Thursday, June 28, 2007

"Barack got tested for AIDS" and other thoughts on tonight's Democratic debate

You're looking nearly live at Howard University for tonight's Democratic primary "forum" (why not just call it a debate). And awaaaaay we go...

The security force is wearing bright yellow "CSC Event" t-shirts. This is the same company that provides security at sports stadiums across the country. Hopefully the audience has been tailgating all afternoon and is well oiled. Somehow I doubt it.

Although it looks like Patrick Kennedy is in the audience. Perhaps there was tailgating after all.

And there is New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez. I suppose if they are going to spend the first 10 or 15 minutes introducing this guy and that, they can at least keep us entertained by letting us celebrity-watch.

One of the questions going into tonight's event is whether or not this event is tailor-made for Barack Obama. I don't think that's fair to Obama. In fact, I think the pressure is on him to a certain extent. If he doesn't win, the media will frame it as a major failure.

Al Sharpton in the house.

Hooray Deval. The 2016 presidential race starts tonight. This little speech is the best one he's given since before the election. Although he is a little too fast on the intros.

Fashion Notes: Mike Gravel appears to be wearing Khakis and Loafers. Richardson has a silver tie from the Regis 2000 collection. Hillary appears to have a huge belt. Now, on to the issues:

The question: Is race the issue of the 21st century?
  • Joe Biden answers by whacking his senate counterparts on support for Sam Alito and John Roberts.
  • Richardson with a nice answer about being authentic, that dealing with race is more than appointing Supreme Court justices. Take that Joe Biden!
  • The best Edwards can do is to repeat his tired old "Two Americas" speech? Weak.
  • Obama's answer sounds like he's trying to walk a tightrope. On the one hand, he's talking about "our struggle" in reference to racial issues, on the other hand, he's got a little of that "shared responsibility" code that white voters want to hear. I think he's going to be tip-toeing all night.
  • Mike Gravel will end the war on drugs. John Edwards is trying not to laugh at him.
The question: Why do black graduates have high unemployment than white dropouts?
  • Joe Biden says it's because we don't start teaching "disadvantaged youth" early enough.
  • Richardson: did you know we fixed this in New Mexico?
  • Edwards is stuck on poverty. The question wasn't about poverty, it was about the an education gap. Although I appreciate his talking about improving the conditions in rural communities as well as inner-city neighborhoods. The conditions in disadvantaged rural communities are often overlooked.
  • Gravel actually seems to be connecting. Although after saying the Democrats haven't done any better at fixing the education gap than the Republicans, and that the black community needed to take responsibility themselves, he then ticked off a bunch of ways the government could provide money if we weren't at war.
  • It takes a village. Thanks, Hillary.
The question: What is the plan to fight AIDS?
  • Richardson doesn't sound like he has a plan. I think he's making it up has it goes. Needles. Condoms. Penetrating minority outreach in communities. Kind of an unfortunate juxtaposition there, Governor.
  • Edwards, on the other hand, knows his stuff and has a plan. That's the way to answer the question, Bill.
  • Obama doesn't have a plan, but does have a nice turn of a phrase "The African-American community has a disease" of poverty which leads to poor health care, education, wages, etc. That's the key for Obama: get people to hear his theme, not snoop around for a position.
  • Gravel still fighting the war on drugs.
  • Does Chris Dodd actually get traction with anyone? I just can't listen to him. He's probably a really smart guy, but all I hear is "blah, blah, blah." And what the hell was that arm wave?
  • Hillary is right about the lack of interest in the subject because it's a minority issue, although the phrase "outraged outcry" is a little awkward. Her answer is the first one all night that has really connected.
  • Joe Biden: "Barack got tested for AIDS." Barack doesn't look happy about that revelation. Isn't that a HIPAA violation or something?
The question: Do the rich pay enough in taxes?
  • John Edwards gets the question first. Talk about a batting practice fastball for Mr. Two Americas.
  • Barack won't say that the wealthy should be taxed more, just that the "Bush tax cuts" should be repealed. Come on, man. This was an easy one.
  • Gravel wants to abolish the income tax in favor of a national sales tax. Huh? Wha? Where did that come from?
  • It's a little ironic to hear Biden talk about how "regular people" have it tough when he helped pass that awful bankruptcy bill that protected big banks and made it tougher on families in debt to get relief. I don't believe him.
The question: More whites are arrested, more blacks in jail. What's that about?
  • There's Barack with another line. "Justice is not just us."
  • Kucinich wants to end mandatory minimums and the death penalty. I'm with Dennis.
  • Now Donna Brazile is laughing at Mike Gravel.
  • Chris Dodd wants to eliminate the difference between crack and powder cocaine. I suppose that could be taken out of context, eh?
  • Biden: Hey, don't blame us, it's the states' fault.
  • Richardson isn't going to get anywhere now that they've cut the answer time down to 30 seconds. He can't answer a question that briefly.
The question: Would you guarantee a right to return to New Orleans?
  • I wouldn't, but I'm not running for president. Just because they built a city under water 150 years ago doesn't mean we should do that again. And no, I don't have a plan for what we should do with everyone who was displaced.
  • All of the candidates appear to disagree with me, it's just a question of who can do more for New Orleans (Clinton has proposed a TEN POINT PLAN! Beat that, Biden!)
The question: Outsourcing a problem or Global Economy?
  • Other than Gravel--who suggested the problem is that of businesses needing to pay for health care--everyone thinks outsourcing is a problem.
  • As an aside, this is the second time Biden has started his answer with "I agree with everything that's been said." Which has to be a lie if he thought about it, since Gravel didn't agree at all with Dodd and Clinton.
  • Maxine Waters appears excited about Kucinich ending NAFTA. I'll bet she'll be waiting an awful long time for that.
The question: What does our inaction in Darfur say about America's moral leadership?
  • Dodd suggests we take unilateral action to stop the killing. I'll bet that won't fly with most Americans.
  • Clinton and Biden want a "no-fly zone."
  • Richardson still wants to boycott the Olympics. Now there is a no-fly zone.
  • And Mike Gravel says that none of the other Democrats have the moral judgement to be president. I guess that's as good a place as any to end the debate.
I thought Hillary and Kucinich did well. Biden did not. Obama connected, but was light on specifics (as usual). I'll bet many will include him with the winners My man Bill Richardson had solutions (except his awful answer on AIDS), but he's got to find a way to get them across in 30 seconds.

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