Dems Come Out Swinging

So who caught the Democratic debate last night? This time around, I actually feel kind of sorry for you if you missed it — it was definitely the most interesting so far, and I didn’t even need any alcohol to make it through!

The questions weren’t new or exciting. It was all Iran, Iraq, and more foreign policy, with questions about immigration, health care, global warming and (inexplicably) UFOs confined to the “lightning” round. No questions on Florida, no questions on the Obama homophobia controversy and nothing even on the Mukasey nomination. And neither Brian Williams or Tim Russert knows how to keep the candidates in line and on time — can we please get Anderson Cooper back?

The interesting part was how, as predicted, Edwards and Obama finally let loose on Hillary Clinton.

I’m not sure what to think quite yet. Neither are most other analyses that I’ve read so far. Who won this thing, and whether or not this will have any impact, or if it foreshadows other moments of impact, I don’t know. But here are some observations.

Even when on the offensive, Obama seems very diplomatic. Is this a good thing? Well, the positive side is that he keeps his cool very well. The bad side is what he’s already been struggling with — he always looks slightly less interested than he should. Personally, I like the guy’s personality, but he has yet to show me one that I think will help him win.

Edwards, on the other hand, was pretty ruthless. But at the same time, he struck me as fair. I mean, he could be harsh — the line about believing in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy, but not being able to believe that Clinton was the person to change Washington politics had me screaming BURN at my TV. But he seemed passionate, not angry. I thought that he stuck to her record instead of personal attacks, and — thank god — didn’t try to use her gender (she’s too soft! too tough!) against her.

Bill Richardson pissed me off. After Edwards and Obama were going at Hillary for a bit, he decided to swoop in and tell them just how very unfair and disappointing they were being. It seems like after going off on some random tangent about personally rescuing some POWs, he felt the need to rescue Poor Little Miss Hill, too. I don’t think that Clinton’s gender was why Obama and Edwards attacked her — they attacked her because she’s beating both of them in them in the polls. But I couldn’t help but feel like Richardson’s defense of her, which sounded a bit like “aw, come on guys, lay off,” had something to do with the fact that she’s a woman. Would he have done the same for a male opponent? I’m highly skeptical. But I also can’t stand Richardson, half of his plans or his style of speaking/debating, so maybe I’m off on that one.

As for Hillary herself? That was the most interesting of all. In other debates, I think that she has done an excellent job of remaining calm and refuting attacks and all kinds of ridiculous questions about things that her husband has said. She has constantly impressed (and since I don’t want her to win the nomination, disappointed) me with the way that she has remained firm, confident and colleted. This time around, I kind of felt like she lost it. When Edwards criticized her, her eyes were burning a hole in his skull. She was angrily staring down the moderators, too. And I found her voice and choice of words to be clearly agitated at several moments.

Now, I imagine that I would’ve been pissed off, too. And to be fair, she had attacks flying at her from all directions, not only from the candidates on stage but also from Williams and Russert. I’m not saying that she doesn’t have the right to get pissed — but I don’t think that we’ve seen it in debates too much before. It was the first time I’ve seen the veneer crack for any real length of time, and I’m curious as to how that’s going to play. And I can’t help but point out that if you want to be president, these kind of attacks aren’t even the beginning of what stress is going to feel like. I personally don’t like the anger — on anyone. It’s why Biden (other than his racism and misogyny) and Kucinich (other than his pocket Constitution) piss me off, with their constantly angry, righteous indignation. I’m sure that a lot of asshole pundits are going to criticize the anger in a gendered way, and that’s just plain fucked up. But the fact is that if I don’t like it on Biden or Kucinich (or Giuliani or Tom Tancredo, for that matter), of course I’m not going to like it on Clinton, woman or not.

So, what do you think? Did the criticisms work? Did they backfire? How’d Clinton do? I’m interested to see some other perspectives.

0 thoughts on “Dems Come Out Swinging

  1. Cara Post author

    The short answer is that she’s too moderate for my taste. There are just a lot of issues that I don’t agree with her on (the same with all of the candidates, but most pronounced with her). If you’d like a more detailed explanation, let me know and I’ll give one when I get the chance this afternoon.

  2. Kate

    Why aren’t any feminists talking about Kucinich or even mentioning his existence? Is there something about him that I missed, because currently he’s who I’m campaigning for. I know that he hasn’t always been pro-choice, but he changed his mind and has been solidly pro-choice for a number of years now. Is it just because the reality is he has no chance of winning and I’m naively optimistic but putting a lot of energy to further him as a candidate?

  3. Cara Post author

    I cover my thoughts on Kucinich in the comment thread here. No, I don’t think that he has a chance of winning. But Edwards is my favorite (though I’m not campaigning for him and I’m keeping my optinos open), and I’m not so sure that he has a chance, either. I don’t trust Kucinich on abortion, though. It’s good for him that he changed his mind, and he should be commended for it. But I’m still not convinced. His comments on abortion still contain some anti-chioce code language and I don’t like it.
    I did mention him, here, though, albeit in a negative light. I didn’t mention Dodd at all. Or Gravel, but he wasn’t at the debate and that’s a whole other story.

  4. PunditMom

    Edwards’ passion was clear, which is why I like him as a candidate. I was REALLY disappointed in Bill Richardson — I have finally come to the conclusion that he’s not running for President, he’s running for some position in Hillary’s administration.

  5. Cara Post author

    Yes, I think that’s a good take on Richardson.

    For the most part I thought that Edwards did a great job, but he really pissed me off with the marijuana question at the end. Why does he think that we shouldn’t legalize pot? Because it “sends the wrong message to our kids.”

    Well that’s great reasoning. This coming from the man who supposedly wants to stop locking up non-violent criminals? I understand that it’s the answer he had to give, but he really did sound like he meant it, and it was the biggest cop-out answer I’ve ever heard. I did, in fact, yell “Fuck you, Edwards!” at the TV screen, but then again, I’m also just vulgar.

    Other than that, though, he did great 🙂

  6. Katie

    I am watching the debate right now. (thanks Cara for the link) and so far all I can say is richardson was trying to sell himself more than talk about the issues. every time he had the floor he would evade the question by mentioning some great heroic deed he did in the name of deplomacy. I am all for peace and deplomacy. I am a passifist but he is driving me nuts with his self praising words.

  7. katie

    “theres only three things he mentions in a sentence: a noun and a verb and 9/11. I mean, there’s nothing else.” that quote by Biden about Giuliani. That made my day! brilliant!

  8. rich

    This was the most enjoyable debate. Like usual Obama is the master of deflecting questions and mentioned specific policy. “We live in culture of fear…we need to stop this partisan bickering…blah blah.” HOW? Never any specifics, just prose. Biden did have the money line with the “Noun, verb, 9/11” against Giuliani.
    I didn’t have huge problem with Richardson. I think shooting for a cabinet or admin. position may be his goal, but also I know a lot of people who can’t stand in house attacks, and ripping Hillary 6 million times was getting obnoxious. At a certain point it becomes unproductive, so why not ramp up your U.N. ambassador creds. through the ceiling?
    I like how Edwards doesn’t take money from PACs or lobbyists but works for a hedge fund. You’ll notice how quickly he dodges the question of taxation and regulation on hedge funds and private equity funds, “it was shot down…now let me talk about…” PEFs like Blackstone are laughing all the way to their billion dollar banks.
    And by the way, none of the candidates ever says anything substantial about global warming and energy. Ever. Obama said he talked to car manufacturers about fuel efficiency, so what? We need legislation pushed through by Congress that forces regulation on emissions from vehicles. Coal fire plants need sequestration technology enforced by congress, maybe through emissions trading, but pushed through by a Congress favorable to such bills. The topic gets glossed over constantly with the same, “we need to start thinking about energy” with no concrete responses. Some look to nuclear as the source of salvation…how is that better for the environment? So the waste gets buried instead of sent into the air? Leaks into our underground fresh water channels? I truly wish more time was spent on this topic.

  9. rich

    And I’m a Kucinich fan, but he got cornered and burned on the UFO knock. UFO means unidentified object, not necessarily an alien people!

  10. Cara Post author

    To be fair to Edwards, the man does avidly support raising his own taxes every time he’s handed a microphone. And I have also heard him talk about the need to increase taxes on hedge funds on more than one occasion. That doesn’t make the people who run and profit from hedge funds not bastards, but still.
    On the UFO question, I completely agree. Not only does UFO not mean aliens, what was the point of the question again? Yeah, whether or not our next president has seen a fucking UFO is our biggest problem as a nation when we currently have a president who is wiping his ass with the Constitution. Idiots.

  11. rich

    Do you think Hillary’s personal conversations with Bill should be made public from the archives? Obama took a chance to rip Hillary on it, likening it to the secrecy of the current admin. (that’s quite a statement). Private conversations among other politicians and their wives are not made public; to say that it’s necessary to establish her experience is somewhat ridiculous, considering her advocacy work with children and healthcare, as well has her experience as Senator. Just my opinion. Senators are always at a disadvantage when asked to provide executive experience anyway. Only 15 have been elected to President in our history.

  12. Cara Post author

    I would think that it’s ridiculous if she wasn’t touting her time as first lady as part of her “experience.” Like you just pointed out, I don’t necessarily think that she has to do that, but since she is . . . no, it’s not at all the same as what the current administration is doing, but it’s certainly bad for the reputation she already has for being “secretive,” and it does look bad to tout something that you can’t back up. I don’t have a really strong opinion on it either way at the moment, but it just doesn’t strike me as very smart.

  13. Cara Post author

    Yeah, and that’s the problem. The question wasn’t about the documents referenced earlier in the article, that aren’t being released because it take so long to comb through them. As I understand it, the question is about documents that President Clinton said should not be released before 2008 regarding Hillary Clinton’s work in the oval office, and whether she would ask him to lift that order since those documents pertain to the credentials that she’s claiming. Since so much of her work there was behind the scenes, we don’t really know what she did there except to take her word for it.

    Of course there should be limits to what’s released, and that’s perfectly fair. But the order that Bill put in looks kind of sketchy, whether it is or not.

  14. sabrina

    I am a huge fan of John Edwards as well. It’s totally unfair that his campaign keeps getting overshadowed by Obama and Hilary. First off, if Obama pandered to the religious right anymore he would have to switch to the Republican primary. And Hilary can’t ever seem to take a stand on anything, plus, she totally copied Edwards health care plan. Also, why do you think Kucinich has the better health care plan? I found it poorly thought out and simplistic. And Kucinich definitely has alot of anti-choice rhetoric, elect him to president and we’ll just end up with another nut who wants to promote abstinence.

    I just wish there was a way to get Edwards campaign out of the shadow of Hilary’s. He says all the right things, he’s personable, and he’s got terrific ideas. I don’t quite understand this love affair with Hilary, especially since the most recent poll says that half of Americans would not vote for her if she won the primary.

  15. Cara Post author

    Well, Kucinich’s plan is actually socialized medicine and doesn’t rely on the existence of health insurance companies. I think that health insurance companies are a very large portion of the current problem, and I’m skeptical about how things are going to work if we keep them as a part of our national health care policy.

    But I also don’t think that there is anywhere near the political will in America for truly socialized medicine, and at this point I think that a mediocre fix would be a great improvement on its own. I would much, much rather have a decent plan now than keep this currently deadly system indefinitely while we work for the best possible solution.


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