Wednesday, September 26, 2007

# Posted 8:44 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

LIVEBLOGGING THE NEW HAMPSHIRE DEMOCRATIC DEBATE: So what if there have already been seven Democratic primary debates? I am confident that this one will be especially informative. As Jeff Zeleny of the NYT Caucus points out, it is the first debate after Labor Day. And just like regular human beings, presidential candidates don't take anything seriously until after Labor Day.

8:46 -- The fun begins in 14 minutes!

9:05 -- Ack! I missed the first five minutes because I had to download the newest version of Adobe Flash Player so I could watch it online.

9:08 -- Hillary interrupts! John Edwards says she won't take out all of our combat troops. She says she'll only leave them behind to fight Al Qaeda. What? Al Qaeda is in Iraq?

9:09 -- Edwards: We won't go back into Iraq alone even if there's a genocide. That might be counterproductive. We should wait for international help. After all, would they keep on stalling after the embarrassment in Darfur?

9:10 -- Richardson: I want an all-Muslim peacekeeping force in Iraq. I guess that will happen right after the Arab League and the UN act to prevent a genocide...

9:14 -- Biden: "All [our troops] are is fodder." Um, tell that to the soldiers and marines in Anbar. Building on political leverage, our military can make a critical difference against Al Qaeda.

9:16 -- Russert says he has listened carefully to Mike Gravel during this campaign. I guess he has a lot of time on his hands.

9:18 -- Gravel: Joe Lieberman is getting us ready for a war against Iran!

9:20 -- Hillary: Bush "outsourced" our diplomacy against Iran. It's not outsourcing! It's multilateralism! No, wait. Not when Republicans do it.

9:22 -- Hillary: No, Tim, you can't finish your question. I already know what it is. And I'm not going to answer it.

9:32 -- Richardson: Tell Mexico they need to give their people jobs, not maps to the US. Well, I agree about the maps, but does a veteran diplomat like Richardson think you can just tell a country to create lots of jobs?

9:34 -- Biden: Rudy Giuliani is the most uninformed man running for President. I hope Biden meant the only serious candidate. No one on a stage with Kucinich and Gravel can really think Rudy's at the bottom. Even among Republicans, you'd think Biden would know about Tom Tancredo...

9:45 -- Tim to Hillary: You screwed up healthcare and we're terribly wrong about Iraq. Why should people think that your plentiful experience is a good thing?

9:49 -- Edwards: These other candidates sound like a bunch of Washington folk! I can't stand that silly populist card. Especially from someone who changed his most important opinions after he started running for president.

9:58 -- Russert isn't pulling any punches. He's asking each candidate about their experience by listing their mistakes. Long lists. You won't see this in any general election debates.

10:02 -- Question: Would you approve a second grade teacher reading to her class a story about the wedding of two gay princes ? If your child were in that class? Edwards says yes, of course. He doesn't want to impose on his children his own views about gay marriage. Better the public schools should teach them about homosexuality, I guess.

It would hard to come up with an answer that is any sillier. Edwards sticks by his opposition to gay marriage because he is afraid to flip-flop on yet another issue. Yet he has so little confidence in his own moral perspective that he is afraid to impose it on his children.

I've made clear my belief that gay Americans should have full equality before the law. Edwards wants to pander to Democratic base, but doesn't have the guts to do it well.

10:12 -- Russert and Hillary are going back and forth about Social Security. He's trying to get her to answer a question she's doing her best to avoid. Well, that's what candidates do. But I like primary debates a lot more because the moderators don't have to be so timid.

10:17 -- Edwards: "Why would you trust the same politicians who say the same things over and over and over?" Trust a flip-flopper instead!

10:19 -- Kucinich: Lower the age at which you can collect Social Security! 65 is too old! Our bodies break down! Maybe someone should tell Mayor Dennis that most Americans don't work in steel mills any more.

10:23 -- Obama: If there isn't enough progress at the local level towards banning smoking in public places, I will support a national ban. Well, if you're that determined to demonstrate that Democrats favor a nanny state... (And Edwards favors a ban now.)

10:29 -- Kucinich: And lower the drinking age, too! Well, I guess that will reduce life expectancy and make it more feasible to lower the retirement age for Social Security.

Now what's up, Adesnik? You say that only a big government liberal would ban smoking in public places, but it's the government's job to set the drinking age? Well, we set the smoking age, too. You have to draw a line somewhere.

But what about laws that ban alcohol consumption in public places? Hmmm. Are those federal bans?

10:34 -- It's the lightning round! 30 seconds per answer. Russert says it makes sense because these same candidates will be spending millions of dollars on 30 second ads. Well, if you want to bring the debate down to that level...

10:42 -- Gravel. The entertainment really makes this debate easier to watch. Plus, I can play games on my laptop, too.

10:44 -- Obama: We can never say that we would sanction torture under any condition. But with regard to your hypothetical about Al Qaeda and a big bomb, I won't say. Hmmm...

10:47 -- Hillary: We can't let these hypotheticals about Al Qaeda leaders get in the way of a no-torture policy.

10:47 -- Russert: But the author of that hypothetical was William Jefferson Clinton!

I have to admit, I don't have an idea much better than Obama's. We can never let torture be our policy. But if thousands of American lives depended on it in some unexpected situation? You could say that torture never works. But that's a rule of thumb at best. And surprises happen.

What sounds silly is to pretend that hypotheticals don't exist. But since my girlfriend is a Hillary supporter, I guess I can refuse to answer any of her hypotheticals. What if Salma Hayek showed up in my hotel room on my next business trip? What if! (Those Campari adds are amazing.)

10:56 -- Question: What is your favorite Bible verse? As far as I can tell, only Edwards recited an actual verse. (The "Sermon on the Mount" is not a verse.)

11:00 -- Actually, I think there was a second verse in there. I'm waiting for a transcript.

11:01 -- So, was it worth the two hours necessary to watch the debate? Well, it's not like I was going to do anything else terribly important. Obama is still not willing to go more aggressively after Hillary. But it's tough to make that work with so many candidates on stage. I'm beginning to think I may have overestimated his chances.

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(8) opinions -- Add your opinion

Maybe someone should tell Mayor Dennis that most Americans don't work in steel mills any more.

By the time he was done being mayor, not even most Clevelanders worked in steel mills anymore.

I'm not exactly a Hillary supporter, but she's the only Democrat I could see myself voting for. She's the only one I would trust to stand up for this country on an international stage, the only one I know would not to go to Syria and diss us.
Just out of luck I happened to catch the debate last night and boy am I glad I did. These primary debates are so much more fun to watch than the presidential bore fests they call debates. Maybe it was the Russert factor, I don't know. Couple of observations:

The whole "outsourcing of diplomacy" is wearing thin. Actually using the word outsourcing in any kind of political context is getting old. And I totally agree about this Democratic hypocracy when it comes to diplomacy. It's been fairly obvious Bush has let the UN and the Europeans attempt to find a diplomatic solution to Iran. I thought that's what the left wanted after we went into Iraq "unilaterally."

Since when did authoring the Family and Medical Leave act qualify someone for the presidency? coughdoddcough. Seriously - is that the best piece of legislation he can trumpet? I wonder if he knows he's running for POTUS.

Hillary - it's a simple question, Cubs or Yankees? NO you can't root for both, and guess what you're NOT going to lose votes picking one team over the other, however you may lose votes with that stupid answer that makes you look like an indecisive poll-taker which is exactly the stigma you're trying to break right?

Edwards - After you raise the social security taxes on all those people making 10-100million a year (god knows there's millions of those people) will you be paying more or is that 160million dollar S7 you setup for yourself (to be shielded from SS/Medicare taxes) still going to be exempt? I like your blunt "speaks truth to power" new style, but your past actions/remarks really is straining your credibility.

Best line of the night:

RUSSERT: We're going to take a break and come back with our lightning round. Thirty seconds to answer your question.

GRAVEL: It never got to the real round.

Got to love Gravel!

I can't wait for the next one!
As far as the ticking bomb torture scenario I think the best answer would:

1. Declare that the US would comply with international law and never use torture.

2. Declare that such absurd hypotheticals are unimaginative and inappropriate for a presidential debate. Like asking: Would you have allowed Ms. Hitler an abortion? Would you support the death penalty if it was your wife sitting in Old Sparky? Would you deny the use of one line of stem cells if it could create a cure for -pause- breast cancer?

3. Declare that if put in a situation where torture was likely to save thousands of Americans' lives, such torture would be allowed and then the president would any and legal consequences for the illegal (for a reason) action.
3. Declare that if put in a situation where torture was likely to save thousands of Americans' lives, such torture would be allowed and then the president would accept any and legal consequences for the illegal (for a reason) action.
''I'm beginning to think I may have overestimated his chances.''

As an analyst, you really do seem to get swept away by what's trendy, don't you?

I remember, a few months back where, a post where you praised him and talked about his chances of winning.

I just thought...here's another impaired prediction, which, in a couple months, will be duly rescinded.
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