Thursday, January 31, 2008

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Live-blogging the Democratic debate

Because I feel compelled to do one of these.....

7:58 PM: Yep, even two minutes of Lou Dobbs Tonight is painful.

8:02 PM: Wow, Clinton dominated the walking-out-on-stage part of the debate!!

8:06 PM: Jesus, there have been seventeen debates?!!

8:07 PM: From the opening statements, a clear advantage that Clinton has over Obama in these formats is the latter's hesitancy in his voice -- which plays into the belief that he's inexperienced. Hillary, on the other hand, does not lack in confidence. This will impress the commentariat, at least.

8:12 PM: Clinton just gave the GOP one guaranteed YouTube clip to use if Obama wins the nomination -- about how their policies are really so similar. This is not a new thought, but to have Hillary say it right next to Obama will make for a great ad.

8:17 PM: I like Obama's reply on the mortgage crisis.... and he's definitely winning the "kiss John Edwards' ass" contest.

8:24 PM: Clinton's response on the political realities of health care makes her sound like George W. Bush: neither of them will negotiate with themselves.

8:27 PM: Obama's "broadcast health care dialogue on C-SPAN" seemed like a deft comparison to Clinton's 1994 health care fiasco... until Wolf Blitzer made it overt.

8:28 PM: K-Lo on the debate: "Barack Obama vs. Mitt Romney makes you feel good about America. McCain vs. Hillary makes you stressed."

8:30 PM: Andrew Sullivan: "They are not disabusing me of the notion that discussing the details of healthcare policy is really boring."

8:34 PM: GEORGE!!!!! Jason Alexander is in the house!

8:36 PM: As a former employee, it's worth pointing out that Hillary Clinton's claim that the RAND Corporation is "far from liberal" is a bit rich. If memory serves, they're actually pretty liberal on health care .

8:40 PM: I don't know if it will win him any votes, but Obama's refusal to blame immigration on inner-city unemployment was the right answer

8:48 PM: Clinton gets a point for bringing up the fact that she was co-sponsoring immigration legislation in 2004

8:50 PM: Is there any issue Clinton does not feel personally?

8:53 PM: We're almost at the halfway point... and my card-carrying Democratic Party life partner wife gives the edge to Clinton.

9:03 PM: A Bradley Whitford sighting... our long national nightmare is over.

9:06 PM: Wow, Hillary's wants to let me use my own crieria to evaluate my choice for president?!!! That's the most libertarian thing she's ever said.

9:11 PM: Pierce Brosnan in the house... is he an American citizen?

9:13 PM: And now I see Diane Keaton and Rob Reiner... thank God this audience is truly representative of America.

9:19 PM: One of the problems with watching too many of these debates is that many of these lines have been repeated seventeen times.

9:20 PM: America Ferrara and Alfre Woodard in attendance.... it's good to see Hollywood looking more like America.

9:23 PM: Hillary is proud to have Maxine Waters endorse her? Man, that's sad....

9:27 PM: Topher Grace looks intense.

9:32 PM: Official Blog Wife on Hillary's answer on her Iraq vote: "Is this her 'I did not inhale' moment?"

9:33 PM: Hillary claims that no one could forsee that President Bush was bound and determined to go to war in Iraq? Um, really? That was pretty obvious to the entire blogosphere in the fall of 2002. UPDATE: And Obama makes exactly this point.

9:39 PM: Lou Gossett Jr. sighting. The first Oscar winner. UPDATE: And Spielberg as well... Garry Shandling did not win an Oscar.

9:46 PM: Good Lord, Hillary Clinton has the worst, most annoying laugh ever.

9:52 PM: Maybe they're good actors, but there seemed to be genuine affection between the two of them at the end of the debate.

9:53 PM: From the Blog Wife -- she gives a thumbs up to the earth-tones of Hillary's brown suit with the turquoise jewelry, but Obama's tie exuded cool.

FINAL ASSESSMENT: I thought Clinton did marginally better on the nitty-gritty of policy, but Obama did better on everything else. More importantly, given his past debate performances, Obama did much better than expected.

Thumbs up to Doyle McManus as well... and thumbs down to Wolf Blitzer.

posted by Dan on 01.31.08 at 07:57 PM


Well I'm pretty happy. All the build-up, all the hype, all the doubts over whether they could handle top-flight competition...and the Badgers ended up just smoking Indiana. Very gratifying.

But I did get most of the debate, as a kind of civic duty thing. There was the usual Clinton smarminess on display tonight, and an eye-rolling segment where she talked about how she was the one on the ballot but was so proud of her husband's record. She always tries to have it both ways where her husband is concerned. A Democratic audience usually lets her.

Speaking of that audience, I was disappointed that since the two candidates started off campaigning to be Secretary of HHS the CNN group didn't ask them about single-payer. There is a sizable constituency among Democrats for this approach to health care, and Obama and Clinton shouldn't have been allowed a pass on why they don't support it. The panel also missed an opportunity to point out that both Clinton and Obama, in laying out how they would be prepared for an immigration argument with the Republicans, were both expressing support for the main features of John McCain's immigration bill.

Obama missed an opportunity toward the end, when Blitzer asked Clinton why she didn't simply say her 2002 use of force vote was a mistake. President Bush, of course, is also famously reluctant to admit mistakes -- if he does have to admit something went wrong, it's always somebody else's fault. Clinton would actually be better off by this time admitting what everyone knows, to take some of the sting off of Obama's "judgment" argument; she struggled with that tonight. But, like Bush, she sees admitting error as a sign of weakness -- a character flaw perhaps, but also one of the key principles of modern campaign tactics. Also like Bush, Clinton is a creature of the permanent campaign.

posted by: Zathras on 01.31.08 at 07:57 PM [permalink]

Seriously on Wolf Blitzer. He sucks. I mean how many times did he react to a comment by Obama by looking at Hillary and saying, "Sen. Clinton, I think that was intended as a swipe at you." As if he was trying to get them both to drop the gloves and start duking it out.

posted by: anon on 01.31.08 at 07:57 PM [permalink]

Interesting that both the Dem and GOP races have boiled down to the nice guy vs. the grouch.

A Hillary vs. McCain race would prove that nice guys do indeed finished last - or at leasr no better than second place.

posted by: Alan K. Henderson on 01.31.08 at 07:57 PM [permalink]

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