Thursday, January 31, 2008

A Late Breaking Voter Watching the Last Democratic Debate before Tennessee Votes on Tuesday

Well, I've watched very few debates from beginning to end so far this season, but I will be watching all of tonight's Clinton-Obama debate, because it's going to help me make up my mind on whom I will vote on Tuesday. I am literally a late-breaking voter and I would be surprised if I have my mind made up even when I step into the booth to vote. I'm usually an early voter, but not this time around. I waivered and went back and forth, but John Edwards' withdrawal pretty much took my safety net away (although voting for him is still an option for me). So, tonight's debate is incredibly important to my decision on Tuesday.

7:05 Update--brown-nosing John Edwards has begun. Obama mentions him first in his opening sentence.

7:10 Update--past vs. future meme still firmly in place in Obama's discourse.

7:15 Update--experience meme still firmly in place in Clinton's discourse. Mortgage crisis raised by Clinton 12 minutes in. Good. That's where it should be. I agree with her that the difference between her and Obama are "pale." But I don't agree with her that they "pale in comparison to their differences w/Republicans."

7:20 Update--Obama deals with "mortgage mess" due to lack of Bush oversight. He believes that decreasing influence of lobbyists in DC will help solve predatory lending problem. Obama's voluntary health care program would leave 15 million people out. He says that he doesn't believe those numbers.

7:30 Update--Clinton would open congressional health care to uninsured who wish to participate. She says she will provide subsidies and cap premiums, which contradicts the charge that her plan would force people to accept it. Obama denies that subsidies will be sufficient. Picks up meme of bringing Dems and Republicans together to solve the problem. He wants to increase transparency to decrease the influence of lobbyiests; hence, his idea of broadcasting deliberations on C-SPAN. Clinton wants to mandate that insurance companies have to cover everyone; make clear to the drug companies that we pay for their studies and development "many times over," so Medicare should be allowed to negotiate drug prices down; Democrats must advance the idea of universal healthcare and build a coalition that can withstand attacks of drug companies.

7:40 Update--Obama would pay for healthcare plan by emphasizing savings and rolling back upper eschelon tax cuts. Woop. Obama made a Edwardsian reference to poor kids in crumbling schools in LA. Clinton says she would reign in tax breaks for HMOs. She would move to electronic medical records, which would save $77 billion a year. Tax increases on wealthy Americans are a moral obligation, says Obama, for the sake of covering Americans. Clinton says that we will go back to the pre-Bush tax rates.

7:45 Update--Here comes immigration. Obama argues that blaming high unemployment on immigrants is scapegoating, since unemployment was high before the latest wave of immigrants showed up. Says that this is an important distinction between Dems and Republicans. Clinton says that comprehensive immigration reform solution is the answer. She wants to tighten down borders and crack down on employers who illegally hire. Her answer seems somewhat uninspired on immigration so far: pay fines, pay back taxes, learn English, & wait in line. Once this happens then she would consider giving them drivers licenses. So, how would they get to work? Obama agrees with Clinton's uninspired solutions.

8:10 Update--First stupid question of the night: American is a business, how are you qualied to be its CEO? Clinton knocked this one out of the park: America is not a business, but a trust. It its purpose is not to make money to defend the best interests of Americans. And the money response: Dubya was elected to be CEO of this "business" and look at the mess he's gotten us into. Obama got a lick in comparing his campaign's success to businessman Romney's.

8:15 Update--Both Clinton and Obama keep saying that they are reponsible for bringing new voters into the process in overwhelming numbers. I won't deny that they have brought some voters into the process, but I have to believe that George W. Bush has mobilized a lot of these voters who want to change they way he's run this country into the ground. They get credit, but not all the credit. Voters wouldn't be mobilized had it not been for the failure in the White House.

8:17 Update--The most effective deflection of the night so far goes to Clinton: "It took one Clinton to clean up the first Bush's mess; it may take another to clean up the second Bush's mess."

8:25 Update--Iraq War discussion. This is one that the Republicans cannot win. McCain promised a 100-year-occupation. I see little difference between Clinton and Obama on this issue. The distinctions are minor. Obama's 2002 stance against the war is not something that would kill Clinton, who promises moving against Bush and the Republicans in significant ways. The opposing/supporting war distinction is now old news. Any way the Iraq War is the subject next fall, the Republicans lose.

8:35 Update--I disagree with Obama that simply opposing the war in 2002 is going to better innoculate him against Republican sling and arrows. Republicans will find a way either to minimize or to twist his opposition into an ugly mocking caricature (cue swiftboating decorated war veterans). If he really believes that Republicans won't try to manipulate perceptions, then he is sorely mistaken.

8:45 Update--Oy vey. Culture war questions about Hollywood. Cue Janet Jacksons' Super Bowl breast. What purpose do these questions serve? Leave it to the Republicans or leave it to Beaver. Otherwise, just leave it alone.

8:50 Update--Dream ticket question (either Obama-Clinton or Clinton-Obama ticket) got rousing audience applause. Uh-oh, Obama said he wants to restore responsibility in government whether picking the running mate or selecting his cabinet. Restore? Isn't that going back to something? He's off message. Must ... find ... my ... future ... meme.

Postscript--Here's how I score it:
  1. Opening Comments--a draw (Obama gets points for referring to Edwards; Clinton gets points for bringing up the subprime mortgage crisis).
  2. Healthcare--slight edge to Clinton (she seemed to offer more substance in dealing with both insurance and drug companies).
  3. Immigration--slight edge to Obama (said he wouldn't scapegoat immigrants; Clinton seemed to strike a harder pose).
  4. Best deflection of the night--a draw (Clinton dealing with the "authentic change" question by pointing out how has taken a Clinton to clean up Bush's mess in the past. However, Obama went to lengths to dispel the "cold" label he's been given by making the case for his friendship with Clinton).
  5. Iraq War--a draw (both oppose and see a relatively sort timeline in their administration, which is more important than who opposed what in the past. My own past vs. future meme).
  6. Overall results--a draw, so maybe this debate won't help me decide how I will vote on Tuesday.


  1. I didn't realize that 5% unemployment was high.

  2. The official unemployment rate is a stupid statistic. They should be talking about the Good Job Employment Rate. There is no such statistic because that wouldn't suit that status quo forces that keep shipping jobs to MUCH lower cost locations, reducing benefits, making it hard on unions, etc, etc.