, a disadvantage for him, as is transiting Saturn in the 8th house from natal Moon, through Sept. 2009. [Oct. 13, 2008: Obama’s birth Moon is in Rohini nakshatra, ruled by the Moon, and the 9th nakshatra from tr. Moon nakshatra is considered favorable in terms of planetary rulers.   EH]

Transiting Moon is in Uttara Ashada nakshatra, whose nature is fixed. So we can expect a kind of steady drumbeat from each candidate. They will each be unwavering in their zeal to convince us that theirs is the stronger cause. especially due to this Moon exactly on the 9th house cusp in the chart of the scheduled opening of the debate. (The 9th house is the house of Dharma, which in general, describes the harmony of the universe. On a personal level, dharma is one’s true nature, one’s rightful purpose in life.) Uttara Ashada nakshatra runs from 26:40 Sagittarius to 10:00 Capricorn. It means “the later victor,” also the “unstoppable or unchallengable victory.” Its planetary ruler is the Sun, a planet we most associate with leaders and leadership. Its deities are the Vasus, or Universal Gods: they desired “a victory that can never be lost.”

Transiting Moon is in late Sagittarius for the entirety of the debate. The last 3:20 degrees of a dual sign (Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, and Pisces) are considered especially potent, as they repeat themselves in the same sign in the Navamsa, or 9th harmonic chart. In this case, the Navamsa Ascendant is also Sagittarius, with Moon and Mars in the Ascendant, Mercury in Gemini in the 7th house, and Jupiter in Virgo in the 10th house. The Navamsa chart confirms that this could well be a fiery and decisive debate, especially depending on response from the live audience in the Town Hall meeting, who are still undecided voters. Further, Taurus Ascendant runs from 8:07 PM until 10:00 PM CDT, and this places transiting Moon in the 8th house of the debate chart, where it is potentially the most problematic. Since Moon is both the emotional atmosphere as well as the public, we might expect the unexpected from either the audience or the candidates.  As this house position echoes the tr. Moon from Obama’s natal Moon, we might expect Obama to take some extra heat for much of the evening, or have the highest discomfort level due to whatever transpires. It doesn’t guarantee he loses the debate; it only guarantees he may have to deal with extra discomfort. McCain is quite at home with any amount of open aggression.

The Ascendant of this debate chart is very close to the degree of the most recent Jupiter-Saturn conjunction at 28:52 Aries, May 28, 2000. This emphasizes the larger themes that both candidates are likely to address, only to be drawing to a more and more fiery completion of the election process. The next and last debate on Oct. 15 has transiting Moon in Aries, closely opposite Mars.

Whoever “wins” this debate will be the candidate who most ignites the viewers with national pride and enthusiasm. This theme runs at a hotter and deeper level in this debate than the previous one between them. Therefore, the debate-winning candidate will be the one seen as the most untouchable in honor, nobility and patriotism. This is of course the mantra of the McCain campaign, and in this context he will seek to prove it is only he that can fulfill that role for the American people. But it will be a tough mission for him to complete, especially given a temper that is not easily hidden. He has to avoid looking like an angry old man, especially next to Obama, if Obama can master all the obstacles of the evening. Obama, for his part, must avoid appearing too detached in any way, either about the expression of his ideas, his goals or his opponent. The result will depend on what viewers regard as intrinsically patriotic. They have a chance tonight to examine the real nature of patriotism, and to distinguish its various components, including those qualities in a future political leader who might serve them best as citizens.


With Sagittarius Ascendant in the USA chart, Sagittarian qualities become extremely important as national traits. Here is a brief look at some of the qualities of Sagittarius, which as a fire sign represents Dharma: Sagittarius is a sign of expansion, and applies to expansion both territorially and philosophically. It is the desire to expand one’s horizons, or at the very least, one’s sense of a larger universe, often through higher knowledge, higher education, or international travel. The same zeal that underlies Sagittarian search for the Truth, when misdirected, can also describe a search for vengeance. The expansive nature of Sagittarius desires to extend itself everywhere, especially in a trajectory outwards towards foreign places. Ideally, the dharmic motivation is to know more about the world, and its many cultures, languages, races, and beliefs in order to better understand it and interact with it.

At their highest level of manifestation, key planets in Sagittarius seek to embrace everyone and everything, with the stated aims of making a better world. There is a quest for higher knowledge, and of closeness to God.  If operating at a lower, more negative level, a strong Sagittarius influence can spread its own beliefs at the expense of those of others. Since Jupiter rules Sagittarius, this type of expansiveness can be done with generosity and nobility, or at least with the appearance of it.  With despotic leaders, nations, or empires, often their stated aims seem noble enough to inspire the populace, though the end results are quite different from what was stated. In the end, raw domination by one group, nation, or national leader over others may be exaggerated or minimized, depending on who writes the history.

Oct. 10, 2008 DEBATE FOLLOW-UP by Edith Hathaway

The influence of Mars was everywhere at the Oct. 7 debate. Mars is the red planet, and its color is red. An eye-catching red carpet covered the wide expanse of circular stage at Belmont University in Nashville, TN, and as the candidates paced about, that red carpet was continuously in full view. Both McCain and moderator Tom Brokaw wore red striped neckties, while Obama’s was a solid powder blue. The camera seemed to focus on audience members who wore red ties.  Mars is a planet of muscularity and assertiveness, and there were some similarities to what I’m told occur at bodybuilding shows: While bodybuilders pose, they try to block each other from the camera’s view. McCain continually did this, blocking Obama often. This effect was either intended or accidental. Further, McCain seemed to be trying to insinuate himself into most shots of Obama, frequently standing in the background, while Obama would be seated during most of McCain’s turns at the microphone.  Some of this could have been due to the circular stage and camera positioning, but even at debate’s end McCain blocked Brokaw’s view of the teleprompter, and Brokaw had to tell him to get out of the way.

Furthermore, there was much rule-breaking all around, with renegade Mars at work in that area as well. Moderator Tom Brokaw often reminded the candidates they had broken the time limit rules their own parties had established. When called on it, Obama said he was “just keeping up with John.” Brokaw seemed at a loss to keep the candidates within these rules, and even he too broke the “no follow up” rule during the debate. Also, the candidates ignored rules governing territorial markings and making physical contact with the questioners. Meanwhile, producers of the telecast broke rules that governed showing reaction shots of questioners.

The consensus is that Obama won the Oct. 7 debate, and that he won by his steadiness and calmness. He reassured voters in a time of crisis.  A majority of  undecided voters at the Nashville event were convinced by Obama, and so were most focus groups around the country.  McCain came after him relentlessly, with both personal and policy attacks. And though both of them were deemed “reasonably fluid” by one pundit, Obama looked more presidential. McCain was called “edgy,” “angry,” with a “menacing smile”  - while somehow Obama remained “unshaken” in the onslaught of McCain’s numerous jabs. His coolness under fire may well have further infuriated McCain. 

Previewing the Oct. 7 debate, I described McCain’s propensity to anger and irritation due to Mars contacts to his natal Moon and Mercury, heating up the mind and sharpening the tongue. With transiting Mars to his natal Moon at the time of the debate, this situation was ripe to be exacerbated, and McCain was indeed forced and scattered. As planetary ruler of the day, Mars and its influence was even more highlighted. Mars is the competitor, and can assist in a verbal contest as long as one remains calm enough to make the points and overcome the opponent.  Without proper control, one can be overly aggressive, and not thoughtful enough. A calm mind and heart is always an advantage in the face of influences such as Mars. As conservative columnist David Frum said after the debate: “Anger is a poor political advisor.”

In this regard, McCain’s many verbal attacks only emphasized Obama’s coolness under attack, and had the effect of making him look even more presidential.  His life-long traits of mental and emotional calmness stood him in good stead, as they certainly got tested. Transiting Moon was not well situated in relation to his natal Moon, and could have easily cost him the debate. But his innate nature helped him to overcome it. This is shown through his exalted natal Moon in Taurus, receiving an aspect from benefic Jupiter, and helping him to remain unruffled in this crucial 90 minutes. He fought back as needed, but as Democratic speechwriter Robert Shrum said: “The big story tonight: Americans are becoming increasingly comfortable with the idea of President Obama… He widened that comfort zone tonight… He was powerful and emotional as he discussed and dominated the very human question of health care.” (The Huffington Post, Oct. 8, 2008):

Republican commentators were very positive about McCain’s aggressive stance. Michael Gerson (former speechwriter for GW Bush) said: “McCain had a least a dozen tough, specific policy-oriented attacks…. What he could control, he did a very good job.”  McCain supporters praised him for introducing a Republican mortgage rescue plan – the Feldstein-Hubbard mortgage proposal – though it too has its flaws, and critics of the plan later said it mainly benefits the banks, not the home owners.  Conservative political commentator Pat Buchanan was self-contradictory in his praise for McCain, saying he “scored more points than Obama, and overall won the debate… [even though] Obama came off as more presidential.” (post-debate discussion on Keith Olbermannn’s Countdown, MSNBC, Oct. 7, 2008)

Here are a few more post-debate comments:

Rachel Maddow, tv & radio host:  “Obama was not looking for a fight, but McCain was…. McCain was sort of swinging and missing most of the time. He seemed very confident, but very edgy… Obama also seemed very confident.”
(on Keith Olbermann’s Countdown on MSNBC, Oct. 7, 2008)

Mark Halperin, political analyst, Time magazine & ABC:  “McCain didn’t do anything to transform the race… in which he’s behind.… He’s just not that good at sustaining an argument for 90 minutes.” (on Charlie Rose on PBS, Oct. 7, 2008)

David Remnick, editor, The New Yorker magazine: “McCain began the debate in a sarcastic and frustrated way…. There was a real antipathy that lasted from beginning to end…. Obama won in a miserable week economically…. This was a terrible week for McCain [both due to the economic news, and to his increasingly ugly campaign against his opponent]…. Clearly Obama’s rhetoric is geared toward the 21st century… Obama points forward…. [though] no one has the answers to this economic paroxysm.” (on Charlie Rose on PBS; The New Yorker recently endorsed the Obama-Biden ticket)

David Brooks, conservative NY Times columnist: “These two men dislike each other. Obama seems dignified, even when McCain makes 15 to 17 jabs…. Obama was the more reassuring figure.” (on Charlie Rose on PBS, Oct. 7, 2008)

Since Oct. 4, VP candidate Sarah Palin has led virulent smear campaigns on Obama, and more and more McCain too is inciting the crowds against Obama.  At campaign stops, armed with the latest GOP directive, they are both stirring up dangerous hatred and violence against minorities and liberals, while inflating Obama’s connection to 1960s radical Bill Ayers, and urging audiences to see Obama himself as a terrorist. This incitement rhetoric was the backdrop for the Oct. 7 debate. And though McCain confined his debate attacks mostly to policy, his contempt for Obama was obvious. Journalist Peter Beinart addresses this issue head-on in the Oct. 20, 2008 issue of Time magazine: “In the past, Republicans often used race to make their opponents seem anti-white. In 2008, with their incessant talk about who loves their country and who doesn’t, McCain and Palin are doing something different. They’re trying to make Obama seem anti-American.”

Neither candidate really leveled with the economic crisis. The Dow Jones average has lost 997 points in the next 3 days, with a 33 % loss in the last 3-4 weeks, now a global trend. As the global financial crisis intensifies, it dwarfs the importance of these debates, if not for the importance of choosing the next American president, and recovering from the incompetence of the current one.

There is an implosion that can occur at the end of a 28-29 year Saturn cycle, depending on the extremity of the actions taken during that cycle. This one marks the domination of the Republican Party, starting with Reagan’s election in Nov. 1980, and coinciding with the Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions in Virgo in late 1980 and 1981. (Please see Edith2 link at this webpage, where I give a more complete analysis of this subject; also, the audio file of my Aug. 9, 2008 lecture.) This particular Saturn cycle reflects back to us how all the policies and actions set in motion by President Reagan and his followers have born fruit 28 years later. They seem to be exploding in our faces, especially the deregulation policies that Reagan touted. We even hear about how in our era, Republicans such as Palin and GW Bush have turned away from Reagan’s “faith in the power of ideas,” scorning not only liberal ideas, but ideas in general. Anti-intellectualism has come in and competence – especially in government - has gone out, supplanted by arrogance and cronyism. But Saturn’s cycle is a time of reckoning; it brings Truth.

Cycles related to both Jupiter and Saturn and their interactions tell us about the social-economic-political realities, also accounting for why this current financial crisis is happening now, BEFORE the election, when often there is an artificial stabilization of a crisis. There are many symbolic clues harking back to 1980, including Republicans’ frequent reference to Reagan, the only recent Republican president that GOP spokesmen now mention with ease..

With the influence of Moon in late Sagittarius on the 9th house cusp of the debate chart, I said the debate-winner would be “the candidate who most ignites the viewers with national pride and enthusiasm…. [Viewers] have a chance tonight to examine the real nature of patriotism, and to distinguish its various components, including those qualities in a future political leader who might serve them best as citizens.”  Viewers might also ask: What does it matter how much you love your country if you’re willing to degrade your opponent in the ugliest way to prove you love it more? Sagittarius is a fire sign, and as such is a sign of Dharma, or “right action.” Moon in the 9th house of the chart doubly emphasizes Dharma. Its concept is large, but also includes right thought and speech.

As patriotism is most highly touted during times of war, it is often most strongly linked with military service. But the military background or orientation of each candidate was not a major theme during the debate. Instead, there were larger themes of being equipped to serve as national leader in very trying economic times, in fact, as Obama said, “the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.”  Thus, one needs to expand the concept of patriotism to include “right action” in times of crisis, whatever the nature of that crisis.  In addition to the many losses from wars, often they bring utter financial and cultural ruin to a nation. Americans are still reeling from an administration that inherited a $150 billion surplus in 2000, and managed to plunge the nation into $10.2 trillion debt as of Oct. 8, 2008. The national debt is increasing by $3.29 billion every day, amply aided by Bush’s expensive “war of choice” in Iraq. The price tag to date is $700 billion, or $10 billion per month. And patriotism was used to fuel such a war.

Because of the major themes triggered by the Ascendant and lunar degree, this may well have been the debate that decided the people’s choice for the presidency.  It was watched by 66 million viewers, including 3 million from PBS.  Though the previous VP debate had 4 million more viewers, the Oct. 7 debate was more serious and substantive (and less entertaining) due to the Moon’s position.

Sagittarius Moon highlights the concept of expansion on many levels, but it shifted after 8:07 PM into the 8th house of debt and financial or personal transformation - not always pleasant, in part because of what is hidden or unknown. The 8th house can bring suffering. Exactly at that moment, McCain spoke for the first time, answering a question on the economy. He immediately introduced the topic of “home values,” saying he would order his Secretary of the Treasury to buy up bad loans, and thereby stabilize home values. This plan has since been shot down by both Republicans and Democrats. But what is even more remarkable is that McCain has not continued to tout it on the campaign trail. Instead he focuses on Obama’s alleged associations with terrorists, long since disproved during the primaries. The virulence of his rhetoric is dangerous, inciting hate talk from his audiences, while not condemning it.

The Moon was in the 8th house for the remainder of the debate, as was the Ascendant in Taurus - the quintessential sign for domestic prosperity and security. Meanwhile, this expansive Moon was unnaturally constrained in the 8th house of debt, public loans, and financial relations with foreign countries. The house position of the Moon shows where the mind is focusing. The overlay of the chart from 8:00 PM is a 9th house Moon – higher aims and goals. But due to the shifting Ascendant, symbolizing temporal conditions, the mind was on 8th house matters, which also includes inheritance, and in this case national financial inheritance as well as national debt. What moneys will remain after this crisis?  Which presidential candidate can best lead us through these troubled times and solve the problems? The answer on Tuesday evening appeared to be Obama. And though McCain fought much more aggressively, the people want steadiness.

Copyright  © 2008 Edith Hathaway. All rights reserved.

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