obama v. clinton
Mood: frustrated
Posted on 2008-02-22 09:53:00
Tags: politics
Words: 1943

The debate last night was pretty good. (here's a transcript) Overall, they both did well, although I might give a slight edge to Clinton - she seemed a little more comfortable. The format was nice - just asking questions, no rules on time limits or anything like that. I guess that's the freedom when there are only two people.

Opening statements: This was boring. I did learn that Texas and Austin are AWESOME and suck it other states, especially Super Tuesday ones!!! How do you like us now? Anyway, Obama's was kind of a downer which surprised me a little - he talked about how the economy sucks, etc.

Cuba: They mostly agreed (a recurring theme) - Clinton would encourage them but not meet with Raul Castro (or whoever the leader is) until they make some positive steps. Obama would encourage them and also meet with the leader without preconditions. (I kinda like this better, as a meeting could bring about change, right?) He also called for a loosening of travel restrictions for family members and sending-money-back-to-relatives restrictions. Clinton believes in diplomacy but still wouldn't meet with Raul w/o some progress.

Economy: Let me just say here that I'm pretty sure the president doesn't have that much of an effect on the economy, or at least a predictable one. But, anyway, Obama would stop giving tax breaks to companies that ship jobs overseas, end the Bush tax cuts on the wealthy and give a middle-class tax cut (sounded like removing the payroll tax on incomes less than $75000 which would mean an extra $1000 or so). Trade with high labor and environmental standards. He points out that his and Clinton's policies are pretty similar, but he will form a "working coalition for change". Clinton: Yup, remove tax loopholes and cuts on wealthy, environmental standards for trade, also a 90 day moratorium on foreclosures. And ending "George Bush's war on science" (THANK YOU!) and become the "innovation nation" (not a big fan of that phrase) that we used to be.

Immigration: Gah, I care little about this. But: Clinton is for comprehensive immigration reform, path to legalization. Obama: yup, also tone down the ugly rhetoric (thank you), crack down on employers, make illegal immigrants learn English, pay a fine, go to the back of the line. Fix the legal immigration system - too many fees, takes too long. Improve our relationship with Mexico and the Mexican economy (I'll say here that I'm pretty skeptical the US president can fix the Mexican economy, but whatever).

Border fence: Argh, I care even less about this, but it does apply to Texas I guess. Anyway, Clinton voted for it, but wants to do it in a smart way, not a dumb way. May be places where a physical border is appropriate, but would review with people who live along the border. We could also use smart fencing (cameras, I assume) instead of an actual fence if we have enough people there. Obama: almost entirely agrees. We can't deport 12 million people. Supports the Dream Act (allows children of illegal immigrants to go to college or something like that) - big applause. Doesn't want two classes of citizens in the US.

Downside to the US becoming a bilingual nation: This is kind of a weird question, but I guess it ties in to bilingual education. Clinton: good for people to be bilingual. English should remain our "common unifying language", but doesn't agree with making English the national language. (thank you) Obama: it's important that everyone learn English, every student should learn a second language. Failure of No Child Left Behind: wants to put more resources in teaching languages.

Commercial break. At this point I just want the immigration questions to stop because I don't care. But I guess people do or something.

Is Obama "all hat no cattle": That's a harsh question, but I guess John King wants some fireworks. Clinton: President Bush is all hat no cattle, next president shouldn't be. There are differences between Obama & me. I offer solutions. Thought it was funny that Obama representative (Texas State Senator Kirk Watson, I believe) couldn't name a single legislative accomplishment. (seriously, bad Watson!) Obama: I've acted a lot, tax breaks to families, reform criminal justice system, pass a bill on transparency in government, health care to veterans in Walter Reed. Clinton has a "fine record", implies that his voters are "somehow delusional". Endorsed by every major newspaper in Texas (wow). We share policy, but we need to be able to inspire people to get involved in government, etc.

Plagiarism of Deval Patrick's speeches: This is an idiotic issue, but Clinton did raise it, so I guess it's fair game. Obama: Issue is two lines in speeches I've been giving over the last couple of weeks. Patrick is national co-chair of his campaign and suggested an argument that he shares (the "words matter" phrase). This is "silly season" in politics. (big applause) People don't care about crap like that, they care about getting things done. Tuition credit for students, changing tax code, ending war in Iraq - these are actual proposals. We should be having a debate on the issues. (yes, yes, yes!) Clinton: If your candidacy is about words, they should be your own words. Lifting whole passages from speeches isn't "change you can believe in, it's change you can Xerox". (big boos from the audience here, thankfully, and Obama protested a little) Not enough to say we need to come together, we're gonna have to work hard. My health care plan covers everyone, yours leaves out 15 million people. (I do appreciate she changed tack to a real issue) You are against moratorium on home foreclosures, which even Bush is considering. We will need to overcome entrenched opposition to our ideas. When I took on health care in 93 and 94, was against huge special interest opposition. Obama: Happy to debate issues. Clinton said that they all wanted universal health care; of course he was down 20 points in the polls. Plans are 95% the same. Cut costs with prevention. Philosophical difference: Clinton wants to force everyone to get health care, Obama believes the only reason people don't have it is that they can't afford it. We can have a legitimate debate, but his plan doesn't leave 15 million people without insurance. Also, the way Clinton did health care in 93 and 94 was the wrong way, since she didn't consult with people who had different ideas, so it was more difficult to get Congress to cooperate. If we don't change how the politics work, we'll be back here in 4 years again debating how to do the same thing.

Commercial break, although Clinton clearly wanted to respond to this.

Is Obama ready to be commander in chief?: Clinton: Well, I'm ready and prepared. But, back to health care! Obama says it's a philosophical difference, I think it's substantive. He has a mandate for parents to insure children, which is good, but if we don't require everyone to have health insurance the insurance companies will game the system. Everyone with insurance will pay a hidden tax of $900 to cover those without insurance. John Edwards made great point: Social Security and Medicare, great accomplishments, were mandatory. If you don't start out with universal health care you will be "nibbled to death". Obama: Understand it's a mandate on people, not on the government. Massachusetts currently has a mandate, they've exempted 20% of the people who they think can't pay it. In some cases people are paying a fine and don't have insurance so they're worse off than before. If you're going to force them to have insurance you need harsh penalties. This is a substantive difference. Clinton: Fundamentally disagree. Number one issue people talk to me about. Obama's plan has a mandate on parents because he recognizes if we don't have some kind of restriction, we won't get there. Obama: Not true that I'm interested in leaving out 15 million people.

Well, that was fun. Let's reask the last question.

Are you suggesting Obama isn't ready to be commander in chief?: Clinton: for more than 15 years I've represented the US in more than 80 countries, stood up for human rights. Have served on Senate Armed Forces committee. This week is good example: elections in Pakistan, leadership change in Cuba, Kosovo declaring independence, embassy set on fire in Serbia. We have opportunities with Cuba and Musharraf. I supported independence of Kosovo. I am prepared and ready on day 1 to be commander in chief. Obama: wouldn't be running if I didn't think I were prepared. Number one job will be to keep American people safe from harm, won't hesitate to act. We need strongest military on earth, which means proper training and rotations. Some people doing 2 and 3 and 4 tours in Iraq. Also means using military wisely; I showed good judgement opposing Iraq war, Clinton was wrong. That has big consequences, distracted us from Afghanistan. Rifle platoon that went to Afghanistan had people leaving for Iraq, didn't have enough ammunition. I didn't oppose Iraq for the sake of opposing it, did it because it would distract from Afghanistan, fan flames of anti-American sentiment. I was right. On Pakistan, mistake to put all our eggs in Musharraf's basket. I have shown judgment to lead.

Is Iraq better off because of the surge?: Tricky question. Clinton: The rationale for the surge was to create time for Iraqi government to make decisions, and that hasn't been done. Would begin withdrawing troops within 60 days, give message to Iraqis that they don't have a blank check. Obama: Indisputable that violence has been reduces in Iraq. Tactical victory imposed on huge strategic blunder. When debating with McCain, easier for person who opposed going to war to debate that decision than to argue about tactics. Still need to care for veterans better, but $12 billion per month for Iraq makes that hard.

Commercial break!

Y'all are for transparency in government, why put earmarks in budget?: He said Obama has refused to say what the earmarks were for. Obama: That's not true, we've disclosed earmarks. Believes strongly in transparency; passed bill with Tom Coburn (conservative Republican) to create "Google for government", a searchable database of federal spending. (this is a great idea!) There are worthy projects in the states and that's what my earmarks were for. Wants to make sure people are willing to defend those earmarks in the light of day. Moderator: will it be hard to tackle this with McCain, who's never asked for an earmark? (wow, I didn't know that) Clinton: No, because he supported wasteful tax cuts and expensive war with Iraq. Bush came into office with surplus, now it's gone. Will get us back to fiscal responsibility, Bush tax cuts on rich will expire.

Superdelegates: Will it be a problem for the party if it comes down to superdelegates? Clinton: These are the rules, but it will sort itself out, I'm not worried. Obama: Important that primaries and caucuses count, but will of voters will determine the nominee. Next nominee will have a lot to talk about re health care, etc.

What was the moment that tested you most?: Obama: Not a single moment, but my father left when I was two, made mistakes in youth, brought people together as a community organizer. Clinton: Obviously I've lived through some crises. People ask how I did it, but it's really nothing compared to what ordinary Americans have to go through. (veterans, etc.) Honored to be sharing stage with Obama, no matter what happens we'll be fine. Hope we can say the same for American people.


Comment from djedi:

It was a mostly interesting debate that reinforced my earlier observations about each candidate. Essentially, it just confirmed all my thoughts so far.

Only side thoughts: I was disappointed that Clinton was very "politician" several times including the plagiarism charge. I was a little disappointed that Obama wasn't more articulate (not that he doesn't talk circles around our current commander-in-chief, but he wasn't quite as inspirational as I had seen previous evidence of...and Clinton's articulateness stood out.)

Comment from gerdemb:

Thanks for writing up the summary. Even though there is a lot coverage of the election here, we don't get the debates broadcast.

Comment from liz_gregory:

my main response to Clinton - ANSWER THE QUESTION ASKED!!!

That is the one thing that bothers me the most - maybe because I teach. When I ask a questions, I really do want your response to THAT question, not something else you feel like talking about. You get no credit for not answering the question asked!

Comment from gregstoll:

Yeah...unfortunately that's pretty standard for debates. Answer the question if you can/want to, else launch into a semi-relevant portion of your stump speech.

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