Friday, February 01, 2008

Thoughts on Tonight's Debate

As I did last night for the GOP debate, I liveblogged tonight's Obama-Clinton face-off at the Kodak Theater for Mahalo. It seemed, to me anyway, that Clinton walked away with the victory tonight.

Not that Obama did poorly. In fact, he made some excellent points I had never heard him make before, which is more than you can say for any of the Republicans. (Ron Paul made some excellent points last night, but they're the same excellent points he interjects whenever moderators give him a moment to actually speak).

I think Obama's answer tonight on immigration is my favorite statement on the topic from anyone in this presidential race thus far. (He actually implied that moderator Wolf Blitzer was "scapegoating" illegal immigrants for problems that aren't their fault. Face!) I don't like his health care plan all that much, but I agree with him that forcing everyone to buy insurance, even if you make it less expensive, isn't the way to go. And unlike Clinton, who hedges on the war and still can't help but talk about the Middle East like a Republican, I believe he's sincere when he says he will get us out of Iraq quickly and avoid "mission creep."

But still...just about every single major argument you could make against nominating Clinton was made tonight at the Kodak, and she came off really really well anyway. People get so caught up in what people say about Hillary Clinton, they forget about the fact that she'd have to be extremely good at what she does to inspire such animosity in the first place. There's a reason she and Bill have long been considered "unbeatable" in a major election. Cause they're almost unbeatable.

To me, the Big Question for which she's never had a good answer is the Clinton Dynasty one. "Why should we elect the former First Lady of a decent but not-terribly-distinguished administration when what the country so desperately wants is to change course and try a new strategy?" If ever there were an awkward time to try a husband-and-wife Presidential pair, it's right after we gave this miserable father-and-son duo a try.

Her answer tonight was...not much to speak of, really. She wants to be judged on her merits, not because of her husband. It's a non-answer. But she still sold it, and I came away from the debate tonight thinking that this was pretty much a non-issue, something that won't stick in a general. Because even though I find her answer unsatisfying, she's probably right - I doubt most people will make the decision to vote for or against Hillary Clinton based on this question, and this is ultimately a symbolic point that lacks pragmatic implications. Should she win the nomination, voters in November will decide whether or not they care for the woman and her policies and select a president accordingly. She's already received the benefit of being a former First Lady - massive fame and notoriety. That's it's up to whether or not she can out-argue Obama (and later, maybe Romney or McCain. Or, and I hope I'm wrong about this, Bloomberg.)

Otherwise, Obama barely made a dent. HilRod ably managed to shift most of the blame for Iraq on to Bush and paint herself as the dutiful public servant misled by an untrustworthy, unpredictable superior. Going so far as to call Bush "obsessed" with Iraq was a clever move. This isn't about her voting for war all the time, which she does. It's really about Bush's personal insanity. She has Obama speaking her language about the war, not the other way around.

This isn't entirely Clinton's doing. The way Wolf Blitzer phrased the questions started with some of her pre-assumptions, including that the Glorious Surge of Saint Petraeus was a grand idea that's working extremely well. But still, it helps her. Clinton's savvy enough in her evasiveness, Obama can't really find any daylight between their positions (even though I sense there would be a HUGE difference in the approach of an Obama or Clinton Administration). So he's reduced to making arguments that are essentially silly. "I'll be able to say to a Republican that I opposed the war all along, whereas she can only say that she opposes it now."

So maybe they won't call you a flip-flopper. But the Republicans will just come up with some other stupid chant for the yokels. That's what they always do, and it's how they win. And it's not like there'd be any lack of cheap ammunition against the first serious black presidential candidate among the mouth-breathers. The drawling simpletons in Dumbfuckistan already delight in calling him Barack HUSSEIN Obama and spreading gossip about him being a drug-dealing pimp. So what if he has a slightly better zinger than Hillary on one debate question? Is that really the best case he can make for himself?


acecorn said...

I too thought Clinton won the debate last night. She appeared more relaxed and Presidential.I only wish that when the VP running mate question came up she would have said, 'I can assure you of one thing, I will be seeking someone who does not enjoy close range shotgun maneuvers."

Chris said...

I somewhat disagree with your assessment that her time as first lady will be a non-issue. If she is the nominee and eventual president...I cannot take 4 years of dredging up past scandals plus the fact that every single tiny misstep she might make will be blown into full scale round-the-clcok scandal. You really can't debate that she is a very divisive figure which is exactly what we don't need right now. It's kinda like she is the right candidate at the wrong time...the worst possible time in fact. Having her as president will just lead to four years or the right trying to get revenge and nothing will get done.

Personally, I don't want to vote for her based on what I have seen from her campaign. She lost in Iowa and stood up there with Bill, Madelain Albright and a host of early 90's retreads. Exit polls showed people wanted change and that young voters were out in force. So what does she do...leading up to NH she changed her campaigh signs from saying "ready to lead" to "ready for change". She wins NH and behind her is the University of NH student body. This, to me, confirms that she is someone who will lead based on polls and focus groups. She said in her NH victory speech that she "finally found her voice". Finally found her voice?? Hadn't she been campaigning for president, officially and unoffically for basically two years. Any she just now "found her voice"?? That's laughable. Obama has not strayed from his voice from day one, it has not changed based on exit polls. Sure, he may not be able to change Washington...but at least there is hope. Electing a Clinton will continue this gridlock and partisanship ad nauseum. Not to mention that she seems to be every bit as secretive and manipulative as the Bush administration has been. Her attacks on Obama have all been to take things he says out of context as if all her campaign does is scour Obama transcripts looking for something to take out of context. This is politics as usual and what I thought this country is sick of. She plays to the least common demonimator by throwing out charges that she knows average Americans will never take the time to look up and read the actual quote in context. I for one, am tired of those kinds of games.

Anyway, that's my 2 cents. Obama!