I’m so tired, I’m just going to give you my play-by-play and then summarize my impressions on each candidate. Most of the questions were from YouTubers and those questions (abbreviated) are in Italics:

Dodd vs Obama: Experience vs. Change

What does the word Liberal mean?

  • Hillary makes a great point about the term, it doesn’t mean what it used to mean: limited government. “Modern Progressive” is what she prefers to call herself, {meaning…um…not-limited government.}

Gravel: Takes on Obama as taking “bundlers.” Obama gets huge applause. “the reason you know is that I passed a law saying I had to disclose it.” {Didn’t really answer the question.}

What Republicans would you work with?

  • Joe Biden: Chuck Hagel as his VP, and Dick Luger at Sec of State.
  • Edwards: How do we bring about change? Take power away from political opponents instead of compromising with them. FIGHT!


  • Edwards: African Americans pay more for mortgages in South Carolina? {It apparently never occurs to him that your African American in South Carolina would have worse credit than an average White American (for a plethora of reasons). But hey…let’s FIGHT the Mortgage Lenders. Take them on. It’s a war.}
  • Obama: invest in Education. That’s a better form of reparations.
  • Kucinich supports Reparations? Or does he? It was unclear whether he was actually supporting it. Could have been rhetoric. But it sounded like he really supported it.


  • Dodd: shame, shame, shame…{Gulf States…white people were wiped out, too.}
  • Richardson: (bad sound quality). Eliminate any red tape? Predatory lending of insurance companies? {I think he’s drunk.}

Authentically black? Authentically female?

  • Obama: Catching a cab in Manhattan. I believe in core decency of American people.

Who would be better advocate for women? Edwards or Clinton?

  • Hillary running not because she’s a woman
  • Edwards I don’t want racists’ and sexists’ votes. 9+ minimum wage. Fight Fight Fight.
  • Hillary I’ve advocated for Women all my life.

Gay Marriage?

  • Kucinich: Tough answer: “All are created equal.”
  • Dodd distinguishes marriages and civil unions.
  • Richardson same distinction; don’t ask don’t tell should go. No discrimination.

Gay Marriage and Religion, put by a Reverend:

  • Edwards: Do not believe in opposing civil rights. Distinguishes Civil Rights and marriage. YouTube viewer is there. Fair Housing connection. Using faith as a basis is bad.
  • Difference between interracial and same-sex? Obama makes distinction even better. It’s up to the denominations to determine marriage. Rights granted by States should be equal. {Best case for Civil Unions vs. Marriage redefinition.}

Darfur: What action do you commit to?

  • Richardson: UN troops. EU sanctions. No fly zone. Humanitarian workers. Caring about Africa.
  • Biden: Where we can, we should send. Troops on the ground.
  • Clinton: Divestment sanctions on Sudan. No fly zone. Will not commit to troops in Darfur.

How do we pull out now?

  • Obama: send a clear message to Iraqi government that they need to stop going off on vacation.
  • Biden: It would take a year to get them out. Separate jurisdictions. Begin to draw out now, get majority of . {He seems agitated.}
  • Hillary: There is no military solution. Not getting answers from the Administration.
  • Kucinich: No more funds.
  • Dodd: Need dipolomacy. Noone listens to us when it comes to foreign policy.
  • Richardson: Bring them home, now! 6 months!
  • Gravel: Soldiers died in vain in Vietnam. Dying in vain, now. Major close up on Gravel. He’s mad.
  • Obama: Soldiers doing everything asked of them. Not dying in vain because serving their country.
  • Edwards: Never die in vain. put the heat on Bush.

Women register for draft?

  • Dodd: sure. Recommends required selective service.
  • Obama: Tuskegee Airmen. equates Women with African American soldiers.

Arab states do not respect women. How is Clinton to be taken seriously. (Stupid softball questions for Hillary).

  • Clinton: First Lady laundry list. No doubt in anyone’s mind. Germany, Chile, Liberia. Very appropriate for woman to represent U.S.

Meet with Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea?

  • Obama: Yes. Not meeting with them doesn’t hurt them.
  • Hillary: back to diplomacy. High level Presidential envoys. Why meet with them until we know what the way forward is?
  • Edwards: Restore American confidence.

By what date out of Iraq? How many family members do you have in Iraq (relevance?) ?

  • Dodd: April of next year. January of 2009 all out.
  • Richardson: 6 months and no residual forces. {This guy was ambassador to the UN?}
  • Biden: lambasts Senators who voted against funding of equipment to prevent deaths from IEDs. As long as they’re in the field, they need the right equipment. {Thank you, Joe}.
  • Clinton: same realistic view. Maybe 1 or 2 brigades a month. That’s a lot of months.
  • Kucinich: {completely ignoring reality.} Text him and they’ll magically be able to bring them home…like immediately.

Education: Who was your favorite teacher?

  • Gravel: teacher who recognized his learning disabilities.
  • Obama: someone who had also been to kenya and made him feel proud of his International experience.
  • Biden: (Unintelligible–sound quality).
  • Edwards: teacher that believed boy from mill could make something of himself

NO child left behind–Scrap or Salvage?:

  • Richardson: takes funds away that aren’t doing well. 40,000 a year minimum pay, art, dance, etc.
  • Biden: voted for it because of Ted Kennedy, but now feels it needs to me scrapped. Smaller classrooms, better teachers.

Would you send your kids to private school?

Edwards: two kids in public school.
HIllary: tough decision to send Chelsea. {WHAT? Her dad was the fricking President. Why was it a tough decision?}
Gravel: need a little competition in public schools. Not sure whether he’s talking about vouchers or what.
Dodd: accountability in schools is important.

Planned Parenthood. Sex Education.

  • Edwards: “inappropriate touching”
  • Obama: echoes Edwards. Some parents don’t take responsibility, though (so of course schools should)

Does the Al Gore question hurt your feelings?

Global Warming?

  • Kucinich: Away from reliance on oil. Connects foreign policy and energy.

Alternative energies?

  • Gravel: Change our tax structure. Tax spending.
  • Dodd: 50 mile/gallon by 2017…Corporate carbon tax?
  • Cooper asks who flew Private jets to the debate. Almost everyone raises their hand. Kucinich and Gravel did not.

Global Warming? Nuclear power?

  • Edwards: very costly.
  • Obama: no silver bullet. national interests ahead of special interests.
  • Clinton: taking money away from oil companies and setting up a special fund.

Standardizing voting policies?

  • Richardson: paper trails…50% turnout unacceptable. Get the Republican party to stop suppressing minority vote.

Will you work for Minimum wage?

  • Clinton: sure.
  • Everyone else: Raise minimum wage.
  • Obama: we all have money. Of course we could do it. (A little stab at Romney).

Social Security–raise contributing salary above 90,000?:

  • Dodd: no privatization
  • Richardson: 401k universal pension. Bipartisan.


  • Biden: Change the tax structure. More progresive of course. “We need more revenue.” (Shivers go down my spine.)
  • Kucinich: no wars, no NAFTA. No more taxes.

Alzheimers? Diabetes? Preventative medicine? Health Insurance?

  • Obama: not mandating coverage, but giving all opportunities. Obama says he’s gonna fight drug and insurance companies.
  • Edwards: must be mandated. Cleft pallate story. When are we gonna DO something about it. FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT.
  • Clinton: Universal Health Care is an American value.

Health Care coverage for undocumented workers?

  • Dodd: Yes
  • Richardson: yes, and prevention is crucial.

Bush Clinton, Bush….Clinton?

  • Clinton: sure
  • Gravel: Wall Street money
  • Obama: uniting, changing, fighting.

In God we trust?

  • Biden: deep religious beliefs and ability to use reason are not mutually exclusive (great point).
  • Edwards: Never will I impose my religious beliefs on the American people.

Atheist…concerns over pandering to evangelical vote.

  • Obama: faith informs what I do.


  • Richardson: mental imbalanced and criminal
  • Biden: Assault weapons ban.

Overall impressions of each candidate:

Clinton: very on key. Very studied. Very polished. Looked, acted, and spoke the part.
Obama: thoughtful, usually very “audaciously hopeful”, but managed to pick up a little too much of Edwards’ vibe.
Dodd: Nothing really stands out.
Gravel–just mad.
Kucinich–very happy. Very proud of his “text for peace” deal. Acted like a kid.
Biden–Seems like the Ron Paul, just looking around trying to figure out why everyone has gone so crazy.
Edwards–Fight. I’m a fighter. I’ve fought Big Oil, Big Insurance, Big Pharma, Big Tobacco, Big Grape. FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT!
Richardson–Seemed to ramble. Incomprehensible on Iraq. Definitely didn’t come across as a former UN Rep.

Conclusions: Look everyone knows that I disagree with 90% of everything all these chumps say, so I’ll do the best I can. In my opinion, there are only three people on the stage that really make any sense: Obama, Hillary, and Biden. The others (in my right-wing-nut-job view) are just clowns. Edwards is the most disturbing to me, not because he’s the most nutty, but because he’s nutty and has such a broad-based appeal.

Hillary, as much as I’d love to simply look at her ideas and not who she is, it becomes really hard to do when I hate all of her ideas. Obama, I really want to believe is what he’d like us to believe he is–new blood, reasonable, empathetic to the conservative view, hopeful. It’s hard to believe that, though, when most of his recent speeches are very familiar boiler-plate liberal rhetoric.

Biden is my favorite on the stage. When he talks about foreign policy, he knows what he’s talking about. If I had to vote for one of them, it would be him. I think he’s wrong on a lot of things, but I wouldn’t be scared at night knowing he was Commander-in-Chief. His domestic politics is predictably not in line with mine (“tax cuts to the top 1%”, “need more revenue”, etc.), but I could live with that if I knew he would not just start throwing our troops around. I’m aware he’s not always on this target, and guilty of petty party politics and grandstanding to Pentagon interviewees he most definitely is. But at least he speaks English.

But he doesn’t have much of a shot…I know. But can you imagine a Hunter/Biden runoff? Or a Huckabee/Obama?

Sadly, at this point, I’d put my money (if not necessarily my vote) on a Hillary/Rudy runoff.

Back to the debate, it was very disappointing that very little attention went to:

  • Immigration
  • War on Terror (or whatever it’s supposed to be called)
  • Iran
  • Taxes
  • National Debt

Truthfully, even the issues that were discussed were not discussed substantively. It’s not hard to figure out why, though…

Number one: very few serious questions were asked from the conservative point of view. The tax question was asked with a song, and the gun question was asked by someone who called his assault rifle his “baby.” The liberal position did not need to be defended, argued, or questioned. Many things were taken as gospel truth from the get-go: A military victory in Iraq is impossible; Universal Health Care is obviously to answer to the Health Care; Global Warming was so obvious it was barely discussed.

Number two: it’s the challenging party, so a lot of time can be spent bashing the incumbent without requiring too much bashing each other, or arguing your point.

I made it through it, though…the whole gruelling 120 minutes. Give me a fricking medal.

Democratic debate on CNN
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9 thoughts on “Democratic debate on CNN

  • From what I read no one said anything about the economy.

    Nobody is giving Bush any credit for this economy, which I think is unfair and a bit strange considering how fondly everyone remembers the good old days of the 90’s. That is, before Clinton threatened to break up Microsoft.

    Instead, we need to raise taxes left and right. Yes, that’s the cure.

    I hate Town Hall forums. Intellectual laziness on the part of the reporters. They still control the questions, but insidiously, without actually having to think about or ask the questions.

    The school-marm that wanted to ensure that all Americans buy energy efficient light bulbs and pleaded with the democrats to write up productivity killing legislation to “save the planet”, really irked me.

    These types always dominate a town hall debate.

    The only style I would appreciate would be a C-Span all-access kind. Lots of questions about the gold standard, the CIA, and who exactly is the man behind the curtain.

  • I forgot reason number 3 on why there wasn’t a lot of substance. This was the first Democratic Party-sanctioned debate, so it was obviously taken from that angle. I suppose if the first Republican Party sanctioned debate is on Fox News and the questions come from YouTube and are chosen by conservative journalists, we’ll have a similar result.

    Honestly I would like to see a full-fledged bipartisan debate:

    Rudy, McCain, Romney, Obama, Clinton, Huckabee, Dodd, Paul, Hunter, Biden. Three hours on CSPAN, Brian what’s his name moderating.

    If you want a mass “debate”, THAT would be a debate. It would never happen, but I would watch it…all three hours.

  • You mean you’re not going to comment on Edwards’ hair? No comments on the man’s hair from Republicans?! Are you losing your touch?!

  • I haven’t commented on Edwards’ hair yet. What “touch” do you speak of?

    To be clear, I just don’t like Edwards…at all. The more I listen to him the more comfortable I feel with Hillary, and that’s saying something.

    So who is your candidate of choice?

  • I was at Mona’s last night where there’s cable tv, so I caught half of the debate. I think all of them are assholes driven by little more than ambition. These guys are politicians. As a friend of mine once put it, “I vote for the guy who seems least likely to fuck things up.” Anyway, I tend to trust the ones who speak from their gut, who are clearly improvising. If it sounds pre-written, they’re not worth listening to. We don’t know any of these people personally, so how can we trust them? On what basis then do you vote? I go for the smartest guy who appears honest. So, to that extent Chris Dodd seemed to be the sharpest, the quickest, the one who didn’t stammer, and seemed the most compelled (not to be confused with motivated) to deliver a message. His tone was negative, wasn’t it? That’ll work against him. Winks and smiles win more votes than knowledge and intelligence.

    This website offers an interesting analysis of the candidates by means of qualitative analysis of language. Someone transcribed the speeches, sorted the word content by usage, and determined how many words each candidate used and which were used the most. They created “tag clouds,” in which you’ve got a cluster of words of various sizes. There’s a tag cloud for each of the candidates here, with the most-used words as the biggest. Bidden’s biggest: “better.” Clinton’s: “president.” Dodd’s is the funniest; his most used word: “years.” Anyway, check it out.

    I’m surprised by your comments about Edwards, that he bothers you so much. Seriously, his whole approach reminds me of W. What are Edwards’ most common words? “America.” “United.” “Believe.” “States.” “President.” Bush’s speeches from his 200 campaign onward have constantly harped on “Freedom” and “Leadship” and “Freedom again” and “America” and “more Freeedom.” It sounds like he and Georgie went to school together.

    An antidote to such a cynical outlook is one of my favorite Onion articles: “Politicians Sweep Midterm Elections.”

  • I see your point on the Bush/Edwards connection. The difference is, obviously, that I simply disagree with everything that Edwards stands for. If I was as “left-wing” as I am “right-wing,” I WOULD probably find Bush’s speeches about Freedom and Liberty, etc., aggravating.

    As it is, I can’t think of any of Bush’s speeches that I’ve been REALLY impressed with either way. He doesn’t write them, and it’s obvious by their delivery.

    So there you go.

    I’m just shocked that the word “fight” didn’t come out of Edwards’ tag cloud. I would have put money on hearing that word at least 12 times (never referring to fighting terrorists, or enemies; just insurance companies and pharma companies).

    Great Onion link. It’s funny, but it’s true. The world of everyday men volunteering their time to serve their country seems to be an antiquated concept. As a result, all we get is people whose livelihood likely depends on getting elected…not a recipe for “honest politicians.”

  • I, too, can’t trust Edwards – he is the consummate ambulance-chaser lawyer-cum-politician (see: Slick Willie). And I don’t think Obama is it; he’s a (mostly) media creation (see: 2004 Dem convention), a freshman senator who has not really been fully vetted yet. So that leaves Hillary. Hard for me to believe that of the 3, she’s who I’d pick to be the nominee.

  • WDP – thanks for the superb debate coverage; I didn’t get to watch this one.

    I think that Obama’s more ready for the presidency than critics give him credit for. His ability to grasp complex concepts can make up for his relatively few years inside the Beltway. As far as him being a media creation goes, isn’t everyone? I think that the public has a lower experience theshhold than the ‘experts’ do for their presidential candidates.

    As far as Hillary is concerned, I’m intruiged by the idea of having a Mr. and Mrs. President (Bill is still properly referred to as President Clinton, right?). I do think that Hillary is pulling a Kerry act in that she’s positioning herself as less liberal than she actually is. But, she was smart about it in that she started her path towards moderation much earlier than Mr. Kerry. But, we must not forget her first piece of substantive legislation, her health care manifesto of the early 1990’s. Scary stuff. Luckily, the general election won’t between two Democrats…wait a minute, I forgot about Rudy.

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