Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Democratic Debate: There’s a difference between denouncing and rejecting. No there isn’t. Yes there is.

Condi was in Beijing yesterday, and had a press conference with China’s foreign minister. A China Central Television reporter asked her a question using the phrase “Taiwan’s so-called referendum” three times. She didn’t take the hint and use that phrase in her reply, but did say that “this referendum is not going to help anyone and, in fact, it shouldn’t be held.”

Okay, I thought I had more from that presser, but I guess I don’t.

So it’s on to the last, one can but hope, primary debate of 2008, in which Tim Russert made that Chinese reporter look good by comparison.


Pictures below illustrate the many hand gestures of the Democratic Party and of Paraguayan presidential candidates Pedro Fadul and Blanca Ovelar, who also debated last night, just because my news photo search also turned up pictures from that debate.

The first part was devoted to health insurance, sixteen full minutes as Bryan Williams pointed out aggrievedly, sounding as if he’d been forced to sit through a four-hour speech by Fidel Castro.

Both candidates said “health care” when they actually meant private health insurance. Only a public employee who doesn’t have to deal with a private insurance company would consider the two to be synonymous. (That reminds me that I never finished writing a post I started a couple of weeks ago on Clinton and Obama’s insurance plans; it wasn’t as intellectually coherent as I liked, and every other sentence was “Fucking Blue Cross just raised my fucking premiums twenty-five fucking percent!”) Hillary: “You know, for example, it’s been unfortunate that Senator Obama has consistently said that I would force people to have health care whether they could afford it or not.” So you’re not planning to make people have appendectomies against their will? Good to know. Obama: “Every expert has said that anybody who wants health care under my plan will be able to obtain it.”

Dem and or Paraguayan debate, 2.26.08  1

Hillary insisted that many of the uninsured can afford it, they’re just “young people who think they’re immortal.” I guess she just lost the young-people-who-think-they’re-immortal vote, although I suspect Obama already had a lock on that.

Obama: “With respect to the young people, my plan specifically says that up until the age of 25 you will be able to be covered under your parents’ insurance plan, so that cohort that Senator Clinton is talking about will, in fact, have coverage.” Except for the poor, forgotten orphans.

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Side-pointy, up-pointy

Hillary complained that she was being picked on while Obama was being coddled: “Well, can I just point out that in the last several debates, I seem to get the first question all the time.”

Obama said the Clinton campaign has “constantly sent out negative attacks on us, e-mail, robocalls, flyers, television ads, radio calls” (radio calls?) (Update: oh, I get it, he means call-ins to talk radio), but “we haven’t whined about it”. Unless you count what he just, you know, said.

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Clinton: “I have been a critic of NAFTA from the very beginning. I didn’t have a public position on it, because I was part of the administration, but when I started running for the Senate, I have been a critic”. So we’ll just have to take her word about having been a critic from the very beginning? No, wait: “I think David Gergen was on TV today remembering that I was very skeptical about it.” So that settles that to our perfect satisfaction.

Obama: “we can’t shy away from globalization.”

Dem and or Paraguayan debate, 2.26.08  5
Double pointy

Clinton says it’s unfair to compare Obama’s 2002 speech against the forthcoming Iraq war with her record in the Senate voting to authorize it because “Many people gave speeches against the war then... And when he came to the Senate, he and I have voted exactly the same. We have voted for the money to fund the war until relatively recently. So the fair comparison was when we both had responsibility, when it wasn’t just a speech but it was actually action, where is the difference?” Yah, his principles are just as compromised as mine! We’re both sell-outs! Vote for me!

Obama’s response: “Once we had driven the bus into the ditch, there were only so many ways we could get out. The question is, who’s making the decision initially to drive the bus into the ditch?” See, that metaphor totally explains away his votes for Iraq war funding.

Dem and or Paraguayan debate, 2.26.08  8
Me and my loud tie are crushing your head!

Russert asked Obama about Farrakhan’s announcement that he supported Obama for president. Obama said that he hadn’t asked for that support, could hardly stop the man supporting him, and added, “You know, I have been very clear in my denunciation of Minister Farrakhan’s anti-Semitic comments. I think that they are unacceptable and reprehensible.” Which was funny, because nobody had said anything yet about Minister Farrakhan’s anti-Semitic comments. Russert then proceeded to repeat every single anti-Semitic comment Minister Farrakhan has ever made in his entire life, as though Obama hadn’t just said he denounced them, then accusingly asked him, “What do you do to assure Jewish-Americans that, whether it’s Farrakhan’s support or the activities of Reverend Jeremiah Wright, your pastor, you are consistent with issues regarding Israel and not in any way suggesting that Farrakhan epitomizes greatness?” This forced Obama to go on at length about how Jews in Chicago love him and about his unwavering, unequivocal, unthinking support of Israel, whose “security is sacrosanct”, and “the United States is in a special relationship with them, as is true with my relationship with the Jewish community.” However, I don’t believe he assured Jewish-Americans that he was not in any way suggesting that Farrakhan epitomizes greatness. Let the attack ads commence.

Dem and or Paraguayan debate, 2.26.08  4
Side handy, shrug handy

Hillary, who also loves her some Jews, informed Obama that “there’s a difference between denouncing and rejecting.” Also between disavowing and rebuffing, objurgating and spurning, condemning and repudiating, excoriating and abjuring.

Obama rejected (and denounced) this lexicological specificity: “I have to say I don’t see a difference between denouncing and rejecting. ... But if the word ‘reject’ Senator Clinton feels is stronger than the word ‘denounce,’ then I’m happy to concede the point, and I would reject and denounce.”

Democrats Debate 2008
Boob-covery, pointy

Obama also rejected and denounced the National Journal’s rating of him as the most liberal senator. Then he crossed over into that monomaniacal place every politician reaches sooner or later, and started speaking of himself in the third person: “And part of the reason I think a lot of people have been puzzled, why is it that Senator Obama’s campaign, the supposed liberal, is attracting more Independent votes than any other candidate in the Democratic primary, and Republican votes as well, and then people are scratching their head? It’s because people don’t want to go back to those old categories of what’s liberal and what’s conservative.” Really?

Russert asked Hillary, “What can you tell me about the man who’s going to be Mr. Putin’s successor?” Dude, do your own research. Google, Wikipedia.

Inherent in the words “who’s going to be Mr. Putin’s successor” is the (absolutely correct) assumption that the actual Russian elections do not matter, an assumption Hillary failed to remark upon. It will be interesting to see if there is a reaction from Russia.

After she went on for a bit about the man who’s going to be Mr. Putin’s successor, the state of the Russian polity, etc, Russert asked the question I was wondering, “Do you know his name?” She fumbled through several attempts to pronounce Medvedev, finally saying, “whatever.” We’ll never know if Obama knew his name.

(Incidentally, I didn’t actually watch most of the debate, so I’m not sure if it’s a transcript error that has Obama saying he was getting “filibuttered.” But filibuttered is my new favorite word.)

Obama said that if Russian troops join Serbs in attacking Kosovo (this was Russert’s scenario), he’d get NATO to do something or other. He added that “We have recognized the country of Kosovo as an independent, sovereign nation... And I think that that carries with it, then, certain obligations to ensure that they are not invaded.” Recognizing a country requires that, Barry? Because we’ve recognized 150, 180 of the suckers.

Hillary: “Well, obviously, I’ve said many times that, although my vote on the 2002 authorization regarding Iraq was a sincere vote, I would not have voted that way again.” So after 2002 you gave up the whole “sincerity” thing because it just wasn’t working out for you, is that what you’re saying, Hills?

Dem and or Paraguayan debate, 2.26.08  3

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