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Re: [utepprogressives] Egos on Parade

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  • Greg Cannon
    Some more egos on parade: http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,,2094831,00.html Minute-by-minute Democratic presidential debate Conor Clarke Sunday June 3,
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 4, 2007
      Some more egos on parade:


      Democratic presidential debate

      Conor Clarke
      Sunday June 3, 2007
      Guardian Unlimited

      Introduction The eight democratic presidential
      candidates take to the stage New Hampshire tonight for
      their second debate of the fledgling primary campaign,
      in a two-hour format that will include questions from
      journalists and voters alike.

      Iraq and healthcare are expected to top the debate
      agenda. Hillary Clinton - who holds a commanding lead
      in national polls - is considered vulnerable for her
      early and eager support of the war, and the second-
      and third-place Barack Obama and John Edwards will be
      looking to use that to their advantage. Obama and
      Edwards have also released healthcare plans in recent
      weeks, and we can hope for healthy debate as they
      haggle over the details with Clinton, who led her
      husband's ill-fated push for reform more than a decade

      And then there are the other five: Bill Richardson,
      Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel
      - none of whom commands more than a few percentage
      points of support in recent polls. Some say that
      relegates them to the role of comic relief. But
      desperation can always produce some interesting

      All times in Eastern Standard Time. Hit refresh for
      the latest. Send all emails to

      7 pm CNN's Wolf Blitzer introduces. New Hampshire is
      wonderful and so forth. The candidates introduce

      7:05 Obama asked: Bush anti-terrorism policies
      successful? Obama responds: no.

      Blitzer follows up: Bush admin gets no credit for no
      attacks since 9/11? Obama says they've maybe kinda
      done some things well.

      7:07 Edwards calls the "Global War on Terror" a
      "bumper sticker" slogan that serves the political ends
      of Bush. Clinton disagrees! Says she's lived with the
      consequences of terrorism in NY and knows the threat
      is serious. Kucinich waxes a bit tedious with a
      Benjamin Franklin quote.

      7:10 Joe Biden on the other Democratic candidates: "I
      don't want to judge them. These are my friends." Group

      7:15 The candidates haggle a bit over funding for the
      Iraq war. John Edwards says the best way for Congress
      to end the war is to use its funding power. Edwards
      "names names": Clinton and Obama didn't do enough with
      their Senate votes. First blood drawn!

      Obama strikes back with a vengeance: "I opposed the
      war for the start, John. You're about four and a half
      years late." Looks good doin' it, too.

      Clinton plays Great Conciliator: The differences
      between the Democrats aren't so great. The differences
      between the Democrats and the Republicans are great.

      7:20 Technical problems. Kucinich can't hear the
      question. Microphone not working.

      Kucinich asked (by a national guardsman) whether the
      lives lost in Iraq have been wasted. Kucinich plays
      humungous pedant: "There's a teachable moment here."
      Let's end the war now, etc etc etc. We learn that
      Kucinich can't answer a question.

      7:25 One (sexist pig of a) reader emails: "Woo,
      Hillary's looking pretty pretty hot tonight." We
      report, you decide.

      Edwards on Obama and his early opposition to the Iraq
      war: "He deserves credit. He was right. I was wrong."
      [scattered applause]

      Mike Gravel compares his fellow Democrats who voted
      for the war to war criminals. But then elaborates: "It
      doesn't mean they're bad people. It just means they
      don't have moral judgment." Thanks, Mike.

      Mike Gravel looks like your crazy uncle who you leave
      in the corner and who embarrasses you when you have
      guest over for Thanksgiving.

      7:30 The conversation turns to immigration, and oh
      man, Joe Biden is embarrassing himself. Why did he
      vote for a 700-mile fence on the border? Well, we
      didn't need it. So why vote for it? Er, it could do
      some good. Mumbles something about cocaine. Not making
      himself so clear. Wolf cuts him off.

      Show of hands: should English be the official language
      of the united states? Only Mike Gravel puts his up.
      "We all speak English," he says. Well then.

      Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton fire back. This is
      the kind of question that's meant to divide us. (Not
      sure I follow the logic: It's a debate. Isn't that
      what the questions are supposed to do?) But they look
      good shooting Mike down and earn some applause on the

      Chris Dodd: I speak Spanish, along with Bill
      Richardson. Okay then. New topic.

      7:35 Dennis Kucinich just dropped his pen. The
      congressman quickly bent down and quietly picked it

      7:40 The conversation turns to healthcare. John
      Edwards says that Obama's plan isn't universal. Obama
      says no, his plan is universal. Clinton says she's
      glad to see everyone recognises that universal
      healthcare is important. Everyone loves universal

      7:45 Edwards and Obama are back to haggling over
      details, but the disagreements seem relatively small.

      Kucinich: "I reject this whole approach! And the
      American people should know." Kucinich wants
      single-payer -- he wants the NHS!

      7:45 Clinton says she thinks Don't Ask Don't Tell --
      the policy by which gays and lesbians can serve in the
      military, but not openly -- is a bad idea and should
      be dropped. (This was of course her husband's policy!
      Yikes.) Clinton has unfortunate choice of words to
      defend her claim: "After the first gulf war there was
      a big flood of discharges from gays and lesbians"

      In a potential Democratic debate first, Clinton cites
      conservative godfather Barry Goldwater: "you don't
      have to be straight to shoot straight." Indeed.

      7:50 Show of hands - who would do away with the "don't
      ask, don't tell" policy for gays in the military? All
      put their hands up. Maybe Mike Gravel just needs to go
      to the bathroom.

      7:55 And we take a break for a fluff question: "What
      would you do with former President Bill Clinton?

      Mike Gravel: "He would make a great roving ambassador.
      He could take his wife with him - she'd still be in
      the Senate." Great feminist he is not.

      Bill RIchardson: The place for him is Sec General of
      the UN.

      Obama: Clinton a great international conciliator, and
      so forth.

      Clinton on Clinton: "All former presidents should be
      used." She's not going to play second fiddle to her

      8:00 Kenny Tanner (a "very bored economics student
      trying to distract himself from revision") writes:

      "I think it's very convenient that they put the three
      front runners - Edwards, Clinton and Obama - next to
      each other allowing CNN to have them all in shot when
      any one of them speaks. We may not know who the party
      prefers but we certainly know which candidates can
      garner decent air time.

      "Plus, I'm sure all three of the last issues came up
      in the last episode of the West Wing I watched - who's
      copying whom?"

      8:00 Says Chris Dodd: "global warning, er, global
      warming ... we see the melting of the solar caps, I
      mean the polar caps..." Not looking so good.

      Bill Richardson runs over time in repsonse to
      Blitzer's question about global warming -- something
      that seems to keep happening! He'd be looking a lot
      better if he could stay within time.

      8:05 They break for commerical and round two.

      Half-time report:

      James Carville says Joe Biden has being showing his
      control of the issues and Obama has had the sharpest

      Donna Brazile says Barack Obama is the most improved
      since the last debate.

      It also seems like John Edwards is trying the hardest
      to distinguish himself from the others -- being much
      more aggressive and moving unprompted to attack the
      other candidates.

      Of course, the real question is HIllary: she's got the
      most to lose. But she's turned in a solid performance
      so far. All she needs to do is avoid major gaffes and
      she should be fine.

      8:10 Round two: questions from the audience, not the
      journalists. The candidates are now seated, trying
      their best to look relaxed.

      8:15 Carol Kilminster, mother or a young man in Iraq,
      has a question: "Why don't we spend enough on
      veterans' healthcare?"

      Obama offers a qualified defense of the Veterans
      Affairs (VA) health system -- it does do some good
      things, he said, like negotiate directly with drug
      companies for pharmaceuticals.

      Richardson supports something called a "hero's
      healthcard" -- which would allow a veteran access to
      any any hospital. Is this realistic? I'm sceptical.

      Wolf asks Gravel: You served in Korea, have you had
      any experience with the VA? Gravel (a touch too
      eagerly): "I get my meds from the VA!" Later: "the
      government has always always waged war against the
      veterans." Yikes.

      8:20 The conversation moves on. Asks one audience
      member: what would you do to handle Iran?

      Hillary Clinton gets a warm laugh for criticising the
      administration's lack of diplomacy: "Occasionally they
      send Dick Cheney. That's hardly diplomatic in my

      Edwards proposes carrot and stick combo: make nuclear
      fuel available to Iran, in response to disarmament. If
      not, Iran'll face sanctions.

      Only economic sanctions? Never military? Edwards: "No
      responsible president would ever take any option off
      the table."

      8:25 Wolf asks Kucinich: If you were president, and
      knew where Osama bin Laden was, would you take him

      Kucinich: "I don't believe in assassination politics."
      That seems to be a no, which can't possibly play well
      with many voters.

      Obama walks back from the Kucinich ledge: bin Laden's
      declared war on us.

      Wolf asks for a show of hands: who would support
      taking him out? Everyone else raises his or her hand.
      Clinton offers a caveat: "This is the kind of
      hypothetical that you can't answer in the abstract."
      Fair enough, though hypotheticals are always answered
      in the abstract..

      8:30 The conversations turns to cheerful matters:
      genocide in Darfur.

      Joe Biden says he favours more robust intervention.

      Clinton again plays the no hypothetical card again --
      I don't think these things are usual to respond to.
      Presidents should be reasoned, etc.

      Richardson says maybe the US shouldn't go to the
      Olympics in Beijing if the genocide in Darfur
      continues (since China buys most of Sudan's oil).

      Senator Dodd gets very angry about this: We shouldn't
      boycott the Olympics! Demands to know what his
      colleagues think. Show of hands question: who thinks
      the US should boycott the Beijing Olympics next year
      unless China gets tough with Sudan over Darfur: Biden,
      Richardson, Edwards for; Dodd, Obama, Clinton against.

      Biden gets pissed at all this talk about this but
      looks presidential doing it: who cares about
      cancelling the Olympics? People are dying, and we need
      a no fly zone! -- by the time we get around to
      cancelling the Olympics 50,000 more people will be

      8:40 A recent high school grad asks about national
      service: any plans to enact something like that?

      Kucinich and Dodd get nostalgic about Kennedy: They
      remember a time when a president asked a generation to
      serve, they felt inspired by it, and so forth.

      8:45 Daily Kos on Hillary Clinton -- "Shorter Hillary
      Clinton: 'I trusted Bush on Iraq.' That, alone, should
      be enough to disqualify her. 'Good judgement' is a
      must-have trait for our next president."

      8:45 They start talking about the deficit. Richardson
      says he supports a constitutional amendment to balance
      the budget. He's still going over time and getting cut
      off by Wolf Blitzer. Poor guy.

      Dennis Kucinich on the deficit: "We need to stop the
      war in Iraq." This can't possibly be his response to
      everything. Or can it? Egad.

      8:50 Is it time to do away with earmarks?

      Chris Dodd: I don't think we should have a blanket
      policy on something like this.

      Mike Gravel: "Totally. Totally."


      Clinton: We need to remember that eight years ago the
      budget was balanced. (And of course we need to
      remember who was president then!) We can do this, says

      8:55 Subsitutute teachers asks: What would be your top
      priority in the first 100 days?

      Edwards: I would travel the world.


      Clinton: I would bring the troops home.

      (Good answer! Didn't Edwards sort of drop the ball on
      this one?)

      Obama: What she said. And then some healthcare.

      Richardson: That. And then schools.

      Biden: All that, plus I would solve Iran and Korea.

      (And turn sand into ice cream?)

      Kucinich: What they said, and get out of Nafta, &c.

      Gravel: I would turn to the people next to me and say,
      you can end the war now.

      (Didn't he miss the point of the hypothetical?)

      Dodd: I'd try to restore the constitutional rights in
      our country.

      They would do everything, in other words.

      9:00 And so the debate ends.

      Not obvious who the winner was, though the
      spinmeisters will try to play it differently.

      Larry King to Elizabeth Edwards: John was aggressive,
      was he not?

      Edwards: He was forthright.

      She's an impressive post-game chatter.

      Obama looked good -- much better than last time. (And
      he really nailed Mike Gravel in his response to the
      English-as-official-language question.) But I'm not
      sure he'll gain much. The debate really was Clinton's
      to lose -- she had a 15 point lead over Obama and a 31
      point lead over Edwards in this morning's Washington
      Post poll -- and she certainly didn't lose it. No
      gaffes, no waffles: she looked and sounded good.

      Biden also stood out: he was loud and clear -- at
      times bordering on a shout -- and made his presence
      known. (Which, since he has about 2% support in the
      polls, he needs to do.)


      Chris Dodd's blog has calculated the speaking times
      for each candidates:

      Obama: 16.0 minutes

      Clinton: 14.26

      Edwards: 11.42

      Richardson: 10.48

      Kucinich: 9.02

      Dodd: 8.28

      Biden: 7.58

      Gravel: 5.37

      ...and CNN host Wolf Blitzer spoke for 13.24 minutes.

      And we'll be back with the Republican presidential
      debate on Tuesday.
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