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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Live-blogging the Democratic debate 


I've missed most of the seven quadrillion presidential debates, but it has been months since I was home in time and aware enough to watch the Democrats debate at Drexel University in Philadelphia. I'll be live-blogging at this post until I can't take it any more. Each post has a numbered paragraph. [UPDATE midstream: Apparently I'm "stolidly" liveblogging. That's me, a rock in parlous times like these.]

1. Brian Williams asks Obama to specify how Hillary has "sounded or voted like a Republican." Obama: "This is the most hyped fight since Rocky fought Apollo Creed, although the amazing thing is I'm Rocky in this situation." Titters. A poorly delivered canned line to cater to the Philadelphia audience. Obama did not answer well, mostly pointing to flip-flops rather than backing up his "smear" that Hillary is a Republican in disguise. Hillary counters with the obvious point that she was the only real target of the Republican candidates at the last debate. She won the point.

2. Russert asks John Edwards to explain his accusation that Hillary Clinton has engaged in "double-talk" on Iran. Edwards says that Bush has been lying, so that requires us to scrutinize the credibility of all candidates! Edwards attacks her for flip-flopping, particularly on foreign policy matters, and manages to defend the Islamic Republic of Iran's Revolutionary Guard all in one response! Seriously? Hillary responds with a long list of the women and children she has "fought for" (the most tiresome metaphor in American politics, by the way). Somehow morphs the response into a full-throated defense of Social Security, which apparently is threatened by "no-bid contracts from Halliburton."

Goddamn.

3. Russert asks Clinton why she voted for resolution that recommended the structuring of our forces in Iraq to deal with Iran. Her response is very strong, for a Democrat, and stands in stark contrast to the bleating from Edwards and Obama: "I am not in favor of this rush for war but I'm also not in favor of doing nothing. Iran is seeking nuclear weapons, and the Iranian revolutionary guard is in the forefront of that, as they are in the sponsorship of terrorism. So some may want a false choice between rushing to war, which is the way the Republicans sound... and doing nothing. I prefer vigorous diplomacy, and I happen to think economic sanctions are part of vigorous diplomacy."

4. I still wish Joe Biden were electable. He is the only leading Democrat who is genuinely interesting to listen to, and who says new and creative things about foreign policy. "Actions have consequences, big nations can't bluff." I hate to think he is right that big nations can't bluff, but it certainly looks that way from here.

5. Brian Williams asks Obama what his "red line" is with regard to Iran -- what would cause him to attack Iran? Obama focuses on Bush's hawkish comments, says it is a continuation of his rejection of diplomacy. Calls for "also talking to our enemies." We need to offer Iran "carrots," such as normalized diplomatic relations or membership in the World Trade Organization. Me: Absurd, insofar as both of those reforms would weaken the Islamic Republic's hold on its people, so are unlikely to be interesting to the mullahs. Does Obama know that? Scary if he does not.

6. Same question to Clinton: Repeats the line about sanctions being a central feature of diplomacy. "The Revolutionary Guard is deeply involved in the commercial activities of Iran. Having those economic sanctions hanging over their heads gives our negotiators one of those sticks that we need to try to make progress to deal with a very complicated situation." Dodges the red-line question too, but Hillary remains the only Democrat to hammer on the Revolutionary Guards and the Islamic Republic -- nobody else even reveals that they understand the issue. Edwards in his rebuttal can only complain about the Bush administration, and argue that Hillary is catering to it.

This gets me to my basic point about Hillary -- if the war on Islamic extremism is your big issue, she is running away the "least-bad" Democrat.

7. A half hour in, and we have not heard from Kucinich. That's going to chap the lefties.

8. Here he goes: "We have a number of enablers, who happen to be Democrats, who have said that 'all options are on the table.' When you say that, you are licensing President Bush." Kucinich jumps the shark: "Even planning for the war against Iran is illegal." Seriously?

9. Russert to Hillary: "Would you pledge to the American people that Iran will not develop a nuclear bomb while you are president?" Hillary: "I intend to do everything I can to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear bomb." Russert: "But you won't pledge." Hillary: "I am pledging I will do everything I can to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear bomb." Russert: "But they may."

She did say "everything I can" to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear bomb. Edwards will "take all the responsible steps that can be taken" to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.

Hillary lawyered that one better than Edwards.

10. Obama riffs about the politics of fear, and that we have to start acting like the strongest country in the world. Biden offers a much more nuanced answer than either Hillary or the manifest doves. "Presidents make wise decisions informed not by a vacuum in which they operate but the situation they find themselves in the world..." Biden focuses on the risk of Pakistan, which because of its arsenal he believes poses a much more serious threat if uncontained. There is much to that, but it will not surface with any nuance in the debate because Pakistan does not drive the interest of voters or the press the way Iran does.

11. Richardson has made much of his international experience, and has studiously avoided attacking his potential running mate Hillary. Kucinich urges the media to show "restraint" in its discussion of Iran. Kucinich proposes urging Iran to give up nuclear power, "the most expensive form of power there is." Goddamn, what about the catastrophic threat of climate change.

Sorry to disappoint, but I am burning out on this and -- more importantly -- there is a clarion call around these parts to watch the episode of "House" we recorded earlier this evening. Add your own insights in the comments, including observations about the back half of the debate.


11 Comments:

By Blogger Reliapundit, at Tue Oct 30, 10:19:00 PM:

bottom-line:

the least bad GOP candidate is light years better than the least bad Dem candidate.

sigh.  

By Blogger Newtons Bit, at Tue Oct 30, 11:38:00 PM:

The more I hear about Hillary, the better she sounds compared to the rest of the democrats. Maybe it's because she actually has an idea of what the cic actually does. I don't know what the deal is.

She plays politics in a way that infuriates me, but at least she doesn't come across as a moron all the time about Iran.  

By Anonymous Ursus, at Wed Oct 31, 12:13:00 AM:

The question about Iran and how to deal with it, three or four of the candidates responded that Iran was nothing compared to Pakistan which already has nukes...

Let's explore that for a moment:

1) Which party was in power when Pakistan got nukes? Do the candidates for that party wish they had done more then to stop them?

2) If allowing Pakistan to get nukes has turned into a crisis, isn't the smart thing to prevent Iran from becoming that level of problem (and probably worse)?

I can't even keep up with the logic trauma that's being put on display.  

By Anonymous Bird of Paradise, at Wed Oct 31, 01:03:00 AM:

I dont trust ether OBAMA or CLINTON i prefer RON PAUL i mean those two demacrats are like URSULA and JAFAR  

By Blogger kreiz1, at Wed Oct 31, 03:13:00 AM:

Loved it how no candidate was asked to explain how adding a gazillion dollars in new federal outlays might adversely affected the national debt/budget. Fortunately, free health care and free education in the days of Boomer retirement won't be problematic. If Rudy's mantra is '9/11', the Dems' is "richest 1%".  

By Anonymous Jim - PRS, at Wed Oct 31, 08:55:00 AM:

You're sooooo right about the metaphor "fought for." Every time I hear it, it is akin to an electric shock to the stindeens.  

By Blogger kreiz1, at Wed Oct 31, 11:31:00 AM:

I sure wish Joe Biden was electable." I'm with you totally. Biden's always struck me as the grownup on stage (well, Hillary somewhat- except as to her St. Nicholas domestic agenda). Wonder why Uncle Joe can't pull it off?  

By Anonymous Dr. Mercury, at Wed Oct 31, 01:34:00 PM:

TH:

As you no-doubt know if you've cruised the blogs this morning, in your early retirement from the debate you missed the BIG MOMENT.

"including observations about the back half of the debate."

My observation is that Michelle Malkin, Ed Morrissey and Jack M over at Ace of Spades, as well as the vast majority of their readers, are self-delusional morons.

I know the normal procedure is to first read the article and watch the video, then move on to the comments, but sometimes it's fun to do it backwards. This morning, I read Michelle's, Ed's and Jack's articles on the latest 'Hillary moment', skimmed through the comments, then watched the Hillary video.

Here's what I saw:

I saw a politician being asked a very difficult question about endorsing a fellow state official on a controversial issue. Not her issue, mind you, but someone else's.

She first made a good case for the licensing law, in that at least you'd have some kind of legal avenue to pursue should you, for example, get into an automobile accident. She laid it straight out that it's just a matter of the odds catching up with you; if it doesn't happen to you, it'll happen to a friend or neighbor.

I also saw this person make a critical point when she noted that this was the classic 'gotcha' moment, in that, while she may think it's a good idea, that doesn't mean she endorses it.

So, even though she's calling attention to the fact that this is your classic 'gotcha' moment, the right-wing bloggers STILL act like it's a big gotcha moment!

It was pathetic, embarrassing, and not the least bit surprising. The CDS is just as rampant these days as BDS ever was in the Leftosphere, to the point where they're completely deaf to the actual words being spoken. They're listening to everything she says through an extremely warped ideological filter.

Prediction: One of the bloggers said the Republican candidates will be showing the clip all summer. Watch for some very creative editing.

Back to the article, I thought this was a great comment:

"I still wish Joe Biden were electable. He is the only leading Democrat who is genuinely interesting to listen to..."

When it comes to voice, passion, intensity, and outright charisma, I think Joe Biden is tops. If it weren't for those pesky little "issues" things, he'd make a great president. He doesn't come across as someone who'd be pushed around by a bunch of power brokers in Congress, and his intensity and directness would probably unsettle our enemies like the somewhat wimpy countenances of the two Bushes never did. But, then there's those pesky "issues" things again. Curse his ragged ass for being a Lefty.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Oct 31, 04:35:00 PM:

Biden has always struck me as the guy who just has to always be the smartest person in the room, which has never stopped him from saying some really stupid things.

Complained about our involvement in an intractible civil war in Iraq while advocating we get involved in a civil war in Darfur. Could he really be that oblivious to the contradiction, or unappreciative of the fact that our ability to deal with Darfur would be severely impinged unless or until we achieve at least the perception of success in Iraq?

Says we should partition Iraq, as if it's our place to now make that decision.

Given the Kinnick affair, I suspect even Biden secretly believes he's neither an original nor very deep thinker.  

By Anonymous Bird of Paradise, at Fri Nov 02, 12:54:00 AM:

When a demcratic candare starts blabbering off his mouth the sound effect should be the same as when a unseen adult speaks in a peanuts cartoon like a sound of a horn BWAA BWAA BWWAA  

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