Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Live Blogging - The Philadelphia 'Debate'

9:46 - Final questions. Superdelegates. How do you make the case? Yawn. Nothing on terrorism, torture, education, poverty, education, trade. ABC should be ashamed to call itself a media outlet. That was the worst debate of the season in front of the biggest audience and all we're left with is judging the candidate's demeanor and personality. Nothing was said that would make any undecided voter move toward or away from either candidate. So much for all the enthusiasm of this primary election. It's definitely a movie that has gone on too long.

9:40 - How would you use Dubya Bush in your administration? Hillary would have to think about it. Barack would use H.W. Bush's foreign policy philosophy.

9:33 - Affirmative action time. Barack repeats his belief that quotas based on race or gender don't work. A whole picture of the person needs to be taken into consideration. Hillary gives a policy wonk answer, but no philosophy. Running out of time and now they're talking about gas prices. Hillary is rushing. Can't catch her points really. Windfall profit tax. Talks about infrastructure rebuilding. She has a plan for energy independence, of course. So does Barack. Price gouging. Market manipulation. Windfall profit tax. Fuel efficiency standards raised. Renewable energy projects. Blah, blah, blah.

9:24 - It's gun time. An issue important to Pennsylvanians to be sure. But a wedge issue. No blanket statements will suffice. Hillary invokes Mayor Nutter and violence in Philadelphia. Will bring back the cops program and the assault weapons ban. She talks about balance. Protect rights of lawful gun owners but keep guns out of the wrong hands. I can't imagine Barack feels any differently. He doesn't. But he puts on his constitutional lawyer hat and he nails it. But there's no difference between the candidates on this. Next.

9:12 - It's social security time. Barack defends raising the cap for the social security tax of $97,000. Hillary invokes her husband's administration. Blah, blah, blah. More posturing. Campaign rhetoric. And still no discussion of urban issues. This debate is a non-event.

9:04 - It's economy time. George starts with a McCain gaffe about the "audIcity" of hope and Hillary cackles. Now she's going to talk about the 90s. Yup. Thought so. Promises not to raise taxes on the middle class. Blah, blah, blah. Another website plug. Barack's turn. Offset payroll tax to give tax cuts to the middle class. Other stuff we also heard before. Who are these moderators? These are not questions. These are talking points with no creativity behind him. Now Barack is being asked about capitol gains taxes. Here's where Barack talks about making the tax code more fair. Pay as you go. He really reminds me of Bill Clinton. Without the slime. That's why they want to destroy him. He's doing Bill Clinton better than Bill Clinton. Leos don't like to be upstaged. Especially by other Leos. Hillary starts in with all the buzz words that are supposed to get middle class votes. But she's not actually saying anything. She praises Gov. Rendell. For what I'm not sure.

8:57 - Barack's turn. The President sets the mission. The generals and our troops carry out that mission. He will always listen, he says, to the commanders on the ground regarding tactics but the buck stops with him as commander-in-chief. George asks about Iran. Barack will do whatever is required to keep Iranians from obtaining nuclear weapons. This debate is whacked. The control freak moderators who told the audience that they couldn't engage in the debate with any applause for the responses has drained the energy out of this talk fest. Now Hillary is blabbering about diplomacy in the Middle East and I'm not following it. Not because it's Hillary talking (I didn't follow Barack's foreign policy chatter either), but because we've heard some version of all of this before.

8:52 - It's war time. Do the candidates have a real plan to get us out of Iraq? a voter asks. How is that going to happen with what's going on on the ground? Charles asks if the military commanders came around on day one and advised against a withdrawal, would she order the troops home? She says yes. The civilians control the military. She will begin withdraw troops within 60 days. No matter what. She talks about intense diplomacy. She has been convinced and clear about her troop withdrawal plan. She's making up debate time (Barack was talking a lot) and chattering a lot about Iraq and Afghanistan.

8:38 - A voter asks Barack about how he feels about the American flag because he doesn't wear a flag lapel pin. (Hillary isn't wearing one either, by the way.) Barack gives a brief remark about how his story couldn't have happened in any other country except this one. And then says he expresses his patriotism through working for veterans and making sure the economy takes care of people. And then William Ayers and the Weather Underground comes up. Barack cussed George out. Hillary pounces. But he served on a board with Ayers. She's not right. But I knew that already. Barack slammed her. He was ready. She wouldn't pass her own vetting process because her husband pardoned two members of the Weather Underground before he left office. Her face cracked. Next.

8:32 - It's Tuzla time. A voter who's no longer voting for Hillary asks how she can get his vote back since she lied about what happened. Her attitude is outrageous.

8:22 - It's Wright time. Charles asks about what Obama knew about his statements that caused him to rescind his invitation to introduce his candidacy. Blah, blah, blah. Now Hillary is asked about it. She's agitated. But she has to say that for Pastor Wright to have given his first sermon after 9/11 and to have blamed it on us would have been intolerable for her. Just a personal reflection that regardless of whatever good is going on, you choose your pastor and she would not have stayed in the church. George jumps in and asks if Wright loves America as much as he does. We're almost half and hour in, and there are no questions about issues related to Philadelphia or Pennsylvania specifically. Yawn. (Hillary tries to make the Wright, Farrakhan, Hamas connection to make Obama look like a radical anti-Semite who supports Palestine. Yawn.)

8:16 - George steps in. Asks Hillary about her conversation with Bill Richardson. "Can Senator Obama beat John McCain." Hillary doesn't answer directly. Speaks about being on the receiving end on what the Republicans dish out. George asks again. "Can he win.?" "Yes. Yes. Yes. But I can do a better job." Barack says that he believes Hillary can win too. Talks about being a person of faith and a candidate who has reached out more to people of faith than any other candidate. And then he smacks Hillary. Tells us that she's using the same tactics she's learned when under attack by the Republican machine. Hillary rebuts (not very well, mind you - Barack came to fight) with a weak argument about getting every vote. Then turns to her passion for empowering people. Talks about respect and connection.

8:12 - Bittergate on the table. Barack concedes that he understands why people were offended. Clarifies for the umpteenth time (nervously, I might add). Hillary rebuts with her biography and uses the word "cling" several times.

8:07 - Gilbert asks about the voting in many states. He asks to no one that they commit to each other as running mates as Cuomo suggesting. Obama bites first. Says its premature to discuss running mates.

8:04 - Hillary opens with a discussion about the promise of America. She's wearing a soft green. She pumps her website. Says we the people can keep the promise.

8:00 - The National Constitution Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Gilbert introduces the debate, who are standing behind podiums away from each other. This could get ugly. Obama goes first. He speaks about the frustrations of Pennsylvanians in his preamble. About changing it into something more hopeful. He's wearing his usual dark suit and light tie.

7:52 - The debate begins in less than ten minutes, and I'm calmer than I expected I would be. I don't like presidential debates. Never have. And if their basic format doesn't change, I never will. One of the reasons is because the questions tend toward "gotcha" than they do anything actually relevant to my concerns and my life. Since Obama has weathered yet another smear campaign and Hillary Rodham Nixon is getting blasted in the polls while it turns out she told her husband to "screw" southern working-class whites, corporatists are getting nervous. Obama could lock down this nomination sooner rather than later. Corporatists are getting nervous. Corporatists will do anything to hold onto their power. See: Bill and Hillary Rodham Nixon. See: the mainstream broadcast networks. See: ABC, the hose of tonight's debate. Expect to hear a lot about Rezko and Wright and Ayers and Farrakhan and bitter guns, but not that much about Tuzla and Columbia and $109 million and "Screw 'em." And I don't trust George Stephanopoulos and Charles Gibson. We'll see.

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