January 21, 2008

They pull a knife, you pull a gun. They put one of yours in the hospital, you put one of theirs in the morgue. That's the Chicago campaign way.


After making nice in the last debate, and inspiring me to wax rhapsodic about the promise of a clean campaign, tonight's CNN Democratic debate looked more like a cage match with Clinton, Obama, and Edwards doing everything but hitting each other over the noggins with folding chairs. Things got as nasty and pointed as they've been to date.

And as with any triangular personal dynamic, )except maybe the Three Muscateers) the situation inevitably evolves into 2 against 1 alliances. Where Edwards and Obama had previously seemed to gang up on Clinton, this time around Edwards and Clinton joined forces to pointedly press Obama on his past and his other supposed negatives.

For essentially the first time, Obama got hit with questions over his legislative record both in the Senate and during his tenure in the Illinois legislature.

Seeming to dump the entire oppo research file on Obama at once, Clinton even brought up the Rezko business that's been bantered about here in Illinois for some time. (which I predicted would happen) (background here. Media Matters notes some important discrepancies in the reporting of this issue as well.

More here , here, and here).

Some ninnys, such as Newsweek's Howard Fineman, have tried to launch the story line that any fighting between Obama and Clinton will "tear the Democratic party apart".

I think that's largely a bunch of crap, as I feel that a majority of Dems are perfectly happy with either candidate as nominee, and that once the choice has been made, they'll gladly and enthusiastically rally around the nominee, no matter who it may be.

The media also is obsessed with trying to convince us that race is a huge factor in all this, even when the only people who seem to think so are the pundits themselves. They simply can't stop telling us all about how they see race when they devine all their various poll numbers and tea leaves that they rely on. No mention that maybe people simply vote for who they'd like to see as president.

That can't be. To them everything is demographics and race. They insist on hammering incessantly on the notion that everyone is divided by race, that race is the ultimate determiner of how an individual votes. It's a factor, but they act as though it's nearly law.

They insist that blacks were somehow waiting to see if Obama could win among whites before they would decide to support him. As if all blacks vote exactly alike or need to have "permission" from white voters before they support Obama. The idea is ridiculous. There's little to no evidence of this, and it probably started as the musings of some pundit or another and they simply decided it was a good story line and so it's become accepted as fact among the media.

This is actually a disservice to all of us, in my opinion.

Aside from that, what were your impressions of Monday night's Dem debate if you caught it?

Do you think infighting between the primary candidates will "tear the Democrats apart" as Fineman supposes, thus hurting their chances in the general?


At 1/22/2008 5:54 PM, Blogger nicodemus said...

John Edwards should have had equal time up there. The debate rules should give equal time to ALL candidates, (which is how I felt about all the debates thus far, for both parties).

I miss Mike Gravel and Dennis Kucinich because both of those guys actually have a message and they truly epitimoze Democratic values and what a Democrat should be.

Talking about Obama's trivial record as an Illinois state legislator reminds people that Obama has no record as a US Senator and that he is an amateur.

At 1/22/2008 10:13 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Couldn't agree more Nico, at least about the equal time thing.

But that said, I thought Edwards was allowed enough time to get his points across, and that he actually "won" the debate, if there is such a thing, by appearing to be the voice of reason between the quabbling kids.

Upon watching the thing for a second time last night, I feel that Clinton really didn't do herself any favors by sharply harping about the trivial difference of whether she'd actually mentioned Reagan by name. It was clear as a bell that's what she meant. It really made her look bad to me.

And for the first time, I thought Obama was truly pinned to the mat. There were a couple moments where he seemed nearly defeated and struggling to figure out how to defend himself. For the first time, he almost looked helpless a couple times.

In that respect, I suppose the entire Clinton attack is predicated on the belief, which I think to be based in truth, that Obama has conciously been trying to, and been allowed to, continue to float above the fray, dealing in lofty platitudes and not having to address rather ugly charges, or accusations about his past record.

I think the ratonale behind the rather uncomfortably harsh attack against him by the Clintons is that while they're having to deal with daily incoming attacks from all sides, Obama is somehow getting a free ride, and they were determined to stop that right now.

To the extent that Clinton had to rely on distorting the meaning of what Obama said to do it is pretty bad in my opinion. I find it just more of the same dirty crap that we're so tired of.

But it also forces Obama into a box. He can either try to fight back and take the time to set the record straight as he did last night, and then be condemened together with Clinton for being nasty and squabling and avoiding "real" issues, or he can sit there like a doormat and allow these false notions to be put forth unchallenged.

Not a good spot to be in, as I'm sure the Clinton's are well aware of.

In that respect, it's pretty damn important that both of them back down for the sake of the party and their own candidacies.

Will they? Hell no. Because Clinton surely wants it bad enough to go down that road if she feels it's what needs to be done to prevail, and if push came to shove, so would Obama.

So as unpleasant and upsetting as it may seem, expect more of it. Just expect it to come from other quarters while the candidates themselves try to posture as being above all that.

At 1/22/2008 11:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The more I see Hillary on the campaign trail, the less I want to have her as our nominee. I've seen the video and transcripts of Obama's comments regarding Reagan and Republicans, and her (and Bill's) "interpretation" of them is blatantly false.

I think it was also dishonest to bring up Rezko. I really admire Bill Clinton, but it seems like they feel it's the only way to win.

It's one thing to criticize Barack for being above the fray and not talking about real issues (although I disagree that that is the case) but it's completely different to set up straw men by inventing comments, or the context of actual comments, and then poke holes in those statements.

It really turns me off. It's the kind of thing Republicans have done before in general elections. (Before anyone says it, I acknowledge that many Dems do it too.)


At 1/25/2008 11:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a Black Man almost half a century old, I find it almost amazing that there is indeed one that people view as a viable candidate. As a rule, I vote - but can't stand politics. For the most part run by lawyers,(nuff said). All 3 candidates are agreeable to me,(except as an Army brat and former Marine, I can't stand the thought of ANYONE leading this country that DOESN'T have time in-boots, or one of theirs in harms way), they're all focused on their agendas, but two of them will almost certainly run into a maelstrum from day one. One, because of her name, and her acrimony with her conspirators; the other because of the intensity of his "feeling" for his just cause. Can't tell you how much it amuses me that the one that makes that crackhead limbaugh choke on his qualudes might slip under the radar. To Obamas credit, he tried to stay above the B.S. - wants to be judged by content - next we'll be hearing of his commission of a drive-by on Kedzie Ave. because one of his hoes got out of line. I just think - irreguardless of color - the guy that can present a different worldview (Everyman, instead of Uncle Sam), be truthful about the clusterf**k the four-headed devil left us as a legacy, and at least begin the process of creating "real" dialog, like the loss of jobs because of NAFTA, the refocusing of our efforts to locate bin-Laden, and sooner or later, the dis-banding/dis-arming of the corporate military armies created by the Iraq debacle, billions of dollars sent to Iraq - while our infrastruture crumbles. That person will get my vote.

At 1/26/2008 11:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

'refocusing our efforts to locate bin-Laden' - heck, we can't even locate the Marine that killed the pregnant girl.


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