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  • « A tale of two children | Main | Dumbing down politics by sound-bytes (II) »

    April 17, 2008

    Help an irmão out…

    Posted by: Chris

    For a political junkie like me, it's a bit painful to miss something as important as tonight's (last?) Democratic primary debate. Since we only get CNN down here in Rio, I was left to follow the live-blogging of others. From what Andrew Sullivan, Marc Ambinder and others have said, I didn't miss much.

    What did you think? Help a brother (irmão) out!



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    1. Tim C on Apr 17, 2008 8:16:16 AM:

      Don't look at me. I'm just hoping for a good floor fight at the convention. Maybe, at last, we'll get some good entertainment from all this.

    1. Andoni on Apr 17, 2008 9:09:39 AM:

      Yesterday's debate was the absolute worst I have ever seen. Did George and Charlie go crazy??? The first half had worthless questions. It was like McCain, Clinton, Charlie and George ganging up on Obama. I'm actually so angry I'm going to write a letter to the pres of ABC News.

      I've watched all 20+ debates and this was soooooooo bad. It may have been the worst one ever. Both Charlie and George were argumentative......trying to push their theories. You would have thought Charlie had many millions of dollars in capital gains that he needed to sell in 2010, the way he was carrying on about keeping the capital gains tax at 15%. Honest he was pushing this trying to cite data that it was good. He wouldn't let go even after they answered the question. It was like so personal to him.

      George sounded like he was still working for the Clintons.

      The best that can be said for all this is that these two were simply asking all those gutter questions that are circulating on the internet. But they overdid it.

    1. Strict Scrutiny on Apr 17, 2008 10:14:06 AM:

      Andoni hit the nail squarely on the head. At least a few people I know were pissed off enough to write e-mails and letters to ABC news.

      The whole first 50 minutes consisted of substanceless questions about why Obama doesn't wear a flag pin, Reverand Wright, gun rights, Bosnia etc. It was embarrassing and shameful in the extreme. The substantive questions were saved for the "lightning round" at the end when the moderators were running out of time and the answers were cut short.

      I hope ABC gets slammed for this.

    1. Bob on Apr 17, 2008 11:42:01 AM:

      That is part of the problem. Some quarters of the Democratic party believe these issues are irrelevant when to a large block of Americans they are quite important. Whether or not that is a good thing is another debate. Last night will pale in comparison to what the hard right will bring upon the eventual nominee.

      Full disclosure, I have supported Hilary and written in opposition to Obama. And if Obama takes the Democratic nomination as I fully expect him to, I will vote for and work for the election of John McCain because I believe that Obama's ultra left wing ideals are not a good direction for this country.

      A Democratic Congress and a Republican President would kind of keep each other in check. A full Democratic slate would embolden Obama to try to move America far left. That might be the opposite of what we have now but not any better for the country.

    1. DSG on Apr 17, 2008 12:13:09 PM:

      Miss much? You didn't miss anything at all! I hope they at least showed the Yankees/Red Sox game in Rio! That would have been a much more constructive use of one's time last night!

    1. Robbie on Apr 17, 2008 12:16:48 PM:

      It was the Best. Debate. Ever.

      Let's be honest, this was something like the 21st debate featuring Obama and Clinton. People should be at least passingly aware of their Iraq policy, their health care plans, their general approach to social security, etc. The last thing anyone really wanted to see was another two hour borefest as the two candidates painfully parsed their policy positions to sound different from one another in half a dozen ways we've all seen numerous times before.

      Some people are crying out, "What about the issues?!" If someone doesn't know about their positions on the issues at this point in the game, the candidates cannot help them.

      Simply put, the first half of the debate was about character. The moderators asked the candidates questions about campaign issues that they'd previously only had to give prepared, scoured, sound-byte friendly responses to. It's one thing to write a prepared speech you have hours to pore over so every political nuance and demographic is covered. It's quite another to answer the question on the spot and (potentially) get caught stating what you actually believe - not the pat, bs-filled answer you've given to the media at a press conference.

      This isn't anything Republicans aren't put through regularly. People complain about Obama being pummeled on Wright, but does anyone else remember Bob Jones University? How long did the media flay that particular horse?

      I'm an Obama supporter, and I thought it was fine. Last night was nothing compared to what the general election will be like. Furthermore, I don't see how the candidates or their supporters can complain about the questions when they're the ones who have been peddling, fighting, and reliving the Wright/Bosnia/Ayers stories ad infinitum for the past month.

      ABC asked questions that the Clinton and Obama campaigns have been pushing in their quest for the nomination. No one can cry foul about it when the campaigns have done nothing but talk about these topics the past few weeks.

    1. mike on Apr 17, 2008 12:33:44 PM:

      The race hit a new low when Hillary tried to tar Barack for being in the same room as an ex-Weather Underground leader whom he knows in Chicago. She even quoted an incendiary statement from this guy (whom I don't recall from my own radical youth), and literally placed it out of context, implying it was made in response to 9/11 (The NYT today says that is not true). Barack says he is not to blame for something that occurred when he was 8 years old and pointed out that a certain president named Bill had pardoned two cohorts of this man who had Hillary so exercised.

    1. theGayEditor on Apr 17, 2008 1:06:44 PM:

      I was so disgusted that I turned the "debate" off after fifty minutes and channel-surfed. I mean, really-- flag pins and Rev Wright for all that time? I admit that I wasn't expecting to learn much that was new or enlightening, but I did hope something might come out during a two-hour session. Instead, I got shot after shot from Hillary trying to revert to her petty arguments and Barrack trying to steer back toward some issues.

      One argument that I wish Mr. Obama would come out with during these slam fests is, "if I don't have contacts and associates outside of my little circle of similar thought, HOW am I any different than George Bush?"

      Hillary has stated (and demonstrated) time after time that she would "disown" or disassociate herself with anyone who thinks differently than she does, but in my mind, I see that as one of the mental tactics that has gotten us in the mess we're in.

      Don't like the way someone thinks? Don't listen. --GWB
      Someone doesn't agree? Don't ask them. --GWB
      You don't think so? You don't know what I know. --GWB

      Mr. Obama has stood by people with differing opinions and listened to them and welcomed their input-- isn't THAT more of the America that we used to strive for?

      The way I saw last night's little soiree was that Hillary demonstrated more of her traditional, argumentative, divisive colors; Barack showed that these little wedge issues --like flag pins, out-of-context commentaries, definitions of words-- continue to distract from the main issues.

      Sadly, it's getting easier and easier to see why the Republicans are getting more and more confident about November . . .

    1. Andoni on Apr 17, 2008 4:36:47 PM:

      In answer to Robbie, whose answer I respect, yes we who have been paying attention know the issues and the candidates positions. However, this was the largest audience (10 million) of the primary season. Prior audiences have been less than a million in most cases, a few broke a million. So a lot of the people last night haven't heard the position answers as much as we have. Some may actually have been tuning in for the first time, to learn and to vote on Tuesday. Not paying attention is their fault, not ours, but if they are uninformed, we suffer.

      Trying to say some good things about last night, here goes:
      1. Obama was pummeled and left Constitution Hall standing, which I guess shows he can take it
      2. It was sort of like an surgical procedure for an infection, a lot of pus and abscesses got exposed and drained last night. I think we can now say he is vetted and substantially immunized -- which will help tremendously if the vile bacterium comes around again.
      3. It showed Hillary for her true self. The voters have a clear choice.....go back to this divisive attack politics or choose Barack.

      I'm anxiously awaiting what the voters decide.

    1. Robbie on Apr 17, 2008 7:21:30 PM:

      To be fair in return, I had a problem with at least two of the questions last night. The flag pin question was completely pointless. It's bizarre Stephanopoulos even bothered with it. The question about Wright and patriotism had shades of "So, how long have you been beating your wife?" to it.

      That said, I understand last night's debate quite a bit more after reading Stephanopoulos' interview today. He basically said the candidates are at this point arguing about one another's electability. In a primary race, that is no small component when trying to choose who will take on the Republican Party. Given many of the questions people are complaining about are indeed questions the eventual nominee will face, I thought it was a completely acceptable approach.

      I might be more bothered by those questions in a general election debate, but when both campaigns are asking which candidate can take a punch the best, I think it's perfectly within bounds for ABC to throw a few and see how they react under the pressure.

    1. Chris on Apr 17, 2008 9:46:23 PM:

      I saw the same Stephanopoulos interview, Robbie, but to me it explained rather than justified. For us political junkies and superdelegates, the battle between Obama and Clinton is over electability. But the battle in Pennsylvania is with working class voters for whom electability means little. Character is important so some of those questions were justified, but it's mostly about issues -- especially the economy.

      Whether or not the two are close on policy points, the debate should have been focused on them making their case to voters and highlighting such differences as exist. Also -- as on gay rights issues -- the debate offered an opportunity for each to explain how they get their policies enacted, not just what they are.

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