Thursday, January 31, 2008

My Thoughts on the Democratic Presidential Candidate Debate from LA

If there was ever an event that did not happen in a vacuum this was it. Without a doubt you can read everything that you ever wanted to know about this debate on, and every other political blog in the western world. So I'll spare you the play by play recap and just share a few thoughts that you may not read in the political blogs. And hopefully, I'll give you a little food for thought.

Tonight's Democratic debate was held in the Kodak Theatre, home of the Academy Awards, and the stars were out in full force. But it was clear that there were no two bigger stars in that room than Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. This could have been an opening episode of "The West Wing" or "Commander in Chief". I'm sure that someone in that audience was taking notes for a pilot and someone else was calling a producer.

I will say that CNN could have used a Hollywood director because on two occasions they returned from a commercial break right in the middle of Barack Obama's responses to a question. The first commercial break interrupted part of Obama's response to the question asking if Hillary was ready to assume the office of the presidency on day one. The other broadcast oops cut into Obama's response to the question of how he would address concerns about the sex and violence coming out of Hollywood. Maybe they'll clean that up on the rebroadcast.

Both candidates were prepared, polished and looked every bit the role of the President of the United States. So if anyone is still looking at either of them in terms of race or gender they have, shall we say, "personal issues".

In addition to the stars, the ghost of John Edwards was definitely present. As expected the candidates made their appeal to the Edwards voters. Barack Obama wasted no time and addressed this in his opening comments. Hillary repeatedly mentioned that her Healthcare plan is like John's. Oh, the love for John!

The debate was cordial and definitely not the combative event that some may have hoped to tune in to. Overall it was a substantive discussion of the issues of healthcare, immigration, Iraq and the mortgage crisis. Of course, there were a few questions thrown out there by CNN's Wolf Blitzer that were clearly intended to bait the candidates and create excitement. The candidates didn't bite.

Here are a few examples:

  • Wolf Blitzer asked Hillary Clinton if she was "missing in action" when Barack Obama was working on immigration reform legislation with John McCain and Ted Kennedy.
  • Wolf Blitzer asked Hillary Clinton what experience as "First Lady" qualifies her to hold the office of President.
  • After Jean Cummings of asked Hillary how she felt about the Kennedy endorsement of Obama, Wolf Blitzer asked Obama how he feels about Bill Clinton presidency.
You get the picture.

But the question that floored me, and many in the audience, came after Hillary Clinton responded to a question about her vote against the original amendment requiring George Bush to report to the Congress before invading Iraq. Now Hillary did give a rather convoluted response to this question. But at this point Wolf Blitzer asked Hillary if she was "naive" in trusting President Bush. Even the audience booed on that. "NAIVE"? Would he have asked a man if he had been "naive"? I think not.

Hillary did get in the best quote of the night:

"It took a Clinton to clean up after the first Bush and might take a Clinton to clean up after the second Bush"
Now that's a campaign slogan.

Oh I can't wait until Super Tuesday.

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