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I always try to watch debates by erasing all of my prior information, just like a "virgin" voter, seeing the candidates for the first time.  And with such a mindset, I have to say I was proud to be a Democrat last night!  There were three formidable people up on the stage, obviously intelligent, thoughtful, capable and passionate.  

It was easy to like Hillary while she was talking, and Barack when he was talking, and John when he was talking.  They also seemed completely equal - there was no sense of the media-driven "two-person" race on that stage last night - it was unquestionably a three-person race although Obama had 12 minutes more of face-time than Edwards (with Clinton in-between).

So, if you are older, and you like a CEO who can manage stuff and does not scare you with too much novelty (same-old-same-old, but at least familiar stuff, and way better than Bush), you would pick Hillary.  

If you are young and uninformed, but wide-eyed and eager to participate in a revolution, and if you fell for the whole "bipartisanship" frame pushed by the media and some groups and wonder "why can't we all just get along", you would pick Barack.  

But if you are hurting, and insecure about your job and your future, and if you had your eyes open for the past 7 years and noticed that the people in power are really Bad Guys, not just inept politicians, than the only choice is Edwards.

At one point I thought how great it would be if we could elect all three for President and let them work together - they look like a Dream Team: a motivational speaker, a fighter and a manager.  One plays a bad cop, one a good cop and one makes sure that everything remains calm and under control.  Together, they could make a lot done to undo the enormous damage of the Gingrich+Bush years and to get us back on track.

They do not differ much on most issues and, since they have all been copy-catting Edwards' ideas for the past year, they are getting less and less different as the time goes on.  Even if he does not win, Edwards has completely designed and defined the Democratic platform for the next four years.  The bloggers know all the details of their votes and how much each one of them glossed over the details of their past, but the regular low-information voter will find it hard to see how they differ on issues.  But they obviously differ in governing philosophy and style.

On economy, Clinton talked about programs, Edwards talked about people, and Obama projected optimism. Different strokes for different folks, I guess, and each of the three approaches will appeal to someone.

On the question of Yucca Mountain, Clinton was matter of fact.  Edwards said that he changed his mind when new scientific information became available (nice touch for the reality-based community!).  But Obama used the conservative frame "sound science"!!!!  WTF!  This is like the hundredth time he used a conservative frame during this campaign - did nobody tell him that there are two variants of English language: one in the dictionaries and another one in the literature coming out of conservative "think" tanks (and rightwing church pamphlets)?  This is a typical Luntzism, one of millions of Republican Orwellianisms in which black is white, and the sky is pink.  Tobacco industry, polluters and others use the term to denote Bad Science that makes the point the industry likes.  If they do not like what science says, they always try to postpone action with an excuse that there is not enough "sound science" there and that "more research needs to be done".  When they fund and conduct their own "research" and come up with an industry-friendly conclusion that goes against thousands of studies by legitimate scientists, they call that crap, you guessed it: "sound science"!

But, the loser last night was Subprime Media (TM), especially that symbol of big-headed, big-walletted, big-egoed buffoonery, Tim Russert.  My wife and I were watching together last night and counting the minutes it took them to move on to the issues - 40 minutes!  Those minutes were wasted on idiotic questions about the horserace, and futile attempts at race-bating, and gender-bating, and generally stupid and useless drivel by the moderators.  

Fortunately, the candidates did not bite the bait at all and managed to foil and thwart every Tim's attempt to draw the discussion into the gutter.  As a result (and especially as a result of the chance for candidates to ask each other questions - the best questions ever asked in a TV debate), this was the best debate so far.  This was the first time we could actually hear details and nuance and fine distinctions between the candidates, something impossible to do in a GOP debate, as there are no fine distinctions between slogans.

With the two recent Nevada polls showing all three candidates essentially tied, and this debate probably making them come even closer, this is going to be an exciting caucus to watch.  For a different reason than watching the Republican primaries, which is more like watching the clown car (TM) at the Circus.

(Cross-posted)

Originally posted to coturnix on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 09:03 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

    •  If only NBC/GE .. (9+ / 0-)

      would fire Russert ... that would go a long way to restoring the reputation of the TradMed

    •  Good diary, coturnix (12+ / 0-)

      the only choice is Edwards

      Yes.

      Good catch on "sound science."

      Obama is not very good on the environment.  Coal and nuclear are NOT our future.  So long as we act as if they are, and look for ways to feed them at the public trough through subsidies, we put off the day when we actually work to solve this crisis.

      Simply put, the planet cannot afford more coal and more nuclear.  

      "They're going to give their power away when we take their power away." John Edwards

      by TomP on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 09:12:34 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  TomP .... I tend to agree (0+ / 0-)

        But it may well be that coal and nuclear have to be part of a solution bridge to something better and sustainable. I will also note that Obama was correct when he hi-lited conservation as the "low hanging fruit" ..... and conservation is a big key regardless of what future energy sources evolve.

        The other downside of these debates and I blame the moderators and format .... all candidates got a pass. Iowa was ethanol (all pro), no mention of nuclear to speak of in NH (helped Obama), Yuca Mountain (all in the same boat), and what about the natural gas reserves off the Florida coast? Heaven forbid anyone should ask a pointed question about that. Where was the "People in New England are facing huge winter heating bills while we leave cheap, clean natural gas deposits untapped in Florida" .... followed by "Sells of these natural gas rights would help close the deficit or fund for example healthcare, might help decrease the cost or oil, and might reduce the outflow of cash going to OPEC".

        The debates in my opinion should get tougher. This last one was a marshmellow and a campfire away from a Hallmark special.

        •  Problem with going after natural gas (0+ / 0-)

          that it is usually found with oil - so under Bush and  Dept of MMS now- they would allow both to be pump out -and of course one is much messier than the other.

          Tourism is big business in FL, SC, NC, VA

  •  I was glad that heckling (13+ / 0-)

    was for We the People, not race-baiting questions.

    Edwards was very good last night.

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  •  The Russerts, et. al live in a cocoon (7+ / 0-)

     [and they are essentially interchageable] - to them, literal life or death decisions are far-off floating abstractions;  they are icky things called "issues."   What they can sink their teeth into are the gossipy high school rumour kind of tales that are silly, petty and, to this peculiar mindset, endlessly fascinating.

     These "observers" are so often "surprised"  because they have no understanding of the very electorate they are supposed to be observing.

  •  Russet Terrible (9+ / 0-)

    Edwards great.  Obama and Hillary had their moments too.  I am happy to be back to issues.

  •  We all won last night. (8+ / 0-)

    This is the first time I've ever seen the primary evolve into a robust dicussion. As much as I anticipate gunning for the GOP in the general election, I think carrying this discussion all the way to the convention is good for the party and good for the country.

    A brokered convention can only be a good thing in my opinion.

    This ballot is loaded, and I'm not afraid to use it.

    by BlueGenes on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 09:17:20 AM PST

  •  Although I've always ... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pioneer111

    "leaned" toward Edwards, I think there's a flaw in his message.  He's very good about saying who he'll fight against, almost as good at saying who he'll fight for, but not as good at saying what he'll deliver.

    He should talk more about jobs.  And speak about them in a concrete way.

    In short, his message is strong but needs more red meat.

    I am neither bitter nor cynical but I do wish there was less immaturity in political thinking. -- FDR

    by Moresby on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 09:19:28 AM PST

    •  Edwards in his senate race .... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MontanaMaven

      spoke about telecommunications centers and advocated programs and tax policy to locate these in rural areas. His comment was that if they work in India there is no reason that with training, etc. they would not work is "X". He also noted that most of these families have two parents working outside the home, may be providing care for a parent, have children in school, have a house that they could not afford to "replace" in a city with higher property values, etc. The solution had to address the complexity of the situation versus thinking that one person could just relocate to another area. Was a good, forward thinking message.

      I absolutely agree that he needs to expand his message and think that he could IF he had the air time to do so. Right now he cannot even get his basic message out.

      Along the same lines - I heard John McCain advocate a card ("credit card" like) for veterans where they could use it to pay for routine healthcare at a local doctor's office versus trips to the VA. Good idea. And Elizabeth Edwards spoke of one of the things she wanted to do as First Lady was provide a path where active duty military could bring housing issues and so forth forward fro resolution versus using rhe chain of command as they do today where you are basically complaining to your "landlord boss". Wish John had co-opted these and married them to his veterans sleeping under a bridge or on a grate. But again, when you are only getting a few seconds your message has to be short.

  •  i didn't like obama's answer about nuclear power (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    WV Democrat, pioneer111, RedJet

    nuclear waste is the problem. what the hell we gonna do with all that? there's got to be a better, greener way.

    i've got a vision... a world free of george w bush. yes!

    by titotitotito on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 09:27:09 AM PST

  •  Once again, Russert tries to make asses of (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    snoopydawg, AJ WI, RedJet

    the Democratic candidates.  Once again, we stand in disbelief at the spectacle of him "moderating" yet another Democratic debate, and once again he will be back to do the same damn thing to us.

    Oh, and note to Brian Williams:  lay off the bronzer, Orangeman.

  •  coming from left (kucinichland) field, (0+ / 0-)

    i have problems with all of the candidates not being able to really pull the trigger on issues like iraq, not for profit single payer, free trade & gay marriage.
    my specific problem with john edwards is not what he is saying now, but on how he voted when it mattered. votes are pesky things & this is a difficulty all legislators have historically had running for president, but it was hard to see much difference between the candidate's positions last night beyond nuance - at least to me.

    Anyone who advocates, supports, defends, rationalizes, or excuses torture has pus for brains and a case of scurvy for a conscience. - James Wolcott

    by rasbobbo on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 09:36:03 AM PST

    •  Life is a journey .... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rasbobbo

      Edwards was quite liberal by NC standards and probably ran pretty far right of his convictions at the outset. I think that might even have carried over to the Senate. I know that on NAFTA he was torn. In NC it was accepted that textile jobs were going to be lost regardless. Tobacco was looking for expeort opportunities, big Pharma in central NC was looking for exports, IBM was big in Raleigh-Durham .... the thinking was that we would see somewhat faster declines in textiles which would be offset by increases elsewhere. Oveall a wash but realizing that on the personal level some people would be hurt and others helped. With NAFTA what happened was certain textile jobs vanished almost over night and whole towns went under. It was not spread evenly over the industry. Gains were not as great as expected and probably did not come as fast as expected. Looking back probably a large majority of people thought Saddam had WMD, etc AND in NC NAFTA probably was popular (Republican state basically and the Clintons delievered the GOP program which is NAFTA). I cannot complain too much about Edwards' positions or votes. I think he has learned, is willing to change when change is needed.

  •  Russert looks like that "Family Guy" guy. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    WV Democrat, snoopydawg, jenthor

    But he's not nearly as bright.

  •  Nice. I liked this phrase about what's going on: (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    benny05, isis2

    It's about

    really Bad Guys, not just inept politicians

    Edwards gets this.  People who read Naomi Klein and her "Shock Doctrine" and Disaster Capitalism" theories know that there are really really BAD GUYS out there who do NOT want to get along in any way, shape or form. The people who concocted events from Chile to Russia to Indonesia to Baghdad to New Orleans know exactly what they are doing.  They are not inept. And any candidate who thinks it's just sloppy work on the Republicans part is naive.

    On my diary yesterday a woman quoted her brother-in-law as saying:

    Nine-tenths of the misery in this country and indeed the world comes from the refusal of people to accept their rightful place in the world.  Americans in particular were done a terrible disservice to be encouraged to better themselves, to dream they could ever move into the upper class.  Nature herself determines your rightful place.  If you were born into a poor family, that is where you were meant to be, and fighting against that immutable will only cause great pain, for you and for those forced to put you back down where you belong".

    "Lord what fools these mortals be".  But they are very very dangerous fools and that's why we have a "Lord of the Rings" kind of epic battle ahead of us.
    And we should not be lulled by the the golem, the unformed humans that sadly people the buildings in Washington.  And we must resist the lure of the ring.

    "It is not be cause things are difficult that we do not dare; it is because we do not dare that they are difficult." Seneca

    by MontanaMaven on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 10:52:42 AM PST

  •  How great if we could elect one President, ... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    benny05

    ... one Vice President who is a natural politician who can extend the Democratic White House to 16 years, and get one in as Senate Majority Leader to work the establishment and crack open running lanes for serious reform policy to get through.

    SupportTheTroopsEndTheWar.com and Energize America

    by BruceMcF on Wed Jan 16, 2008 at 10:56:55 AM PST

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