Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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December 13, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

RANDOM DEBATE THOUGHTS (SO FAR)....Unexpected debating point of the day (so far) comes from Barack Obama: "Reducing obesity to 1980 levels will save Medicare $1 trillion."

Most tiresomely repetitive sound bite (so far) comes from Hillary Clinton: "We need to get back on a path to fiscal responsibility."

Dumbest policy proposal (so far) comes from Bill Richardson: a constitutional amendment to require a balanced budget.

Also (so far), everyone is on their best behavior. You'd barely even know they were running against each other.

Consider this a debate open thread.

Kevin Drum 2:27 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (66)

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Comments

Just curious, does anyone really watch these so call debates? cleve

Posted by: cleve on December 13, 2007 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

All the more reason why ........

INKBLOT FOR PRESIDENT '08

But might he not have a quibble with Obama with regard to reducing obeisity levels?

Posted by: optical weenie on December 13, 2007 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

>"Reducing obesity to 1980 levels will save Medicare $1 trillion."

Hmmm... I thought the optimum strategy for reducing both Medicare and Social Security payments was to have people die young and unexpectedly. [By unexpecedly I mean without getting expensive medical care].

The notion of people living long, happy, healthy lives is so... well, un-american. Anyone who wants that should be deported to Finland... or mnaybe Sweden.

Posted by: Buford on December 13, 2007 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

my god, it's so dissapointing that any democrat would by the 'obesity epidemic' crap. Jeez. 8 more years of lame (and unfounded) excuses for ragging on fat people.

Posted by: gabe on December 13, 2007 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

"Reducing obesity to 1980 levels will save Medicare $1 trillion."

Not to mention that it will save $millions/billions (and reduce foreign oil dependence and cut CO2 emissions) due to increased gas mileage at not hauling all those lard butts around.

Posted by: Disputo on December 13, 2007 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

"Reducing obesity to 1980 levels will save Medicare $1 trillion."

I already weigh less than I did in 1980. Can I have some of that $1 trillion?

Posted by: SecularAnimist on December 13, 2007 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

"'obesity epidemic' crap"?

That's a new on on me. I'm well familiar with "evolution crap" and "global warming crap", but I didn't realize that wingnuts are now disputing that the US is continuing to get fatter every year.

Btw, so is China, now that a significant part of the population has excess $ for food and cars.

Posted by: Disputo on December 13, 2007 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

Richardson sounded quite Republican in the early going. The Balanced Budget Amendment was a Republican push in the Bush 41 years to effectively gut nondefense spending. It's amazing a guy as smart as Richardson is, seems to be so out of place when trying to discuss political strategies. Biden, despite his sore throat, gave a very succinct description of the "starve the beast" ploys used by the Right.

Posted by: Greg in Fl on December 13, 2007 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

"obesity epidemic crap?"

Take a trip to WalMart and look around. It will give you the willies.

Posted by: fafner1 on December 13, 2007 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

Greg in Fl,
My thoughts exactly. The Const. Amend. to balance the budget was the first priority in Gingrich's Contract With America.

Posted by: scudbucket on December 13, 2007 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

Gabe, go ahead and get fat. Just don't exect me to pay extra for you getting fat. You should face an extra charge in your universal health care plan, should you go the gov't route. Or let your company pick up the tab, if you go that route.

That's the libertarian inside of this liberal.

By the way, many wingnuts think there is no obesity epidemic. The cluelessness is bizarre. Penn Jillette even did a TV show about it, that nutball.

Posted by: B Clark on December 13, 2007 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

The Const. Amend. to balance the budget was the first priority in Gingrich's Contract With America.

Not really. It was just for show. Once in power, he orchestrated a show vote which failed due to a strategic lack of GOP support, and then quickly forgot about it.

Posted by: Disputo on December 13, 2007 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

I suppose if one accepts that Obama’s “new politics” will transform the Republicans into rational constructive partners in government, it’s only a slight further stretch to think it will also transform us all into the svelte creatures we were back in 1980.

Posted by: fafner1 on December 13, 2007 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

"Unexpected debating point of the day (so far) comes from Barack Obama: "Reducing obesity to 1980 levels will save Medicare $1 trillion.""

OMG! Obama is running to be Mike Huckabee!

Posted by: Monstertron on December 13, 2007 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

The Balanced Budget Amendment actually predated Gingrich and Bill Clinton's administration. Poppy Bush ran up deficits close to $400B. Some people tried to respond to this is a principled way, e.g. Paul Tsongas and Warren Rudman, but the Atwater faction saw a way to co-opt that spirit and freeze in reductions to discretionary spending, and serve as a launching pad for going after Social Security and other entitlements. This would have been circa 1990.

They never change their spots.

Posted by: Greg in FL on December 13, 2007 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

[Handle Hijack]

Posted by: cmdicely on December 13, 2007 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

Well - Hillary can't really attack, because Tweety would get physically aroused by spending the next week on the "Why is she a shrieking harpy?" theme. And Obama does not need to attack, 'cause he's surging. So no surprises.

Posted by: karelian on December 13, 2007 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

Obama has been snookered. Obesity has not changed since 1980. People are just as fat as ever and no fatter.

What has changed? People who were called "overweight" in 1980 are now called "obese". It's a change in definition.

Posted by: POed Lib on December 13, 2007 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

Alright the "HOPE" candidate scores again. I part of the plan. We are attacking other countries because we don't feel good about ourselves. Lose some collective weight and boost our national self-esteem.

Hurcules, Hurcules, Hercules...Somebody pass me the peas!

Posted by: Phat @$$ on December 13, 2007 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

That is, specifically, obesity used to be BMI > 35. Now, starting in about 2002, obesity is BMI > 30.

One idiot after another has concluded that we are fatter. It's just a difference in the use of the term.

Posted by: POed Lib on December 13, 2007 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

Obama is running to be Mike Huckabee!

Precisely the opposite. Obama's goal is to decrease the presence of the Huckabees in terms of volume and mass.

Posted by: Disputo on December 13, 2007 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

So how does Obama propose to do this? Remember JFK and his program to promote physical fitness? Sounds like a better idea than trying to jigger national healthcare to disincentive obesity.

Posted by: idlemind on December 13, 2007 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know about the obesity epidemic being "crap."

But his statement about saving Medicare a trillion dollars bears zero relation to reality. I could give a list of logical errors in that statement. Not that it matters so much for public health policy - because in any event we should be encouraging good diet and exercise whatever the results. But it makes you wonder if he's relying on figures like that on other issues.

Posted by: Margaret on December 13, 2007 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

What great comments. You should all be running for President.

As for the obesity. What the hell is wrong with trying to get people to eat better.

My wife, who is nowhere near obese picked up the book, Good Calories, Bad Calories. It has changed her life.

She tried a lot of doctors to figure out what made her tense or complacent. Turns out just eating right has made her not only looking good. But real healthy. I would never buy into a book like that. But damn, it is impressive.

Boy. Didn't JFK make physical fitness a program.

Wonder why the nets all hate Obama. There is something there. No problem with a flip-flopping warmonger like Edwards. But Obama. Makes you wonder.

Posted by: ken on December 13, 2007 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, yes, idiots and their conclusions.

It is indeed true that the def of obesity has changed. It is, however, incorrect to then conclude that people are not getting fatter.

For an animated look at increasing obesity from 1985 to 2006 (with BMI held constant at 30) see here.

Posted by: Disputo on December 13, 2007 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

POed Lib

Aside from the question of definitions, there's also the recent research that casts doubt on the idea that being overweight is all that bad for you. Some of the best mortality stats come for people with BMI's over 25, i.e. officially "overweight." Even in the obese classification, it seems the damaging health effects have been overblown.

Posted by: jimBOB on December 13, 2007 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

As a collective, it seems that posters on this thread are a tad snippy about Obama's call for a reduction in obesity.

Could it be because most of us are perhaps a little out from our prime years and have accumulated a bit, and just a wee bit of course, of excess avoirdupois? And are maybe feeling a bit guilty?

Nah, nah, nah

Posted by: optical weenie on December 13, 2007 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

So how does Obama propose to do this?

I'd start by closing down ADM's production of corn syrup.

Posted by: Disputo on December 13, 2007 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

One idiot after another has concluded that we are fatter. It's just a difference in the use of the term.

Change in definition of obesity or not, we are fatter.

This interesting story on American weight gain causing more fuel consumption notes that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Serivces reports that the average American's weigh increased by more than 24 pounds between 1960 and 2002. Similar coverage here.

Posted by: shortstop on December 13, 2007 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

I was in 5th grade in 1980. I don't wanna be that size again, thank you.
Now, 1990 was a different story. Let's get back to 1990 levels.

And then split that trillion dollars equally among the citizens.

Posted by: editor on December 13, 2007 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

I did listen to the "debate" while working.
I think Obama may have had a 'there you go again' moment when he said he hoped to hire Hillary as an advisor.

Posted by: editor on December 13, 2007 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

Could it be because most of us are perhaps a little out from our prime years and have accumulated a bit, and just a wee bit of course, of excess avoirdupois? And are maybe feeling a bit guilty?

Amen. It sounds in here like a bunch of smokers of "organic" cigs explaining that contrary to all evidence that lung cancer is actually caused by the pesticides in non-organic cigs.

Posted by: Disputo on December 13, 2007 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

the U.S. Department of Health and Human Serivces reports that the average American's weigh increased by more than 24 pounds between 1960 and 2002.

Ah, but you are forgetting that the gravitational constant has varied during that time, making all weight comparisons invalid....

Posted by: Disputo on December 13, 2007 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

Good point. And the CDC is just a bunch of DFHs anyway.

Posted by: shortstop on December 13, 2007 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK

Amen. It sounds in here like a bunch of smokers of "organic" cigs explaining that contrary to all evidence that lung cancer is actually caused by the pesticides in non-organic cigs.

Or, even more entertaining, people who explain while stoned that even daily weed use does not cause cancer because burning pot is miraculously free of carcinogens.

Posted by: shortstop on December 13, 2007 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, but you are forgetting that the gravitational constant has varied during that time, making all weight comparisons invalid....


Hear hear! I agree with Disputo. I have noticed that there can be days where the gravity constant seems to have doubled!

Posted by: optical weenie on December 13, 2007 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

oh hell no. talking about fat fucks in iowa of all places...

Posted by: linda on December 13, 2007 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

Best line: Obama on hiring Hillary. And I like Hillary.

Dumbest issue: making obesity an issue in an obese country.

Most tiresome line to Kevin, but absolutely necessary and worth repeating again and again: we need to get on a path to fiscal responsibility. It may be tiresome but boy are we truly f...ed if we dont make that a primary focus.

Someone here asked why the nets are so snippy about Obama. I dont know what you are reading but with almost 100% uniformity I read pro Obama and "I hate" Hillary every single day, with the exception of this blog (Kevin IS the best) and a couple of others, which hold their fire and try to talk issues. THAT comment right here was the funniest line of the day.

Finally, someone else asked does anyone watch these things. I have watched every debate, Dem and Repub. I dont know how you can be well informed if you dont, unless you prefer others to digest your dinner for you (which might solve the obesity issue).

Posted by: Jammer on December 13, 2007 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

So how does Obama propose to do this? Remember JFK and his program to promote physical fitness?

If you were in elementary school in the early 60's, you may remember the daily routine of Chicken Fat, led by a very Music Mannish Robert Preston.

Posted by: AJ on December 13, 2007 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

Unexpected debating point of the day (so far) comes from Barack Obama: "Reducing obesity to 1980 levels will save Medicare $1 trillion."

—Kevin Drum

No, yet another republican talking point that blames the victim.

Posted by: Econobuzz on December 13, 2007 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

The Dems need to focus like a laser on ending foreign entanglements (read - the "I" countries - Israel, Iraq and Iran) and restoring fairness and hope in the American economy. Talking about fat people ain't gonna get them one freakin' vote....

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on December 13, 2007 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

The Dems need to focus like a laser on ending foreign entanglements (read - the "I" countries - Israel, Iraq and Iran) and restoring fairness and hope in the American economy. Talking about fat people ain't gonna get them one freakin' vote....

So, when asked about the future insolvency of medicare in a debate, the Dems should respond that the solution is to end foreign entanglements and restore fairness and hope in the US econ?

You really want them to sound like Rudy responding with "9/11" to every question? Is that what you mean by "focus like a laser"?

Posted by: Disputo on December 13, 2007 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

AJ, I was in elementary school in the early 60's and I remember the JFK program. Here's the Chicken Fat song on YouTube.

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on December 13, 2007 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK

Why is the constitutional amendment that dumb, if it has sufficient caveats? Richardson is one of many governors who has to do that at the statehouse level.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on December 13, 2007 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK

My impression is that there are a lot of pro-Obama postings out there, including a significant number that read along the line: "F--- Y--, you stupid s--thead, Don't you get it? It's all about the politics of hope and inclusion."

Posted by: fafner1 on December 13, 2007 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

I have not gained weight dagnabit; it's that shoddy imported clothing: It shrinks.

Posted by: Mike on December 13, 2007 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

shortstop wrote: "Or, even more entertaining, people who explain while stoned that even daily weed use does not cause cancer because burning pot is miraculously free of carcinogens."

Marijuana smoke does contain the same carcinogens found in tobacco smoke.

However, unlike tobacco smoke, marijuana smoke is not epidemiologically associated with higher rates of lung cancer.

Recent research indicates the reason: the active ingredient in tobacco smoke, nicotine, chemically amplifies the effects of carcinogenic components of tobacco smoke, while the active ingredient in marijuana, THC, chemically inhibits the effects of carcinogenic components of marijuana smoke.

There is nothing "miraculous" about it, but fortuitously, the psychoactive component of marijuana smoke actually protects users from the carcinogens in the smoke.

Research has shown that aside from cancer, marijuana smoke does cause some, but not all, of the same harmful effects on the lungs as tobacco smoke, although the degree of harm varies considerably depending on the quantity of marijuana smoked, and how it is smoked.

Someone who smokes "a pack a day" of marijuana (20 joints), inhaling very hot smoke from unfiltered, hand-rolled marijuana cigarettes, is almost certainly risking greater non-cancer harm to their respiratory system than a typical pack-a-day tobacco smoker (and is probably barely able to stay awake more than a couple hours a day).

But a typical regular marijuana user who consumes much smaller amounts -- a fraction of a cigarette's worth per day -- and smokes through a water pipe that filters and cools the smoke, is in far less danger of experiencing any significant physical harm than a typical tobacco user.

The health risks of marijuana use are well within the realm of what our society generally regards as individual prerogative and individual responsibility. As multiple scientific studies have confirmed for decades, there is no sound public health basis for imposing draconian punishments for the use of marijuana.


Posted by: SecularAnimist on December 13, 2007 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

How much of the 'fattening or America' is due to the 'aging of the baby-boomers' and the 'reduced smoking in adults' and the 'use of labor saving devices?'

Shoot. The first problem will take care of itself and reducing energy usage will help the third.

I hope smoking rates do not climb.

Posted by: Tripp on December 13, 2007 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

we need to get on a path to fiscal responsibility. It may be tiresome but boy are we truly f...ed if we dont make that a primary focus.

Not disagreeing, but I'll just note that any progress we make in this area will evaporate if we let another GOP administration get in and squander it all again.

Posted by: jimBOB on December 13, 2007 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

I dunno - I kinda support trying to make Americans healthier. When I started my healthcare career 25 years ago, adolescents with type II diabetes was unheard of. Now it is common, and that is a very expensive lifestyle disease.

This is an issue that brings out my authoritarian streak, and turns me into a nutrition nazi, so I'll shut up now.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on December 13, 2007 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

Doc, I too was subjected to Chicken Fat first thing every morning over the school intercom. It lasted for about a week and a half, until every teacher and administrator in the school got tired of hearing it and probably went out and destroyed all copies of it.

Posted by: AJ on December 13, 2007 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

Most tiresomely repetitive sound bite (so far) comes from Hillary Clinton: "We need to get back on a path to fiscal responsibility."

Tiresomely repetitive? This slogan should be emblazoned on the walls of every room in Congress. It's about frickin; time somebody said it and you're tired of it already!

Posted by: TJM on December 13, 2007 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

I was waiting to see who might have the character to refuse to participate, in protest of Kucinich's arbitary exclusion. Apparently, all six are just opportunists.

Regarding the Kucinich exclusion, did the campaigns have ample advance notice of the office requirement?

Posted by: Steve on December 13, 2007 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

Regarding the Kucinich exclusion, did the campaigns have ample advance notice of the office requirement?

Maybe it's in the fine print, but it has to be written down someplace. Alan Keyes didn't open up an office in Iowa because he's running for President. He did it for the opportunity to, once more, simultaneously grandstand & play the victim -- all the while making the rest of the Republican field look -- for the afternoon, anyway -- almost lucid.

Posted by: junebug on December 13, 2007 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK
we need to get on a path to fiscal responsibility.

Dumb, repetitive slogan.

We don't need to get on a path to fiscal responsibility, we simply need to restore it. That might put us on the path to, say, a balanced budget, but responsibility, fiscal or otherwise, isn't something you need to approach gradually via some kind of path. You just stop taking irresponsible actions.

Saying we need to be on a path to fiscal responsibility is saying that you plan to gradually act less irresponsibly than your predecessor, but continue, nonetheless, to act irresponsibly.

Posted by: cmdicely on December 13, 2007 at 5:07 PM | PERMALINK

I think the government could do a lot of good in helping people stay healthier in general and thinner in specific.

We could ramp back up public physical recreation facilities.
We could ramp back up PE and after school sports in education.
We could move away from automobile transport and toward walking and biking (and the transit that makes them work).
We could reduce hours worked so people have more time to do physical activities and prepare healthy meals.
We could institute universal health care to improve preventative care and make available regular doctors visits.
We could shift agricultural subsidies from high-fructose corn syrup production to fruit and vegetable production.
We could fund the national parks so they are free to attend again.

The right may like to blame health care costs on obesity (which is a weak argument as canadians are actually trivially fatter than americans yet don't have the same outlier status in terms of health costs) then wring their hands about it, but a comprehensive set of progressive policies would fight obesity in numerous ways while conservative policies will continue to exacerbate it.

Posted by: jefff on December 13, 2007 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

"No, yet another republican talking point that blames the victim." Posted by: Econobuzz

Pardon my obvious ignorance, but who is the victim? And victim of what?

Posted by: majarosh on December 13, 2007 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK

How the hell are we ever going to get non-deficit budgets again when we actually need them, if we DON'T pass an amendment requiring a Congressional supermajority to run a deficit? After Keynes pointed out that there are SOME times when it's appropriate to run one, he opened the gates of Hell by giving politicians the excuse they had dreamed of for so long to say that it was ALWAYS the right time to run one. The political pressure to do so is simply too great to be resisted now. And so, without such a measure, the US will now forever go through bulimic binge-and-purge cycles, in which one President pumps up his popularity by raising the deficit to gargantuan proportions and then leaving his successor to clean up the mess -- at the cost of all HIS popularity, of course.

My position on this, by the way, is the same as Michael Kinsley's and Sen. Paul Simon's. Some ideas are correct despite the fact that Bill Richardson backs them.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on December 13, 2007 at 5:25 PM | PERMALINK
How the hell are we ever going to get non-deficit budgets again when we actually need them, if we DON'T pass an amendment requiring a Congressional supermajority to run a deficit?

Um, the same way we did before George W. Bush was President.

It wasn't that long ago.

Posted by: cmdicely on December 13, 2007 at 5:33 PM | PERMALINK

'As for the obesity. What the hell is wrong with trying to get people to eat better.'

Absolutely nothing is wrong with giving people good medical advice. But to start pointing fingers at obese people and smokers as a 'cost' to society is just damn unAmerican. Hurry up on that genetic research so we can all be blonde, slim nonsmokers with no inherited disease risks. Lower the speed limit to 45. Like BGRS, this is one of my sore spots, only on the other side. And perhaps our proclivity as a nation to start wars costing 1 trillion plus is a serious psychiatric problem that, if cured, would actually allow all Americans to receive the medical attention they deserve.

Posted by: nepeta on December 13, 2007 at 8:53 PM | PERMALINK

"No, yet another republican talking point that blames the victim." Posted by: Econobuzz

Pardon my obvious ignorance, but who is the victim? And victim of what?

Posted by: majarosh

Blaming health care costs on the sick is a standard republican talking point. Claiming that we can save billions if obesity -- which is a disease -- can be eliminated is but one step removed from that bullshit.

Advocating exercise and good diet is fine; suggesting that it is the answer to rising health care costs is about as republican as it gets.

Posted by: Econobuzz on December 13, 2007 at 9:03 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, econobuzz, it is a Republican talking point. Interesting, isn't it, that alcohol consumption and its attendant health risks, safety risks, etc. isn't up there with smoking and obesity as a political meme.

Another problem with the obesity rant is the cost of food. High carb foods are generally cheaper and 'go further.' I paid $1.50 for ONE California orange a couple weeks ago here in NY. Is that outrageous or what?

Posted by: nepeta on December 13, 2007 at 10:14 PM | PERMALINK

"Someone who smokes "a pack a day" of marijuana (20 joints), inhaling very hot smoke from unfiltered, hand-rolled marijuana cigarettes, is almost certainly risking greater non-cancer harm to their respiratory system than a typical pack-a-day tobacco smoker (and is probably barely able to stay awake more than a couple hours a day)."

-But, during those two hours they'll still eat enough to bankrupt the entire public health system!...No, I had a serious comment but i keep circling around that "20 joints a day" notion. Right, it was...ahhh...oh yeah: there's a thin line between advocating something sensible like increased physical fitness as a personal and social good, and propagating and reproducing the kind of crap that's been used to sell people (mostly women) guilt and shame about the way their bodies don't conform to "ideal" shapes and standards. So, on the one hand there are public health costs associated with the crappy diets of many Americans, but alot of this is more social (the widespread distribution of fast "food") and economic (most of that organic free range stuff at the co-op costs alot*)than it is personal, tho it's always perceived as a persoanl problem or more commonly as a personal failing.

Making healthier food more broadly accessible is easily within the purview of public policy, as is encouraging exercise and health by funding community activity and education centers, for instance. If this is what he means then Obama's on the right track.

On the other hand, the way he said it play's more the way econobuzz is hearing it. "obesity" does have scarifying, scientistic overtones that "overweight" doesn't have. Someone who's "overweight" is understandable, potentially sympathetic. Someone who's "obese" is beyond the pale, an other. a great example of this is the asshole earlier who was dissing all the (poor and working class) fatties shopping at Wal-Mart. You think money doesn't have anything to do with that body shape, shithead?

Obama's rhetoric, tho kinder, elides the same articulations between health and class by tying what's widely seen as an individual fault (epidemics are a group phenomenon but they are composed of individual cases)to a publicly shared cost figure. What he means to suggest is that by helping these people become healthy, we can save ourselves money, but what he says does as much to invite a knee jerk "stop paying for people to be fat" or " those fatties are costing us money" or "get those fatties off the tax rolls" response.

no where are those doughnuts? mmmm... glazed!


Posted by: TUrk on December 14, 2007 at 2:02 AM | PERMALINK

Fascinating thread, especially regarding personal responsibility - unfortunately a topic none of the Democrats are as good at as is Ron Paul. Part of the problem, of course, is the abbreviated forum whereby candidates are limited to :30 and 1-minute responses. It's tough to illuminate prospective policies while also elaborating on personal responsibility. Paul's able to succeed at it because, as a libertarian, he has few policy initiatives to offer.

The truth is, no candidate on either side of the aisle has the courage to enumerate the public's deficiencies, such as a lack of attention to education at home, because of being far too obsequious. Edwards may be, despite his humanist appeal, the most guilty of the bunch. It's easy to talk about corporate greed, but it's inextricably tied to CDOs, SIVs, derivatives, hedge funds, and a hundred other investment instruments that hundreds of millions of Americans are supporting. There was a time in the 60s when left wing activists insisted no one should invest in firms associated with nefarious activities. That seems so wild today.

Hell, the prevailing wisdom goes, why not make a few bucks? Someone else is going to if you don't. Who's boycotting the GAP or Wal*Mart because of their labor practices? Or how about lettuce and grapes? So, instead of addressing the issue on an overall basis, summarily blame corporations. Not the MBAs, attorneys, CEOs running them nor the stock holders supporting them.

The most interesting facet about this debate was its closeness to Christmas and the concomitant fear of appearing like Scrooge if going too negative. It was even more obvious without Kucinich. Borrowing a term from radio, it was like, well, smooth talk. You could almost hear Kenny G playing in the background as they all danced around clearly differentiating themselves from one another.

Also, you can see they're beleaguered. Biden, and to some extent, Hillary, were working with less than optimum immune systems. Edwards, and to a lesser extent, Obama, were exuberant but still mostly low-key. That suited Richardson's folksy style just fine.

They have each, time and time again, said the same thing so that by now the responses are issued from the recall center of the brain. Obama has gotten especially good, but can't overcome looking too slick, as has been mentioned here. He hasn't yet delineated his tangible plans for "hope" and, more importantly, on how to bridge the great polarized divide between right and left, which he has often alluded to from the beginning.

If he's going to seize the moment, after Jan. 1, he must be more explicit. It seems he may just have something brilliant up his sleeve for the right moment. If not, his appeal will progressively weaken. Charisma, in a hypercritical arena, will last only so long. You can see Hillary's star has dimmed considerably during the past month.

In the end, Hillary made a grave miscalculation by spending so much time in a state that's going to snub her. She was originally headed for greener pastures, particularly because of Edwards's seemingly insurmountable lead. Instead, not willing to accept a priori defeat, she faced the folks in Iowa and they were left wanting. She wouldn't have had to been so intimate in any other state and thus would've been better equipped to promote a better, albeit superficially fortified, impression. But all that's water under the bridge now and food for thought as she watches her candidacy rapidly heading for Calamityville.

Posted by: arty kraft on December 14, 2007 at 4:36 AM | PERMALINK

To someone like me, who has watched the campaign for many months, it was interesting to see how quiet and collegial it had suddenly become. They weren't really contentious and there were several virtual group hugs. For someone just now beginning to pay attention to the campaign it would've seemed very strange.

It does seem Hillary's campaign has come to a deafening stop with the public shifting en masse to checking out Obama. As an Edwards fan I hope they keep moving and end up voting for him.

In a sense, from now to caucus day could be the most interesting time for this election campaign in Iowa. It would be interesting to see the internal polls for the time from about September 'til January to see the shifts and especially how sudden they occur.

Issues in the debate? Not so big. Mostly the set of important issues has congealed and each candidate had their own take on them. Call it their style if you want, the voter will select candidates on a lot of different criteria and policies are hardly most important, except as a background against which to view the candidate.

Still, the Dems all looked better than any of the Repubs. IMO

Posted by: MarkH on December 14, 2007 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

MqFEaI

Posted by: tNEVrH on April 21, 2010 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK
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