Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 15, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

DEBATE LIVEBLOGGING....And we're off. It's our first Kucinich-less debate.

Wrapup: I didn't really notice the alleged tiredness of Obama and Clinton, but I'll defer on that to better body language readers than me. On substance, I don't think there were any pivotal moments in the debate, but if I had to pick one exchange that stood out it was Hillary's request to Obama to cosponsor her legislation preventing Bush from making unilateral treaties with Iraq. That really helped her on several different levels.

Other observations: all the candidates have obviously decided that they want to dial way back on the race/gender stuff. Good. Also: the policy distinctions between the candidates, which were pretty small to begin with, are shrinking even more. They really hardly disagree on anything.

10:57 — Andrew Sullivan: "Both Clinton and Obama look exhausted." Chris Hayes: "I think I saw Obama and Clinton both start to nod off at one point." But Edwards is his usual chipper self!

10:35 — More Michigan news: Romney beat Huckabee among evangelicals. Interesting. Overall, though, it's surprising how little difference there is in the vote between various demographic groups on the Republican side. One big difference: voters who like the Bush administration went strongly for Romney, while those who are angry with Bush went strongly for McCain.

10:31 — According to the Michigan exit polls, Democrats who voted in the Republican primary mostly voted for McCain. I guess Kos's effort to goose the vote for Romney didn't work. Oh well.

10:24 — Obama voted for the 2005 energy bill? I didn't know that. Hillary calls it the "Dick Cheney lobbyist energy bill," which is just about right. Hillary wins this one on points.

10:22 — Now everyone is agreeing that Yucca Mountain is the worst idea since New Coke. Yawn.

10:18 — Exactly zero difference between the candidates on whether college campuses should be required to allow military recruiting. Surprisingly, everyone is in favor of treating our young men and women in the military with the utmost respect.

10:08 — Edwards is now trying to insist that keeping a strike force in Kuwait is far different than keeping a strike force in Iraq. Obama calls it a distinction without a difference. I wouldn't go quite that far, but there's really not much daylight between the candidates anymore on the issue of withdrawal from Iraq.

10:02 — Hillary's question for Obama: Will he cosponsor my legislation that requires President Bush to get congressional approval for any long-term agreement with Iraq? This is pretty clever, no? It establishes good anti-war cred for Hillary, places her squarely in the "working together" camp, puts Obama in the position of being her junior partner, and threw Obama off his stride for a few moments.

9:51 — Everybody agrees that the bankruptcy law was a bad idea. Glad we got that cleared up.

9:50 — On a purely aesthetic note, Hillary could really stand to turn down the volume a notch.

9:39 — Back from the break. Finally, we're done with the attempt to spark a catfight. I hope.

9:29 — Greatest strength and greatest weakness? Obviously "greatest weakness" will be completely bogus, but "greatest strength," while also bogus, at least tells us what image each candidate wants to project. And I have to say, I'm in awe of just how closely all three of them confirmed their own stereotypes. Obama: The ability to bring people together. Edwards: Fighting for children and families. Clinton: You have to be able to manage and run the bureacracy.

9:25 — More news from Michigan: Hillary Clinton has handily beaten "Uncommitted." And all without running any negative ads.

9:23 — Jeebus. Russert and Williams are just hellbent on trying to get the candidates to bash the others. Give it up, guys. They've decided to dial it down tonight.

9:22 — Some kind of disturbance in the background? What did the heckler say?

9:20 — More kumbaya. Yawn. Can we get some real questions, please?

9:14 — Tim Russert doesn't want peace. He's going to keep asking about race despite the fact that every one of the candidates obviously isn't going take the bait.

9:10 — No shilly-shallying in Michigan. With 11% of the precincts reporting, Mitt Romney is the winner already. That's three Republican winners in three primaries. Long may the bloodletting continue.

9:06 — Hillary wants to make peace with Obama. Obama wants to make peace with Hillary. Edwards too! Hooray for Democrats!

Kevin Drum 9:09 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (73)

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Comments

Don't forget Wyoming!

(Mitt got a gold there)

Posted by: bubba on January 15, 2008 at 9:15 PM | PERMALINK

A question from a curious outsider (I'm from Brazil). I am watching Mitt Romney's victory speech in Michigan, and I wonder: is it a good tactic for a Republican candidate to pound on "Washington" the way this guy is doing (and had done on Iowa and New Hampshire as well, as far as I can remember)? Won't these soundbites come back to, well, bite him in the hands of the Democrats if he is in a general election? He just said it again, Washington DC is broken. I think it is very odd.

Posted by: Tricolaco on January 15, 2008 at 9:24 PM | PERMALINK

All questions so far have been about something other than issues, policies, political problems. Every single one.

Race, what someone said, what they meant by it, whether a comment was off base, whether other candidates are "prepared to be president"?

Come ON! Ask about what matters! Fergawdsake!

Posted by: DNS on January 15, 2008 at 9:25 PM | PERMALINK

I think the heckler might have been objecting to the repeated race issue questions, but I could be wrong.

Posted by: emj on January 15, 2008 at 9:25 PM | PERMALINK

And the first question by email: Why should I have to choose between a woman and an African-American.... Is that really the best question of all that were available? Jesus F Christ.

Posted by: DNS on January 15, 2008 at 9:26 PM | PERMALINK

All about 'who are you?'
Nothing yet about 'what would you do?'
Will we get to that?
I hope so.
Most voters care a lot about that.

Posted by: DNS on January 15, 2008 at 9:27 PM | PERMALINK

I think the heckler was actually yelling about the poor quality of the questions.

Which are, so far, asinine.

Posted by: Steve on January 15, 2008 at 9:28 PM | PERMALINK

The outburst was something along the lines of a complaint about the repeated race-based questions.

Posted by: mdj on January 15, 2008 at 9:28 PM | PERMALINK

These question elicit only one kind of answer: "I'm a good person and I'm qualified and I'm good at what I do."
Almost as useless as asking, "Do you think you would be a good president?" Well duh. They're candidates.
Ask about policies, priorities, specific mechanisms they would propose to achieve specific goals.
Ask about voting records. Ask about specifics.
Jesus F Christ.

Posted by: DNS on January 15, 2008 at 9:32 PM | PERMALINK

It's our first Kucinich-less debate.

Nope, NH on Jan 5 had the big three plus Richardson.

Posted by: Aaron S. Veenstra on January 15, 2008 at 9:33 PM | PERMALINK

You've been accused of barbecuing and eating human infants, Senator Obama. How do you combat such accusations?

Posted by: Brian Williams on January 15, 2008 at 9:34 PM | PERMALINK

Why is it conventional wisdom that a long primary is good for Democrats and bad for Republicans.

Posted by: Boronx on January 15, 2008 at 9:36 PM | PERMALINK

As for the strengths and weaknesses question, Obama was right there answering right away, without trying to compose his thoughts, whereas Clinton sounded like she was still trying to say what she wanted to say. Kudos to Obama for going first right away with a great response, although the disorganized things was pretty bogus.

Posted by: Margaret on January 15, 2008 at 9:37 PM | PERMALINK

I'm beginning to think we're going to get a really memorable moment, any moment now: one of the candidates "breaks character" and turns the question back on the questioner: "Why are you asking these kinds of questions? When are you going to ask us about substance, about policy, about our specific goals?" It would trigger a rush of applause and people would talk about it for weeks -- even years.

Posted by: DNS on January 15, 2008 at 9:38 PM | PERMALINK

Good. You ask them about economic policy, international finance, etc., and they light up. You get specifics AND you get passion. These Dems are GLAD to talk about these things. Imagine Fred Thompson answering a question about economic policy with this kind of detail and passion.

This is what works. Thank God we got past the tabloid stupidity of the first 35 minutes.

Posted by: DNS on January 15, 2008 at 9:44 PM | PERMALINK

I found this great article on the topic at www.SAVAGEPOLITICS.com. It raises some great issues. Here is an excerpt:

"For the last couple of days we have heard incessant commentary in the mainstream mediums about the racial issues brought up recently in the Democratic side of this season’s primary elections. This, amongst the vast criticisms that the Clinton campaign has received for supposedly sending out “agents” to spread rumors about Barack Obama’s not too lustrous past, has Hillary’s supporters scrambling for cover. Apparently, or so the press claims, there exists certain knowledge about a candidate’s past that we are not supposed to discuss because they are “insensitive” or “negative”. Robert L. Johnson, founder of Black Entertainment Television and supporter of Hillary Clinton’s candidacy, recently caught some heat when he made public references to Barack Obama’s past drug use (cocaine and marijuana) for being “ugly” attempts to discredit Obama’s reputation amongst conservative Democrats. Tonight, in Nevada’s Democrat debate, we will probably get to hear these candidates respond to this so-called “mud slinging” charges, which up until now are being leveled against both camps, and probably witness a pathetic “coming together” in which both lead candidates leave all this controversy behind. An act which is only done out of pure self-interest since they both know that this “race and gender” discussion hurts both camps somewhat equally. Once again, instead of witnessing an actual debate on real issues, we will get washed down campaign slogans, ad nauseum. What is the information contained in this Fine Print that the Media keeps pushing us to ignore until the election is over?..." Visit www.SAVAGEPOLITICS.com to see the rest of the article.

Posted by: elsy on January 15, 2008 at 10:02 PM | PERMALINK

Did Senator Clinton give an explanation as to why she supported the crappy bankruptcy legislation?

Posted by: Will Allen on January 15, 2008 at 10:09 PM | PERMALINK

"""A question from a curious outsider (I'm from Brazil)"""
To start: I am an American..born in Hartford Connecticut..but reared in Europe. American politics is not like that of Brazil or any other country. The American likes to fool himself. Romney, running for the highest position in American government, knows that insulting government will work for him . Yes, I know your confusion, but it's the USA. In this country protest against government goes back to 1776. It is patriotic here to insult government. I am sure you are confused as to why a person that thinks like this would want to have the highest position in government, but that is not how the American think. In fact they do not think at all..they just watch TV.

Posted by: Richard on January 15, 2008 at 10:12 PM | PERMALINK

It's true, Hillary is shouting for some reason. And this isn't some sexist "she's screeching" issue. She is totally loud.

Posted by: gfw on January 15, 2008 at 10:19 PM | PERMALINK

Richard, thank you for your reply, but I will respectfully argue that you are grossly generalizing, and also didn't understand my question. You see, insulting the government also works wonders for candidates in Brazil. However, I don't see it working wonders when the insulting is being done by a guy running for the party of the government!!. The other Republican hopefuls are not going for Bush's jugular that way, as far as I can see. How will Romney, in a general election, escape the allegations of Democrats that he, himself, admitted that his party screwed up in the White House? Is the presidency of the USA such a personal role that a member of the President's own party can lambast him like this while running for his office?

Posted by: Tricolaco on January 15, 2008 at 10:22 PM | PERMALINK

Why you leave out OBAMA's awesome question to John Edwards?

Posted by: Tyler on January 15, 2008 at 10:24 PM | PERMALINK

Tricolaco: How will Romney, in a general election, escape the allegations of Democrats that he, himself, admitted that his party screwed up in the White House?

Since the 2006 elections the Democrats have controlled Congress, and "Washington" refers to Congress as much as the President. Maybe more so because the president is one person, where congress has 535 people, and so is seen as impersonal and uncontrollable.

Even Bush could criticize "Washington" and get away with it. Yes, it's bizarre. But even after seven years he could say he's from Texas, or that congress is the problem, or the government bureaucracies, the lobbyists, etc. are the problem.

In popular lore, "Washington" is evil, but no one will admit to being part of it.

Posted by: alex on January 15, 2008 at 10:31 PM | PERMALINK

WHAT??? Kos exerts no measurable influence on electoral politics?

This is inconceivable.

Posted by: marcj on January 15, 2008 at 11:01 PM | PERMALINK

Sully's Debate Summary is hilarious and so utterly predicatble. No, he's not obsessed with Hillary at all!

9.10 pm: Clinton insult

9.20 pm: Clinton insult

9.30 pm: Clinton insult

9.40 pm. Obama compliment

9.50 pm. Clinton insult

10.03 pm: Clinton insult

10.24 pm: something else

10.34 pm: Obama compliment

10.43 pm. Obama compliment

10.49 pm. something else

10.54 pm. Clinton insult

10.57 pm. Clinton insult

Posted by: DaveOinSF on January 15, 2008 at 11:06 PM | PERMALINK

For the first time I feel comfortable with Obama. I thought this was a good debate in that it covered many issues and provided clearer answers from the candidates. Two things that impressed me about Obama, other than my agreement with his policy preferences in most instances, is his seriousness and his intensity when listening to the other two candidates. I'm willing to give him a shot at 'bringing the country together,' as unlikely a prospect as that may be.

Posted by: nepeta on January 15, 2008 at 11:12 PM | PERMALINK

I thought it was clarifying about Iraq. Yes there is now little daylight behind the campaigns, residual forces would be minimal. I think this is really the only responsible policy, and Im glad to see that whomever we nominate will push the correct policy.

About energy, Obama has the only real plan. Edwards, and to a more limited degree Clintons cowtowing to the nuclearphobes just won't do. We can't achieve serious CO2 reductions without a significant nuclear wedge (those colored graphs with different contributions over time are called wedges). I'm beginning to see some daylight (although not a great deal of daylight) between Obama and Clinton policywise -and I think it is all in the right direction.

Now if only he had had the guts to chastise Nevadans on their Yucca-mountain NIMBYism! That woulda shown real courage!

Obama missed the biggest opportunity of the night. Why are too many black/brown kids dropping out of high school? Because they don't think education will allow them to get ahead, i.e. being colored makes education a waste of time. They need to see a role model!

Posted by: big on January 15, 2008 at 11:18 PM | PERMALINK

nepeta

I just listened to Chris Matthews giving the nomination and presidency to Hillary Clinton.

Frankly, I think you are right. Barack Obama came across as the statesman. The other two are just good politicians.

For the first time I am really comfortable with Obama. He is a serious person who tonight stood heads and shoulders above the others which is not to say the others weren't good. They were. Both Clinton and Edwards were excellent. That is why I am so impressed.

Posted by: corpus juris on January 15, 2008 at 11:25 PM | PERMALINK

Obama got screwed out of his question. By Edwards for some reason. Surely, he had some high hard one for Hillary but Williams took it away from him. Obama covered OK, but I feel cheated.

Posted by: hollywood on January 15, 2008 at 11:25 PM | PERMALINK

I was only watching the first half, but only a few things stood out for me:

1) Clinton speaks way too loudly
2) Obama looks tired
3) Edwards raises his eyebrows way too high when he gets excited about what he's saying

It was mostly just on in the background and I wasn't watching very closely. Based on the 10 mins or so that I did pay attention, I'll just say that I was surprised how little I was impressed by Obama.

Posted by: Koneko on January 15, 2008 at 11:28 PM | PERMALINK

WHAT'S YOUR PROBLEM WITH THOSE OF US WHO CAN'T CONTROL OUR VOICE MODULATION? WE DIDN'T CHOOSE TO BE BORN THIS WAY.

Posted by: JOE on January 15, 2008 at 11:35 PM | PERMALINK

All three candidates acquitted themselves very well, almost as if they were collectively positioning themselves to run as a team in the general election. And Brian Williams and Tim Russert apparently still think that this is all about them.

Oh, goody -- Chris Matthews is currently leading an innane discussion on MSNBC with Joe Trippi, David Axelrod, and Rodney Slater.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 15, 2008 at 11:38 PM | PERMALINK

bubba: "Don't forget Wyoming! (Mitt got a gold there)"

So did the two cowboys in Brokeback Mountain.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 15, 2008 at 11:41 PM | PERMALINK

Also: the policy distinctions between the candidates, which were pretty small to begin with, are shrinking even more. They really hardly disagree on anything.

Thank Dog for that. Now we can get back to judging them on what really matters - their looks.

Posted by: craigie on January 15, 2008 at 11:46 PM | PERMALINK

Brian Williams: "You've been accused of barbecuing and eating human infants, Senator Obama. How do you combat such accusations?"

Are you insinuating that I would be so vulgar? That's a bunch of fucking bullshit!

Posted by: Barry Obama, Punahou '79 on January 15, 2008 at 11:47 PM | PERMALINK

Clinton keeps coming back to the "we need a manager in Washington to run the bureaucracy" theme while Obama sticks to the "vision, bring together, unite for change" theme. If Clinton keeps this up she's going to cement the notion that she won't be a leader, just a policy wonk caretaker. I'm sure Obama is happy to let Clinton paint herself that way.

Given the problems facing us I'll take the visionary leader (Obama) over the caretaker manager (Clinton).

Posted by: Jimmy on January 15, 2008 at 11:49 PM | PERMALINK

Edwards claims he got fooled by some forged documents when he supported Yucca Mountain, now he sees the light -- how long before he accuses his opponents of praticing celibacy before marriage? I'd like to say it's been a long time since I saw a candidate that full of himself and/or with that much contempt for the electorate, but I watched John Kerry last time.

Hillary thinks her biggest asset is that she can write schedules for the WH tennis court as good as Jimminy Carter did back in the day - and you guys are going to reject Obama for her? I will never understand politics - I could easily envision Hillary blowing the Democratic tailwind this year and giving the WH to Romney. What kind of derangement syndrome would you guys get from that?

Posted by: mr insensitive on January 16, 2008 at 12:29 AM | PERMALINK

Tricolaco: I think Will Rogers (?) said it best:

"Republicans are the ones who complain that government doesn't work, and then get themselves elected to prove it."

Posted by: the neighbor on January 16, 2008 at 12:31 AM | PERMALINK

Given the problems facing us I'll take the visionary leader (Obama) over the caretaker manager (Clinton).

I know for damn sure I'd never hire Obama as a secretary. The line about not being good at shuffling papers really stuck in my craw. I had a secretary once who would unstaple and shuffle my tax returns and then file them randomly with the loading dock receipts (they hated me because of some incident where I locked the employee bathroom). Now we have a presidential candidate who actually thinks that secretaries are supposed to shuffle papers and laments that he is not very good at it ?!?!?!?

Posted by: Norman's brother on January 16, 2008 at 12:36 AM | PERMALINK

Now we have a presidential candidate who actually thinks that secretaries are supposed to shuffle papers and laments that he is not very good at it?

Are you serious? Do you really think the President should spend his or her extremely valuable and scarce time organizing and filing documents? All of the top managers where I work don't. They use executive secretaries to keep calendars, keep track of correspondence, etc.

Posted by: Jimmy on January 16, 2008 at 12:41 AM | PERMALINK

Tricolaco, just to add to what Alex said, attacking Washington is a classic populist/reformer tactic, and a good way to pin opponents who have spent a lot of time there (presidents, vice presidents, senators) as being ineffectual do-nothings who are out of touch with the rest of america. Because the US divides its power up more than most western democracies, it's easy to pull this off (though I've heard similar stuff about "Canberra values" in Australia). Even presidents will complain about a "do-nothing" congress, or the "gridlock" between a congress of one party and a president of another. Sometimes these accusations work, sometimes not so much. Especially in areas of the country that feel neglected, like Michigan, they are always worth trotting out.

Posted by: sweaty guy on January 16, 2008 at 12:43 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin, from the WaPo fact checker on the Energy Bill:

2005 Energy Bill

Hillary Clinton slammed the 2005 energy bill as the "Dick Cheney lobbyist energy bill," saying that it had "enormous giveaways to oil and gas industry." In fact, according to a paper by the non-partisan Congressional Research Service, the 2005 bill provided for $2.9 billion of tax increases for the gas and oil industry--against $2.6 billion of tax cuts. That resulted in a net tax increase to the industry of "nearly $300 million over 11 years," according to the CRS report.

http://blog.washingtonpost.com/fact-checker/

Posted by: demagirl on January 16, 2008 at 12:46 AM | PERMALINK

The significant difference between Clinton and the other two major Dem candidates isn't issue positions, it's commitment to cleaning up the corruption in Washington (or lack thereof in Clinton's case). Without this nothing much can really be accomplished and any accomplishments are liable to be short-lived (as we have seen).

This current recommended DKos diary (not mine) makes the point in greater detail:

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2008/1/15/185741/217/885/437444

Posted by: Jim in Chicago on January 16, 2008 at 1:02 AM | PERMALINK

I think DaveOinSF captures exactly the essence of Sullivan's live-blogging.

You can just see the guy literally sputtering in his impotent rage at the Clintons and an Almighty who refuses to deal with them.

Man, it's gotta suck to hate the Clintons so much, just to see them always pull out a win even when you know that this time, finally, they are truly done for. I can't even imagine what it would have been like to be Andrew Sullivan on the night of the NH primary.

Oh, wait. I do know what it's like. As a Red Sox fan I got the concept perfectly when I saw a soft ground ball dribble between Bill Buckner's legs.

Beforehand, I knew it couldn't happen again.

Then it did.

Sputter! And sputter again!

Posted by: frankly0 on January 16, 2008 at 1:03 AM | PERMALINK

I was glad to see three intelligent, responsible, considerate people discuss issues. The tone was deliberate, and respectful. We got to see both personal nuance and examples of proposed policy decision making.

Having this kind of depth on the bench is sooooo nice after having seen a few moments of the last Republican debate. What a contrast in intelligence, judgment, and personal command of subject matter.

After having my preferred candidate (Dodd) leave the race, watching and listening carefully is important. The front runners each have their own strengths. To date (and those of you who have read my previous posts might remember) Obama has not impressed me. I am looking for substance over style....but this is not over by a long shot and all three have until my state's primary (late Feb) to convince me. So far, Hillary has lost points re: her electability in hypothetical polls against each republican (electability is a valid factor), and Edwards has now admitted that he regrets 3 votes that he made in the Senate (Iraq, Bankruptcy, and Yucca Mtn.) Probably a trend that diminishes his judgment.

I hope all progressive voters really read as much as possible from each candidate, and watch all the candidates as often as possible to decide how they will vote in their state's primary.

One this is a fait accomplit, it is important for us all to stick together and vote for whoever the Dem nominee happens to be. If only to toss out all the Republican appointed employees who only have nepotism or cronyism as their qualifications. Getting the poison out of the well is but one step in making government work for the people.

[Yeah, it's a PollyAnna thought, but hey...if this is a season of hope, then I too can dream...]

Posted by: jcricket on January 16, 2008 at 1:09 AM | PERMALINK

If you pay any attention at all to Tim Russert, you only empower him. Walk away from your abusers, people! He's only a ridiculously overpaid troll.

Why pay any attention to this at all, when the death of Brad Renfro should show you what's really important in life?

And, yes, I'm kind of serious about that, because I like(d) Brad Renfro.

Posted by: Anon on January 16, 2008 at 1:12 AM | PERMALINK

Clinton's biggest difficulty is that, as a woman, she has to work twice as hard as the men and be twice as smart. As woman all tell me, that's easy.

….the poor quality of the questions….Steve at 9:28 PM

Russert and Williams are famous for being partisan hacks; and the humongous egos of all the pundit analysts cause them all to think the story is about them.
….I'm willing to give him a shot at 'bringing the country together,' as unlikely a prospect as that may be.nepeta at 11:12 PM

Sure, Grover Norquist is willing to meet you halfway and the Republicans in the Senate will act for the good of the country. Obama is triangulating from the right, which, in this Republican era, gives away the game.
….2005 energy bill as the "Dick Cheney lobbyist energy bill," ….demagirl at 12:46 AM

Among the features of that bill

· Provides incentives to companies drilling for oil in the Gulf of Mexico;
· Exempts oil and gas producers from certain requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act;
Extends the Price-Anderson Nuclear Industries Indemnity Act through 2025;
Authorizes cost-overrun support of up to $2 billion total for up to six new nuclear power plants;
Tax reductions by subject area
· $4.3 billion for nuclear power[5]
· $2.8 billion for fossil fuel production
· $2.7 billion to extend the renewable electricity production credit
· $1.6 billion in tax incentives for investments in clean coal facilities
· $1.3 billion for conservation and energy efficiency
· $1.3 billion for alternative motor vehicles and fuels (ethanol, methane, liquified natural gas, propane)...

Definitely a mixed bag.


Posted by: Mike on January 16, 2008 at 1:22 AM | PERMALINK

Mike: Sure, Grover Norquist is willing to meet you halfway and the Republicans in the Senate will act for the good of the country. Obama is triangulating from the right, which, in this Republican era, gives away the game.

Amazing how many folks don't see this and fall in love with appearances. With the recession cranking up, I don't trust Obama to manage a turnaround.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on January 16, 2008 at 1:52 AM | PERMALINK

Anon: "Why pay any attention to this at all, when the death of Brad Renfro should show you what's really important in life? And, yes, I'm kind of serious about that, because I like(d) Brad Renfro."

If you were really serious, you'd call up your local classic rock station, request that Lynrd Skynrd's Needle & the Spoon be played in his memory, and then watch Diana Ross' heart-rending performance as the self-destructive blues singer Billie Holliday in Lady Sings the Blues. That ought to give you a pretty good idea of what was important in Brad Renfro's life.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 16, 2008 at 5:07 AM | PERMALINK

I thought that all 3 candidates did very well. And Obama and Clinton did look tired. The questions, though, especially from Russert, were just...bad.

Why does he insist on asking so many inane questions?? I know that a catfight is exciting, but really, I am interested in listening to candidates discuss their differences.

Posted by: Susan on January 16, 2008 at 6:27 AM | PERMALINK

"He just said it again, Washington DC is broken. I think it is very odd."

Look at the Republicans. They claim to be anti-big-government, to describe it as the source of all problems. Yet they will do almost anything to get elected and then stay in office indefinitely. And when they are there they are eager participants in unrestrained spending and the growth of intrusive government.

Posted by: bob h on January 16, 2008 at 7:29 AM | PERMALINK

On second thought, maybe we are a bit cynical with regard to "anti-Washington" politicians. I can think of one politician who hates the place: George W. Bush only screws the country from Washington because the job requires him to be there occasionally. He'd really rather be screwing us from his ranch in Crawford.

Posted by: sweaty guy on January 16, 2008 at 7:59 AM | PERMALINK

"Everybody agrees that the bankruptcy law was a bad idea. Glad we got that cleared up."

Too bad a number of Democrats voted for it including folks like Biden and Reid. Clinton decided not to stick her neck out on that one and passed on the vote. Should we just retroactively say that she voted against it?

Posted by: Quinn on January 16, 2008 at 8:18 AM | PERMALINK

IIRC, Bill was having heart surgery the day of the vote. I'm not a Hillary appologist by any means, but I'm willing to give her a pass for missing that one.

Posted by: mr insensitive on January 16, 2008 at 8:23 AM | PERMALINK

If that's the case, that's more than understandable.

Posted by: Quinn on January 16, 2008 at 8:35 AM | PERMALINK

Just so we're clear: no Yucca Mountain, no expansion of nuclear power.

You can't build more nuclear power plants if you don't have a place to store the resulting radioactive material. There isn't a better option than Yucca Mountain out there, but the Nevada primary is coming up and the Nevada gaming industry is a lucrative source of campaign cash.

Now, you may not think we need nuclear power to help cope with rising petroleum prices and the effects of carbon emissions on the planet's climate, and if so that is fine. But Mr. Boo-on-the-frivolous-media-can't-we-talk-about-serious-issues here shows us his response when a real issue does come up that can't be addressed by criticizing the Republicans: Yawn.

Posted by: Zathras on January 16, 2008 at 8:52 AM | PERMALINK

Ok, I also get tired of the establishment treating Russert as the golden boy, but why the snark: "delighting precisely the sort of person who doesn't realize that a hardball is a kind of ball whereas a curveball is a kind of pitch".

Is this what passes for clever in your book? When I got to that infantile swipe, I thought, why bother to read on, this guy is writing for children.

Posted by: don on January 16, 2008 at 9:57 AM | PERMALINK

Edwards excelled. Finally taking on both opponents and not continuing the petty attack on Hillary and the silly buttressing of Obama. Clearly stated his strengths and differences between both candidates, particularly on the most important issue facing us, the environment. Obama's rambling about "better appliances" and changing lightbulbs was scary for anyone who sees what is happening to the planet and his vote on the energy bill is a deal breaker. Edwards was also right about not keeping troops in Iraq - it's not a distinction without a difference. It's a very real difference. An occupation by a foreign power has enormous negative psychological impact on a population. Hillary did well as usual and Obama came across as being forthright and refreshingly honest (about the S.C. memo and some of the negativity in particular).

Posted by: Chrissy on January 16, 2008 at 10:05 AM | PERMALINK

Lord, I must have been watching a different debate. I thought Obama came across incredibly well. He seems to be a careful listener who really responds to his environment. I believe him when he says that he can draw people together. That seems to be the summary conclusion of most of his endorsers as well. I really feel, that if he get the nomination, unlikely though that might be at this stage, he will significantly expand the reach of the Democratic Party; I can't see Clinton or Edwards doing that.

In any case, I think we are seeing the emergence of a new force to be reckoned with in Obama, an honest and refreshing approach we sorely need.

I also hope the game Clinton backers have been playing in the last week, the worst of which was her black billionaire friends dig at Obama's teenage drug use (something most politicans would of course try to hide, not write about) does not resurface and the civility stays.

Posted by: Martin on January 16, 2008 at 10:25 AM | PERMALINK

The candidates may have agreed that the bankruptcy bill was a bad idea, but only Obama opposed both the '01 and '05 bills. He had a chance here to hammer his 'judgment' theme, since Hillary confessed to being against it (the '01 bill) after she was for it. But Obama kept the gloves on last night - though he did note that credit card industry lobbyists pushed hard for the bill that both his opponents voted for in '01.

Posted by: Asp on January 16, 2008 at 11:24 AM | PERMALINK

"But Obama kept the gloves on last night..."

Asp, I noticed this particular moment too. And good that Obama did keep the gloves on. I thought the answers of "mistake," "mistake," "I got it right" needed no more comment.

Posted by: nepeta on January 16, 2008 at 12:21 PM | PERMALINK

I think all three candidates were exceptional. I would be comfortable with any of the three as the nominee. I think the sight of a woman, a black male, and a white southern male debating where the country should be headed is truly transformational, regardless who one favors.

If only we could somehow combine Hillary's readiness, with Obama's hope and vision, with Edwards passion to do the right thing ... If only.

This race inevitably pits large important democratic constituencies against one another in a way never before -- women vs. Blacks vs. Latinos. Hopefully, from here on out, the dialogue will be as civil and productive as was this debate.

The big take away for me: We will have a winner in the fall.

Posted by: Econobuzz on January 16, 2008 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin wrote: "It's our first Kucinich-less debate."

Rep. Dennis Kucinich was interviewed by journalist Amy Goodman on the Pacifica Radio program Democracy Now this morning, where he responded to some of the questions that were asked during the NBC debate.

It is easy to see why the corporate-owned media (in this case, the network owned by General Electric) does not want Americans to hear what Kucinich has to say.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 16, 2008 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

Zathras wrote: "Just so we're clear: no Yucca Mountain, no expansion of nuclear power. You can't build more nuclear power plants if you don't have a place to store the resulting radioactive material."

Just so we're clear, you can't have an expansion of nuclear power with Yucca Mountain either, because the planned waste storage facility there would be filled within a few years of opening. It does not have the capacity to handle the waste from any significant expansion of nuclear power.

Even a large expansion of nuclear power would do little to reduce CO2 emissions from electricity generation, and it would accomplish that "little" at enormous cost and even more enormous risk. Moreover it would take far too long -- we need CO2 emissions to peak within the next few years and then steadily decline. Even if all the regulatory processes that are necessary for anything resembling "safe" construction of new nuclear plants were waived (which is what the industry wants) and even if the taxpayers are compelled to pay hundreds of billions of dollars in subsidies and loan guarantees (without which, private capital won't touch nuclear power), it would be at least a decade before a "new generation" of nuclear plants would be contributing much electricity to the grid.

The "nuclear renaissance" is a scam. There is no need for nuclear power to address global warming. By far the fastest, cheapest, best way to reduce emissions from electricity production is through demand-side improvements in efficiency and elimination of waste. And we can produce all the electricity we need with wind, solar and biomass, and that can be done faster, at lower cost, and with none of the risks of nuclear power.

I didn't see the debate but I understand that Edwards said that he not only opposes building the Yucca Mountain facility but is also opposed to the construction of any new nuclear power plants. If that's his position, then he won my vote right there as the only one of the "top three" candidates who is not pandering to the greed and lies of the nuclear industry.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 16, 2008 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

It's obvious that MSNBC priority if to get their questions answered before those of interest to the public. Those questions and hoped for answers are the topics and script for the Russerts and Matthews. Their competition and profit drives them to ignore there civic responsibility. This is a clear picture of how corporate influence shrouds and filters our news. We get what we pay for.

Posted by: fillphil on January 16, 2008 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

big wrote: "We can't achieve serious CO2 reductions without a significant nuclear wedge"

That's blatantly untrue. A January 2007 study by the American Solar Energy Society found that the USA could reduce its CO2 emissions by 60 to 80 percent within 20 years, without any expansion of nuclear power, through efficiency improvements and maximum exploitation of clean renewable energy sources (e.g. solar, wind, geothermal and biomass).

And an article in the current issue of Scientific American entitled "A Solar Grand Plan" shows how "A massive switch from coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear power plants to solar power plants could supply 69 percent of the US's electricity and 35 percent of its total energy by 2050", and even better, "If wind, biomass and geothermal sources were also developed, renewable energy could provide 100 percent of the nation’s electricity and 90 percent of its energy by 2100."

There is no need for any expansion of nuclear power to address global warming. On the contrary, nuclear power should be phased out with the existing nuclear power plants being shut down and decommissioned rather than relicensed when they reach the end of their operational life.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 16, 2008 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

"It is easy to see why the corporate-owned media (in this case, the network owned by General Electric) does not want Americans to hear what Kucinich has to say."

I always get a chuckle when I read this kind of stuff. I thought Kucinich should have been in the debate, but I think this attitude is getting into tinfoil hat territory. Do you really think the "corporate-owned media" fears Kucinich that much? I appreciate that the guy sticks to his guns and says what he believes, but he's been saying the same things for some time now, including in other debates, and it hasn't caused the rabble to rise up and overthrow the oligarchy. I really don't think the "corporate-owned media" spends a lot of time thinking about what Kucinich has to say.

I don't say this to ridicule Kucinich, it's just a fact.

Posted by: ChrisO on January 16, 2008 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

ChrisO wrote: "I really don't think the 'corporate-owned media' spends a lot of time thinking about what Kucinich has to say."

General Electric-owned NBC went all the way to the Nevada state supreme court to prevent Kucinich from appearing in the debate.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 16, 2008 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

I really don't think the "corporate-owned media" spends a lot of time thinking about what Kucinich has to say.

Nor do much of the population. More's the pity.

Posted by: E Henry Thripshaw on January 16, 2008 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK
….Definitely a mixed bag. Mike at 1:22 AM
OK, I take that back

...the 2005 bill provided $85.1 billion in tax breaks and authorized spending for the energy industry, as Taxpayers for Common Sense has thoroughly documented. It included huge handouts to the oil, coal, gas, and nuclear industries that the CRS report doesn't include in their analysis. Just a few of the many handouts in that energy bill: a 1.8 cent-per-kilowatt-hour production tax credit for new nuclear plants that will cost taxpayers up to $6 billion, $1.8 billion for "clean coal," and $1.55 billion for the "Texas Energy Center" in Sugar Land, Texas. So it's pretty fair for Clinton to peg the bill as the charity to the energy industry that is was....

It's definitely a bill Cheney would love.

Posted by: Mike on January 16, 2008 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

Tricolaco: I think Will Rogers (?) said it best:

"Republicans are the ones who complain that government doesn't work, and then get themselves elected to prove it."
Posted by: the neighbor

Actually, it was P.J. O'Rourke, in "The Parliament of Whores."

Posted by: craigie on January 16, 2008 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

"Both Clinton and Obama look exhausted."

How could they not be? The schedule of these primaries is punishing. After November, the Democrats have got to settle on a more reasonable, less punishing process for choosing nominees.

How about a prohibition on debates until Spring?
Evenly spaced primaries over several months late Spring/ early Summer, the sequence picked out of a hat.

All over by early Summer.

Posted by: bob h on January 16, 2008 at 5:48 PM | PERMALINK

A new study finds that John Edwards doesn't exist.

TPM

Posted by: nepeta on January 16, 2008 at 6:34 PM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: dkniqjwz on October 2, 2008 at 9:57 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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