Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Democratic debate: Is America ready for a president with a messy desk?

Democratic debate, in Nevada, with poor Dennis Kucinich losing a court case to force MSNBC to let him in, not 90 minutes before the start time.


Our pictures today illustrate the many hand gestures of the Democratic Party (except the last picture, which I couldn’t resist).

Obama is asked if what happened in New Hampshire was that people in the privacy of the voting booth were unwilling to vote for a black person. He said no, “you know, at any given moment, people are going to be making judgments based on who they think is best speaking to them about the urgent problems that they’re facing in this country.” I can understand his unwillingness to look like he’s whining about being victimized, but to deny the continuing salience of race in America is going rather too far in the other direction.

Later, Brian Williams asks him about those “Obama is a secret Muslim” emails. Obama says, “the American people are I think smarter than folks give them credit for.” Sure they are, Barry, sure they are.

Obama says that when he said Hillary was “likeable enough” during the last debate, he really meant to say that she was plenty likeable. Sorry, Barack, there’s no way to call Hillary likeable without sounding like it’s meant ironically. Can’t be done.

Edwards says he’s a fighter, that growing up in mill towns he had to literally fight to survive. Literally, huh?

Edwards says that his chief weakness is his powerful emotional response to the pain he sees around him.

Hillary says her chief weakness is that sometimes she gets impatient when people don’t understand what we can do to help each other, and this can come across as pushy.

Obama’s chief weakness is that he tends to lose papers and has a messy desk.

Questions for each other. Edwards: what do insurance and pharmaceutical companies expect for their donations? Obama: they’re inspired by my message. Wait, let me get the exact quote: “What happens is, is that you’ve got - if you’ve got a mid-level executive at a drug company or an insurance company who is inspired by my message of change, and they send me money, then that’s recorded as money from the drug or the insurance industry, even though it’s not organized, coordinated or in any way subject to the problems that you see when lobbyists are given money.” Okay, that’s less believable than when he said that no one voted against him on racial grounds or that Hillary is likeable.

Hillary will continue the Bush policy of punishing colleges that exclude military recruiters and ROTC. Those darn schools “disrespect” people who want to serve. Obama and Edwards would also punish them (Obama goes on about the disproportionate burden on poor and rural types, while Edwards is a little embarrassed and skips quickly to talking about veterans).

Everyone is weak to point of pathetic about guns, although Hillary is against “illegal guns.” Even Obama says “it is very important for many Americans to be able to hunt, fish, take their kids out, teach them how to shoot.” Er, why are blood sports so very important?

Obama says that we should make sure No Child Left Behind “is not a tool to punish people”. The very center of NCLB is high-stakes testing, which literally does not work if it is not a tool to punish people.

Edwards opposes building new nuclear power plants. I didn’t know that.

Plenty likeable:

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