South Carolina Democratic Debate

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I’m not going to run through every detail of this extremely interesting debate, and I wish I had heard none of the political commentators afterward because listening to Mark Halperin (a virtual friend of mine) after, I was very irritated. He said he gave Obama an A- tonight and then a B+ each to Hillary Clinton and to Edwards.
I have to go with my own filters, not those of others — and to me, regardless of who one supported tonight, it’s clear that each scored points but that Hillary Clinton performed with an authority, presence in that huge hall, and mastery of detail that was just second to none. She hammered Bush on the semi-secret deal he’s trying to rig with the Iraqi government to commit American troops and bases indefinitely — something the others did not mention. She had numbers and details flowing forth as if they were as natural as could be.
One thing that was weird for me in this debate is that Hillary Clinton is clearly not mimicking her husband in any way. John Edwards is. Bill Clinton is the master of anecdotes and “let me tell you all a story” moments. Hillary is dense with facts, details, experiences — but it’s not warm and fuzzy.
I watched Ed Rendell one night at a 4,000 person DNC dinner in the final year of Bill Clinton’s tenure introduce Al Gore in a kind of passing the torch evening from Bill Clinton to Gore. Both Gore and Clinton walked on to the stage at the same time — and Clinton sat meekly behind Gore while the then hoping-to-be 43rd President literally “lost the crowd” which began speaking at an embarrassing volume over his rambling speech.
Clinton walked up after Gore who introduced him warmly (though the two were not speaking to each other in real life) and started his talk with “let me tell you all a story. . .”, and the room went completely quiet.
John Edwards tries that in these debates, and has heartwarming moments — particularly when he spoke about his mill working father tonight — but overall, neither Hillary Clinton nor Barack Obama really do Br’er Rabbit stuff. . .and I think I like that.
Here are some other quick reactions just off the top of my head.
First, I was miffed at Obama and Edwards for their ignorance or purposeful duplicity about the subprime home mortgage crisis. They both said that African-Americans were perniciously targeted by lenders. That’s about as untrue as one can imagine. The subprime crisis is an outrage — but it was a systemic problem — and everyone who wanted credit got it. Had everyone else other than the African-American community received loans that were subprime and based on substandard collateral then there would be a case of discrimination, but to argue that Blacks were targeted to give bad loans to — below prime rate levels — was grossly wrong.
Hillary Clinton, alternatively, did not say that. She argues for a “work out” plan that freezes rates for five years (a bit long for my taste and probably hugely economically disruptive) and stops foreclosures for a period of time. The neoliberal Chicago school economist won’t like this approach because it lengthens the period which capital is ineffeciently distributed. But the government — mostly because of a combination of financial innovations in the market it doesn’t understand, leading to poor regulation — actually helped create the housing bubble and the crisis. To extend the bubble to work out the worst elements so that the shock harms fewer people is sensible.
I was surprised to hear Obama and Edwards not embrace this plan. Obama didn’t want to reward speculators. This isn’t a simple game of good guys and bad guys. There are hundreds of billions of dollars of bad loans hiding out there in financial portfolios that are not yet disclosed — and much of the financial network will not finance each other in fear of subsidizing a corrupted portfolio. So, the problem is not only with homeowners but with the entire financial network.
Hillary Clinton got this in a way that really surprised me.
Barack Obama’s answer on US foreign policy was impressive, particularly the part about engaging foreign leaders, the good ones and the bad ones. He gets the general vision of needing something new and different right, but I always find myself wanting more detail.
I thought that Obama was not given a fair shake for his hundred plus “present” votes in the Illinois legislature. That is the way that they do it there. He answered honestly and forthrightly — and Edwards seemed off base to chase it further as it’s mostly an artificial issue overall in my view.
I also liked the fact that while Edwards and Hillary both spoke about green-related job creation, Obama was the only one who said “broadband” and mentioned the need for robust levels of public infrastructure investment across the board. That is the kind of financial stimulus the nation needs now.
I’m glad that Obama got hit by both Hillary Clinton and Edwards for his health plan. He needs to change it and just come up with a plan that covers all Americans. Edwards’ best moment was on health care policy I think, although he was wrong to say that none of their plans cover illegal aliens. I believe that Clinton’s plan does in fact have a sub-tier package of health care for illegals as it’s important to the core mechanism of her plan to cover everyone. When Edwards said that none of them covered illegal aliens, she shook her head no — but then never commented about it.
And while I didn’t like Hillary raising the slum lord issue with Obama, I was surprised to hear him refer to Rezko as “that indivdual.” That individual is someone Barack Obama has known for 17 years and someone who has raised more than $14 million for him and who was on his Senate campaign finance organization. Now Hillary Clinton had Norman Hsu — but while I didn’t expect Obama to embrace Rezko, he might have just said that he was surrounded (as they all are) by people who are not always what they seem to be. At that moment, Barack Obama using “that individual” sounded a lot like — well — you know who. . .
Hillary Clinton was right to blast President Bush’s financial rebate plan in his stimulus package. That kind of spending should be directed at generating America’s next platform for innovation and for rebuilding the core infrastructure of the country. Clinton got some of this right in my view, but Obama was a bit more defined and thorough.
OK, enough now I guess. I’m not sure that these debates matter though I wish they would. I sat tonight watching the debates with a couple of Obama supporters who were groaning about his performance. But Mark Halperin still ranked him first.
They did not — but they still support him. I’m frustrated as I think that Dems need a hybrid Obama-Clinton candidate, and I don’t hear either candidate pushing all of the right buttons, or even enough of the serious, most important ones.
But in my view, Hillary Clinton turned in the best performance tonight. Then came Barack Obama, and close after though not enough came John Edwards.
But just one aside, I “hated” the question Wolf Blitzer posed of “If Martin Luther King was alive today, why would he endorse you?” Waste of our time — and demeaning to King’s legacy and the importance of this debate.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

54 comments on “South Carolina Democratic Debate

  1. Stellathomas says:

    Tonight’s South Carolina Democratic debate, cosponsored by the Congressional Black Caucus Institute and CNN, was supposed to focus on issues of concern to minorities. But it quickly degenerated into name-calling that was harsh even by this year’s rough-and-tumble standards.
    ———————————–
    Stellathomas
    South Carolina Treatment Centers

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  2. iSIS says:

    and here we have it… another celebrity name-merging to completely strip the woman’s sole custody of her own position, and appease to the men by reminding them that she comes neatly packaged with a “strong” man beside her. i wonder if there are sooo many men endorsing hilary mostly due to the comfort in knowing that they’ll inherently be the recipients of another potential semi-decade of bill.

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  3. iSIS says:

    and here we have it… another celebrity name-merging to completely strip the woman’s sole custody of her own position, and appease to the men by reminding them that she comes neatly packaged with a “strong” man beside her. i wonder if there are sooo many men endorsing hilary mostly due to the comfort in knowing that they’ll inherently be the recipients of another potential semi-decade of bill.

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  4. GGBarnes says:

    I absolutely agree with all the little ladies who post on this thread longing for a girl president. To have Hillary, or might I say Billary, as the Democrat nominees is the Republican dream that assures that we retain control of the White House and pick up seats in the legislature. She is akin to vomit in 50% of America, so we all are very glad to have her to flay the coming presidential season.
    And good-bye Democrat party, forever. Astounding that you will nominate the most viscerally hated woman in the history of American politics in an election that you all should win hands down. You guys are pathetic. The men in your party are sniveling twinks being bent over by their women powering strap ons. It’s amazing to behold, truly amazing.
    You Go Girls !!!!

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  5. Catherine says:

    I have to agree with you, I think Hillary was the most presidential. She most likely is the one who is most of the time. Her concise, Kennedy like knowledge of the figures is extraordinary. The very best. Obama looked arrogant, pissed and off message. He cannot take responsibility for anything, I agree with HIllary. She looked like she was in a different league. They, the “MEDIA” who seem to want OBAMA at all costs painted it out that he weathered their attacks. Ha! He withered under the steady scrutiny. He cannot withstand the microscope, and this is sort of, “friendly fire” imagine what happens with the true liars republicans get going? They want him, becasue you know they know, SHE can win.

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  6. Kathleen says:

    And now…. a word form The Black Commentator
    January 17, 2008 – Issue 260
    Clintons, Your Black Pass is Hereby Revoked
    Color of Law
    By David A. Love
    BC Editorial Board
    Hillary and Bill Clinton have a lot of explaining to do. In her quest for the presidency, the U.S. Senator from New York and her husband — known by some as “the first Black president” — have used the race card against rival presidential candidate, Senator Barack Obama (D, Ill.). Although Obama was supposedly the intended target, in the end, all African Americans were attacked. The Clintons have attacked blackness as a disqualifying attribute for the office of president, and have managed to insult Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the civil rights movement in the process.
    It should be said at the outset that candidates for office should be thoroughly scrutinized. No one should be immune, and all of the presidential candidates should be required to justify their stance on the issues before the voters and explain any contradictions that might arise.
    But the contest should go to the best person, someone who will heal a nation broken by injustice, hatred, neglect, greed and corruption. When a candidate exploits the race of another candidate, and insults an entire community for political gain, she is taking that community for granted and does not deserve their support.
    The record is replete with evidence of what is going on here. Senator ClintonÂ’s surrogates have raised issues about ObamaÂ’s Muslim middle name Hussein, and the unelectability of a Black man. Hillary aides and supporters — including BET founder Bob Johnson, who has already done enough harm to the psyche of Black America as a purveyor of garbage media — have made references to ObamaÂ’s youthful drug use. Meanwhile, Hillary surrogate and New York state attorney general, Andrew Cuomo, stated that presidential candidates cannot “shuck and jive” during the primaries. President Clinton had to defend himself against angry Black voters who charged that he dismissed ObamaÂ’s presidential bid as “the biggest fairy tale I’ve ever seen.”
    But most importantly, Senator Clinton — perhaps believing she is a qualified expert on the civil rights movement — suggested that President Lyndon Johnson’s role overshadowed that of Dr. King in the passage of civil rights legislation. The Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts were enacted as a result of agitation and pressure applied to power by a movement, many of whose members were imprisoned, discredited, maimed and murdered. Let us not forget the police dogs, the water hoses, the lynchings, and COINTELPRO. In her revision of history, Clinton would suggest that King and the movement were idle, passive dreamers, but it took the great father in the White House to do the heavy lifting, make the big decisions, and do the thinking required to get things done. The more she and her water carriers try to spin her misguided statement, the angrier Black people will become.
    When viewed in totality, the comments from the Clinton camp speak to a pattern of racial insensitivity, disrespect for Black people, and a willingness to use the race card for political gain. Senator Clinton, an establishment Democrat, is employing the tactics associated with race-baiting, Swift-Boating, Southern-strategy Republicans. She and her handlers, faced with a bland product people were not buying, needed to conjure up a Black boogeyman, a Willie Horton, if you will. Perhaps the differences between the two parties are not as great as we were led to believe, after all.
    And typical of the center-Right, DLC Democratic establishment, the Clinton campaign treats the African American community as the lover it embraces at night, yet refuses to acknowledge in the daytime. Meanwhile, Clinton attempts to buy off Black leaders and preachers and figures such as Magic Johnson, to the tune of $750 million, and shamelessly attempts to buy our votes in the process.
    This is bigger than Obama. Obama, who is enjoying increased support in the Black community and whose candidacy is viewed as a source of hope for many, should not receive a free ride because he is of African descent. And he has not received one, given the split in the Black community over whom to support. To that extent, the Black electorate has displayed a political sophistication for which it is rarely given credit.
    People of color, who have supported far more candidates from outside their community than have their White counterparts, know that Black faces in high places will not constitute progress without a positive agenda that benefits the people left behind. When Condoleezza Rice and Clarence Thomas climbed the ladder, they did not leave it out for the rest of us. They have meant nothing for Black progress. Obama has a unique opportunity to change the whole game in this nation if he listens to the people, dares to bring discomfort to the powerful, challenges institutional racism and fundamental inequality, and does not succumb to the corruption of the cesspool that is Washington.
    Likewise, the senator from New York does not deserve a free ride due to her or her husband’s perceived record of helping Black folks. The first time around, they courted us with saxophone playing on the Arsenio Hall Show. When in office, through a game of bait and switch, they delivered disappointingly conservative policies, welfare reform, “don’t ask don’t tell,” and media consolidation that decimated Black and Brown-owned radio stations and newspapers. One wonders what they really did to deserve the considerable support they have enjoyed among progressives and in many corners of the Black community, support they enjoyed at least until they became desperately unhinged in this campaign.
    And let us not forget then-Governor Bill Clinton’s use of the race card in the 1992 campaign. Bill repudiated Black activist Sister Souljah as a David Duke-type racist, a positioning to the Right which insulted the African American community, and allowed him to appeal to conservative Whites by showing he was a good ol’ boy. Then there was the 1992 execution of Ricky Ray Rector, a Black death row inmate in Arkansas, mentally ill, with an IQ of 70. Bill left the campaign trail to witness Rector’s execution, an expedient and opportunistic move to bolster his “tough on crime” image and help him claim the presidency.
    Senator Clinton exploits the race card, to be sure, but avails herself of the gender card as well. One of the tougher and more testosterone-infused politicians on Capitol Hill when it comes to policies of military aggression, Hillary, it seems, becomes the fragile, defenseless damsel when it suits her political needs. She sheds a tear only for herself, when her political career is at stake. Senator Clinton touts her alleged record on human rights, the needs of children and the rights of women. But we wonder if she sheds any tears for the thousands of Iraqi women and children who died in a war she wholeheartedly endorsed, all to score political points, beef up her image and show that she is as cold-hearted and cold-blooded as the guys, as macho as any perverse, distorted caricature of a man.
    Since when did a womanÂ’s strength come from her willingness to exhibit the worst traits of conservative, warmongering men? There are countless anonymous women and men who live and have lived, whose strength has been judged by their commitment to building their communities, supporting their families, fighting injustice and leaving the world a better place than they found it. A person who will do or say anything to become president, including race bait, and aspires to the presidency for no other reason than a sense of entitlement and dynastic succession, is not a role model to follow.
    And anyone can address a Black congregation with a phony Southern accent and clap offbeat to the choir.
    Clintons, you became a little too comfortable for your own good. Your dirty tricks are out of pocket, and your Black pass is hereby revoked.
    BlackCommentator.com Editorial Board member David A. Love, JD is a lawyer and prisonersÂ’ rights advocate based in Philadelphia, and a contributor to the Progressive Media Project, McClatchy-Tribune News Service, In These Times and Philadelphia Independent Media Center. He contributed to the book, States of Confinement: Policing, Detention, and Prisons (St. Martin’s Press, 2000). Love is a former Amnesty International UK spokesperson, organized the first national police brutality conference as a staff member with the Center for Constitutional Rights, and served as a law clerk to two Black federal judges. His blog is davidalove.com.

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  7. Margaret Dumont says:

    Tsk, Tsk, Tsk. I must say in all honesty that I am voting for our Hillary only because she is a women. I could care less if she was a bitch, witch, battle axe, termagant, shrew, harridan, or all of them wrap into one. I hear that they are also now calling her the “C” word. Well, I could care less, and hope all you gals here feel the same as I. Vote for Hillary because she’s one of us, and we’ll show them all once again, although for the first time in this office, who truly is the boss.

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  8. Grace says:

    I don’t get Edwards, before he always seemed to be on Obama’s side and now it looks like he changed sides. I was an Edwards supporter but have changed my mind. He flip-flops between the two. Too bad because I think he won the debate.
    I hate that the media is feeding on what is happening. If Obama is elected the democratic presidential candidate, I think he will choose Edwards as it seemed like they had partnered up at least before this debate where Edwards backstabs him. It is sad because Obama/Edwards can’t beat the Republicans whereas Obama/Clinton or Clinton/Obama can.
    With everything going on it seems hard to imagine that Clinton if she wins would appoint Obama as her VP. Too much has been said and with the media feeding off it, more is bound to happen.
    Steve, I think it is nice that you listed both the negatives and positives for all the candidates. It is something that you don’t see in the media that consists of mostly Clinton haters and Obama as their darling which I hate because I happen to like both of them and believe that only if they run together do the Democrats have a chance to the White House back from the Republicans. Together they are strong but separate they are weak.
    Bobby:” I see A LOT of sexism in these comments (bitch, battle-axe). Why do people see Obama’s color as uniting and Hillary’s sex as divisive? Their policies are nearly identical.”
    You are right, their policies are identical but I blame it on the media. I think Clinton is just doomed because if she fights back she is called a bitch if she says nothing she is called weak. What is the woman supposed to do? Obama does believe in unity but I don’t think his supporters believe in it. Compare the amount of anti-Hillary videos and websites made by his supporters to the anti-Obama videos made by hers and the difference is huge. I haven’t been able to find any anti Obama video whereas I have watched tons of anti-Hillary. This doesn’t mean that she doesn’t have supporters that make videos because she does but they don’t make anti-Obama videos. I like both Obama and Clinton almost equally and the only reason I prefer her is because she is facing too much hate from the media and is being compared to Nazis and the devil by his fans.
    For her it is all: dammed if you do, dammed if you don’t.

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  9. Kathleen says:

    Speaking of Reagan, you can thank Teddy K for that. This was not the first time Teddy split the Dem party against its natural leader.
    In 1968, after Bobby was killed, Teddy K, instead of letting the peace vote come back together behind Gene McCarthy, the first peace candidate, he nominated George McGovern and underhandedly gave the nomination to Humphrey and then we got Nixon.
    The Huffington Post
    Dave “Mudcat” Saunders
    Only John Edwards Can Beat McCain
    Posted January 22, 2008 | 06:01 PM (EST)
    I’ll be 60 eight days before the election in November. This is a bad thing and a good thing. The bad thing is it ain’t going to be a real long time before I’m dead. The good thing is I’ve traveled a few miles and have picked up something along the way, and that something is called “institutional memory”.
    As I watched news coverage of Monday night’s debate, the ever-escalating “I know you are, but what am I?” fight between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton suddenly struck a memory from 28 years back. The feud between Teddy Kennedy and Jimmy Carter rushed into my mind like a horrible memory of an old girlfriend. My recollection of their self-destructive hostilities reminded me how their battles went a long ways toward giving this nation Ronald Reagan.
    It was 1980, and the Democratic Party had two supposedly strong national candidates–one an incumbent president, the other a scion of America’s national family. They were going up against a Republican Party that was searching for an identity and would go deep on the bench to nominate the host of “Death Valley Days”.
    I remember this as an election we shouldn’t have lost. But as we have done so many times in the past, we Democrats figured out a way to step on our Johnson.
    In that 1980 nominating battle, our two candidates went after each other like Sherman went after Georgia. The result? Unbelievably, half of Washington is now named after Ronald Reagan–though I’ll still say I’m flying into National Airport until the day the Good Lord or the Devil calls me home.
    Surely, I’m not the only one who can see this six-foot rabbit named Harvey. John McCain is going to be the Republican nominee. How do I know? Because “institutional memory” also reminds me that the Democratic Party I love can’t count. And regardless of what you think of the Republicans, they can.
    It should be clear to anybody with over a 50 IQ that my boy John Edwards, with his combination of red state electoral experience and toughness, is the only candidate who can beat John McCain. Whether you believe polls or not, polls from CNN to Rasmussen say just that.
    And it should be equally as clear to anybody with over a 25 IQ that Obama and Clinton are going to render each other totally unelectable against any Republican, especially John McCain, by the time we get to the convention.
    All the Republicans have to be loving this. Because the Democrat they don’t want to face, John Edwards, is getting sandwiched between the coverage of this murderous cat fight between two so-called “historical” candidates who, when all is said and done, will be just that. HISTORY.

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  10. Bobby says:

    I think both sides are distorting the facts as all candidates do. However, I don’t really see how Obama is going to being about all this radical change, when his style of campaigning is literally paint-by-numbers.
    I see A LOT of sexism in these comments (bitch, battle-axe). Why do people see Obama’s color as uniting and Hillary’s sex as divisive? Their policies are nearly identical.
    And by the way, OBMAMA’s comments on Reagan sounded like praise to me. And talk about distorting the facts? To say the Reagan brought about change and Bill Clinton didn’t? You might as well say I can buy the Empire State Building for $3.
    “I think Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not. He put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it. I think they felt like with all the excesses of the 1960s and 1970s and government had grown and grown but there wasn’t much sense of accountability in terms of how it was operating. I think people, he just tapped into what people were already feeling, which was we want clarity we want optimism, we want a return to that sense of dynamism and entrepreneurship that had been missing.”
    THIS ISN’T A GLOWING SCORE CARD FOR REAGAN? He lied in the South Carolina debates.

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  11. Angela says:

    When we women speak up, the boys listen. They know they have to and do as we ask if they are to get that which they most cherish, our approval and its subsequent possibilities. Its what makes the world go ’round. If we didn’t have something you guys wanted so deep down in your very being, we wouldn’t be able to have you at our beckoning call and do our bidding. This is what you all hate about the high pitched voice that sets your nerves on edge. It’s the call of another submission to our demands so that you may ravish some sweet meats sometime in the future.
    Hillary reminds you of your daily submissions, and only the immature among you still buck your biology
    and place in the ways of the world. But you losers who refuse to do what is in humankind’s best interest cannot stop Hillary and her destiny. There are too many men who will do the right thing, do as they’re told by their better half, and finally take another big step to make things right in the world, as they were meant to be.
    To have Peace/Piece, boys, you all know first and foremost that you must obey your women.
    Make Hillary Rodham Clinton the next President, first Matriarch, of the precious land you guys built for us! You will all be very, very, grateful that historic Tuesday night in November. All us gals are saving it up till then. Capisci?

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  12. Sarah says:

    Hillary did a great job in the debate! If we want to make real changes then we need a person with experience and a real plan! She is the best candidate to deal with world issues and keep our country safe. She is the only one with an economic plan and the experience to get the economy back on track. Hillary also supports better funding for education and protecting the environment. Hillary Clinton has the knowledge and experience to solve the serious issues our country is facing. She gets my vote!

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  13. wasab says:

    Saveus:
    Is there any woman who would fit in that neat little box of acceptability for you?
    Too screechy, too overbearing, too ambitious, too harpy, too driven…
    Thatcher, Merkel, Meir, Gandhi all made fine heads of state. None are/where delicate little flowers with soft pleasant voices.

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  14. Lori Meyer says:

    I watched the debate last night and in my opinion, it was a tie between Edwards and Clinton.
    Obama spent way too much time in his prime TV spot (middle — was that planned?) sputtering and muttering the same thing over and over again.
    I applauded Hillary and John questioning Obama about his voting record. As a resident of Obama’s state, I am DISGUSTED to hear Obama endorse the practice of voting PRESENT. This is a COP OUT and does not show the mentality or political fiber of a President. It is a weasel approach. Secondly, I checked his record for 2007 and he DID NOT VOTE for 37% of the legislation presented in 2007. He did not vote for increasing funding for critical farm bill programs, funding for OB/GYN health care in rural areas, homeland security issues, and federal surplus programs. PEOPLE — These are serious issues!!
    Hillary presented a strong position and held her ground on positive issues. Folks, this is a DEBATE — it is intended to generate heated exchange on important issues. I do believe that Obama spent valuable time on a temper tantrum because Bill is picking on him. GROW UP OBAMA!

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  15. Saveus says:

    I Watched the debate last night and it was quite clear that the men won and Hillary bitch and bitched in that overbearing battle axe screech that set my nerves to fraying and hoping to God the Father that this termagant isn’t lecturing us for 4 years unceasingly and incessantly, over and over, “take the garbage OUT!!!!! Eyeeeee! No, No, No, never! Over my dead body! Nooooo!

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  16. Leslie Militzok says:

    I watched the debate last night and I thought Hillary clearly won the debate. Firstly, Obhama crying that the Clintons are distorting his record is completely untrue:
    In 2002 Obhama while not in the Senate spoke out against the war. However, in 2004 at the Democratic Convention he gave a speech supporting the war. Later that month he told The Chicago Tribune and Meet the Press that his position on the war was the same as Bush! I am not taking the Clinton’s word for it because I heard the speech and the Russert interview personally.
    In addition when he was running for the US Senate he campaigned on a promise that he would not vote to approve any funding for the war. Since he has been in the senate he has voted for funding the war every year. In addition he voted against a time line to bring the troops home.
    As far as his 140 present votes the New York Times has written extensively about this. It is true there are some votes he can explain. However he cast scores of votes on important and controversial issues where he simply did not take a stand because he did not want the issues to hurt him politically. On many occasions he was the only Senator who voted present.
    In the US Senate he has acted similarly. He has missed over 25% of all the votes taken since he has been in the senate. As compared to Clinton who has missed less than 10% of the votes for the same period. In fact on one occasion the Senate was voting to condemn Move On. Org for their add about General Petrious. He was present in the room but bolted when the vote was taken. He was asked about his reason for not voting and his response was there should not have been a vote. Even when he is present he seems to be unable to make a decision on anything controversial. This is not a man of conviction but rather a calculating indecisive Senator who fails to understand that his job is to take positions and vote. Clinton voted against the bill.
    Obhama had the nerve earlier this year to criticize Clintons vote for the Iranian National Guard. I can understand him criticizing the vote if he voted against the bill however once again he failed to vote . In fact he was one of two senators who failed to vote the other Senator was in the hospital.The vote passed with 75 voters supporting it. In addition at the time of the vote he did not seem to have an opinion on the issue and it was not until Edward’s made a flawed argument against this issue that he all of a sudden found her vote outrageous.
    I heard his comment about Reagan because it was played on CNN and he clearly said that he admired Reagan and the Republicans have been the only party with good new ideas in the last 15 or so years. For him to try to say that he found Reagan inspirational for bringing Democrats into the Republican party but he did not agree with Reagan’s ideas was a complete lie. He made that remark because he thought he could attract Independents to vote for him in Nevada and California. When his words blew up in his face he blames the Clintons. Hillary is right he never takes responsibility for his words actions or votes.
    Obhama attempted to smear Clinton with her 2001 vote on the bankruptcy bill. She has said she was wrong to vote yes and was glad when her husband vetoed the bill. However, she learned from her 2001 vote and when a new bankruptcy bill came up in 2005 she voted no and spoke up at the time strongly against it stating how this bill only helps the credit card company and hurts the American people. Obhama voted for the bill and it passed and was signed into law.His excuse yesterday about the 30% interest rate was ridiculous.
    Obhama voted yes on the energy bill which gives billions to the oil company. Clinton voted no on the bill stating the American people do not need to support oil companies.Obhama biggest contributer the Excelon Corporation is an oil company that wants to build nuclear power plants. This bill was very important to Excelon and Obhama’s vote was bought and paid for.
    The statement Clinton said about Martin Luther King and Lyndon Johnson was completely accurate as well. Kings life work was racial equality however he needed a President to use his power to bring forth legislation to make this a reality. Frankly, Kennedy was unable while alive to get this accomplished and it took Johnson arm twisting southern Democrats to get this legislation passed. Obhama knows this but had to attack Clinton implying she is racist. We all know the Clintons are anything but racist. It was a cheap shot to get the black vote. His strategy worked he got the black vote. However what he did not realize was his actions hurt him among white and Hispanic voters.
    Obhama is clearly out of his depth on issues he speaks in generalities and cannot articulate specifics. His attack that both Edward’s and Clinton make Health insurance mandatory as a bad thing. However his plan also makes health insurance mandatory for children and leaves out over 15 million people. In addition both Edward’s and Clinton would pay for insurance for people who cannot afford it. Clinton also explains how this will lower costs for everybody and she would not allow insurance companies to refuse to insure people with pre existing illness. Obhama plans woefully inadequate.Clinton also shows how she will pay for this bill. In fact she shows how she will pay for all of her spending. It is on her website. Clinton is right Obhama has not shown how he will pay for any of his plans. Look on his website.
    I have read recently that his church honored Louis Farekam. I do not believe this is a man that deserves to be honored. Obhama had no problem with this until the press broke the story. Suddenly he said he was against this honor. Why did he not speak out for this at the time? Why didn’t he find another church? One can only conclude his silence about the Farakeim honor speaks volumes and really shows who this man is.
    Obhama sounds like Bush that he is a uniter and can bring us all together. How does he plan to do this? He has shown no ability to accomplish this as a state senator or a US senator. I do agree that he is an inspirational speaker however if you listen to exactly what he says all of his speeches lack substance. They are great speeches for a Preacher but not a President.
    At the last debate he made it clear he thinks the job of the President is to rouse the people however others will run the government. He will hire good people and trust them to do their job especially for all the areas he is not familiar with. Unfortunately that is almost everything. Does this sound like anyone we all know?
    We do need someone who has experience and is proven. President Clinton is right voting for Obhama is a role of the dice and we cannot afford to take such a risk. Clinton is smarter understands how to get things done and is our best chance to reverse all the harm that has been done over the last seven years.

    Reply

  17. leo says:

    I’ve gotten a kick out of the “Iron Chef” stare that Hillary has developed for the debates, how dare Obama trifle with the Master!

    Reply

  18. Kathleen says:

    Ethel S… Yes, it was supposed to be funny and I thought it was. I’d like to see how all three of them dance. I think it tells a lot about a person, like what sport they chose and their approach to life.
    Soo, if Bill Clinton is the first black President, I’ll say Obama is black enough for me.

    Reply

  19. Ethel S says:

    1/22/2008
    I also watched the Dem debate yesterday and was quite surprised with the post-debate coverage of all the critics were lousy except for Rev. and Dr. Dyson. They were great! Would like to see more of their commentaries. No one has appeared to comment on Sen. Obama’s cocky attitude that so reminds me of George W. who would make “funny” remarks on the campaign trail and almost everyone ignored his arrogant attitude only to be surprised later. Although a small item, it really shocked me when the question was asked is Bill Clinton the first black president,and when Sen. Obama said a few luke warm compliments and then went on to say that he would have to further investigate his ability to dance before he would call him a brother. Is that supposed to be funny?

    Reply

  20. Kathleen says:

    I think all three candidates are very adept debaters, but I do think John Edwards was the most mature. He was focused on us, whereas the other two were focused on themselves. That’s a juvenile self-preoccupation.
    Less egocentricity would go a long way in getting us out this mess. Put another way… Edwards seemed more like the head of a family..Hillary and Obama seemed more like squabbling siblings. Who needs it?
    Sooo. If Bill Clinton is the first black president, does that mean Obama IS black enough?
    Just askin’.

    Reply

  21. Ken says:

    Obama did well, very well with the South Carolina audience (who tend to like the “in-your-face” type debate). However, Obama (who threw out the first “personal” attack with the Wal-Mart comment), sullied up his image a bit, which I think hurts him in the long run. The interesting commentary with Obama has been his re-tooled Bush rhetoric of “I’m a uniter not divider”. This debate tarnished that rhetoric, because his attacks on Hillary were less substantive and seemingly more angry, personal, and divisive.

    Reply

  22. Ken says:

    Obama did well, very well with the South Carolina audience (who tend to like the “in-your-face” type debate). However, Obama (who threw out the first “personal” attack with the Wal-Mart comment), sullied up his image a bit, which I think hurts him in the long run. The interesting commentary with Obama has been his re-tooled Bush rhetoric of “I’m a uniter not divider”. This debate tarnished that rhetoric, because his attacks on Hillary were less substantive and seemingly more angry, personal, and divisive.

    Reply

  23. Sam says:

    I have to agree with most everything you’ve said here. I’m a Barack fan, but I find that he is a much slower learner than I hoped when it came to debates. His lack of detail is stunning in most cases, especially against Hillary, and he always seems so tentative. He’s improved over the 17 debates that we’ve had, but I haven’t really seen him “win” a single one of them. That will be a problem in the national race, where the debates take on far more significance

    Reply

  24. HH says:

    Yes! a harridan screaks and proves my point. Let the sqreaking begin into a final crescendo of males breaking voting machines as they forcefully press for McCain. In the last throes of this election the sound will be like a Frank Purdue hen house at full pitch! OMFG!

    Reply

  25. CarolinaGirl says:

    The sexism demonstrated in this thread is a big reason Hillary is going to win this election. (Besides the fact that she is best able to kick Republican butt in November from an unashamedly Democratic platform.)
    Both women and men of quality are sick of it. My husband has been more disgusted than I am, if possible, at the nastiness coming out of the woodwork in the American male psyche during this primary.

    Reply

  26. FaceOnMars says:

    The first thing which came to mind when I only saw three podiums was whether Dennis K. had dropped out? Of course, I quickly realized it was more of the same propping by the party and media to maintain centrist integrity. The dems have had ample opportunity to develop a spine since ’06, but nothin’ doin’… rather more of the same staking out “safe middle ground”.
    I’m actually not a Dennis K. supporter, but do embrace many of his ideas & feel it’s a travesty not to include him (or any other candidate still hanging in there – regardless of whether it’s by a toenail). This travesty is at least two-fold:
    1.) Displaces the power of choice from the American people to that of the media giants and the key players in the democratic party.
    2.) Shuns those in the party who wholeheartedly embrace more extreme positions.
    If the dems believe they can spoon feed me a so-called choice, they have another thing coming. The same holds true on the GOP side with Ron Paul. I’m not registered in any party and will excercise my choice. The choice may be the same as in 2000, Ralph Nader … if he decides to run, or another indy such as Bloomberg, or simply support the Liberatarian party.
    I did vote for Kerry/Edwards in ’04 as a tactical decision in light of the greater need to extract Bush from office; however, I’ll be damned if this time around a “spoiler” isn’t in the cards … as ANYONE on either side of the aisle will be better than Bush. In my opinion, the system needs to be “unfixed” first at every opportunity, and I believe we’re looking at a window of opportunity.
    It’s interesting to note the growing impact of the Internet on the election process. It’s currently breaking into the “market”, yet big media still has a tight grip on a lot of the mainstream flow of info to the masses. It will be interesting to see if the internet can leverage more power to the people over the next 10-20 years? It has just dawned on my why net neutrality is a force the status quo may be very weary of … it’s a threat to their existing power base.

    Reply

  27. PissedOffAmerican says:

    HH…..
    Well, after all, she hasn’t told us if she can fry a decent skillet of okra or not. And did Bill stray for some strange mouth because the missus don’t do dat? I mean hey, if we gotta put up with the bitching, its only fitting we get something in return, eh?
    Yep, lets put Walnuts in office, now theres a real Joe.

    Reply

  28. HH says:

    Altmann, I take it from your post that you are an elderly man whose generation viscerally recoils from female bitching. You likely come from a day when firm push of a grapefruit into a females face was acceptable to halt that high pitched harrying that sends males into fits of rage and the weaker ones into submission. Males wish for it only to stop; some reacting with violence while others relent to get some peace.
    But, sir, the common American male voting population of today are weaklings in the face of feminine ferocity compared to your generation. A sad state of affairs. Thus, I think the election may be closer than you think since your typical male voter has been accustomed to daily haranguing, and will likely buckle under to pressure of females in their lives as they screech and squeal to another anticipated female victory, the biggest yet.
    Fear not, sir. What will carry the day in November is a backlash by some males when they close that voting booth curtain and surreptitiously vote for McCain, a man’s man, something they are not, and these rebellious males will pad McCain’s margin of victory.
    The Greatest Generation has little time left to teach the modern male what it is to be a real man. You and your type, sir, are fading into the ages. Let’s have one last hurrah with a President McCain, a real man who can serve as an example, like Ronald Reagan did, to a generation of males on the verge of being fully emasculated.

    Reply

  29. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Amazing, all of you talk about this circus as if its all above board and valid.
    Start reading, and don’t stop until you get to the day prior to New Hampshire. If you aren’t convinced this whole thing is a sham by then, you’re an idiot…..
    http://www.blackboxvoting.org/
    An excerpt….
    “What they did last night, with the incoming batch that we had photographed in the field, was roll them into the counting room. We waited. The handful of officials waited. These officials included Secretary of State Bill Gardner, Head of the Archive building Frank Mevers, Assistant secretary of state David Scanlan, Ballot transport drivers “Butch and Hoppy” (whose names are really Armand and Peter); Kucinich representatives Manny and Pat, a secretary of state assistant named, I think, Karen Hand.
    They waited. We waited. It was very odd, to me at least. The ballots were sitting in the middle of the counting room, all these officials were standing around talking quietly with each other. I assumed they were waiting for something, results sheets perhaps. I decided to stay with video ready until the ballots were wheeled back to the vault.
    One of the transport guys, “Hoppy” I think, then said that the ballots would not be taken to the vault that night because it was “closed” — implying that whoever had the key was no longer there. Frank Mevers had the key. But I saw Frank Mevers. And the ballots had been moved to the vault even later the night before, because counting teams had stayed and counted up until about 7 pm.
    So Sally and I waited. They affixed one of these post-it peelable labels on each front door and said everyone will leave out the back door and the order was given for all to leave. We filed out the back door. I asked Secretary of State Bill Gardner why there was a change in procedure. He did not answer. I asked him again. After about three tries, he just said “it’s secure.”
    The handful of officials and the two Kucinich people hung around the back door. I asked more questions about why the ballots were being left in a room with no key card. They put one of the label stickers over the door and said “it’s secure.” I continued to wait with this small group of people. Finally they told us to leave and everyone left the building.
    We got in our car and drove a ways away. Most of the people left. Bill Gardner and Anthony Stevens stayed around for a while, standing outside the loading bay talking. Then they left.
    The upshot: The ballots we had videotaped in the van being transported, which arrived intact without slits, were not taken to the vault and were not kept in a location requiring keycard access last night (except that entering the building itself requires a keycard)
    * * * * *
    To put my concerns about this in context:
    Paddy Shaffer and I arrived at the archive building on Tuesday afternoon prepared to videotape incoming ballots as they came in that afternoon and throughout the night. We were told the (in my opinion) contrived story that no videotaping would be permitted because mental patients from a hospital about a block away might wander into the parking lot/loading area. We made a point of pressuring Bill Gardner to have this ban lifted.
    They had clearly been planning for ballots to begin arriving Tuesday. I asked Frank Mevers, head of the archive building, if he could walk us through the observation area where the ballot intake process would take place. At that point he went into the back, had a long phone call, and came out saying they wouldn’t be delivering the ballots that night.”

    Reply

  30. Nobcentral says:

    I missed the first part of the debate which is unfortunate as my concerns are more about international policy than domestic policy (and there is a greater difference between the 3 candidates on FP). From what I’ve read, HRC merely reinforced her stance as the most hawkish of the 3 and that makes me nervous. None of them really have much in the way of FP experience but what I’ve seen from HRC both in voting records and in debates/speeches aren’t good.
    In general, I thought there were 2 Hillary’s out there last night. One Hillary was the strong, commanding, dynamic policy wonk who I found to be very compelling. Had that been the only Hillary on stage, I would easily give her the win.
    The other Hillary was the “win at all means” record distorting politico that I found to be a total turnoff. I really think that if Hillary were to stick to her message she would win this going away because, on the message, she is quite strong. But every time she drops down into the gutter and spins a half-truth (see Reagan comments) as an indict on Obama I get visions of Swift-boating Republicans. I don’t want my next president to share the characteristics of Karl Rove and George Bush.
    That being said, I think Obama kind of fell into the trap. His entire campaign is based on staying above the fray and working for cooperation, not confrontation. And when HRC deliberately spins half-truths and he jumps down into the gutter in response, it sort of invalidates his primary message. In this, I think the HRC team outflanked Obama last night.
    The Rezko issue was one in which he had a chance to really show his “I’m above the gutter” stripes and failed. He should have just told the truth – “I’m sure all of us, including Sen Clinton, have over the years had friends or associates who have engaged in less than scrupulous behavior that we only learned after the fact. I am no different. I met Mr. Rezko and did do some work for his company at one time. However, I was in the State Legislature when he became an alleged ‘slum lord’. My opponent seems to believe that these types of attacks are something that the American people will respond to. I have a different view. I think we’ve heard enough false truths over the last 7 years and I belive that the American people are ready for a more refreshing view of politics – a politics of truth.” Etc.
    Ronald Reagan had “there you go again”. Obama needs something like that. He needs to remind audiences that HRC is mimicking Bush-Rove style politics and that’s not for us. Every time he fails to do that, he loses the power of his rhetoric. I did think his line about her on the Board of Walmart was pretty strong though.
    Ultimately, I’d give a tactical victory to HRC and a draw on the substance. Some of this stuff comes down to a difference in philosophy (i.e. mandate or no) but in general, both had strong moments, both had zingers, and both conveyed a strong message. But HRC got Obama dirty and that’s bad for his overall campaign theme. That being said, she’ll still lose SC but it might not matter in the long run.
    Last, the dumbest question of the night: Was Bill Clinton the first black president?

    Reply

  31. John Robert BEHRMAN says:

    That Blitzer Question
    This debate could have had a clear winner last night:
    Whoever had responded to that question by ridiculing Blitzer, “the worst question in the history of televised debates”, refusing to answer, and daring the other two candidates to take Blitzer’s bait.

    Reply

  32. pauline says:

    Steve,
    Last night I expected HRC to show her angriness, rage, grudge, malice and venom, and she didn’t disappoint. The audience booed at several of her sharp-tongued criticisms. Is this the kind of demeanor you want from a so-called frontrunner??
    Edwards continued to play his one note horn on poverty, but, he won’t be around in the last rounds of this fight.
    O’man, at least imo came across a tad more mature and above the verbal fray and he tried to offer a wider vision of hope, not anger.

    Reply

  33. Daryl says:

    Altmann:
    They said the same thing about New York when she won 62 out of 64 counties.
    There’s a relentless style that at times infuriates people but don’t underestimate the impact.
    America loves a fighter. People might not like her but they admire toughness no matter the candidate.

    Reply

  34. Altmann says:

    Hillary’s a Bitch. Bitch, bitch, bitching, the scraping of fingernails on a blackboard, is how she could NEVER win nationally. There are plenty of people who could vote for a Democrat, but never for Hillary just because of lasting first impressions that she perpetuates with her very being. Get used to McCain being the next President, the man who’ll get the vote of those who could vote Democrat, but never Hillary. Spare yourselves the gut wrenching pain this process brings to progressives and be resigned to fate, to extinction from holding the Executive office.
    I’m not a troll, just a progressive who is facing the facts enlightened by a long life and much experience. Sorry.

    Reply

  35. MarkL says:

    Several problems for Obama:
    He outright lied about what he said in the Reno interview about Reagan.
    Rezko came up—that’s bad news. Frankly, I don’t understand how ANYONE can consider Obama a suitable nominee given that he got over $700,000 off on his home and property through two deals with Rezko.
    Hello? Appearance of corruption, or at least incredible stupidity?
    I am very glad that Hillary brought up Rezko, because that association will damage Obama in the general.
    Obama’s answer on credit cards is another problem.

    Reply

  36. JoeCHI says:

    After last night, I’m convinced that Obama could NEVER withstand the full onslaught of the GOP attack machine.

    Reply

  37. jerry says:

    Talk about avoiding pundit’s opinions… this is a puff piece for Hillary! In her case “tough” means attacking Obama with insubstantial and inflammatory charges – following up on the embarrassing and un-Presidential lead of her husband.

    Reply

  38. Susie from Philly says:

    Steve, you’re flat-out wrong on the subprime mortgage issue. Surveys are turning up a consistent pattern: even high-earning minorities – people who were qualified for standard mortgages – were instead steered into the higher-profit subprime market.
    I’m surprised you don’t already know this. The City of Baltimore is using the data as the basis for a lawsuit against subprime lenders.

    Reply

  39. lostarealfortune says:

    everybody in washington knows three things about mark halperin 1) he hates the clintons, 2) he very much wants to play the role of “kingmaker” journalist (see the new yorker article on his attempts to do so in 2004 via his perch at The Note) and 3) that the combination of his off-the-hook temper and elastic relationship with the truth make him a very nasty person to deal with.

    Reply

  40. Dirk says:

    Steve, Your comment that “First, I was miffed at Obama and Edwards for their ignorance or purposeful duplicity about the subprime home mortgage crisis. They both said that African-Americans were perniciously targeted by lenders.”
    seems to me to be off the mark. Lenders may not at first have targeted low income minorities but once the “system” was established and they could see no repercussions to lending to high risk loaners they went after them with gusto.
    This post on Kevin Drum’s site has an excellent explanation of how the system was established:
    http://tinyurl.com/yntoog

    Reply

  41. Davidson says:

    Norman Hsu also donated money to Obama, I believe, since he was a major Democratic donor.
    Edwards was the winner of the debate for obvious reasons, but I doubt he’ll enjoy its rewards due to his lack of viability as a national candidate, so it comes down to who got the most mileage out of this debate between Obama and Clinon.
    Obama did well overall but two mistakes stuck out. One, he triggered an all-out brawl with Clinton by hijacking a question about $50B unaccounted for in his plan (which he never answered). Bringing up his Reagan remarks, in which he clearly perpetuated GOP myths, only served to continue his association with Reagan, especially since he framed it as proving a false negative (impossible). And lying about those remarks won’t help him with the base (Obama never said during that interview that he wanted to build a progressive working majority; the whole interview was “interpreting” the Reagan years on GOP terms).
    Two, he failed to demonstrate a command or competence on health care when Edwards and Clinton rightly attacked his policy and his attempt to paint theirs as flawed; and on the economy, in which he seemed to ramble.
    Hillary surprised me with her great defense, counter attacks, and competence on health care, in which she showed great fight (HRC: prepared to “go to the mat”), and her economic stimulus plan (Read the NYT article). She made a major mistake towards the end when Edwards rightly called her out on her corporate lobbyist nonsense; and when she insisted that her national security experience would help her with McCain (I don’t see that). Overall she held her own, got some shots in, and presented herself as competent. Obama may have won this battle (to others), but Hillary set herself well to win the war.
    Also: all should be applauded for ending the debate on a good note for all Democrats. When they began to discuss how their candidacies were living proof of Democratic principles, they truly hit a home run.

    Reply

  42. Joe M. says:

    Hello Mr. Clemons,
    I watched the debate as well. and while I agree with you that it felt that Clinton seemed very powerful in the debate, and she seemed to “win” it, I want to disagree with you on how. From my what I saw, it seemed that she never talked about the specifics of any issue and only stuck to generalities. At least Obama and Edwards showed that they understood their own positions on the health care or economic policy. If you watch the debate closely you will notice that Clinton never talked about the details of any issue. She would criticize some aspect of Bush or Obama’s policy, and then move directly into generalities. Granted that there not so vague to be off the subject she was usually talking about, but unlike Obama and Edwards she never once explained any details.
    This worries me. I feel it is an expression that she is not nearly as clear on her positions as one may think.
    Also, is it possible for you to make it more obvious when one comment stops and another begins? it is hard to tell.

    Reply

  43. KathyF says:

    Obama, and lots of others, including Robert Reich, don’t believe that mandates are a good way to cover everyone. So why would he change his health care plan, unless he simply wants to shut up all the naysayers like you and Krugman?
    Are you asking him to go against his beliefs on the best way to achieve health care in order to make you and all the others happy?
    And quit mischaracterizing it as “not covering everyone”. His plan will offer affordable coverage to everyone who wants it, period. There are plenty of people who won’t choose to buy health care, and that’s fine. He’s said they’ll be penalized when they eventually do opt in.
    I really don’t understand what you wish he would do, except cave in the face of misinformation from the other side. Would you respect him in the morning if he did?

    Reply

  44. Bill R. says:

    Deftness in debate performance is a poor predictor of election outcomes. What Americans vote on is whether they like or trust the public persona of the candidate they see. Tonight Hillary scored her points as per usual, but she reinforced every reason why many, if not most, Americans will not consider voting for her. I might add she and her husband have also made it impossible for an alliance with Obama and his supporters on a Clinton ticket, should he not be the nominee.
    As for Obama’s Christian testimony, good for him! It’s good for the country to see that Democrats are not all a bunch of religion-hating secularists. It is also forced on him by those hateful e-mails going around claiming he’s the Manchurian candidate Muslim.

    Reply

  45. Jason says:

    One positive thing that came from it is that the differences between Clinton and Obama’s political worldviews became much more distinct. This quote from the debate is telling:
    CLINTON: “Now, I’m just saying that if we’re going to be hurling these charges against one another, I’m used to taking the incoming fire. I’ve taken it for 16 years. But when you get into this arena, you can’t expect to have a hands-off attitude about your record. And it is perfectly fair to have comparisons and contrasts.”
    For Clinton, politics is a rough and messy world where idealism is for the naive and sometimes you have to be brutal to enact your own agenda. The world is filled with political enemies, and one needs to match them with the same level of ferociousness and political calculation to survive. She is capable of compromising but tends to do so out of necessity, not desire. She would be content with 51% support if she could still get what she wants. The ends justifies the means when the ends are just.
    For Obama, the ends are directly connected to the means. He believes that the best way to generate political results is to inspire public support and to convince one’s opponent rather than straight-arm them. His style is a mix of the principles of leadership and mediation. 51% would be a political failure, and likely a rarity as this style is dependent on generating significant support from a variety of groups.
    I think each style has its drawbacks and benefits. Sen. Clinton’s style is effective and practical, yet its harsh, combative nature generates ill will and long-term enemies that arguably do the party and the country more harm in the long run. Sen. Obama’s style is potentially as effective without generating the divisiveness and poisoning of the country’s political will, yet it takes much more finesse and skill to execute properly, and has more room to fail.
    What is the better style? I don’t think there is an answer. I suspect it depends on the political mood of the country, the makeup of Congress, and the major issues facing the President. Ideally, a candidate would be able to both inspire and be tough-minded when needed, but that’s a balancing act few politicians seem capable of pulling off.

    Reply

  46. Flora Steele says:

    Is there a typo here? Obama is the one who is reaching way way toward right wingers, talking about bi-partisanship and getting past the fights of the 90s, bringing GOP over for a new coalition, Obamacrats a la Reagan Democrats.
    Hillary is the one who is called divisive, too much of a fighter (though she has reached across the aisle to get a lot of specific things done; health insurance etc).
    Of course the main thing is that Obama can’t win in November: the GOP would swiftboat him alive. After he’s better known, he might have a chance in 2016, if Hillary cleans up Bush Jr’s mess first (including voting process).

    Reply

  47. a-sow says:

    I love the fact that you bring up the “filter” issue. I watched tonight’s debate with 2 other people and I was amazed at how differently we perceived some things.
    Even though I am a big Hillary fan, I think John Edwards shined in the first half of the debate by separating himself from the Obama/Clinton bickering. It was also good to see him side with Hillary on some issues. I think his loss in Nevada might have helped him loosen up so he seemed more comfortable.
    All that said I was glad to see Hillary heat up and press on against Obama. Team Clinton is good at minimizing Obama’s accomplishments and I think that her going off into attack mode is a pre-emptive strike at his possible victory in South Carolina.
    I loved Edwards predicting McCain as the Republic nominee. Methinks Chuck Norris disagrees.

    Reply

  48. Kate in Michigan says:

    Every time I see these Democratic candidates I can’t get over how well they speak, how intelligent they all are, and how quick their minds are . . . particularly when compared with George Bush . . . . who seems to get worse and worse as time goes on, as witnessed by his latest performance in the Middle East . . . .

    Reply

  49. Mike Treder says:

    Steve, that gets to one of my main concerns about Obama, which is that he may be too cerebral to make a strong president. He can see and articulate nuance — a trait I greatly admire — but there are many times, as you know, when fine distinctions just fall flat in Washington.
    I worry that while Obama is speaking in soaring rhetoric or intoning in lofty metaphors, the real work of getting things done may not happen. Clinton, by contrast, seems ready to wade in with sleeves rolled up and do the work.
    My dilemma is that I want the vision of Barack and the grit of Hillary and can’t get both in one package. When forced to choose on Feb 5, however, I will likely go with Obama, because in the end I don’t feel that I can trust Clinton not to make unacceptable accommodations with the right wingers.

    Reply

  50. Dan Kervick says:

    Steve, even though I am not a religious person myself, I am delighted that the Democrats finally have a candidate who can speak credibly and authentically to believing Christians, and not surrender the religious dimension of American politics to right-wingers. The Democratic default position of unremitting secularism has allowed Republicans to prey for a few decades now on Christian voters, and the properly Christian messages of peace, social justice, universal brotherhood and care for the weak and poor have been almost driven from the public sphere by the acolytes of the “muscular Jesus” with their fanatical intolerance, backward fundamentalism, pre-scientific ignorance, and hateful resentments.

    Reply

  51. Steve Clemons says:

    Mike — I guess she’s making him pay for the sound bite he created, sort of like she had to pay for the illegal immigrant/driver’s license issue (maybe this is a bad analogy)….
    It’s hard for me to know who to fault in Obama’s comments about Reagan and Republicans. Jim Clyburn tonight — while telling Bill Clinton to cool it — turned his attention to Obama and agreed with him that “Reagan was transformational” but in all the wrong ways. Clyburn said that it would behoove Obama to be a little less enthusiastic when using the word transformational and Reagan in the same sentence as it sounded to Clyburn as if Obama was paying tribute to Reagan — not saying he took the country in the wrong direction.
    So, maybe we all just misunderstood Obama — but if the House Majority Whip did — then Obama made a mistake which Hillary Clinton exploited dramatically. And this is all completely beside the point that Obama may have meant nothing of the sort.
    best, Steve

    Reply

  52. Mike Treder says:

    Hillary Clinton is very smart and polished, an immensely skilled debater, and likely will make a fine President if elected. But it drives me nuts when she deliberately distorts her opponent’s positions, such as claiming tonight that Obama said he “really liked the ideas of the Republicans over the last 10 to 15 years.” That’s a complete falsehood and she knows it. Why must she stoop so low?

    Reply

  53. Steve Clemons says:

    Thanks Dan for the thoughtful, serious note. It really does intrigue me that people can watch the same event and exchange and just see different things. There was a guy on CNN tonight, just after Mark Halperin who said the bickering between Obama and Clinton gave the day to John Edwards. I didn’t see that at all.
    But in any case, all I can do is call what I saw and describe how I saw it so that it doesn’t look completely anti-empirical….but you’ve done something similar, which I respect.
    Another thing I really did not like was Obama’s talking about church, God, and Jesus Christ.
    I want to hear a candidate say that it is fine that we have a Muslim President, or an atheist President, or a Buddhist. . .
    I was turned off by the religion angle, which I left out of my post.
    But wanted to be up front about my filters. I don’t think Obama lost big — but I do think he performed less well than Hillary.
    But fascinating that you think he stopped her momentum tonight…..don’t think I agree.
    I think that there is a chance that he could win South Carolina and then lose February 5th because of his comment about illegal aliens and health care. . .
    More later — need to sleep!
    All the best,
    Steve Clemons

    Reply

  54. Dan Kervick says:

    Well, you know I have my favorites, Steve, but I thought Clinton was dreadful tonight and really hurt herself with a thoroughly undignified, nasty and un-presidential performance. She was caught up several times in the transparently slick distortions she and Bill have been trying to peddle. The Clinton’s whole tactical approach has been based on the sense that Obama is running a national unity campaign and won’t fight back hard, so she and Bill can get away with saying just about anything they want. Well Obama did fight back tonight, and as a result Clinton looked small, deceitful, weak, fearful and ridiculous.
    She tried to sell the idea once again that she is somehow best positioned to lead on national security and debate McCain on the issues, and finally Obama decided to remind everyone that Clinton has been Bush-lite for six years, and putting up a “yes, but” Democrat is no way to challenge the Republican national security frame. And he got back to talking about Iran, where Clinton has also positioned herself in the Bushian camp.
    Sure, Clinton always has a few good memorized news items or wonky bullet points up her sleeve. She is very clever in the low, calculating bureaucratic sense. But she really has no global vision or imagination, no trace of the higher and more elevated intellectual functions, and in the end is just a pandering tool of the times in which she lives.
    I think Obama reversed two weeks of Clinton momentum tonight, and the Clintons are back on their heels.

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