Friday, November 16, 2007

The Great Debate

The Democratic debate last night on CNN was pretty lively despite Wolf Blitzer's best attempts to make it otherwise. Note to Wolf: A debate generally does not involve yes/no questions. Candidates are supposed to string words together to make persuasive sentences. Trying to skewer the candidates with "gotcha" questions and then removing any context from their answers is not helpful to either the candidate or the voter.

The pundits seem to have universally declared Hillary the winner. Not sure that I agree... I thought she did as well as anyone but I didn't see anything spectacular. I don't like her... I guess that might have something to do with it. In fact, I think Wolf's only redeeming moment of the night was getting Hillary to admit NAFTA was a failure. She's very well rehearsed, though, I'll give her that.

It continues to amaze me that Obama doesn't shine a bit more brightly in these things. He is probably the best public speaker I've ever heard (even the crazy 99 degree heat did not seem to affect him that day we stood by the Rock River to see him in 2004) but his debate performances continue to be wonky, thoughtful, and sensible. He's got to cut that shit out. Other than me, apparently, America does not like wonky, thoughtful, and sensible debate performances. They like zingers and funny one liners and elbow jabs. They want to see roller derby debates and they want their debaters to be in costume.


Bill Richardson surprised me... he's a man of ideas. Unfortunately he tanked himself when he was asked if he'd put human rights above national security and he said yes (or something to that effect). I understood his point and, in the abstract, it's valid. There's definitely an argument to be made that our foreign policies, where they've undermined human rights, have created more (or, perhaps, different) threats against us. But you can't actually SAY that and be taken seriously by anyone... it's just not the national mindset. Stick a fork in poor, earnest Bill... he's done.

The immigration questions were all very interesting. From drivers licenses for illegals to border control and immigration, the responses were quite varied. I think drivers licenses are a good idea and I understood Bill Richardson's and Obama's positions (and Hillary's, before she chickened out). Since I'm a recent convert on this idea, I totally understand all of the arguments against it. I don't think of it as "a nice thing to do for illegals." It's become a matter of safety and, ultimately, national security.

Immigration reform is necessary for our economic future. We need more workers to replace the boomers who are nearly ready to start dropping out of the workforce. This is how our labor force has grown in the past and it's how it needs to continue to grow it in the future. We need to tighten border control and then make it easier for folks to enter the country legally. Undocumented workers cause more downward wage pressure than documented workers and it does not help us, culturally, to have illegals with one foot in this country and one foot still in Mexico. What we have in place right now needs to be fixed for our own future prosperity.

Dennis Kucinich was very entertaining... he's a funny little man. I'd invite him to a party... I would not invite him to be President. He certainly takes himself very seriously, though. It's kind of sweet and crazy at the same time.

I liked Chris Dodd, too, for his strong positions. Not necessarily positions I agree with but it takes some guts to say what you mean and mean what you say. Obviously he's not a serious contender.

John Edwards has shifted purposely to the left to court the base. I am uncomfortable with the obviousness of this move although I understand it... the base controls the primary. His political persona just seems so contrived to me. I know a lot of people love him but as far as I'm concerned he performed an admirable service as a malpractice and liability lawyer (and made a lot of money doing it) and he should be content to leave it at that.

Which leaves us with Joe Biden. Delaware Joe. Mr "In bed with the Financial Industry" Biden. If "politiciany" was an adjective it would be reserved exclusively for Joe Biden. His cynicism is almost palatable. He probably knows the ins and outs of Washington DC better than any of his peers on the podium, though, which could come in handy. On the other hand... ick.


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