Wednesday, September 26, 2007

"Rudy Giuliani doesn't know what the heck he's talking about." and other thoughts on tonight's Dem debate -- part 1

You're looking live at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H. for what might be described as the first real Democratic debate of the 2008 season. We'll see if Labor Day is really when the campaigns ratchet up to full speed, or if it's just more of the same. Now, to Tim Russert...

...who apparently needs to say nice things about Dartmouth before we start. I'd normally say that he's taking time away from the debate, but it's two hours long and...hey, now he jumps right into it.
  • Barack, how do you end the war on January 20, 2009 since there will apparently still be 100,000 troops in Iraq? And he's already punting, talking about how he wants to end the war before it gets to that point. He doesn't have an answer. Pull in the joint chiefs, etc. etc. And he won't even promise that they will be gone by 2013... Wow, did he blow that one.

  • Hillary won't promise to get them out, Edwards won't promise to get them out. Please, please, please ask this question of Bill Richardson next. Edwards is going a little farther than Obama and Clinton, hitting Clinton on her openness to continue combat in Iraq. But he will go back in if there is genocide.

  • Richardson says the senators want to change the mission, he wants to end the war. But he muffed on the specifics. He'd leave some light equipment behind? How long will it be before someone suggests that by leaving equipment behind, we'd be allowing (inset group here) to attack us and our allies with our own equipment? Tonight, next week?

  • Biden with a real good answer. Best answer I've heard him give. If his political solution doesn't work, they get out. If it does, he'd leave a residual force like we did in Bosnia. I'm not sure I've heard him describe his position in quite that way before.

  • Dennis Kucinich wants Abe Lincoln to be the next president of Iraq, or something.

  • Wow. Gravel hammering Clinton for voting for the Lieberman amendment which some suggest may allow us to go to war with Iran. Clinton really looks uncomfortable. Her first response was a forced laugh that sounded almost sinister. She doesn't look like she was ready for it, and is stammering around a bit about the revolutionary guard and terrorists and such. That might be as defensive as I've seen her in any of the previous debates.

  • And now Russert is piggybacking Gravel's idea that the Democrats should force Republicans to filibuster to kill their bills by calling for votes daily on the issue. Good for Gravel for being able to set the debate, if only for a moment.

  • Hillary, would Israel be justified in bombing Iran if they found out Iran had a nuclear device. She refuses to answer, on the grounds that it is a hypothetical. She's on the defensive again. Russert lets her off the hook by letting her talk about practicing diplomacy with the Iranians.

  • Obama rambling in response to the same question, saying that pension funds can divest from Iran to pressure them or something. So far, neither of the frontrunners sound comfortable or confident on Iran.

  • Edwards also giving it to Clinton on the Lieberman resolution. Says she should have known better than to give Bush the first step toward war with Iran.

  • Richardson says he will guarantee that Iran won't be a nuclear power if he's president, because his brand of diplomacy works. His resume suggests that is true.

  • On another note, it looks like he's gaining weight again. He was looking particularly svelte earlier in the debate process.

  • Hey, it's debate afterthought Alison King of NECN, who is going to suck all of the momentum out of the debate by asking some silly question from the Internet. Sounds like she's deepened her voice for the occasion. She asks a tortured question about immigration and posits it to Richardson, who jokes that he must be getting it because he's Hispanic.

  • Biden: "Rudy Giuliani doesn't know what the heck he's talking about. He is the most uninformed person on American foreign policy now running for president." Biden is clearly jacked up tonight. He is ready to be on fire if he can get a question or two.

  • Dodd starts his answer on immigration like a Senator always does when he doesn't have an answer. He mumbled something so quickly that it was unintelligible until he got his footing.

  • Russert asks if anyone would "shut down these sanctuary cities." What a miserably stupid question. Are we going to go in and board up New Haven, Conn. and kick 150,000 people out of their homes? Perhaps wipe them off the earth with a volcano? Who's talking about shutting down cities?
First break. Biden looks good, Clinton has been shaky. I'm going to get a Diet Coke.
  • Dodd, Why should Bush want Hillary to be president? Oh, he's not going to answer that. Why waste the 60 seconds.

  • russertraisin
  • Tim Russert looks like the fat California raisin.

  • I've got to say, I'm not fired up about the health care debate. The discussion is essentially about whether or not the so-called "Hillarycare" proposal of 1993 was a bad thing or a really bad thing.

  • Edwards is proposing to end the congressional health care plan if they don't vote for universal health care. He's not going to do that. What a transparent pander.

  • Russert wants to know why Obama is running for president when he hasn't passed any major legislation and told voters that he wasn't running for higher office. Obama says (among other things) that people want politic ans who tell the truth. The irony is lost on him.

  • Apparently we're in a stretch where Russert points out all of the warts on a candidate and asks why he or she should be president.

  • Mike Gravel, you can't balance your own checkbook, how can you run the country? He ran up credit card bills standing up for the American people. I wonder if that will fly with Michelle next time I use the credit card.

  • Dennis Kucinich, you bankrupted Cleveland, how will you keep from bankrupting the country? I did it on purpose to save the electric company.

  • Richardson, your state sucks and you make a gaffe a week, why should you be president? Hey, nobody's perfect.

  • Back to the deeply resonant Alison King for a question about teaching second graders about gays. Would you be comfortable having a story about a gay couple getting married read to your second graders? (Prediction: all will answer yes. Because it's a stupid question.)

  • Edwards: yes. I expect my children will be more enlightened than I am. Oooh, but second grade might be early. But let me talk about gay issues generally.

  • Obama: My kids already know about same-sex couples.

  • Clinton is not going to answer the question. "That's a matter of parental discretion." OK, my turn to get on the soapbox here. Gay marriage is the law of the commonwealth of Massachusetts (which is where the issue that spawned the question was raised). Teaching second graders about something that is legal in Massachusetts is absolutely appropriate. The question was fundamentally flawed, because that is not the case anywhere else at the moment.
That's the end of part 1. Biden is still winning (although he was essentially shut out of the second segment). Clinton still has it rough. Back with more in a bit.

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