Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 31, 2008

POST-DEBATE OPEN THREAD.... Well, wasn't that pleasant? No Wal-Mart, no Rezko, no race-based disputes. I can't help but think that the last debate, the ugliest of the campaign, annoyed so many people, both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama came into tonight knowing they had to be on their best behavior. They had plenty of opportunities to take some shots, but both carefully avoided confrontation.

I can never tell how people are going to respond to these debates -- in terms of who "won," or who had the best "zingers" -- but my first-blush reaction is that these two seemed to be at the top of their game. I thought Clinton was stronger on discussion of healthcare policy, which dominated the first hour, while Obama was stronger on Iraq, which dominated the second. (What's the old expression? "If you're explaining, your losing"? Clinton still seems awkward talking about her 2002 vote. She doesn't want to admit a mistake, but she also doesn't want to stand by her previous position. It leaves her in a tough spot, politically and rhetorically.)

I also noted repeated references to John McCain -- by my count, four from Obama and two from Clinton. They're already laying the groundwork for the general election, which is encouraging. (Obama also got a nice dig in on Romney, though at this point, it's probably unnecessary.)

So, what did you think?

Post Script: By the way, did CNN really need all of those cut-away shots to movie stars? Yes, it's Hollywood, we get it.

Steve Benen 10:17 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (189)

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Comments

two smart, engaged, informed candidates, a stark contrast to the past 7 years of mendacious idiocy.

Posted by: billy on January 31, 2008 at 10:18 PM | PERMALINK

Reducing the debate to a phrase, which is always fraught with peril, seem to be HIllary's experience versus Obama's judgement. I'll take the latter.

Posted by: Kawika on January 31, 2008 at 10:21 PM | PERMALINK

Obama has the momentum. HRC had to stop it. She didn't.

Posted by: Econobuzz on January 31, 2008 at 10:25 PM | PERMALINK

Going into tonight's debate, I was very much anti Clinton, leaning Obama. Senator Clinton seriously impressed me tonight and I felt proud to be a Democrat. The idea of both of these stellar candidates on the Dem ticket is tantalizing to say the least.

Posted by: drjimcooper on January 31, 2008 at 10:25 PM | PERMALINK

Another note: Obama didn't need to put Hillary on his short list, though it was a classy answer to a weird question, I get the sense that Obama would help Hillary on her ticket far more than she would help him on his ticket.

Posted by: Kawika on January 31, 2008 at 10:26 PM | PERMALINK

I thought HRC did better because of the substance of her answers. And I thought she got harder questions. So on the combination of those two, I give the debate to HRC. But I must say that this was a refreshing contrast to last night's Republican debate. Those guys were trying to out gun and out God each other. Good grief!

Posted by: Angel on January 31, 2008 at 10:28 PM | PERMALINK

If it is true that Senator Clinton actually proposed a five year freeze in interest rates, existing mortage, or otherwise, she has reached a level of idiocy that George W. Bush can only dream of. Either that, or she thinks that her fellow party members are largely comprised of gibbering chimps. Good gravy, at least McCain admits that he knows nothing about economics. She grows more Nixonian with each passing day.

Democrats really aren't going to pick her over Obama, are they?

Posted by: Will Allen on January 31, 2008 at 10:28 PM | PERMALINK

Compared to the GOP debate last night, the Dems have the 2 best candidates. Maybe the GOP could run the loser of the Dem primary. We would end up with a far better president than Bush or Huck McRomBee.

Bring in Edwards as AG to clean up the mess at DOJ and we have a trifecta.

Posted by: bakho on January 31, 2008 at 10:28 PM | PERMALINK

For some more info about the universal health care and mandates debate, you may wish to see my diary on dKos:

Why Obama and Clinton are both right and both wrong on health care mandates:

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2008/1/31/123659/474/505/446985

fyi.

Posted by: Dr.SteveB on January 31, 2008 at 10:28 PM | PERMALINK

The best debate I have seen in years. Now I am even more undecided about who to vote for next Tuesday. CNN did a good job with this format-smart audience-long time with big issues. FINALLY, we get to talk about ONE issue for at least a half hour! I thought I was watching a debate from the '70s or '80s again in that regard. Clinton did very well on the healthcare issue and Obama seemed to have a tough time with the lack of mandate issue. However, Clinton's idea about a 5-year interest rate freeze is a really bad one IMO, and I agree with Obama's dissent here.

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on January 31, 2008 at 10:30 PM | PERMALINK

I thought Obama did better than he has in other debates. He's not a great debater. The format usually doesn't work for him as well as it does for the other candidates because he tends to be a bit long winded. BUT, I thought Hillary was her usual super-bright self. Again, though, as Kawika says, I will take judgment any day. Obama has this (though I wished he had pounced on her more for her Iraq vote).

Posted by: teo on January 31, 2008 at 10:32 PM | PERMALINK

Wasn't it nice to see two candidates capable of actually talking about an issue without resorting to sound bites? Take your pick. Either way you are going to get a winner. I was proud of both of them.

Posted by: corpus juris on January 31, 2008 at 10:35 PM | PERMALINK

I hope the militants in either camp don't try to ruin the afterglow of this debate for Democrats. They both looked great. I'll still vote for Hillary but I'd be proud of either one who gets the nomination. Compared to the Repub debate last night, it was like sunshine and darkness.

Posted by: Vicki Williams on January 31, 2008 at 10:35 PM | PERMALINK

No, a five year interest rate freeze is not a "really bad" idea. It is perhaps the single dumbest proposal ever put forth by a presidential candidate in the post WWII era. Mollusks can do better than this. If you folks nominate this woman, despite the obvious contempt she has for you, your party is hopeless. I was saying about the same thing in regards to the two stooges from last night, but Senator Clinton made them look like giants.

Posted by: Will Allen on January 31, 2008 at 10:36 PM | PERMALINK

I'm about fed up with Blitzer - shut up and stop interrupting. The man is camera hog, geez. Carl Bernstein's comments immediately after the debate were total crap. As for the 'debate', it was a substantive discussion on most of the issues, especially on immigration. Clinton did well, and Barrack was no slacker. Overall, a good start to a democratic win in 2008. We've got along way to go until November. Beware of the evil Repug's, they are down and dirty when in a corner.

Posted by: Laura on January 31, 2008 at 10:39 PM | PERMALINK

The debate tonight was truly a class act! Made me proud to be a Democrat.

Also, I actually learned something from their discussions.

Posted by: Erika S on January 31, 2008 at 10:40 PM | PERMALINK

As the debate unfolded I couldn't help but think the whole time-- maybe they *could* turn into "Hillary/Obama '08" after all. The fact that the debate ended with that idea in the air makes me think that the panel was feeling the same thing.

It really was a fabulous, dignified debate and makes the Dems look like smart, informed grown-ups. We should all be proud.

Posted by: zoe kentucky on January 31, 2008 at 10:41 PM | PERMALINK

Will

I would normally agree with you, but have you noticed how quickly the Fed acted to drop rates and how fast the administration and congress came together to propose their lame ass stimulus package. Those people are all spooked. They don't know what the hell to do, but they do know that something wicked this way comes.

Lets see what people are saying in 6 weeks.


Posted by: corpus juris on January 31, 2008 at 10:43 PM | PERMALINK

Exactly my sentiments Erika.

I say either Obama/Clinton or Clinton/Obama would be a great ticket. Though I think if Clinton wins the nomination she will need Obama to win big later, whereas it isn't necessarily the case the other way around, though she would make a strong and formidable VP.

Makes me proud to be a Democrat. And proud to be an American.

Posted by: Manfred on January 31, 2008 at 10:46 PM | PERMALINK

I thought Hillary was fabulous.

Hillary made the case for her health care plan, her domestic agenda and her experience. Obama polished his Iraq position.

Obama was good. I really didn't like how he would censor the internet to protect the children. And I didn't like his dodging on the combined ticket.

The combined ticket is historic, and it would be foolish for any candidate to try to ignore it at this point. Traditionally you have a weak VP, but ironically Cheney has set the bar by showing how effect a powerful VP can do. Why not have two powerful executives instead of one?

Sure this hurts the assistants at the top of the totem polls and probably some of the deal making that goes on traditionally, but I can't see the dem base not being extremely disappointed if one or the other candidate does not step up for this historic opportunity.

Obama's Iraq response was very clear and got a good response from the audience. Hillary's explanation of the reality of being in the situation was also good. These realities made the gotta be right first time comment from Obama sound like Monday morning quarterbacking. It would be nice if Wolf stopped trying to frame the gotcha, and actually discussed what was happening at the time. He as much of anyone was swept along in the rhetoric, so it's a bit much for any press person to try to play gotcha on this.

Obama's desire to remove the thinking process was excellent. And I think hits harder against the pro-war lobby than Hillary, which has been the large unspoken problem through this whole affair.

Hillary was great at explaining the realities of policy making. I supported legislation for inspections not war, is essentially her argument. For people who care, this is more than enough. For people who want to find problems here they will always.

Posted by: smacfarl on January 31, 2008 at 10:47 PM | PERMALINK

Obama is the only politician (except maybe Ron Paul) that will give, and can give, an answer that polls badly and makes you respect him for it. Clinton (and McCain and Romney) always give the answer that polls best or doesn't answer.

"You can turn off the TV,""that is scapegoating,""can't force people to buy insurance if they don't want it," and on. He gave the answers with determination, issues Democrats have run from and fumbled on for 20 years.

I think Obama won not only the debate tonight, but the nomination. Hillary should get Reid's job though.

Posted by: Patrick on January 31, 2008 at 10:52 PM | PERMALINK

Steve Benen: "By the way, did CNN really need all of those cut-away shots to movie stars?"

Obviously, CNN concluded that women just can't get enough of Jason Alexander.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 31, 2008 at 10:55 PM | PERMALINK

It really was a fabulous, dignified debate and makes the Dems look like smart, informed grown-ups. We should all be proud.

What zoe said! (And nice to see you, zoe!)

Posted by: shortstop on January 31, 2008 at 10:56 PM | PERMALINK

Hillary made an excellent argument tonite for why she should be VP.

Posted by: lampwick on January 31, 2008 at 10:57 PM | PERMALINK

corpus, if you want to see spooked, wait until markets think that a five year interest rate freeze is around the bend. This is positively Nixonian in it's stupidity, and even he wasn't so contemptuous of the electorate that he attempted to campaign on wage and price controls. If any Democrat wants to take McCain to task for saying he knows nothing about economics, well, goodness, McCain is Keynes compared to this level of nitwittery. Again, I really don't think she is this dumb; she just thinks her fellow party members are.

Posted by: Will Allen on January 31, 2008 at 10:57 PM | PERMALINK

Steve Benen: "By the way, did CNN really need all of those cut-away shots to movie stars?"

C'mon, Steve -- you know that you were silently going ga-ga over Fran Drescher.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 31, 2008 at 11:06 PM | PERMALINK

Clinton still seems awkward talking about her 2002 vote. She doesn't want to admit a mistake, but she also doesn't want to stand by her previous position. It leaves her in a tough spot, politically and rhetorically.

If you think it's bad against Obama, I can't wait to see how it works out against McCain. For it before she was, well, not exactly against it but not exactly for it either.

That day that Kerry gave his Big Answer on Iraq was the day I knew he lost the race. I'm SO looking forward to going through 2004 all over again.

Posted by: DrBB on January 31, 2008 at 11:06 PM | PERMALINK

I thought Hillary looked more Presidential and out performed Obama hands down, she is smarter, more experienced and the better candidate for this election at this time.

Posted by: LS on January 31, 2008 at 11:07 PM | PERMALINK

She doesn't want to admit a mistake...

Nope.

But she can sure spin a web a words to hide the fact.

Thanks Mr. Blitzer for calling her on it.

Posted by: liberal historian on January 31, 2008 at 11:07 PM | PERMALINK

Will

I won't argue the policy. I lived through wage and price controls. I am just saying she wouldn't be proposing them if she wasn't being advised that they might be necessary.

A better resolution would be to change the bankruptcy code to give bankruptcy judges the power to adjust mortgage interest terms they way they can every other interest terms.

Then we ought to be passing some usury laws. Finally we ought to send some of the smart guys who decided to bundle bad loans with good up the river for a very long time.

Bush was asleep at the switch for far too long.

Posted by: corpus juris on January 31, 2008 at 11:12 PM | PERMALINK

"interest rate" not "interest terms." Preview is my friend.

Posted by: corpus juris on January 31, 2008 at 11:14 PM | PERMALINK

corpus, you don't need usury laws if you have a good bankruptcy code, and of course Senator Clinton carried a lot of water for the people who eventually made it a lot worse. Why on earth are so many Democrats smitten with this candidate?

Posted by: Will Allen on January 31, 2008 at 11:18 PM | PERMALINK

I have more respect for Hillary Clinton, more than before because the conduct of her campaign. However, Iraq, Iraq, Iraq. Her defense of the vote was not helped by her stating that she took the word of the Bush administration. That stood out, at least for me.

Barack Obama got a chance to display his wonkery, and he did well, especially with new voters looking at these two candidates of the first time. Hillary held her stuff, and showed her command of the issues. But then again, Obama did too, such as with his answers regarding health care or immigration. I don't want to go through it point by point, but I have to give it marginally over Obama (of course, you say). And it didn't help Hillary that Obama helped him out of her chair. It was classy, but politically a punch.

I try to be objective about it, but there you go. Both were great candidates though, and I did end up pretty impressed by where the Democratic Party is. Republicans suck.

Posted by: Boorring on January 31, 2008 at 11:18 PM | PERMALINK

Will

We wouldn't have so many people in bankruptcy if there weren't so many loan sharks.

Posted by: corpus juris on January 31, 2008 at 11:20 PM | PERMALINK

Corpus, sharks starve when people can just walk away. Why do you want to regulate prices, instead of just letting people who make poor risk assessments get hammered, or jailing people who commit fraud when repackaging loans for sale?

Posted by: Will Allen on January 31, 2008 at 11:24 PM | PERMALINK

corpus juris: "I lived through wage and price controls."

Oh, yeah? I still have my mother's WIN button. So there!

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 31, 2008 at 11:26 PM | PERMALINK

"Debates" are grossly overrated. I believe this came about because the Lincoln-Douglas debates were so notable that people hyped the Nixon-Kennedy debates as a long-awaited return to debating.

The quiz show debate formula, however, merely gives glib, quick on their feet candidates a stage to put out sound bites and image building, but are not real debates in which candidates discuss issues at length.

Posted by: Luther on January 31, 2008 at 11:32 PM | PERMALINK

Will

The sharks don't starve. The lay off their bad loans to "investors."

A banker friend of mine told me over lunch the other day that when banks started selling their loans to investors they lost any incentive to really qualify their borrowers. They would sell the loan. What did they care if they could see he borrower wouldn't be able to handle the mortgage reset. Some of the mortgage bankers were better than others, but the salesmen didn't suffer. They just moved on to the next sale. Their incentive was to get the borrower into as much house as they could. ARMS were perfect.

The mortgage bundlers knew they had a percentage of bad loans so they bundled them with good loans and sold bundled packages to bigger investors in New York and Europe. The big boys are the ones who are in trouble. They don't know how many good loans they have and how many are bad.

Posted by: corpus juris on January 31, 2008 at 11:35 PM | PERMALINK

Boorring: "And it didn't help Hillary that Obama helped him out of her chair. It was classy, but politically a punch."

Oh, really? Well, I think that when you start intepreting an expression of good manners as a political punch, then you're politically punch-drunk.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 31, 2008 at 11:35 PM | PERMALINK

I discuss a couple of the immigration-related bits here, as well as comments he made earlier in the day.

Some months ago, I went to one of his appearance in an attempt to ask him this question: youtube.com/watch?v=EiullH5jU1A

Unfortunately, he didn't have a Q&A session, so I wasn't able to ask him. However, based on my post, what do you think would happen if I were able to engage in on this topic and get in a few questions, get it on tape, and then upload it to Youtube?

Posted by: The annoying LonewackoDotCom on January 31, 2008 at 11:35 PM | PERMALINK

The question about a joint ticket was, to say the least, titillating. I'm ready to vote for either one in November; why not both?

Posted by: labradog on January 31, 2008 at 11:36 PM | PERMALINK

What's with this Obama/Clinton ticket stuff? Hillary doesn't add anything to the ticket if Obama's on top. It would bring out as many of the Anti-Hillary wingnuts as her being on the top of the ticket. Obama probably would do better to bring in someone who could help win some of the Western states.

Posted by: tomeck on January 31, 2008 at 11:38 PM | PERMALINK

I discuss a couple of the immigration-related bits here, as well as comments he made earlier in the day.

Some months ago, I went to one of his appearance in an attempt to ask him this question: youtube.com/watch?v=EiullH5jU1A

Unfortunately, he didn't have a Q&A session, so I wasn't able to ask him. However, based on my post, what do you think would happen if I were able to engage him on this topic, ask him a few questions, get it on tape, and then upload it to Youtube?

I'd say a couple hundred thousand views later the Dems would be looking for a new candidate.

Posted by: The annoying LonewackoDotCom on January 31, 2008 at 11:38 PM | PERMALINK

The annoying LonewackoDotCom: "However, based on my post, what do you think would happen if I were able to engage in on this topic [of illegal immigration] and get in a few questions, get it on tape, and then upload it to Youtube?"

I think you'd probably get a phone call tomorrow, inviting you to join other volunteers in building a 700-mile-long fence in the middle of the Sonoran Desert ...

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 31, 2008 at 11:40 PM | PERMALINK

Well, corpus, the solution to people who engage in fraud when selling assets is to jail them. Regulating prices is not a good solution to fraud.

Posted by: Will Allen on January 31, 2008 at 11:40 PM | PERMALINK

BS. Enough with the inside the blogoshpere talking points. Boo Hoo, we no like when candidates argue.

Since you live in the blogoshere and not reality let me clue you in.

People loved Obama standing up to Hillary. Did you happen to notice the results in SC.

You make the MSM seem normal.

Posted by: Ken on January 31, 2008 at 11:47 PM | PERMALINK
"Oh, really? Well, I think that when you start intepreting an expression of good manners as a political punch, then you're politically punch-drunk."

Let's not be so naive.

Posted by: Boorring on January 31, 2008 at 11:47 PM | PERMALINK

The beauty of Obama's comment about Romney is that it showed off his Reaganesque wit (and I mean that has a compliment).

The guy is a natural. I hope Democratic voters can see that.

Posted by: Rich on January 31, 2008 at 11:50 PM | PERMALINK

Obama and Clinton vs. McBain and Knucklehead - BRING IT ON!

Posted by: lampwick on January 31, 2008 at 11:52 PM | PERMALINK

If Hillary can't give a straight answer now about her 2002 vote to start the war in Iraq, how can we trust anything she says when she's in office?

Posted by: Elliott on January 31, 2008 at 11:52 PM | PERMALINK

tomeck: "It would bring out as many of the Anti-Hillary wingnuts as her being on the top of the ticket. Obama probably would do better to bring in someone who could help win some of the Western states."

And you could do better than to urge Democrats to let those GOP wingnuts dictate who's on our party's ticket.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 31, 2008 at 11:54 PM | PERMALINK

Will Allen: the solution to people who engage in fraud when selling assets is to jail them

Good luck with the criminal prosecution, where you have to show, beyond any reasonable doubt, that people violated existing statutes, as opposed to simply making bad decisions.

Really, your emotional "throw them in jail" line is not very helpful.

Regulating prices is not a good solution to fraud.

In the case of interest rates though it does help ensure that creditors don't indulge in needlessly risky behavior. But I probably got that idea from reading well known Communists like Adam Smith.

Posted by: alex on January 31, 2008 at 11:57 PM | PERMALINK

Haha...I saw the gentlemanly chair pull for Hillary not only gender-related but also age-related. A good move by Obama in my estimation. Maybe it will impress some of those over-65 women, Obama's smallest constituency. And those of us who are younger...eh, no big deal.

Posted by: nepeta on January 31, 2008 at 11:57 PM | PERMALINK

Boorring: "Let's not be so naive."

You first.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 31, 2008 at 11:57 PM | PERMALINK

Since this is a mostly Democratic board, what do people think about the CNN panel not asking why neither candidate supports single-payer?

The fact is that a substantial constituency in the Democratic Party supports this approach to health care. It happened that no candidate who did made it this far. But this isn't really a good reason for the media not to ask candidates to discuss it.

Posted by: Zathras on January 31, 2008 at 11:58 PM | PERMALINK

Obama/Napolitano? Lots of vowels, but otherwise formidable

Posted by: Subliminability on February 1, 2008 at 12:01 AM | PERMALINK

Zathras: Since this is a mostly Democratic board, what do people think about the CNN panel not asking why neither candidate supports single-payer?

It would have been a serious omission if this had been a debate between Democrats. But Republican-Lites? Who cares.

P.S. Sorry to tell you, but Truman is dead and Feingold ain't running.

Posted by: alex on February 1, 2008 at 12:01 AM | PERMALINK

If Romney wants to win himself some GOP love, he should slip Ralph Nader a check for $50 million.

Posted by: lampwick on February 1, 2008 at 12:05 AM | PERMALINK
"You first.'

Your constant combativeness with everybody else reassures me why you are physically on the farthest edge of this country.

Posted by: Boorring on February 1, 2008 at 12:06 AM | PERMALINK

I have been a big supporter of Barack Obama since the 2004 Democratic Covention. I find him to be extremely inspirational and I was very moved by the recent Kenneddy endorsement. Unfortunately tonight he appeared lost and childish. Many times he raised his hand seeming to almost for permission to speak, like a child in grammar school. Most of his answers were mumbles. I look forward to better days...

Posted by: Augie Gorbea on February 1, 2008 at 12:08 AM | PERMALINK

Very good debate. Hilary is very good in this format, and I thought gave a clearer explanation of her health care plan-although I like Obama's plan better, he was not clear on what it would mean to the average voter. When HRC presented her plan simply as an option to buy into the congressional plan if you choose, you could see people nodding their heads in agreement-nice way to simplify a complex topic. I like her a lot more when she's not in attack dog mode-it lets her grasp of the issues shine through.

Other than that, I though Obama had a slight edge elsewhere, other than Iraq, where he has a big edge, IMO. Really liked his answer on immigration, where he resisted the temptation for an easy pander on scapegoating Mexican immigrants. HRC, as on the Iraq withdrawal discussion, seemed to try to cover every base, and ended up not really saying anything that you could hang your hat on.

In general, I thought he did a nice job of drawing some clear distinctions between him and HRC without distorting her record or trying to draw blood (as in the last debate with the Walmart crack). Fit better with his less partisan approach.

Also, I though he benefits a bit from what you always hear about when a challenger gets to debate an incumbent-just sharing the stage with the established candidate and showing folks new to the race that you measure up helps him some, I think. His debating style still needs sharpening, but he's improving.

Posted by: Chris on February 1, 2008 at 12:09 AM | PERMALINK

Zathrias: "Since this is a mostly Democratic board, what do people think about the CNN panel not asking why neither candidate supports single-payer?"

That didn't escape me, either. But I also happen to think that a single-payer system is inevitable -- business interests will insist on one as health premiums continue to escalate -- so the current respective public stances of the two remaining candidates probably won't matter in the long run.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on February 1, 2008 at 12:13 AM | PERMALINK

Zathras, the candidates did mention single-payer in their responses. Basically, they thought it wasn't "viable". I was shocked they actually spent over half an hour on health care. However, I would have been even happier if they would have devoted *another* half-hour discussing single-payer.

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on February 1, 2008 at 12:15 AM | PERMALINK

Boorring: "Your constant combativeness with everybody else reassures me why you are physically on the farthest edge of this country."

Sounds like someone's up past their bedtime.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on February 1, 2008 at 12:18 AM | PERMALINK

Doc, Just wondering... Why were you shocked that they spent a lot of time on healthcare?

Posted by: nepeta on February 1, 2008 at 12:22 AM | PERMALINK

I was just expecting a lot of quick questions with only enough time for quick sound bites in response. It was just refreshing to see them allowed enough time to respond and not having the time urgency that creates nothing but interruptions, etc. Of course narrowing the field to two made that easier I'll admit.

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on February 1, 2008 at 12:26 AM | PERMALINK

Augie Gorbea: "I have been a big supporter of Barack Obama since the 2004 Democratic Covention. I find him to be extremely inspirational and I was very moved by the recent Kenneddy endorsement. Unfortunately tonight he appeared lost and childish."

I don't think you have anything to worry about. I thought Obama did just fine, as did most of the reviews I've read thus far. The adult-oriented discussion he and Mrs. Clinton had tonight certainly did our party proud, and I'll be happy to walk my precinct in support of either one -- or maybe even both! -- come this fall.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on February 1, 2008 at 12:27 AM | PERMALINK

Doc, I see!!! I thought it was a criticism. Yes, I also enjoyed the longer responses. The longer the response, usually the more info imparted.

Posted by: nepeta on February 1, 2008 at 12:31 AM | PERMALINK

I was somewhat undecided going in, but I thought Hillary was fantastic tonight. She just knows her stuff inside out. At this point, I think Obama is better as a VP -- he is a little inexperienced.

RE: Iraq
I think Obama gets TOO MUCH credit for a speech he gave in 2002, when he was waffling by 2004. As a Senator, he has voted exactly like Clinton. He is no Feingold on this issue. I like that Hillary put her vote in the context of what they as senators were going through. I also appreciated her reminders of the problems Iraq posed in the 1990's and how that factored into her vote.

I'm California and voting for Clinton on Tuesday! Clinton/Obama ticket in the Fall!

Posted by: rashad davis on February 1, 2008 at 12:33 AM | PERMALINK

Not look at movie stars? Don't you even know the big news of the day? And let me ask you, is Adnan a good influence on Britney? Is Sam? And what of her parents?

Will she ever regain her smokin' eroticized girlish body?

These are the questions America wants answered, Mr. Snootypants.

Posted by: Anon on February 1, 2008 at 12:35 AM | PERMALINK

And you could do better than to urge Democrats to let those GOP wingnuts dictate who's on our party's ticket.

Donald - aware always that I'm speaking from the position of outsider - a quick question... re. the above, I can well understand why those who may come out to vote against a candidate shouldn't be the consideration, and maybe not even one of the main ones, but I can't for the life of me see why can't see it shouldn't be a consideration in determining who you think the candidate should be.

Posted by: snicker-snack on February 1, 2008 at 12:48 AM | PERMALINK

snicker-snack, you pose a good question.

I guess the way I feel about it is the fact that we're never going to please the wackadoo-wingnuts, and further, given that they make up a relatively small portion of the overall electorate, why bother?

If it's not the Clintons that sets them off, it's going to be MoveOn.org, Howard Dean's "scream", Dan Rather, etc.

I think we get off our own game plan when we overstate their influence, so my attitude is "fuck 'em!" In the face of their opposition, Bill Clinton won two elections and survived impeachment. Let's not forget that, and not allow extremist minorities to set our agenda.

So, the next time you encounter my right-wing Uncle Erv, just do like I do -- laugh in his face, call him a moron, and move on past him without a second thought. He'll sputter and fume, but he'll get over the slight, and get back to his favorite topic, ranting about how the Mexicans are taking over California.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on February 1, 2008 at 1:09 AM | PERMALINK

snicker-snack, It I may be so bold, the reasons to not let the other party's wingnuts have a part in deciding who we should nominate are as follows:

1) It's out party, not the damn wingnuts.

2) What we think the wingnuts will do is only conventional wisdom and is often completely fucking wrong.

3) We tried factoring that in for the '04 cycle and fell on our ass because of it.

Posted by: RalphB on February 1, 2008 at 1:12 AM | PERMALINK

The big news tonight was that Fox News picked Obama!

Hannity and Colmes had a Luntz run study audience that fell over themselves to pick Obama!

Fox News for Obama! He's the next Rudy!

Posted by: patience on February 1, 2008 at 1:32 AM | PERMALINK

Meanwhile, nefarious cheese-eating surrender monkeys plot to undermine the Great White North.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on February 1, 2008 at 1:39 AM | PERMALINK

Donald, a fair answer.

Ralph, understand the sentiment. I have always preferred the Paul Wellstone approach myself - you can win over a lot of people who might be against you on the issues because you show you know where you're going and believe in where you're going. And that people can be convinced - if you can get past their tribal markers. I guess it's here that I differ and would pay attention to which candidate I felt had the best chance of doing this - while not making this my main consideration and knowing that the GOP will try to paint any candidate as the spawn of Satan.

Posted by: snicker-snack on February 1, 2008 at 1:39 AM | PERMALINK

Were that they were surrender monkeys and there were no more referendums... still, confederation has to show that it is strong enough to accomodate the desires of the very large minority who see independence as the best solution. A big problem is the north of Quebec which like Ossetia in Georgia is firmly set against a split. Do they then have the democratic right to split from the split?... the PQ says no.

Posted by: snicker-snack on February 1, 2008 at 1:49 AM | PERMALINK

snicker-snack: Do they then have the democratic right to split from the split?... the PQ says no.

They probably say no because that's where the hydro power comes from.

Posted by: alex on February 1, 2008 at 2:13 AM | PERMALINK

Both were excellent and if the general election was about policy issues, it would be a very tough call, however... still comes down to who will be stronger against McCain.

And there is no question that Obama is the stronger candidate in GE. Nothing will motive the Republican base like selecting Hillary as the Dem nominee, it is in fact the only chance they have at keeping the White House.

Hopefully it's not just the Republicans who factor in electability when choosing a nominee because I'm tired of losing elections we should win.

Posted by: ben on February 1, 2008 at 2:36 AM | PERMALINK

Did anyone else catch Rachel Maddow accusing Hillary of race-baiting and "craveness" on MSNBC's post-debate special? (With regard to her response about illegal immigration's effect on African-Americans.) I thought that was completely ridiculous.

I enjoyed Josh Marshall, though.

Posted by: Caitlin on February 1, 2008 at 2:39 AM | PERMALINK

I think a Clinton/Obama ticket would be a stupid move for Obama and for the party. Whoever is her VP will be relegated to a pretty minor role because, let's face facts, Bill will get more attention than any VP. And as much as we might not want to admit it, 8 years in the first Clinton administration brought about the end of Al Gore's political career. If the next Clinton administration is even half as contentious as the first, I'd hate to see Obama pay the price for that. And he certainly doesn't need to be on the ticket to help her campaign.

Posted by: samc on February 1, 2008 at 3:49 AM | PERMALINK

I think this debate also may explain why Edwards pulled out when he did and if so then last night showed he made a good call IMHO. He came to the conclusion he would only be a spoiler and at best a kingmaker at the convention but that the drawn out primary to get there would be too damaging to the party to chance it risking a November defeat. So he pulled out without endorsing or hinting whatsoever a preference so as to allow these two to have the stage to themselves and hopefully use it to do what both did last night. Not only did each candidate make their pitches for themselves they also showed a mature responsible and intelligent discussion between the two Democratic choices for President while the GOP looked ridiculous by comparison the previous night.

This way each candidate got to make their case to not just his supporters, on which one to vote for Super Tuesday but also the wider audience as well which I think Clinton took the maximum advantage of tonight, more so than Obama whose performance was the best I had seen of him to date. He did quite well, but she was really steady and on, with only a few flat moments and she kept turning potentially explosively dangerous questions into talking about her own positives. This time she spent no time trying to tear down Obama (which he did take a few shots at which only made her contrast stand out that much moore I think) but instead built herself up, especially given the nastiness/ugliness of some of the questions tossed to her from Politico.com and in particular she did a great job of turning around the dynasty question getting the biggest reaction from the crowd of the night by a not inconsequential margin.

It will be interesting to see how this shakes out over the next few days in the polls (for what limited worth they have when they have any at all these days) as well as the results of next Tuesday. I think Obama was gaining on her, but I think she may have done herself a lot of good in terms of slowing down his advance not by tearing him down but by shining so brightly herself, something many people still do not see her capable of, much like AA's didn't believe Obama could win until Iowa showed them his getting so many white votes in a white State.

I also think that Obama's verbal ticks, his stuttering and hesitations that showed up whenever he needed to think a moment (as in from fractions of a second to a second, not longer pauses) for what to say next especially in the first half may have significantly undercut his ability to project confidence/CinC persona and competence, something he needed to do in this debate especially and just his bad luck HRC was able to project those throughout the entire event with such strength and consistency, it was one of her better performances too I'd say. The dissections in the media over the next day or so will be interesting to watch to see what they try to do with it specifically and the debate itself more broadly. As someone said here or in another thread somewhere this evening this felt like being back in the 70s-80s where debates actually had substance to them instead of what they have become in modern 21C politics.

Posted by: Scotian on February 1, 2008 at 3:55 AM | PERMALINK

While I think Hillary projected better on the issues, she came across much like Kerry and Gore did, so I fully predict that Obama will be looked at as the winner (especially with how th deabte cosed and with what was the only applause line of the night that actually had any substance too it "Right from day One."

Posted by: socraticsilence on February 1, 2008 at 4:21 AM | PERMALINK

Scotian,

I don't know why his "stuttering" bothers you. Personally, it shows that he actually has to think about his answer. Just watching him think is one of his most fascinating qualities. Hillary gives pretty answers without even taking a breath, but it only suggests that her answers are well rehearsed rather than well thought-out.

Posted by: Natascha on February 1, 2008 at 4:30 AM | PERMALINK

"Your constant combativeness with everybody else reassures me why you are physically on the farthest edge of this country." - Bore

"Sounds like someone's up past their bedtime." - Donald


To quote the great William Blake, "Listen to a fool's reproach, for it is a kingly title."

Keep up the good work Donald, I love your informed and level-headed views on this site.

Posted by: Captain on February 1, 2008 at 5:13 AM | PERMALINK
""scotian, Yes, I'm sure many of us noticed Obama and his 'gentlemanly' gesture at the end of the debate. Funny, not only did I see it as a gender issue but also as an 'age' issue." Posted by: nepeta on January 31, 2008 at 11:09 PM

Nepata:

I didn't want to go there this evening, I know enough people here already think I am shilling for HRC and I thought if I threw my perceptions on the age thing it wouldn't help. We may see this a bit differently, my problem with what he did was that such manners are not terribly consistent with someone of his generation to make it an automatic/natural/subconscious move. So this was a deliberate decision and while I am willing to give the benefit of the doubt on motive it could also be seen as evidence he was playing male dominance games with the woman. That also was factored in to why I did not agree that it was clearly "classy" and a positive for Obama without any other reasonable/plausible explanation, let alone a dark one."Scotian

Looks like I'm in good company.

Posted by: Boorring on February 1, 2008 at 6:22 AM | PERMALINK

The Hollywood setting (and seeing Bradley Whitford in the audience) got me thinking --

If Obama is the Democratic nominee and McCain is the Republican one, isn't that in some wierd way more than a mere echo of the last season of West Wing?

I'd like that ending but hope we can get there without the nuclear accident!

Posted by: clarice on February 1, 2008 at 6:22 AM | PERMALINK

Both did very well, but I thought that Hillary won. Obama seemed snippy to me at times. However, on substance-and on behavior-it was a good debate.

Posted by: Susan on February 1, 2008 at 6:30 AM | PERMALINK

The important thing was Bill was no place to be seen. He needs to fade into the background and let Hillary win this on her own.

Posted by: vrk on February 1, 2008 at 6:45 AM | PERMALINK

Will Allen, my understanding is that Hillary's proposal is not to freeze interest rates of bread and butter thirty year fixed mortgages but to try to find a policy solution to the option arm, ballooning, rate adjustments which are just now beginning to set in on the country, especially in California and the Northeast. Many people aren't aware that we are just now entering the cusp of resets in this category. This is going to lead to problems at least as great as the 'subprime' crisis.

Underlying the securitization and spiraling leverage behind Alt-A jumbo loans, was a completely flawed risk analysis which depended a future of rising housing prices which would allow people to refinance before reset. Certainly an individual is responsible for the contracts they sign, but the reality of the situation is that not only the borrowers were wrong but everyone in a position of influence from government to banking. The difficulty for policy is the question of whether to allow the market to take its course, but this seems to portend a complete macroeconomic death spiral and the insolvency of the entire banking system.

You advocate for people to behave based on economic incentives, but if the wave of jumbo loan resets is allowed to take its course, there will be absolutely no economic reason for any homeowner in California who purchased their home after the year 2000 not to mail in the keys. Please supply the economic reason for a family to pay 10,000 per month to support a depreciating investment, maybe having equity in ten years, when they can walk away, pay 3,000 in rent, and put the 7,000 in a real investment.

There are lots of issues of contract law regarding the integrity of the original securitization, these might be outweighed by the serious problems with the modeling. It is a difficult question. Many say that the only solution will be to let prices return to historical norms, and there is merit to that. However, people neglect to reconcile even the idea that when prices fall in a panic, they overshoot historical norms, as well as people neglect to reconcile a possible future involving the complete collapse of the banking system. At the very core, the structure of the banking system isn't a market function, but a government function.

Posted by: wetzel on February 1, 2008 at 7:26 AM | PERMALINK

In the past I've thought that Hillary was channeling Ellen Degeneres, then that she'd developed an Iron Chef stare, last night it seemed she was evoking Rosanne Barr at times - with a sort of lobotomized half grin.

Posted by: leo on February 1, 2008 at 7:32 AM | PERMALINK

took the word of the Bush administration

How many of us knew what a lying sack of offal Bush was back in 2002? There are millions and millions of American who identify with Hillary on that one.

Posted by: Sharon on February 1, 2008 at 7:36 AM | PERMALINK

The question about a joint ticket was, to say the least, titillating

I got the impression the subject had come up before between the two candidates. They both beamed when it did.

Posted by: Sharon on February 1, 2008 at 7:41 AM | PERMALINK

What struck me for the first time, ever, was that Obama & Clinton do actually seem to like & respect eachother, despite the inherently adversarial nature of their relationship. The public has been continually fed this narrative about the profound antipathy between the two & that certainly has been true of their impassioned campaign offices, testy surrogates & rabid supporters. And, in earlier debates with John Edwards & others, their protests of mutual regard have tended to seem more strategic than sincere. But during this first ever one-on-one, with both of them frequently in the same camera shot, I couldn't help but notice how often they both smiled, laughed, LISTENED & nodded approvingly at their rivals response. Maybe I'm just being hoodwinked by 2 seasoned media performers who realise going negative is doing neither of them any good, but it definitely seemed to me like genuine respect & high regard, and I really, really liked it. They both deserve it & either would make an incredible President.

BTW, for those who claim Clinton's successful candidacy would fatally unite the GOP & that she's particularly vulnerable to McCain...they should check out the deep fracture occuring in right-wing radio & the conservative blogosphere. For example, Michele Malkin & Glenn Beck have both just declared that if it's down to Clinton/McCain they'd stay home. Loads of other Latino-phobic McCain haters have recently claimed they'd vote for Clinton over McCain. Clinton might somewhat unite the GOP, but McCain's candidacy seems to significantly counter that effect. The only other option, a Romney run, seems even less able to unite & motivate the GOP base.

Profound thanks to the Republicans for choosing the 2 most flippidy-floppedy, divisive candidates possible.

Posted by: DanJoaquinOz on February 1, 2008 at 7:46 AM | PERMALINK

The interest rate freeze is only on subprime mortgages. It is for five years per individual mortgage, or until a new mortgage can be arranged. Millions of these mortgages are likely to be defaulted on so the banks will be left holding properties which will be hard to sell and whose values have plummeted. The banks will be better off getting less than the high interest rates were supposed to bring in, because it will be more than they will have if people default.

Posted by: BernieO on February 1, 2008 at 7:47 AM | PERMALINK

why neither candidate supports single-payer

I thought Clinton made a convincing case that, given the realities of big insurance opposition, universal healthcare must be approached incrementally to have any chance of success. She learned that lesson the hard way.

Posted by: Sharon on February 1, 2008 at 7:49 AM | PERMALINK

By the way, the Clintons have always had extremely qualified, capable economic advisers, so if what you read about her proposals seems crazy, I suggest you do some homework. It's not like she makes this stuff up or listens to Steve "Flat Tax" Forbes.

Posted by: BernieO on February 1, 2008 at 7:50 AM | PERMALINK

with a sort of lobotomized half grin.

You got it exactly. And the incessant nodding of the head. Like a hypnotized snake.

Posted by: frankyo on February 1, 2008 at 7:52 AM | PERMALINK

It was just refreshing to see them allowed enough time to respond

We need to send CNN positive feedback on that. They finally got it right. Wolf kept trying for the gotcha..."that was a swipe at you"...but neither of them bit. They forced him to knock it off. Good for them.

Posted by: Sharon on February 1, 2008 at 7:57 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe I'm just being hoodwinked by 2 seasoned media performers who realise going negative is doing neither of them any good, but it definitely seemed to me like genuine respect & high regard, and I really, really liked it. They both deserve it & either would make an incredible President.

I liked it, too, including the bit at the end where they were happily yukking it up in a private exchange--definitely real mirth there. Throughout the debate it, felt like there was a real connection. That is reassuring, given that we're going to need to work hard as a party to seal the deal with the voters in the general.

Posted by: shortstop on February 1, 2008 at 8:01 AM | PERMALINK

And you could do better than to urge Democrats to let those GOP wingnuts dictate who's on our party's ticket.

Take off the rose glasses that sees dictation where dictation doesn't exist.
You are stumbling around false ideas here like Mr. Magoo.

The idea is to put forward the best Democratic candidate who will have the broadest coat-tails AND who is likable enough to get something done.

To not consider the country as a whole, or the political climate as a criteria, is just plain dumb.

Suggestion: Get out from under your knee-jerk GOP hate, and start seriously thinking about how the liberal agenda might actually be enacted.

Posted by: liberal historian on February 1, 2008 at 8:05 AM | PERMALINK

Did anyone else catch Rachel Maddow accusing Hillary of race-baiting and "craveness"

I did and I was shocked and disappointed. And what's with all the lipstick and eye makeup? A new look and a new outlook?

Posted by: Sharon on February 1, 2008 at 8:05 AM | PERMALINK

Keep up the good work Donald, I love your informed and level-headed views on this site.

Me too, Donald, I check this site more for your comments than for anything else. I'm also becoming a Scotian fan.

And I also like that you have the courage to do a smack-down when it's required. These people can be brutal. You're a better man than I am. LOL

Posted by: Sharon on February 1, 2008 at 8:13 AM | PERMALINK

The important thing was Bill was no place to be seen. He needs to fade into the background and let Hillary win this on her own.

Bill was off-site trashing Ted Kennedy. Just can't keep his mouth shut.

Posted by: Econobuzz on February 1, 2008 at 8:23 AM | PERMALINK

How many of us knew what a lying sack of offal Bush was back in 2002? There are millions and millions of American who identify with Hillary on that one.

I don't think this gets her off the hook. If she made a point of saying "I was deluded; it was a wrong decision," and turned the whole issue back on W, then this might be persuasive. But that isn't at all the line she's taken. Instead, she spent a long time defending it and toughing it out, and more recently just tries to blur it over.

I foresee another Kerry Moment in our near future. She's positioned herself to have no clear answer to the One Single Issue that is going to be central to John McCain's campaign. It's going to be Lefty Mush vs "moral clarity" once again--I don't see any way around that.

Everyone says Iraq's importance has slipped in voters' roster of concerns. But as a matter of political framing, I think this vote is a major major weakness. She may have any number of differences from the GOP in her record, but against all that this vote can be used at any point to fix her irrevocably in shades-of-difference, kinda-against-it-before-I-was-for-it-then-kinda-sorta-against-it land. Against which McCain will seem resolute and decisive--the way the press has and will continue to portray him.

She might in the end eke out a win in spite of it. But this is precisely what makes the difference between Obama and HRC in my mind. Clinton is geared up to fight this as yet another 50 + 1% election. Obama has framed it as a sea change election. He's been quite canny about framing it in a relentlessly positive way, but the message contains a powerful if implicit repudiation of the GOP's divide-and-rule strategy in general and Bushism in particular as the most recent and repugnant expression thereof.

We need this election to be a repudiation of Bushism, however that gets across. Given that, I prefer the candidate who is structuring his whole strategy around having this election be--and equally important, be perceived as, a sea change election. I think he's right that the potential is there. Maybe he can carry it off, maybe not. If he fails to persuade the D's in the primaries, so be it. I'll do what I can for Hillary's +1%. But until then Obama represents our shot at something more, and that's where I'm putting my primary vote.

Posted by: DrBB on February 1, 2008 at 8:33 AM | PERMALINK

The civil tone was probably more due to John Edwards than any new found camaraderie. Edwards probably read the riot act about sniping and both are now trying to behave.

There is one and only one explanation for Obama's sudden manners: His nasty little snub and emotional immaturity at the State of the Union was finally noticed by the msm. He needed to work on his image.

Posted by: Chrissy on February 1, 2008 at 8:35 AM | PERMALINK

Barack Obama's Health Care is the Same Universal Health Care offered by Hillary and Edwards, but with one Major Difference: You Have the Option of Choice!

We as a nation have to decide, do we want to be forced to pay for universal medical insurance, like we are mandated to pay for auto insurance now? Or would we rather have the option of CHOICE -- to be able to decide whether or not we want to buy our medical coverage when we think the time is right?

Barack Obama's plan thoughtfully does not want to put another mandated cost, like auto insurance, on the backs of the people, especially the young, who already have college costs to contend with. However, the coverage is always there for you, if and when you need it. That is our decision and our choice!

Posted by: Angellight on February 1, 2008 at 8:44 AM | PERMALINK

Obviously, CNN concluded that women just can't get enough of Jason Alexander.

Jason Alexander? Fran Drescher? I have no idea who these people are.

Posted by: Lucy on February 1, 2008 at 8:55 AM | PERMALINK

Me too, Donald, I check this site more for your comments than for anything else. I'm also becoming a Scotian fan.

I would rather be feared than admired; I would rather be held up as an example of what power can do to the weak and the inept than loved.

There is one and only one explanation for Obama's sudden manners: His nasty little snub and emotional immaturity at the State of the Union was finally noticed by the msm. He needed to work on his image.

I have noticed that as well, and it has nothing to do with the man per se; liberals are snub-happy people who like to turn their back on you in public and who like to sneer at you. Witness the snark I'm subjected to on a daily basis; witness the vehemence with which people use to attack me when all I do is explain why you are wrong about things. Liberals are rude in public, and in private they are downright nasty.

While campaigning in Iowa in 1988, I happened to come across the campaign for Senator Joe Biden. Biden was still in the race and had not dropped out due to his 'plagiarism' and was trying to get people in the restaurant inside of the Des Moines hotel to engage and talk to him. They were decent people, Republicans one and all, and they wouldn't have anything to do with him. I was at the bar, watching all of this, and Biden came over to me and tried to make small talk. I said I was a Pete DuPont man, and Biden scowled at me and said something about Pete's lack of name recognition in the hinterland. I took exception, and grabbed Biden by the arm. He took me by the seat of my pants and by my collar and threw me through a set of swinging doors and into the kitchen area. I scrambled to my feet and took a tub full of fresh-cut lettuce and banged him on the head with it. He grabbed my shoulder and tried to pull me back into the bar area, but I swept him off of his feet with a vicious fan kick. The patrons separated us, words were exchanged, and I tried to shake hands with him. He refused.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on February 1, 2008 at 8:58 AM | PERMALINK

I liked it, too, including the bit at the end where they were happily yukking it up in a private exchange--definitely real mirth there.

shortstop's take gives me pause, since I was thinking at that moment, "They hate each other's guts."

Whatever, I enjoyed the collegial tone of the debate. I had missed Wednesday's Republican offering but finally caught some snippets yesterday. Holy cow. I'm beginning to feel a bit more optimistic about our chances.

Posted by: Lucy on February 1, 2008 at 9:05 AM | PERMALINK

Now that Ralph Nader is "exploring" an '08 run, I'm wondering who runs better against Nader?

Posted by: coldhotel on February 1, 2008 at 9:09 AM | PERMALINK

Had I thought about it ahead of time, I would have said that nothing could cheer me up more on this nasty, snowy day than Norman regaling us with tales of a knock-down-drag-out with Joe Biden.

Posted by: shortstop on February 1, 2008 at 9:33 AM | PERMALINK

I may be in the minority here, but I found the debate very difficult to watch. There were a number of times in which HRC just rambled on and on, clearly dodging the question. I lost her on several of those rambles (especially when she talked about launching a PR campaign for health care reform - at least I think that's what she was suggesting) and I thought she suffered from a classic debate syndrome - trying to fill space when a short, succint answer would serve better.

In fact, I though Hillary was much, much sharper on the policy issues in South Carolina. I would not rate last night as one of her finer debates.

Not only that, I think that Obama pretty much controlled or pushed the agenda. He pushed the McCain card and the Iraq card which I think are devestating to Hillary's chances (she can't really position herself as the anti-war alternative in the general since she voted for the war, Obama can, and that's a key selling point). Hillary was reactive to those points, going so far as to suggest that her vote in '02 made sense at the time, but that Bush screwed it up. Obama beat her back on that point as well with his, "everyone knew the day after the vote we were going to war." I know I felt that way after the vote and I found HRC's response to that question to be, politely, awful.

I also thought that Hillary rambled on in terms of Immigration. She didn't have a particularly coherent answer and while Obama didn't get down into the policy options, he sold his commitment to the issue and his commitment to not scapegoating which I know will sell well in California.

That being said, I don't pretend to pass on these points as anything other than my own. Going back to 2001 my opinions and predictions for American politics haven't exactly been spot on. I also admit to being in the Obama corner and that undoubtedly influences my views on these issues.

On a final note, some people have suggested that Obama could join Hillary's ticket. I will politely suggest that there's no F-ing way that's going to happen. Obama's entire campaign speil has been based on a different, above the fray politics. He CAN'T join up with Hillary without proving that speil a total lie and fabrication. She stands for the type of politics he is against, so, all wishful thinking aside, it's EITHER/OR not Either/and.

Posted by: Nobcentral on February 1, 2008 at 9:37 AM | PERMALINK

I would have said that nothing could cheer me up more on this nasty, snowy day than Norman regaling us with tales of a knock-down-drag-out with Joe Biden.

I've scuffled with Senator Joseph Biden at least six times. I think my record against him is 4-2; he has a staffer who insists that I am 5-1 against him, but that staffer is known to dislike Joe's preference for hair pulling.

US Senators that I have fought:
Senator Phil Gramm (dispute over parking spot)
Senator John Ensign (dispute over restaurant bill)
Senator Olympia Snowe (dispute over vote, 1999)
Senator John Kerry (dispute over woman)
Senator Bob Kerrey (dispute over woman)
Senator David Boren (dispute over drinking glass)
Senator Orrin Hatch (dispute over song lyric)
Senator Kay B Hutchinson (dispute over yellow rose)
Senator Frank Lautenberg (dispute over woman)
Senator Paula Hawkins (dispute over woman)
Senator Gordon Smith (dispute over chicken wing)
Senator Alan Cranston (dispute over deviled egg)
Senator Barry Goldwater (dispute over hat)

There are thirty or forty more, but I think you get the picture. Plenty of Americans have scuffles and disputes in public with politicians--it's nothing to get excited about. I have money, I have a great lawyer, and I've only been arrested a handful of times. Rarely prosecuted. People tend to visit New Hampshire, and I tend to be downtown when they are wandering around, making fools of themselves, and I am more likely to scuffle with them than I am to walk away and let bygones be bygones.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on February 1, 2008 at 9:44 AM | PERMALINK

"I'm wondering who runs better against Nader?"

The answer to that question should be obvious.

Posted by: nepeta on February 1, 2008 at 9:52 AM | PERMALINK

Tears are running down my face, Norman.

(Wiping eyes) Holy smokes, that was funny. My stomach hurts.

Posted by: shortstop on February 1, 2008 at 9:55 AM | PERMALINK

I think that if either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton gets elected as President, there will be a concerted effort by organized and armed nutjobs who will try to assassinate him or her. Read up on these types of creeps on Orcinus web site written by Dave Niewart.

I think that having both on the ticket would be a good thing in part because of this element in our country that's been aided by the Republicans and their mouthpieces.

Posted by: sheila on February 1, 2008 at 9:59 AM | PERMALINK

I'm curious--what's funny about fighting a US Senator (and half of his staff, mind you) in downtown Manchester, New Hampshire because he or she wants to leer at my wife. Or, rather, the third wife, who was attractive enough and young enough to have been leered at at the time.

You people will laugh at anyone's pain, won't you? My goodness.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on February 1, 2008 at 10:09 AM | PERMALINK

She talks to much and says too little.

Anybody keep track of how many minutes she usurped compared to him? Count be a bit turned-off. I just don't like elliptical blathering.

Posted by: unfranklyo on February 1, 2008 at 10:10 AM | PERMALINK

Sorry, Norm. I naturally assumed that the women you were fighting over were the senators' women.

Posted by: shortstop on February 1, 2008 at 10:11 AM | PERMALINK

Probably I'm going to just confirm how bias affects perception, but did anyone else get the feeling that more questions were directed to Hillary first? I logically assume that CNN divided the questions equally among the two candidates, but it 'felt' to me like Hillary was getting more initial questions. This isn't necessarily bad because Obama then had the chance to point out differences between them and then Hillary could repond to that. Anybody?

Posted by: nepeta on February 1, 2008 at 10:16 AM | PERMALINK

Just to respond to elmo's contention yesterday that on immigration "Obama babbled and lacked specifics, more fluff than stuff....

Obama did a stand-up job opposing American-as-apple-pie xenophobia and situating job competition within the broader economic landscape and the exploitation of cheap labor. It's my understanding that illegal immigration has only a marginal impact on black unemployment. Yes it affects municipal budgets and services, and that is a problem. Still, Obama did well to point out the wisdom long-term of properly educating immigrant children. Obviously he was appealing to Latino voters, but he was right morally and on the merits.

Extra credit for the "People don't come here to drive, they come here to work" quip.

Posted by: Lucy on February 1, 2008 at 10:19 AM | PERMALINK

Norman,

Bravo! I think Sharon's praise of Donald and scotian has brought out your fighting spirit.

How are those kids of yours doing?

Posted by: Tripp on February 1, 2008 at 10:21 AM | PERMALINK

I loved the drive/work remark as well. There were a couple of great one-liners from Obama -- the Mitt Romney crack actually made Hillary laugh, if you noticed.

Norman, sorry, I was laughing too. Mainly at the delightful thought of you (or what I imagine you look like) battling Alan Cranston over a deviled egg.

Posted by: The Fabulous Mr. Toad on February 1, 2008 at 10:34 AM | PERMALINK

I don't know if this thread is dead, but lets find out.

Today is Friday -- the day the administration dumps bad news secure in the knowledge that the bloggers are going to be cat blogging and the very important journalists are headed for Miami or the Hamptons. Today the administration "leaked" the outline of the 2008 budget.

The sad thing is that Bush and the Republicans have so screwed up the government that the next President is going to have a hard time keeping the same bond rating America has had since 1917. Our national debt is over 9 trillion dollars. Our budget is over 3 trillion dollars and next year our deficit is we are going to be an additional 400 billion not counting off budget expenditures like Iraq and the stimulus package. America's Triple A rating is probably going to drop into junk bond territory. Our Chinese bankers are not going to be pleased.

Bush's response--cut Medicare. Oddly he leaves the very expensive but ideologically driven Medicare HMO plan in place.

It is going to be hard to enact universal health care if there is no money. You can bet that the knuckle draggers in the Republican party are going to be screaming "make the bush tax cuts permanent" at every turn.

Posted by: corpus juris on February 1, 2008 at 10:35 AM | PERMALINK

Norman Rogers for president!

Posted by: lobbygow on February 1, 2008 at 10:40 AM | PERMALINK

I hate of course to interrupt the little festival of self-congratulation people seem to be so much enjoying here, but the notion that both candidates would of course work out famously as both general candidates and Presidents is hardly likely to be true. It's like a team going into the Superbowl boasting about how tremendously talented they are, and and forgetting about the actual matchups, or even that a game has yet to be played.

The sentiment that both candidates are so much superior to anything the Republicans have to offer is almost by definition true -- given that they are Democrats -- but entirely misses the point. For the real test is not how they seem at this time, during the Democratic primary, but how they will wear with the American public in the general election and, most critically, in the Presidency beyond.

Now it may be that Obama's and Hillary's policies are pretty similar (though on universal health care it's hard not to see critical differences). But I don't see how anybody could think that their prospects for success as President are similar. In terms of approach to politics, personality and character, background and skills, they could hardly be more different.

Does anyone really think that those attributes aren't basic to the political success of a President?

I'm sure that once upon a time, Democrats seemed pretty much agreed that Jimmy Carter, Michael Dukakis, and George McGovern were truly fine and splendid men. And it's true that they probably were. But how were they as President or candidate? In fact, they proved terribly damaging to the Democratic Party. I think it might have been a very good thing if Democrats had been at the time less smug in their choice, and just a trifle more apprehensive about what they faced.

One thing that any Democrat will certainly face when going into the Presidency in 2008 (assuming they make it that far) is a powerful opposition. I think that too many Democrats see the disarray on the side of the Republicans in this election, and feel that they are simply lost forever in the wilderness. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Republican party has always worked best as invading barbarian hordes sacking the capitol. Once they capture the seat of government, they have no capacity to rule -- as we have seen.

But as disorganized as the right wing seems now, and incapable of finding a standard bearer they all admire, they will immediately snap into efficient fighting formation when they have a Democrat -- any Democrat -- in office. They certainly know what they hate, and will waste no time impressing the American people with their views, with smears and distortions and fabrications as the arrows in their quiver.

So I suggest that people think about that prospect before they make their choice of Democratic nominee, lest we all have to repent at our leisure. The very last thing any Democrat should want is a Democratic President who can't win a second term, and who will wreak damage on the image of the Democratic Party.

Posted by: frankly0 on February 1, 2008 at 10:49 AM | PERMALINK

I know when I'm being mocked. I cannot tolerate being mocked. I prefer your abuse rather than your mocking.

I'll tell you what happened the last time I was mocked in public. Governor John Sununu (the elder, the one who worked for the First Bush) was holding a meeting with business leaders and Republican Party regulars here in Manchester. He was dithering about tax policy for properties and businesses when I mentioned my involvement in bringing a Proposition 13 styled reform to New Hampshire.

He exploded and began screaming at me, telling me that my plan would bankrupt the state and cause what few Democrats there were to gain seats in the next election cycle. I tried to reason with him by pointing at him and shouting at him, but he wouldn't have anything to do with me and tried to leave the meeting. Freezing property taxes is great public policy, liberals, and lets a man hang on to what is his.

Sununu, being somewhat disturbed and or psychotic, tried to hit me with a folding chair as I tried to push past two of his aides and continue reasoning with him by shouting in his face. I grabbed a coffee pot and emptied it all over him and his aides, and they screamed in pain. A policeman took my legs out from under me by hitting me with one of those batons or billy clubs and I blacked out. I was jailed, I was booked, I was humiliated. Several friends stopped calling. It was a bleak time for me.

Were charges filed? Yes. But we got them dismissed. I won. And Sununu? We all know what became of him.

Years later, I shook hands with him and had a good laugh about those days. You see, that's how gentlemen behave.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on February 1, 2008 at 10:53 AM | PERMALINK

They both looked good in this head-to-head debate. Civility reigned.

Hillary was on her game. Obama did well to force her to try to defend her Iraq war authorization, but failed to confront her about her failure to read the NIE report.

Obama had a great point in noting that the renowned businessman, Romney, had not obtained much return on his campaign investment. Hillary had a nifty line that a Clinton had cleaned up after a Bush presidency and that a Clinton would now do the same.

Both won. Hillary showed her excellent skills in outlining policy positions. Obama did OK and certainly did benefit a lot just from the additional exposure this debate.gave him.

homer www.altara.blogspot.com

Posted by: Homer Hewitt on February 1, 2008 at 10:56 AM | PERMALINK

I think Hillary is going to win the nomination and the general. From what I've read about the debate, it sounds like Hillary really put his charm-offensive to a halt. Even if the claim that Barack "won" the second hour are true, the first hour is more important as many probably turned off the debate by the second hour.

Barack would be a fun candidate for us to run, but it's best that we run Hillary because there is no way he can win. Some Republicans may say they think Barack is the best candidate for us, and either they believe it, or they are just saying it because they want us to run him (and think we are naive enough to listen to their advice) and they think they can beat him. But whether they believe it or not, Republicans will prefer the Republican candidate to Barack and voting to keep a black guy to become president of the United States will really get Republicans out of bed in the morning. There is no way we can win over the people we need to win over in less than one year.

Posted by: Swan on February 1, 2008 at 11:00 AM | PERMALINK

Also I think the extent to which the commenters are taking Steve Benen's remark about civility and running with it is a little extreme. It's great when our candidates don't have to go for low blows, but I don't really think they did in any of the debates (that is, I don't think mentioning stuff like Rezko or Walmart is out of bounds-- if a candidate was really involved in something, they should be able to defend it and explain it unless it's something that's unequivocally private). It can be nice if sometimes there are debates when the candidates don't fight a lot, but we want them to be able to fight, too; we want them to be able to fight the Republican candidate in a debate, or to set him off-balance, and make him look awkward when he is not civil enough & too aggressive, as the case may be. The answer is "just enough, and just at the right time," not "always be nice," "never fight," or "be extremely aggressive."

Posted by: Swan on February 1, 2008 at 11:06 AM | PERMALINK

Barack would be a fun candidate for us to run, but it's best that we run Hillary because there is no way he can win.

Of course he can win. I'm a Republican, and I can see that he would win in a matchup against McCain, at least. He has charisma. He has more experience than Bush, Kennedy, or Lincoln. He went to Harvard, and even though that school is a bastion of decadent Liberal thought, one doesn't get out of the Ivy League without having something on the ball.

Sir, you really need to stop whacking your doodle in public. These flights of unsubstantiated fancy you keep publishing on my real estate are getting old.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on February 1, 2008 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

I think Hillary is going to win the nomination ... Hillary really put his charm-offensive to a halt ... the first hour is more important ... there is no way he can win. ... There is no way we can win over the people we need to win over in less than one year.

I know opinions are like assholes: everyone has one. But this string of nonsense really tests readers' civility and good faith.


Posted by: Econobuzz on February 1, 2008 at 11:15 AM | PERMALINK

Years later, I shook hands with him and had a good laugh about those days. You see, that's how gentlemen behave.
Posted by: Norman Rogers

Was this before or after your first visit to the recovery home? And how did you escape this time?

Posted by: DJ on February 1, 2008 at 11:16 AM | PERMALINK

Normie,

I know when I'm being mocked. I cannot tolerate being mocked. I prefer your abuse rather than your mocking.

Alright . . . Lighten Up, Norman!

Posted by: Tripp on February 1, 2008 at 11:19 AM | PERMALINK

Barack would be a fun candidate for us to run, but it's best that we run Hillary because there is no way he can win.

This is pure speculation. Both Hillary and Obama have vulnerabilities going into the general, and at this point it's pretty dicey to try to handicap the race.

Polls schmolls, but the polls now give Obama an advantage over Hillary in the general, so your insistence that "no way can he win" is unconvincing.

By the way, fun candidate? Excuse me?

Posted by: Lucy on February 1, 2008 at 11:24 AM | PERMALINK

Mr. Swan, please leave Rutgers. Please leave school immediately. The likes of you attending a university are too much to contemplate. Go to welding school. Go to refridgerator repair school. Learn a trade that will give you a nice income and try not to think about things of an academic nature. Get some grease on your hands and fumble with some electronic wires and whatnot instead.

The whole "analysis" and "thinking out loud in public" thing is not working for you.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on February 1, 2008 at 11:31 AM | PERMALINK

Normie,

I prefer your abuse

You are so old your s's look like f's!

I gotta million of them. Had enough? Say the word and I'm done.

Posted by: Tripp on February 1, 2008 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

Norman Roger's pithy comments aside, the debate last evening really showcased how much more classy, informed and forward-thinking the Democratic Party is than the Republican Party. The last GOP debate was like listening to a hillbilly guns n' God rally at a NASCAR track, where they all had drank too much Schlitz. Obama and Clinton, by way of comparison, were civil, deeply knowledgeable about a host of complicated subjects and extremely quick on their feet.

Let's see - The GOP now is left with a geriatric, war-mongering flip-flopper who is having pieces being regularly whittled off his head, a redneck, evolution-denying diet fanatic who doesn't even have a legitimate college degree and a pandering Ken-doll Mormon who lies about everything including his religious beliefs and instead of using his given name Willard, uses a nickname for a baseball glove. Jeebers, what a freak show!

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on February 1, 2008 at 11:46 AM | PERMALINK

(Ignoring Norman Rogers' comments...)

Remember, Barack Obama says that he has trouble getting cabs to pick him up.

Remember, John Edwards- touting his own electibility- felt he could openly sell his being a white man to voters in the midwest. Some of us may have felt those remarks were off-key, but John Edwars knew he could say it, because he knew the audience would acknowledge it as common sense.

We are making a real stupid move if we allow ourselves to be backed into running an African American candidate when we've got Hillary to run. We are almost to the point when we will be able to win with an African American presidential candidate, but we are not quite to the point of it being a safe bet. We need to wait 8 more years at least.

Posted by: Swan on February 1, 2008 at 11:46 AM | PERMALINK

You guys talk about anti-Clinton wingnuts like they are a tiny minority. They're called the "Evangelical Vote" and they gave Bush the Presidency twice.

It worries me that Democrats are getting so overconfident. Polls today have McCain winning in a national election against either Dem candidate. Obama would be stark raving mad to choose Hillary as a running mate. He's about as baggage free as any candidate can be, and Hillary would add a football stadium's worth of baggage to the ticket.

Hillary gets next to no independents or cross-over Republicans. They think she is either Satan herself, or at least married to him. Obama gets both independents and cross-overs... AMAZING for someone with a #1 liberal voting record. He is the more PROGRESSIVE candidate the more ELECTABLE candidate and a better representation of the party.

I appreciate all the Clintons have done for this country, but their time is over. They had their time at the top. Her answer to the "dynasty" question was pathetic and still goes unanswered. 30 years of 2 families ruling this country is bad for Democracy and this country... no matter what family it is.

Posted by: Da5id on February 1, 2008 at 11:49 AM | PERMALINK

By the way, for anyone who cares, despite Norman Rogers' comments, I am no longer in Rutgers. I graduated from Rutgers Law School, am admitted to the bar in New Jersey, and am actively seeking a job.

I don't know Norman Rogers, so he must have scrolled over my name and saw my Rutgers e-mail addy, which Rutgers apparently let's us keep after graduation.

Posted by: Swan on February 1, 2008 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

Da5id wrote:

Polls today have McCain winning in a national election against either Dem candidate.

Provide a source or link, please.

If it's polls from 2004, before the country turned way against the Repubs in '06, it doesn't count. :-)

Posted by: Swan on February 1, 2008 at 11:53 AM | PERMALINK

Conservative Deflator,

instead of using his given name Willard, uses a nickname for a baseball glove.

Pedantically 'mitt' is the proper name for a certain kind of baseball glove.

Posted by: Tripp on February 1, 2008 at 11:53 AM | PERMALINK
Now that Ralph Nader is "exploring" an '08 run, I'm wondering who runs better against Nader?

My guess is that Obama is, presuming no real change from right now, a little better at holding the kind of people that might bolt to Nader, but I'd guess the difference is marginal and that it wouldn't take a whole lot to close the gap in terms of fine-tuning campaigns and choosing the right running mate.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 1, 2008 at 11:57 AM | PERMALINK

You are so old your s's look like f's

Damn, that's good. I can use that.

Posted by: shortstop on February 1, 2008 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

I missed Edwards (and was sad to miss Obama's opening tribute to him) and was surprised to see the Obama and Clinton podiums placed soooo close together, too close, IMO--the two candidates spent a few minutes getting accustomed to the proximity and finding a posture they hoped would appear relaxed.

Appreciated, as everyone else upthread, the substantive answers on health care and was grateful to hear Obama tease out that 15 million "uninsured" figure. He was also strong on immigrations (work not drive), on the war (right on Day 1) and the value of good judgment (establishing the bogus experience issue).

Thought Clinton tried hard to tell a story about her experience (what is it, exactly, WB asked) and it fell kinda flat. At other times, however, she allowed her compassion to shine through with some charming expressions and smiles. She speaks for too long. Tries my patience and makes her seem defensive (I have to keep talking. If I stop talking, I'll lose.)

WB is a ninny. No worse.

More than anything last night, I saw Obama struggle with an insoluble problem unique, probably, to this one presidential campaign: he is running against a former first lady, infamously hurt/humiliated by a fabulously charming and successful and flawed Democratic president, Bill (and btw, just to add sinister texture, hated by notorious haters).

And there Obama is in this bizarre post-W electoral tableau, graceful, charming, biracial, young, charismatic, eloquent--the kind of person who wins simply by walking in the room and opening his mouth.

Clinton gets huge sympathy points and then a bonus for being the hard worker, the pot to Bill's flower. It would be unfair to take the prize away from her, now that the flower has been superannuated to foundation work and it's her turn to dominate the country--that's the subtext anyway.

And Obama is constrained by the emotion surrounding her story. This may account, sometimes, for the sense that Obama is pulling his punches, and muting his message. He would lose for winning, in other words.

Posted by: paxr55 on February 1, 2008 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

We are making a real stupid move if we allow ourselves to be backed into running an African American candidate when we've got Hillary to run.

We need to wait 8 more years at least.

What difference will 8 years make, please? You know, I think Obama recognizes that the Republicans are going to run a dirty, racist campaign against him. Why? Because it's the Republican m.o.! They always run a dirty, racist campaign!

Yet Obama has put himself out there and believes he can handle the shitstorm that's to come. And who am I, and who are you, to make ominous rumblings about how "naive" it is to imagine that Obama can prevail.

I do think that the more exposure people have to Hillary the more obvious it becomes that she is not the monster Scaife & Co created in her name, but I don't think it will be enough to overcome the animosity a great many Americans feel toward Hillary and Bill. Are there more racists than Hillary-haters out there? I have no idea.

The troglodytes won't vote for a woman or a black man, anyway, so the question is, who can best discourage them from going to the polls, and more to the point, who can inspire more people to get off the couch on Election Day and vote for them instead of against another candidate? Obama.

Posted by: Lucy on February 1, 2008 at 12:09 PM | PERMALINK

Why was Mitt named Willard, anyway? Was he named after creepy Nixon backer Willard Marriott?

Posted by: shortstop on February 1, 2008 at 12:09 PM | PERMALINK

frankly0 on February 1, 2008 at 10:49 AM:

I hate of course to interrupt the little festival of self-congratulation.

Then, for God's sake, don't. Especially when you blather on as you do.

Posted by: grape_crush on February 1, 2008 at 12:16 PM | PERMALINK
They're called the "Evangelical Vote" and they gave Bush the Presidency twice. .... Da5idat 11:49 AM
The Supreme Court gave Bush the presidency, smear&fear did the second time
for the sense that Obama is pulling his punches.... paxr55 at 12:08 PM
What crap. He just sent out a message still denying his health care plan would leave fifteen million uninsured
...Obama .... believes he can handle the shitstorm that's to come..... Lucy at 12:09 PM
Obama has shown none of the necessary capability to withstand the slime&smear attacks. His response to Rezko is sad, just sad; his response to his drug claims nonexistent; his understanding of foreign policy is lame, his image as CinC is, at best, a joke. Posted by: Mike on February 1, 2008 at 12:27 PM | PERMALINK

What a difference a comma makes:

WB is a ninny. No, worse.

Posted by: paxr55 on February 1, 2008 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

By the way, for anyone who cares, despite Norman Rogers' comments, I am no longer in Rutgers. I graduated from Rutgers Law School, am admitted to the bar in New Jersey, and am actively seeking a job.

Actively seeking a "job???"

You're a graduate of an Ivy League law school! You should have had ten job offers by the completion of your senior year first semester! You must be a complete and utter jackass with no social skills. Did you throw up on a recruiter? Did you try to grope the pretty girl who was recruiting for the Wall Street firms? Was it the flopsweat? Did you urinate wildly all over the desk of the person who interviewed you the last time someone bothered to respond to your resume?

I don't know Norman Rogers, so he must have scrolled over my name and saw my Rutgers e-mail addy, which Rutgers apparently let's us keep after graduation.

It's call analysis, sir. I know more about you than your own freaking mother. In the parlance of the day, I own you. Or is it, more accurately, pwnded? pwnZD? I cannot determine what works better.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on February 1, 2008 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

Jimmy Carter, Michael Dukakis, and George McGovern, and Obama.

Which of these is not like the other?

Posted by: Lucy on February 1, 2008 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

Exactly, Lucy, you got it. It just so happens that he is a great candidate, but in terms of a strategic vote, Barack Obama is your best choice for a Democratic victory in November, and the advantage of tilting the political playing field in the Democratic advantage for some time to come.

Posted by: Boorring on February 1, 2008 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

You're a graduate of an Ivy League law school! You should have had ten job offers by the completion of your senior year first semester!

Perhaps it has something to do with his communication style.

Posted by: Isle of Lucy on February 1, 2008 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

Good debate last night. Civil and focused on exploring at least a couple issues. The Iraq question is an advantage for Obama and a disadvantage for Hillary. If they were both in the Senate when the vote was taken and Obama voted no and Hillary voted yes, it would be more significant to me. As it is, they are both on the same track. I'm fine with that. Overall, I think Hillary is better prepared to handle the job.

Posted by: David on February 1, 2008 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

An open letter to frankly0:

I hate of course to interrupt the little festival of self-congratulation people seem to be so much enjoying here, but the notion that both candidates would of course work out famously as both general candidates and Presidents is hardly likely to be true. It's like a team going into the Superbowl boasting about how tremendously talented they are, and and forgetting about the actual matchups, or even that a game has yet to be played.

I don't think anyone "assumes" that the Democrats will win any more than anyone "assumes" that the Republican Party is finished. The excitement you see stems from the face that the Republican brand is thoroughly damaged. Well-informed people (blog commenters, etc.) see that and smell the blood in the water. But you can't deny their brand sucks ass right now. I wish Katrina was talked about every time someone mentioned Bush. The war in Iraq needs to be talked about as a failed war and a strategic blunder. The collapse of our economy is more than enough to remind people of what a Republican "CEO" President can do in office.

The sentiment that both candidates are so much superior to anything the Republicans have to offer is almost by definition true -- given that they are Democrats -- but entirely misses the point. For the real test is not how they seem at this time, during the Democratic primary, but how they will wear with the American public in the general election and, most critically, in the Presidency beyond.

One good way to look at that is to look at the money they have raised and can raise. That's the best indicator as to whether they're going to appeal to people. Obama gets 170,000 people in this country to give him money--in a time of recession and economic uncertainty--and raises tons of cash. Hillary raises millions in no time at all. The Dems are rolling in cash at every level. They are also spending money to build state organizations.

***One important note: Howard Dean's 50 state strategy has taken money that would normally go to consultants like Begala, Carville or Shrum and has gone to building state orgs in places like Oklahoma and Nevada and South Carolina. Places we would normally not compete. The result? Record turnout of Democrats in a primary season.

Now it may be that Obama's and Hillary's policies are pretty similar (though on universal health care it's hard not to see critical differences). But I don't see how anybody could think that their prospects for success as President are similar. In terms of approach to politics, personality and character, background and skills, they could hardly be more different.

The polls and their ability to raise money are good indicators. People just aren't going to vote for a Republican this year. We're not fighting for 51% of the electorate--we're fighting for that 3-5% of people who are up in the air and those people are going to vote for a Democrat this year. And 5-10% of the Republican base might not vote at all and stay home if they don't have any enthusiasm for their candidate.

Does anyone really think that those attributes aren't basic to the political success of a President?

Mandates count. If the Dem wins with a razor-thin majority of electoral votes and the popular vote, and maybe loses the House or the Senate, then there will be trouble. If either Hillary or Obama wins with a big margin--think 1988 when Bush I beat Dukakis--and keeps the Congress in Dem hands, hey, that's a great way to start. I don't think we'll ever see another 1984--the country is too fractured.

I'm sure that once upon a time, Democrats seemed pretty much agreed that Jimmy Carter, Michael Dukakis, and George McGovern were truly fine and splendid men. And it's true that they probably were. But how were they as President or candidate? In fact, they proved terribly damaging to the Democratic Party. I think it might have been a very good thing if Democrats had been at the time less smug in their choice, and just a trifle more apprehensive about what they faced.

There's no evidence of that. It's right wing propaganda. McGovern is widely regarded as having lost because of dirty tricks and Thomas Eagleton. Carter lost because of Iranian held hostages and economic conditions brought on by oil prices. Dukakis lost because of the no-new-taxes/read-my-lips lie told by Bush I and that helmet he wore while bouncing around in an M1 tank. Dems never lost Congress because of McGovern, Carter or Dukakis. Dems rebounded in some cases (Carter was that rebound from McGovern) and the Dems took the Senate in 1986 after the Mondale debacle by winning Senate races in red states, if you can believe that.

One thing that any Democrat will certainly face when going into the Presidency in 2008 (assuming they make it that far) is a powerful opposition. I think that too many Democrats see the disarray on the side of the Republicans in this election, and feel that they are simply lost forever in the wilderness. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Republican party has always worked best as invading barbarian hordes sacking the capitol. Once they capture the seat of government, they have no capacity to rule -- as we have seen.

Formidable opposition? McCain was broke when he won South Carolina. The money ain't rolling in. The House is emptying of Republicans faster than they can recruit replacements to run. The Republicans have no chance of re-capturing the Senate. They are going to continue being an obstructionist minority.

But as disorganized as the right wing seems now, and incapable of finding a standard bearer they all admire, they will immediately snap into efficient fighting formation when they have a Democrat -- any Democrat -- in office. They certainly know what they hate, and will waste no time impressing the American people with their views, with smears and distortions and fabrications as the arrows in their quiver.

They're not necessarily disorganized as they are out of touch and unable to raise money. The old media manipulation model doesn't work. Look at the declining fortunes of Fox News. Thanks to the continuing improvement in the sophistication of the American people, that kind of bullshit won't continue to work. They'll have to go with substance and facts, and they don't adapt well to change. They're falling all over themselves, trying to use outdated and sophomoric lines against Obama and Hillary. They confuse his name with Osama and they call her the C word.

So I suggest that people think about that prospect before they make their choice of Democratic nominee, lest we all have to repent at our leisure. The very last thing any Democrat should want is a Democratic President who can't win a second term, and who will wreak damage on the image of the Democratic Party.

You're already worrying about 2012? Get a life.

We need to win the 2008 election. Any thought beyond that is silly.

Posted by: Pale Rider on February 1, 2008 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

Great post, Pale Rider! You used the written word like a well-fashioned sword.

Posted by: Boorring on February 1, 2008 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

Well, this is nice: Democratic Debate Most Watched

Now, I'll be really interested in the effect that this debate has had in shaping the opinion. I am intrigued at how first-time viewers of the two candidates regard their "performances".

Posted by: Boorring on February 1, 2008 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

A well-fashioned sword indeed.

Norman would be proud. Pale Rider used a War sword, with the eagle, not the Not War sword. Nor a samurai sword. That would be stupid.

Posted by: paxr55 on February 1, 2008 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

You guys, Norman's a fucking parody, okay?

What idiot can't figure that out?

Posted by: Pale Rider on February 1, 2008 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

shortstop,

You are so old your s's look like f's

Damn, that's good. I can use that.

Since I neglected to include the (TM) I suppose you may go ahead and use it. As far as I know it is original. I find the phrase useful for determining the level of someone's knowledge. If they 'get it' I know they have had at least some schooling.

Norman,

You are correct sir. "Pwned' is teh bomb.

Posted by: Tripp on February 1, 2008 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

I disagree with your silly comment, paxr55. Samurai swords, or katana's for your information, have a better arc for wind-resistance, rather than the clumsily forged standard sword. Whereas a silly swordster like others on this thread will have to use more energy to improve their thrust on a standard sword (to get the power of gravity behind their strike), a samurai sword can benefit from the technique of ten-uchi:

Ten-uchi refers to an organized motion made by arms and wrist, during a descending strike. As the sword is swung downwards, the elbow joint drastically extends at the last instant, popping the sword into place. This motion causes the swordsman's grip to twist slightly and if done correctly, is said to feel like wringing a towel.

If one were to envision Pale Rider with his post, him using a regular sword would lead to an expensive use of energy, making him vulnerable towards the end. Read his post, does he seem vulnerable towards the end? No, and that's why your silly analysis regarding the standard War sword is not fitting. It is clear that each attack from frankly0 was itself an attack with a standard war sword (notice his lessening offensive capability). Pale Rider's rebuttals are a clear indication of his use of ten-uchi. All you have to do is visual it, and it makes sense.

The only point I concede is that I, myself, said well-fashioned sword, but I forgot to clarify: a well-fashioned Nihonto.

Posted by: Boorring on February 1, 2008 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

Pale Rider,

You guys, Norman's a fucking parody, okay?

Actually I think he is a GREAT effing parody! He is fun, and it is Friday, so I'm for a fun Friday.

BTW your name made me think of maybe the best song of all time, "A Whiter Shade of Pale" by Procul Harum. You can hear it here.

Posted by: Tripp on February 1, 2008 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

Actually I think he is a GREAT effing parody! He is fun, and it is Friday, so I'm for a fun Friday.

It gets old fast and it ain't funny. We don't need that shit. Next thing you know, some fucker is going to actually *believe* what Normie is saying and we'll have *rdw* back posting here.

Posted by: Pale Rider on February 1, 2008 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

Norman's a parody?

Posted by: paxr55 on February 1, 2008 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

Originally posted by Swan:

Provide a source or link, please.

If it's polls from 2004, before the country turned way against the Repubs in '06, it doesn't count. :-)

The most recent national head to head polls from Rasmussen from 1/25 - 1/27 have McCain beating Hillary by 8 points and Barack by 6.

http://rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/election_20082/2008_presidential_election/john_mccain_match_ups/election_2008_mccain_vs_clinton_and_obama

Posted by: Da5id on February 1, 2008 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

"If you're explaining, you're losing"

- former Congressman J.C. Watts (R-OK)

Posted by: chloe on February 1, 2008 at 4:32 PM | PERMALINK

The L.A. Times endorsed Barack Obama!

Posted by: Boorring on February 1, 2008 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK

Boorring, The Shit-Stain Times endorse your momma...

Posted by: elmo on February 1, 2008 at 9:33 PM | PERMALINK

It's a Friday night, elmo, go do something. See ya later

Posted by: Boorring on February 1, 2008 at 10:49 PM | PERMALINK

Norman Rogers: "I know when I'm being mocked. I cannot tolerate being mocked. I prefer your abuse rather than your mocking."

(Sigh!) Have it your way, then. Blow it out your ass, Norman.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on February 2, 2008 at 12:39 AM | PERMALINK
Which of these is not like the other? Lucy at 12:54 PM
Jimmy Carter was a winner and is a fine man. McGovern was a war hero smeared and Dukakis a good governor smeared by Atwater/Bush. Obama has no executive experience and no stature on the national stage until this campaign. His ability to withstand the Republican smear machine is dubious given his history.
….Barack Obama is your best choice for a Democratic victory in November….Boorring at 12:59 PM
Obama is indubitably the poorest choice. No executive experience, distressing inability to explain his Rezko affiliation and his high-school peccadilloes, no vision other than vague nostrums of hope, and bipartisanship which are meaningless for people needing results and against the most partisan Republican Party post the 1870s. Posted by: Mike on February 2, 2008 at 12:16 PM | PERMALINK

DrBB: Everyone says Iraq's importance has slipped in voters' roster of concerns. But as a matter of political framing, I think this vote is a major major weakness.

You're absolutely right. I was just observing that many of us can identify with HRC's claim to have been duped by Bush. I do, but then I don't claim to be presidential...or even school board...material either.

Posted by: Sharon on February 3, 2008 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

DrBB: We need this election to be a repudiation of Bushism, however that gets across. Given that, I prefer the candidate who is structuring his whole strategy around having this election be--and equally important, be perceived as, a sea change election. I think he's right that the potential is there. Maybe he can carry it off, maybe not. If he fails to persuade the D's in the primaries, so be it. I'll do what I can for Hillary's +1%. But until then Obama represents our shot at something more, and that's where I'm putting my primary vote.

Dammit, Doc. You're making too much sense. I hate that. LOL.

Posted by: Sharon on February 3, 2008 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

Norman Rogers: I would rather be feared than admired; I would rather be held up as an example of what power can do to the weak and the inept than loved.

OK, Norman, I hate you. Feel more empowered now? LOL

Posted by: Sharon on February 3, 2008 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

Norman Rogers on February 1, 2008 at 8:58 AM

That was the funniest thing I've read since Innocence Abroad. Keep it coming.

Posted by: Sharon on February 3, 2008 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

Norman Rogers, who the heck are you? I've Googled your name, but found nothing. Is it a pseudonym? If you've written any books, I'd sure like to read them...though I'm sure your royalty income is of no concern considering your vast nearly old money fortune.

Posted by: Sharon on February 3, 2008 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry, Norm. I naturally assumed that the women you were fighting over were the senators' women.

Shame on you, Shortstop. You just made a mouthful of hot coffee spray from my nose.

Posted by: Sharon on February 3, 2008 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

Probably I'm going to just confirm how bias affects perception, but did anyone else get the feeling that more questions were directed to Hillary first?

I did, Napeta, but my own bias affected my perception which was that Blitzer et al were going to be a lot tougher on Clinton than on Obama. Oy! My head hurts.

Posted by: Sharon on February 3, 2008 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

The Fabulous Mr. Toad: Norman, sorry, I was laughing too. Mainly at the delightful thought of you (or what I imagine you look like) battling Alan Cranston over a deviled egg.

Can we all agree that Norman should be banned from this site until he posts his picture? Heads up, Moderator.

Posted by: Sharon on February 3, 2008 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

Corpus Juris: Our national debt is over 9 trillion dollars. Our budget is over 3 trillion dollars and next year our deficit is we are going to be an additional 400 billion not counting off budget expenditures like Iraq and the stimulus package. America's Triple A rating is probably going to drop into junk bond territory. Our Chinese bankers are not going to be pleased.

And very soon America will be weak enough to drown it in the bathtub. Hmmm, that has a familiar ring. But I can't quite put my finger on where that drown-it-in-the-bathtub analogy breaks down.

Posted by: Sharon on February 3, 2008 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

Frankly0: They certainly know what they hate

Phew! The thought of how powerful this makes them takes my breath away. You are so right.

Posted by: Sharon on February 3, 2008 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

Norman, I'm not mocking you. You scare the bejeezus out of me. Don't taze me, bro.

Posted by: Sharon on February 3, 2008 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

Also I think the extent to which the commenters are taking Steve Benen's remark about civility and running with it is a little extreme.

Swan, in the one and only law class I ever took, I was startled to learn that the best contracts are those hammered out by obstinate, committed adversaries. Contracts between friends are worthless. (OT, maybe why so many marriage contracts fail.) This makes sense, but for some reason, I had assumed the opposite. I think a lot of people do.

Posted by: Sharon on February 3, 2008 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

Shortstop: Why was Mitt named Willard, anyway? Was he named after creepy Nixon backer Willard Marriott?

Good guess. Marriott Hotels are owned by Mormons. But I don't know.

Posted by: Sharon on February 3, 2008 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

Once again, wallflower at the prom. Sigh.

Posted by: Sharon on February 3, 2008 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin...where are you? Hope everything is OK.

Posted by: Ann C. on February 5, 2008 at 11:56 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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