Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Dem Debate Postmortem

The surprising thing was that Richardson, Clinton, and even Biden and Dodd turned in the best performances of the debate.

Given that Obama's campaign rests on the idea that he's the one who will change the way politics is conducted, Obama didn't deliver the goods. He set the stage so that the only thing he could do was attack Hillary. And it wasn't attractive.

Edwards, who came across as desperate in his assault on Mrs. Clinton, really needs to concentrate on his progressive agenda. He's got all the right moves, if only he'd use them. What the Democrats need is strong, credible, and electable voices coming from the left so that if Hillary does turn out to be the nominee, she'll have to do so by playing to the left rather than the right.

Kucinich always sounds passionate and his criticisms of the others don't play into the rightwing gameplan, which I applaud. He gets points for repeatedly bringing up impeachment and for questioning W's mental health earlier in the day. But the whole UFO thing helps the media make positions on the left, ala guilt by association, seem loony.

Dodd is an interesting case. I discounted him from the beginning, but he's growing on me.

Biden has always been good with the one liners, but he's wildly inconsistent in the clutch.

I was impressed with Richardson. He often comes across as a bit bumbling and underprepared, but last night that seemed mostly under control. He has an impressive resume and is the most likable of the candidates. He's not the most progressive candidate, but he has the best ideas on immigration reform, veterans' healthcare reform, and ending the war in Iraq.

As for Hillary, she was poised and showed a strong presence. In this crowd, she looked downright presidential. The post-debate commentary on MSNBC was focused on her "stumble" in the final minutes. So she waffled on driver's licenses for illegal immigrants. So what? State officials have to work out remedies for what are issues in their states, as she said, given the absence of a national policy. This is the kind of controversy that the dems would be better off avoiding altogether because the whole thing plays to the right. The hidden subtext to the question, which she was right to reject was, "is this your national policy on immigration?" It was unfair as a question and Dodd, Edwards and Obama should be wary of trying to take advantage in situations like this, because this is the tactic that both the right and the media are going to be employing against them. The right and the media are going to be trying, at every instance, to turn pragmatic responses into general principles and then calling candidates hypocrites and flipfloppers when the two don't line up.

President Codpiece has made such a big mess on so many issues that any candidate forced to deal with them is going to have to have a patchwork set of responses.

Bottomline: every one of these candidates is head and shoulders above their Republican counterparts and a considerable step up from the present administration. While that may not be a ringing endorsement, it is certainly progress.

with the professor

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