Liveblogging the Democratic Debate Posted by: McQ
on Thursday, February 21, 2008
Live, from Austin Texas, it's the Hill and Barry show.
Huge ovations for both of the candidates as they enter. Okay, the photo op is over and we begin the fun. CNN's Campbell Brown says there are no hard and fast rules, just a conversation. Yeah, we'll see.
8:06 - Hillary waxes nostalgic about her first political job registering voters in south Texas. A little name-dropping (Barbara Jordan) of notable Texans. And did you know that 350,000 Texas children a month get health care because she started children's health care.
"We can do better than what we found at Water Reed" - she's on a veteran's riff. Of course they've (meaning government) never done better but the promises never end.
8:10 - Obama's turn. "We are a nation at war and our economy is in shambles". Now he's on the predatory loan riff. It is also victim time. No one ever talks about those who've overcome hardship and done well. Instead we get the "victim" stories.
8:12 - Whoa ... what's with Hillary? A fixed smile while Obama talks, and blink, blink, blink, blink. She hasn't looked away from him yet.
OK, opening statements over. Now questions.
8:14 - Ah, the Cuba question. Would you meet with Raul Castro?
Hillary - you bet, once the Cubans demonstrate a move toward democracy and freedom. In reality she's saying "no" since all of us know change isn't going to happen. Ah, now, when asked specifically "would you meet with him", she says "no, not unless there are changes".
Obama - You said you'd meet, will you still do that? Yes, without preconditions but there has to be "preparations" - freedom of press, human rights, etc.
That's trying to have it both ways folks.
Wants to loosen travel restrictions and remittances. But no normalized relations until he saw changes.
Bush, Bush, Bush ...
Clinton: Era of unilateralism and arrogance is over ...
Obama: President should take a much more active role in diplomacy because of the damage the Bush administration has done.
8:23 - Economy. How would a Prez Obama be different from a Prez Clinton in managing the economy?
Who the hell wants a president managing the economy?
Obama: Restore a sense of fairness and balance in our economy. No tax breaks for companies shipping jobs overseas. Roll back tax cuts to rich.
Trade - strong labor, environmental and safety standards.
Green economy. 1 billion to foreign economies (oil) should be spent on jobs and technologies here.
Changes will only come about if we can form a working coalition for change which excludes special interests and lobbyists.
Clinton: Day one on the economy - rid tax code of loopholes and special benefits. Pretty much the same thing as Obama.
Trade - Same as Obama with a "trade timeout" for assessment. Plus a trade "prosecutor" to enforce trade agreements.
Foreclosure - crack down on abusive lenders and moratorium on foreclosures. Ah - more victim stories to underscore the point. 90 day freeze.
8:31 - Immigration.
Clinton: Talking about anchor babies and deportation of illegal parents. "Comprehensive immigration reform". Bad employers (crack down on the exploiters). Oh, good, and she'll help Mexico create more jobs for their citizens. And, of course, a path to citizenship introduced in the first 100 days of her presidency.
Obama: Same as Clinton. Says "tone down the rhetoric". Comprehensive immigration reform. Now we're into a little of the politics of fear (discrimination against those with Hispanic surnames).
Fix the legal immigration system (hey, something I agree with - it needs to be streamlined and speeded up). Improve relationship with Mexico.
Bush, Bush, Bush ...
8:36 - Border fence. National sovereignty. Sen. Clinton you voted for the fence. Will you build it?
Clinton: Ah, well, Bush, Bush, Bush.
We need to review this. Some places a physical barrier makes sense. Hmmm ... as I recall, nothing ruled out a "virtual fence" in the original plan.
"I think when I voted for this I was voting for that sort of a fence."
Lord, she was fooled again.
Deploy more personnel and technology instead of a physical fence.
Obama: Clinton and I agree. Bush, Bush, Bush. Pass the DREAM act. Next!
8:43 - Is there a problem with the US becoming bi-lingual?
Clinton: English should remain our common unifying language. That's how immigrants have become a part of America. But doesn't want to see English be the "official" language. Hmmm, one of the few things she's not really willing to make a law.
Obama: Important that everyone learn English and that's a unifying language. Bi-lingual education? Sure. Children should learn a second language. Failure of NCLB - Bush, Bush, Bush, tests, Bush. Don't forget it was Teddy Kennedy's wet dream.
Commercial break ...
Gotta tell you, if this was supposed to be a break-out for Hillary Clinton, it isn't working. What is obvious, however, is there isn't a dime's worth of difference between the two and the rock star, and not the technocrat, is the one who is going to win.
8:51 - Question about campaign rhetoric. Talk v. action. All hat and no cattle.
Clinton: Said it about Bush. [Really?] Claims that their campaign has been very civil, but it's true that she's the one with solutions.
Ah, the "name one accomplishment" bit. You knew she'd use it.
Obama: Yes, actions do speak louder than words, and his actions over his 20 years of public service have had much action. Now we're into the litany, as spare as it is.
Wounded warriors - had to pay for meals and phone calls, until Obama came along. [Heh ... yeah, not exactly.]
Claims Clinton has implied that those who support him are delusional. [She may have a point].
Difference between Clinton and Obama is Obama can "inspire" people to work for change.
8:58 - Plagiarism.
Obama: Yes, two lines, words matter, Patrick is his National co-chair who suggested he use the words. Silly season in politics. Forget all of that, how are we going to make college affordable, etc. Not just hope and inspiration but a $4,000 tax credit to make college affordable. Specific, concrete proposals, not just words.
Clinton: If you candidacy is about words, they should be your words.
Clinton talks about the "YouTube" vids of the comparison.
She's back on the "work hard" schtick. Now she's contrasting her "universal" health care system with his voluntary system. Bush, Bush, Bush.
Obama: Health care programs are basically the same. Philosophical difference - mandated vs. voluntary. Different ways of getting there.
—- commercial break
Even with the fireworks, nothing much for Clinton here.
Both the fighters are back in the middle of the ring and we continue.
9:11 - Standing O for the candidates as we come out of the break. Very enthusiastic crowd.
Obama not ready to be commander-in-chief?
Clinton: I'm ready, but let's go back to health care. Nobody happy with that move.
Mandates are a must!! [Lord spare us]. She's reduced to quoting John Edwards. What if Social Security was voluntary [oh, I can dream].
Obama: Not a mandate on government to provide it, it is a mandate on citizens to get it. Uses MA system as a mandated system failing.
Clinton: Victim stories. Obama has a mandate on parents to get insurance for their children and a fine.
Back to the commander-in-chief question. Is Obama not ready?
First lady stuff transformed into "foreign affairs" experience. Not convincing at all. Not answering the question yet. Ah, now its about "presidential leadership". Much more defining than "c-i-c". Kosovo, Pakistan, Cuba - I'm the one - Bush, Bush, Bush.
Obama: My number 1 job as prez is to keep America safe and I will do what is necessary to keep America safe. See previous victory speech. Bush, Bush, Bush, end the war in Iraq.
He knew a Captain who only had 29 of his platoon in Afghanistan because 15 were sent to Iraq.
I'm throwing the BS flag. Captains don't lead platoons and platoons aren't split as they're integral parts of companies (which is what Captains command). Yeah, he knows his military.
On to Clinton and her words to Petraeus. Is Iraq better off today than it was before the surge?
Ah, surge gave us a "tactical advantage" but hasn't provided the outcome for which it was designed.
So she's now talking about withdrawing troops in 60 days. She's simply ignoring any of the governmental progress recently noted. She'd pull 1 to 2 Bdes a month. "Not in the interest of America or the Iraqis to be there. It is up to the Iraqis to decide what type of country they'll have."
Obama: "Tactical victory imposed on a huge strategic blunder".
Another indication that he's not ready for prime-time as Cdr-in-chief.
Again, not much here for Clinton to change the way the primaries are going for her.
9:32 - Q: Earmarks - Obama 91 mil. Refused to say where it went?
Big smile then a "no, that's not true, we've disclosed where it went." Launches into his standard "transparency in government" schtick.
342 billion for Clinton. How about it Ms. Fiscal Responsiblity?
Oh, well John McCain supports the Bush tax cuts. Bush, Bush, tax cuts, Bush, budget surplus, Bush.
Bush, Bush, Bush, outsourcing government, Bush, fiscally irresponsible, Bush. See my economic blueprint.
Q: Super Delegates.
Clinton: Rules, will sort it out. Unified Democratic party.
Obama: Will of the voters be what "ultimately determines who our next nominee will be".
Victim stories. Dems can summon a sense of common purpose.
Yeah, and a common purse, huh?
Q: Leadership. Who's ready? Judgment - what is the moment that tested you the most.
Obama: No single moment. Trajectory of my life. Into "single mom" story, mistakes, off course. Most important thing is learning to take responsibility for my own actions, etc. Back into stump speech. Eh. Pretty much dodged the question.
Clinton: "I think everyone here knows I've lived through some crisis and challenging moments in my life"!
Heh ... well there's that.
Now she's into dodging the question as well. Victim stories. Faith. Upbringing. Blessings. Total dodge.
Love fest. Oh, man, she's toast. It's almost like she's saying goodbye.
It is mercifully over. The expected standing "O".
Gotta tell you folks - a fairly standard performance for both with a small spike of excitement. Not what the Clinton candidacy needed.