Monday, January 21, 2008

Recap of the CNN Democratic Presidential South Carolina Debate

Tonight Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards debated in Myrtle Beach S.C. and the media will certainly tell you that it was, to borrow their phrase, "a slug-fest". But if they tell you that there was a clear winner that will purely be subjective perception. All of the candidates had their shining as well as dim moments.

The first 40 minutes of the debate did bring to mind a boxing match. But this time you can't blame it on the media. Wolf Blitzer, Joe Johns and Suzanne Malveaux put the obvious questions out there but Clinton and Obama took the proverbial rope and almost hung themselves and the Democratic party.

Barack Obama brought up Hillary Clinton's involvement with Walmart's corporate board and Hillary Clinton accused Barack Obama of once working for a slumlord. OUCH!
CNN had to be thrilled because you will surely see this segment over and over and over.

The Clinton/Obama bickering did lead to one of John Edwards' best moments when he pointed out that their squabbling was not contributing anything substantive to a discussion of the real issues. Now let's see if the media includes John Edwards' comments in their recaps.

In my opinion this was Barack Obama's most challenging but overall his best debate performance. He looked comfortable in both the podium and the seated format. He clarified his position on his healthcare plan and an economic stimulus plan.

However, somewhere in the next few months he is going to have to give a better explanation about his voting record in the Illinois legislature. I am still stumped about the "present" versus "yea" or "nay" votes. I doubt that this will be an issue with the South Carolina voters but New York and California voters are not going to let that go without be challenged.

Barack Obama did get away with a response that neither Hillary Clinton or John Edwards could have gotten away with. Joe Johns asked Barack Obama what he thought of the often repeated phrase that Bill Clinton was the first Black President. Obama stated that he would have to see Clinton dance to tell if he was a brother. Now imagine that comment coming out of John Edwards' mouth. It would be perceived as being tantamount to using the "N" word.

Hillary Clinton was in great form and gave as good as she got. At one moment the audience expressed its disapproval of criticism of Barack Obama but she held her ground and made her point. She did somewhat sidestep the question asking if the voice that she found in New Hampshire's was Bill's. Did they really expect an answer to that question?

John Edwards was at his best -- passionate, making his case and staying above the petty squabbling over the other two. My biggest criticism of his performance would be his repeatedly bringing up the "lobbyist funding" criticism. Even if it's a valid point, no audience likes to be beaten over the head. There were moments when you did feel a little sorry for the white male also referred to as "a Son of the South" in the later part of the debate. That "Son of the South" phrase carries all sorts of connotations in a state like South Carolina.

In spite of the expected arguing between Clinton and Obama, this debate did give viewers a good sense of where the candidates stand on a number of the issues including:

  • the economic stimulus plan
  • Universal Health Care
  • and Iraq
In the end, I doubt that this debate will change the minds of any of the voters in South Carolina but this debate left no doubt that there are numerous similarities and numerous differences between the candidates. There are also still a few gray areas. And yes, race and sex will be a factor.

The debate will be rebroadcast on CNN at 1:00am EST Tuesday. It's worth viewing and judging for yourself.


  1. Sadly, they are both as shallow as a grave dug without a shovel.

  2. Hi, Great post! I am a Republican, but I do watch each and every debate. Sadly, I missed last night. You posted that the debate will be re-broadcast at 1am on CNN. I checked the CNN line-up and it's showing the regular Anderson Cooper re-run. Is it confirmed that the debate will be shown again?
    I am REALLY digging Obama standing a FIRM GROUND against the Clinton machine!!! Sort of like a good David and Goliath story! GO BARACK! I love it when people tell the truth, call people on their untruths and stand THEIR GROUND!
    Again, great post! If you know for sure when the debate will be shown again, please advise. I've been googling all over and your post is the only place I could even get a hint at when it would be shown again.
    God bless! And aren't politics just plain FUN??? (on BOTH sides of the aisle?)

  3. Annie

    Thanks for the compliment. I hate to break the news but the debate was rebroadcast a 1:00 am this morning so unfortunately you've missed it.

    I would keep an eye out for a possible rebroadcast on Saturday. This is not based on any information I just feel that this was a really good debate and CNN is going to get as much mileage out of this as possible.

    In the meanwhile, there is a very brief highlight reel of the debate on Youtube.

    I really hope that you have a chance to see this debate and YES politics, although very serious, is really fun to watch.

    Thanks again and God Bless.

  4. Joseph, Thanks for your comments. I've never heard that saying but it will stick with me forever :-)

  5. Pamela,
    Just came while writing the post.
    I write alot including a new sermon every week and music, soon to be online.
    Some articles on racial reconciliation and more.
    Have not blogged for awhile but getting ready.

  6. Thanks Pamela!! I appreciate the info. I was even checking to see if C-Span might run it. This election in so tremendously important and I feel that as AMERICANS, not partisans, we need to make our voices heard for REAL CHANGE! No rhetoric allowed!
    I love your invite to your blog! Nothing like a good cup of coffee and great conversation. I'm a songwriter and that is along the lines of a song I penned. I'll sure keep an eye out on what you've got to say! Please visit my blog Annie's Antics. Perhaps you'll find something of interest there on life, love, happiness and living in a GREAT country that doesn't have to be in such a divide. I really enjoy your insight! (I take cream and sugar, by the way! *Wink!)


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