Power and Politics - I am Not the Yellow Peril

The life and times of an Asian American activist who tells all the truth (and dishes news and analysis) but with a leftwards slant.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

CNN debate - Hillary v Obama

Ok, liveblogging begins now. My thoughts are in italics.

Very civil intros by Obama and Clinton. She didn't look like she was prepared for such a civil intro and had to do a copycat intro. Both did an appeal to Edwards. Hillary looks really good - the brown turquoise mix is nice, and Obama also looks good. hillary looks better than normal though.

First q: what are policy differences?
Hillary has a healthcare program like edwards; Obama doesn't have a universal healthcare proposal, it's voluntary but creates incentives for people to buy. [this is the one area that I feel like he should and could be stronger. Hillary's is closer to universal; Edwards had the best.]

OH! Obama is taking a swipe at Hillary on the drug company profits and lobbyists when he says that it should be broadcast on C-Span and that it will be transparent. The audience seems to be more with Hillary - she got off a good point on how she did success in getting S-CHIP for children's healthcare. She's got some sharp talking points on healthcare and she's clearly comfortable discussing the finer points since she has experience debating it.

[Ed Helms from Daily Show and the Office is in the crowd.]

wow, she is referencing local issues and also electronic records.

OOOh, first question is a divid and conquer wedge about negative consequences of immigration on African American community. Senator Obama, do you want to go first?

Nice, he makes the point that as a community organizer, he worked with white, black, Latino and Asian workers, and they have always felt economically insecure. "To suggest somehow that the economic insecurity that we see now, somehow, is attributable to immigration, I do not believe it. I think it is an instance of scrapegoating [big applause.] Now, here's where we're different from the other party.. . I do believe we have to crack down on employers . . . We should not use immigration as a tool to divide" [huge applause] Excellent response that calls it out as the wedge question it is.

Followup question for Clinton: driver's licenses.

Hillary: "I believ ein many parts of our country, because of employers who exploit workers, there are job losses, and I think we should be honest about that." References comprehensive immigration reform.

We've got to say, "come out of the shadows" for the vast majority of people who here.

Do I think we ought to talk about privileges like driver's licenses? I think we need to talk about the masic labor problems first.

Obama: when this issue came up, not drivers' license but comprehensive oimmigration reform generall, I worled with Ted Kennedy, dick durbin, and John McCain, although he might not admit it now. This might not be an issue that polls well, ut I think it is the right thing to do. It is important for us to recognize that the problems that workers are experiencing generally are not caused by immigration.

Children who were brought here through no fault of their own are able to go to college, so that they can get a good education and a good job. I don't believe we ned to deal with this issue as we sid before, because people don't come here to drive, people come here to work. [applause] NICE!

Wolf: were you missing in action when Obama and Kennedy and Durbin were

Well actually I cosponsored comprehensive immigration reform in 2004 before Senator Obama came to the Senate. So I have been on the forefront of these issues. References farmworkers' endorsement. NICE. Knows her audience.

so we may be looking at the immigration issue as a political issue, by those who are undermining . . .

WOW, Clinton has an amazingly good talking point - "I hear this all the time from people, and they often ask it with an edge in their voice, just like Kim, and so I ask them, "What would you do? Would you round up and deport 10,000 people and their families? and how many additional Border Patrol authorities would you have to hire for that? ow would you do it?" [I think this is a really strong point - people who complain don't have an answer to this.]

Why not then, if you're that passionate about it, let them get drivers licenses.

We disagree on this, because and I believe it is a diversion from creating a coalition of those who are trying to get comprehensive immigration reform.

Senator Clinton gave a number of answers over the course of six weeks on this issue, and that did appear political. Now she has a consistent answer, and that is good. From my perspective, I agree with Bill Richardson, from a public safety issue, and I dont want a bunch of It's important to recognize that this can be tough, and we need someone who can tackle it and solve it.

She's doing really well, and Obama and Clinton got off good shots at Romney.

Obama smartly avoids diminishing accomplishments of Clinton administration.

Her bigggest line of the night: "You know it did take a Clinton to clean up after the first Bush, and it might take a Clinton to clean up after the second Bush." [long, sustained applause]

Wow, Hillary just sounds more presidential. She doesn't even really engage Obama she mostly hits on Bush as though she is the frontrunner. She is returning to that campaign default of the incumbent's stance. She's also addressing the people from Politico who ask questions with their names, which makes her seem more personable. (Yes, it's also a stalling tactic to figure out what you want to say.)

[Tobey MacGuire's in the audience.]

Clinton's giving her answer on why she didn't vote for the Levin Amendment, and she sounds insincere and she's grasping.

Ugh, she sounded really good, and now she is just boring me. I think that Obama has the audience on Iraq "I think it is important to be RIGHT on day one."

Well, I guess it's good that this doesn't have as much sniping and fireworks as the GOP debate - I think both of them are still going to come out looking presidential.

OBama: The primary responsibility is for parents. [audience of writers, actors, hollywood types clap. Speilberg is in audience and nods. I think that was Stevie Wonder who clapped and nodded.]

OUCH! If you can't control your spouse on the campaign trail, what will it be like in the White House? [audience groans, boos]
Hillary takes responsibility for all the decisions, says "she is fully prepared to [make the call]". "At the end of the day it's a lonely job in the White House." [lots of applause]

DREAM TICKET question [audience really likes this, both candidates laugh] - would you consider an Obama-Clinton or a Clinton-Obama ticket?:

Obama; well, obviously there's a big difference between the two. I respect Senator Clinton a lot, we've been travelling this road together. I think it would be premature and presumptious to be talking about vice presidents.

Clinton: "Well, I would have to agree with everything Barack just said. This has been an extraordinary campaign, and both of us has been overwhelmed by all the affection." Shills her nationwide townhall.

Well, that's it - it wasn't very divisive, it was sorta boring, and they I think were both conscious that any of their statements could be used in an attack ad against either of them by the GOP in the summer and fall. It was really quite civil. I think this was almost a draw, and that both of them got in good passionate reasons why they would be good. But I have to say I think Senator Clinton came off better, slightly more presidential. And this has nothing to do with my personal preferences, I was just watching to see who did better. Obama had a lot of "uhms" and pauses whereas Hillary came out strong and confident in most of her responses. She sounded quite sure of herself and presidential for the most part, especially the beginning segments. I started getting really bored in the latter half, and I don't doubt that most people did as well (and they're not even as political as me.)

Anyway, I thought this was a much more cohesive, about the issues debate than the GOP one and voters will look at the two and think, who would I prefer running our country? And they would have to say the Democrats.

Also, I really don't think that Obama would put Clinton as his vp, and it wouldn't do him any favors electorally because all the people who would vote for her would vote for him - he has a broader appeal. Clinton, on the other hand might. But I think she can't afford to have someone who doesn't have actual military experience.

Ugh, the more I think about it, the more I think that Clinton got the better in this debate - when Obama said that Clinton would certainly be on anyone's short list, she just said "I agree with everything that Obama said." So she didn't necessarily have to mean that she thought Obama would also be an excellent vp, just that she would be on anyone's short list. Also, she wouldn't necessarily be willing to be a vp having had the White House experience. But as some of the CNN commentators noted, she would probably be willing to float the idea of an Obama vp just to gain some additional voters.

Update: Is it possible that people who watched only half the debate thought that Hillary won? I think that one of the things that charmed people was that Obama was perfectly courteous. I'm not sure if he was trying to show himself as being above the Clinton fray of war, but I thought that his performance on healthcare was really weak. I thought his immigration stances were spot on, but that Clinton was more forceful with her stances, even if I don't agree with them. Also, what was this drivers licenses are risky for immigrants bit? No one seems willing to touch it, not even her top surrogate in the Latino community, the Los Angeles Mayor.

But you know, it was nice to hear some real passion in her voice when she was talking about immigration, some real heat. Even Wolf acknowledged it. It's like how she looked when she was first asked that question about drivers licenses. She looked raw emotionally, and I could see her internal struggle - the struggle between what she really believes, and what she knows is politically popular. Now she seems to have reconciled it all, relegated drivers licenses for immigrants to the trashheap of unpopular ideas, and she's not willing to fight for it, for us. I don't actually disagree with her assessment that drivers license are a wedge issue that the Republicans use to drive up fear and hostility, and I think that immigrants rights advocates could be doing a better job of discussing drivers licenses, or pushing Dream Act more. I thought Obama did a great job when he said, "people don't come to this country to drive, they come here to work."

And I also hear that edge in people's voices when they ask that question about immigrants taking "our" jobs. There are things like that which remind me that Hillary's real and that she cares, but then just as quickly she turns the corner and puts on her mask, and does battle with the forces of what's popular and what's not, and at the end of the day, I don't know if she's fighting for what's right anymore, or just fighting to save her political hide. I want someone who is going to lead on immigration, because it's not a popular issue. It's thorny and as contentious and personal as anything, and I want someone with the moral certitude and willingness to go to bat for those who are voiceless. That someone is Obama.

Obama was perfectly genteel. I think he may have disarmed Hillary in the beginning with his intro, and she seemed really surprised, as if she had been ready to attack. And as if she was really happy that the cool kid had validated her.

Hillary could not explain her vote for Iraq in any passable way with a straight face.

One of the things that I noticed about the end of the debate is that Obama went immediately to the crowd, which was lining up and piling up to reach and touch him. Hillary stayed on stage with her daughter and husband. Perhaps she didn't think she would have that type of reaction?

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  • At 3:02 PM, Blogger Malcolm said…

    I'll give him credit for using a historical democratic talking point against hillary last night:



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