August 7, 2007

AFL-CIO Democratic Debate analysis

For those of you who caught the AFL-CIO debate among Democratic presidential candidates from Soldier Field in Chicago, what did you think?

And highlights? Lowlights? Who most closely espoused the views that you personally believe in?

I was alternately nauseated and inspired. The format was of course, not condusive to anything resembling an actual debate, with the number of candidates and dictates of the TV network ensuring that the entire thing was rushed, and that candidates were under enormous pressure to try to frantically try to get their points out, which always results in sometimes ridiculously disjointed and nearly incoherant answers.

Hilary did OK. She had some strong moments, but a few faltering ones as well. Obama was likewise alternately strong and a bit faltering. Edwards had some strong moments, but didn't really catch fire. Biden was strong and came across as the most honest and authentic of the bunch, and the senator long criticized for his overly-windy responses cracked up the crowd when asked if he would eliminate no-bid contracts with a one word answer, no.

Keith Olberman did a simply outstanding job as moderator, and was clear and consise, as well as doing a good job of keeping things moving along. There were no cutesy trick questions dreampt up soley to ensure a politician faltered or was embarassed, though he did ask some legitimately tough questions.

Another thing that I came away with is that of all seven candidates on stage, the only one's who really seemed to have a grasp on reality and who sincerely stated that they'd address the problems that most needed addressing were the minor candidates. Kucinich routinely evoked roars of approval from the crowd with his pledges of a pro-labor White House, withdrawal from Iraq, and universal health care. I'd wager that a majority of people in the country, and at least a majority of Dems believe that addressing those questions are top priority, and Kucinich essentially said he'd deal with them all. But the candidate who is committed to giving people what they truly want and need is regarded as a joke candidate. I've never really understood why that is.

Clinton gave me a lot of doubts due to the fact that she truly seems the most "old-fashioned" of the field, in as much as she's incredibly scripted, disciplined in evry sylable she utters, and shys away from making any firm committments on issues for the most part. She truly is not altogether "up front" in my estimation, and seems polished in the ways of talking a good game while in reality pretty much endorsing the status quo and not being willing to make any major changes in the way things are done in this country. Of course her husband was a lot like that too, and he was able to do some good things for this country, despite his enacting NAFTA, and other dubious and decidedly un-Democratic measures he enacted. I imagine Hilary will be Bill Pt.2, which after all shouldn't be surprising.

But other candidates, such as Obama, Edwards, and Biden, all displayed a bit of what appeared to be genuine passion behind their stances. With Hilary, you get the impression that she could pretend to be passionate about an issue and then do exactly the opposite once in office. Not so much the others. They seemed to not only talk the talk, but be more than willing to walk the walk.

That's just my first impressions to get you started.

What are your thoughts and impressions?


Scott McFarland attended the debate and has a write-up on his blog here.


At 8/08/2007 9:30 AM, Blogger Peter said...

I actually didn't get to see the debate, but I saw some clips of it and was pretty interested.

It seemed like Olbermann did a pretty good job. I do believe that Obama and Edwards are both striving to be the anti-Hillary, but Dodd and Biden often come to Hillary's aid so it makes it harder to differentiate themselves.

Personally, I believe any of these candidates would be a breath of fresh air (even Republicans want a change), but I really just want to win.

Democrats need to find ways to appeal more to average voters, and it would look bad for future elections if we weren't able to win 2008 with so much wind at our backs.

At 8/08/2007 10:33 AM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Olberman was outstanding, speaking of a breath of fresh air. What a refreshing change from the media dorks of past debates. (even Jim Leherer!)

I heard some pundits talking about how Biden and Dodd did seem to gang up and do Hillary's dirty work in trying to bruise Obama. They speculated that perhaps they smell a winner and are angling for the number two spot. Who knows?

I was not impressed with Hillary, though going in, I was hoping I would be. I just got the overall impression that she's more of the same, too well managed, and far too reticent to dare offend any of the powerful corporate and defense empire players. Too equivocating and squishy, I guess you'd say. And I really was turned off by her recent attacks on Obama, where she employed some devious tactics which misreprented and twisted what Obama had actually said.

She starts the dust up, then at this debate tried to pretend she was above it all. Kind of icky, at least to me.

But you're absolutely right. ANY of them, even Kucinich, would be head and shoulders above the disaster monkeys that have run this country like it was their private little corporation. (Got a question? None of your business. We'll do what the hell we want and you'll like it.)

They all came across as very capable, and with some very hopeful and desperately needed views on what needs fixing and how to go about it.

I did think at several moments that the Democrats truly have an incredibly strong slate of candidates, most especially when contrasted with the strange gang on the Republican side.

At 8/08/2007 8:48 PM, Blogger illinidem said...

I thought that Obama looked the best. I thought his weakest point was when Olbermann asked him about his vote on the war supplemental. He struggled with his answer. Other than that, he looked very good and had some truly different and refreshing answers about foreign policy. He had the line of the night about the Pakistan issue though.

Hillary is too “slick”. She never establishes specific positions on areas that the others have laid out (health care, foreign policy, etc.). I also think that her “a candidate shouldn’t really say everything they think” line will come back to haunt her over and over again. It could be her “I voted for it before I voted against it” moment if Obama or Edwards choose to go that route. Rest assured that the RNC is putting that one in the can right now.

Edwards was good, but he is struggling to gain traction. I thought he got the softball of the night from the disabled steel worker and he did well with it. I did Kucinich stole his thunder on repealing NAFTA.

As for the second tier guys, I thought there was some good and bad. I thought Biden blowing the Sago Mine widow to get in on the foreign policy fight was tasteless. Kucinich was in his element, but c’mon dude. Let it go. Dodd comes off as a crabby old man. I always expect his answers to end with “You kids get off my lawn!”

I was most disgusted that the post debate coverage had representatives from all three camps and then had a full 10+ minutes with Terry McAuliff (who just happens to be Clinton’s campaign manager). I wonder when the parade of loser hacks (McAuliff, Donna Brazile and Bob Schrum) will stop being represented as the Dem experts.

At 8/09/2007 1:37 AM, Blogger Craig said...

I find it amusing that those who helped to authorize and engineer the biggest foriegn policy disaster in our generation are now criticizing me for making sure that we are on the right battlefield and not the wrong battlefield in the war against terrorism."
-Barack Obama

Easily the best response of the night. Take that Chris Dodd, and Hillary.

At 8/09/2007 9:06 PM, Blogger nicodemus said...

Where was Mike Gravel? His absence spoke louder than words! Maybe he was ill? Sen. Gravel was great in the earlier debates, such a feisty guy. Something about Gravel reminds me of Mike Boland.

From what I saw, Dennis Kucinich stole the show with his comments on NAFTA. Democrats would do well to nominate Dennis Kucinich because he is a lot closer to where Dems are at, philosophically. He can articulate the Democratic message so much better than the others. Nominate him-please! Kucinich & Gravel! That sounds like the dream ticket.

At 8/09/2007 10:19 PM, Anonymous NoonCat said...

Also off-topic, I know...but check out
"Why Mommy Is a Democrat"--a children's book for liberals. Essential reading for the young'uns.

At 8/10/2007 4:31 AM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

I suspect you're being facecious, but I share your opinion that Kucinich really was the only candidate who UNEQUIVACALLY stood for traditional Democratic stances on issues like fair trade, labor rights, and regulation of corporate excess and greed, such as ending the practice of corporations stiffing life-long employees out of their pensions, etc.

Let's face it, the Bush regime is government by the corporation, for the corporation, and of the corporation. Bush has NEVER done anything or proposed anything, no matter how small, that even slightly hurt corporations or the economic elite. And likewise, he's shot down every measure that defended or protected the average working stiff.

I don't think a swing to the other side of the equation would be reckless or "radical" in the slightest. If anything, it might bring things back closer to some semblance of balance.

Nothing Kucinich could do, even if he got every single one of his proposals passed, would ever begin to level the playing field or make working people equal to the power of the corporations.

But he'd at least try to give workers some of their basic rights back, rather than allow American workers to increasingly be thrown back to the days of the robber barons and allowing this country to become more and more like a tinpot banana republic.

The fact is that the country can't stand long when EVERY SINGLE THING that corporations and CEOs can dream up is given to them by the federal government, while things like student loans and Head Start and similar programs are slashed and burned.

It's not right. It's the result of truly radical ideology at the top, and the majority of this country is crying out for someone to stop it.

Yep, it's truly weird, wrong, and unfortunate that Kucinich, the guy who is really trying to give people what they want and need, is relegated to joke status and written off out of hand.

At 8/10/2007 4:39 AM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

That book is simply a rather belated response to the right wing attempt to indoctrinate small children with, "Help! Mom! There Are Liberals Under My Bed!", which appeared first and made quite a splash.


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