Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Live-blogging the Democratic debate
Hillary's night

Ever since Hillary Clinton asked us to imagine each of the candidates in the Oval Office, I keep seeing her at the desk. Tonight, seated between two younger men, and in full command of the facts and her emotions, she really did look like the boss.

Not that your blogstress liked all of her answers, especially the one about Bob Johnson, the BET founder, who took a rhetorical slap at Barack Obama yesterday with cryptic comments that seemed to refer to Obama's admitted use of drugs while in high school. On that issue, Mrs. Clinton clearly spoke from both sides of her mouth, claiming to accept Johnson's explanation that he was not referring to drug use when he mentioned what Obama "was doing in the neighborhood" while Hillary was making change, while saying that Johnson's remarks were "out of bounds."

On the other hand, your écrivaine was relieved to see the candidates tone it down, especially the tension between Clinton and Obama with regard to Clinton's insensitivity on matters of race.

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Live-blogging the Democratic debate
Edwards on defensive regarding Musharraf

Tim Russert just asked John Edwards about whether his outreach to Gen. Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan, just hours after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, was appropriate. Might it have given cover to Musharraf, whom nearly half of Pakistani people believe had something to do with Bhutto's death? I think we may be witnessing Edwards doing that special form of prevarication to which Andrew Cuomo referred last week, to much consternation.

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Live-blogging the Democratic debate
The politics of fear

Barack Obama just deftly turned a question about the the politics of post-9/11 fear into a referendum on her war vote. Will post that bit of transcript once it's available.

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Live-blogging the Democratic debate
Barack chastises black fathers

In his call for accountability for black fathers, Barack Obama would, at first glance, appear to be playing to a white electorate. It's important to note, however, that the Democratic nominee may be decided by African-American women, who may welcome Obama's comments.

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Live-blogging the Democratic debate
Speak freakin' English, dammit!

Under the immigration law suggested by John Edwards, your blogstress would never have come to exist. Your écrivaine, you see, descends, on one side of the family, from people who never learned to speak English. Edwards seems to be saying that English-speaking should be a contingency for citizenship.

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Live-blogging the Democratic debate
Yucca Mountain: Hillary takes a swing

When Brian Williams asked the candidates how they would address the boondoggle known as the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste facility in Nevada, where the debate is taking place (and where Democratic caucuses will take place in a few days), Hillary took John Edwards to task for having voted to fund the building of the facility. Good for her. Another holier-than-thou ruse from Edwards is his waving around his opposition to nuclear power.

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Live-blogging the Democratic debate
Great political theater--not

Edwards just can't keep that obnoxious best-boy-in-the-class attitude contained. He really grated with his contention that he, and only he, would promise to get all combat troops out of Iraq within a years' time. Any other talk about a withdrawal, he said, was little more than "great political theater."

Anybody who would promise what he's promising, I think, is bound to underdeliver.

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Live-blogging the Democratic debate
Hillary asks Barack to assist

Hillary used her question time to ask Barack if he would co-sponsor her legislation to contain Bush's war effort.

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Live-blogging the Democratic debate
Candidates' question time

Oy vey. They get to ask each other questions.

Edwards, after saying he wasn't being "holier than thou" in his question to Obama, promptly goes on to be holier than thou with his question to Obama -- about the oodles of dollars Obama raked in from pharmaceutical companies, now surpassing Clinton in that regard.

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Live-blogging the Democratic debate
Bankrupcy law

Good question from Russert to everybody's favorite economic populist, John Edwards, son of a millworker, about whether he regretted voting for a 2001 bankruptcy bill that was the precursor to the current law, which is truly punitive.

Yes, he did regret it.

Same question to Hillary: She regrets making the same vote. But that bill did not become law (no thanks to Edwards or her), she reminds us, and she opposed the 2005 bill that ultimately became law.

We need to reform that law, now, she says.

UPDATE: Obama was asked if he, too, opposed those bills, but that's not exactly an even question, since he was not in Congress. Of course, he opposed them both.

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Live-blogging the Democratic debate
Managing the bureaucracy

Somebody's got to do it; that's what Hillary said. In other words, inspiration isn't the end-all and be-all.

Barack used the question as an opportunity to critique the management style of George W. Bush (he was very efficient; always on time) for his failure to bring people together, failure of judgment on the war. Wait--he was critiquing the guy in the Oval Office -- not the senator from New York, right?

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Live-blogging the Democratic debate
Imagine (all the people, voting for me today)

Hillary has asked the audience to imagine each of the candidates in the Oval Office, doing presidential things. That's an interesting approach. Just in speaking it, she had me imagining each of those Democrats in that office. I don't know that it makes the decision any easier, though, among this crop.

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Live-blogging the Democratic debate
Obama likes Clinton

In a question that started out to be about the women's vote in Iowa and New Hampshire, Brian Williams asked Barack Obama if he regrets his snarky comment to Hillary Clinton: "You're likable enough, Hillary."

He said indeed he regretted it because it came out the wrong way, but then said that at the end of the day this contest was not going to be about who has the "nicest smile" or "who you want to have a beer with" -- clear swipes at Hillary, who came out of the last debate in New Hampshire with accolades about her pretty smile when she she coyly answered the likability question. After feigning feminine wiles, she waved off the likability test by saying that most Americans cited George W. Bush in the last election as the candidate they would best like to have a beer with.

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Live-blogging the Democratic debate
Bob Johnson lives

Despite his allusion today to Barack Obama's youthful indiscretion, Bob Johnson will be taken at his word, via his statement that he didn't mean to imply what he seemed to imply. That's what Hillary Clinton just said. When asked by Russert if Johnson's comments were out of bounds, Hillary said, "Yes, they were."

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Live-blogging the Democratic debate
Did New Hampshirites vote against the black guy?

Barack says no. Senator Clinton ran a good campaign, he says.

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Live-blogging the Democratic debate
Pushing this story

Russert just fanned the pages of a document that he said was a story that Barack Obama's people had been pushing. What story?

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Live-blogging the Democratic debate
Opening question: race

Hillary: Barack and I agree that "neither race nor gender should be part of this campaign."

"We both have exuberant and uncontrollable supporters."

Barack: "I think Hillary said it well." We need "not to fall into the same traps of division that we have in the future."

Edwards: "We've made great progress, but we're not finished with that progress." He has an anecdote, of course: he saw "four young men sit down at a lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina" during the days of segregation.

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