As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Last Debate Before Iowa Quasi-Liveblog

I'm watching, since we're three weeks out and the Democrats won't meet each other on stage again until after the caucuses. I'm not going to try and transcribe, but if anything interesting happens, I'll note it.

This debate looks like it'll be pretty staid and focused on fiscal issues. I wonder if the epic capitulation by the Dems will be discussed. I like that Obama mentions the long-term fundamentals; you can't just say that you're going to balance the budget by destroying education or health priorities, for example.

...these candidates are all talking about what you can save in the budget, as if the Democratic capitulation happened in a vacuum.

I do appreciate Biden talking about runaway defense spending as a place for reduction. There's this idea on the right that defense spending isn't part of the budget, that it's paid for by pixie dust and small bands of elves. In fact, it's the most bloated part of the federal budget.

...Now we're on to how China is holding on to so much of our debt. Richardson eludes the question. Because the answer is that they have us totally over a barrel. He apparently doesn't know that they've agreed to post US officials in its food factories. I think Dodd's answer was far stronger, but still, they have us completely blackmailed, and nobody's recognizing that.

..."Entitlement" reform is such a misnomer. I don't understand why people try to wall off pieces of the budget as if it's somehow worse to pay for someone to get their health care than it is to pay for a useless weapons system that doesn't work.

...Richardson: "I believe that universal health care is a human right for every American."

...we're on to trade. There's typically a lot of double-dealing from these candidates on this. They're all saying that trade policy ought to be linked to human rights. Well, OK. This has pretty much never been a standard that the United States prioritizes, and anyone on this stage would be the first to do so.

...GOOD for Richardson for reminding people that the Iraq war is still the most important issue facing this country. It's basically a call-out to the lady from the Des Moines Register running the debate, as well as the idiots in the punditocracy that think we're in the "postwar" period.

...again, GOOD for Richardson for calling out the Senate on their deep-sixing of the federal energy bill, removing the renewable energy standard and putting back subsidies for Big Oil. Friends of the Earth has more.

“This is the wrong approach. Instead of capitulating, the Senate Democrats should show some backbone. If Republicans want to block progress on clean energy and global warming, they should be forced to mount a real filibuster—for weeks if necessary. If President Bush and Republican senators persist in their obstruction, Democrats should pull the energy bill from the floor and make it an issue at the ballot box instead. Let’s be clear. What the Republicans are doing here is morally repugnant. They are jeopardizing our children’s future in order to help corporate polluters make more money. The American people have signaled that they want a different direction, and Democrats should not yield to this obstruction.

“The basic truth is that our system of energy production and consumption is wholly unsustainable, and dramatic changes are needed or we risk a systemic collapse. Unfortunately, we are not yet getting the bold leadership from the Senate that is required to bring about these changes.”

Richardson is winning this debate. Clinton isn't on the radar. I think Obama's doing decently enough.

...Hillary makes a funny. "We'll raise our hands and say that global warming is a problem."

...Now we have a question on the Farm Bill, which would be great, except we're in Iowa, and you can't get an honest answer out of politicians about agriculture in Iowa. The fact is that the Senate again blew it this week by refusing to lower subsidies. And a Democrat, Blanche Lincoln, was the one who did it.

...I love Edwards' idea of a National Teachers University. He's going back to the One America theme in talking about the public school system.

...Obama "I will review every executive order from George Bush, and reverse them if they subvert the Constitution." Biden has a similar stance. Everyone's talking about ending the war in the first year, too. George Bush has been mentioned an infinite amount of times as he was in yesterday's Republican debate. That's because they never mentioned him.

...This is an odd set of "character" questions. Was this part of the Republican debate? Biden just got hammered on his "fresh and clean" comments, and Obama backed him up (which was a moment of character for him). The Edwards question was subtler, "How can you get anything done after trashing the stakeholders for years?" I think his answer was great. Special interests shouldn't control the debate, even if they are now.

...Obama: "Hillary, I'm looking forward to you advising me as well." That's a statement of confidence and leadership. Now he's moving on to the central foreign policy differences. To a large extent, Obama's foreign policy advisors didn't support the Bush war policy and its underlying assumptions. That was a fantastic answer.

...Next question is on signing statements. Excellent. Hillary: "I would use them the way Presidents before this President would use them." Edwards spins it into a question about executive power, saying "I would make sure the three branches of this government are co-equal." So vote for me to head one of the branches so I give away my power! I would LIKE to believe him.

...Edwards uses his "somewhere in America" imagery from the 2004 campaign. He's really doing a 2004 revisited thing.

...A bunch of Iowa-pandering to close out this debate. Joe Biden described why Iowa should be first in the nation to vote: "They take it so seriously." Yes, so seriously that just over 6% of them actually come out and caucus!


My wrap-up: the pundits will say nothing happened because nobody "attacked" one another. Because they don't really care about issues. Overall, the format gave everyone a chance to shine, and I think Richardson, Obama and Edwards rose to the occasion.

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