Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Texas Democratic Debate - The Verdict

Update: So, Who Won The Debate? Check The Results of the Daily Kos Poll.


My original Post-debate comments

As expected... the corporate media did its best to help Hillary Clinton tonight, but there was no doubt who came away looking better after this debate.

The bottom line is, Clinton needed a knockout victory in this debate to help halt Obama's momentum going into March 4th. But she came up short. In fact, she didn't even score a knockdown, let alone the knockout blow that she needed.

Obama, on the other hand, was polished tonight. He gave one of the best debate performances to date, and it came at a time when he really needed to look good, particularly for voters in Texas and Ohio. Going into the debate, Obama needed to hold his own. But he went above and beyond that tonight. Not only did he hold his ground, but he out maneuvered Clinton, and looked very Presidential in the process.
If by some miracle he wins Texas, his campaign staff will have to look back at this debate as a crucial moment.

Obama had a response for every attack and cheap shot that Clinton threw his way. She continued with the same tired "experience" argument... the same "day one" nonsense that has not worked for weeks. You would think her campaign handlers would have revamped her message by now. Obama was ready for everything she had...which, as it turns out, was nothing new.

Also, when asked about the delegate debacle, Hillary lied and claimed that she was "not worried about that"... that it was no big deal to her. Yet, at this very moment, her operatives are scheming, hoping to take the nomination by underhanded means (if they can). So it's obviously a big issue for her.

The best part?

When the crowd responded with Booos to Hillary Clinton's arrogant attack in which she claimed that Obama's theme of "Change You Can Believe In" really stood for "Change That You Can Xerox". That attack pertained to Obama's use of words that were previously used by Deval Patrick, the Governor of Massachusetts and a friend of Obama' well as being the Co-Chair of Obama's National Campaign. It was Patrick who suggested that Obama use the line.

The media attempted to help Clinton by grossly overplaying what was probably her only strong moment in the debate - when she offered conciliatory comments in the last 20 seconds of the program. Sheila Jackson Lee (yet another CBC Clinton supporter) and the boneheaded pundits from MSNBC and CNN claimed that this was a "glorious moment" for Clinton and suggested that this was where she won the debate. They claimed that the comments drew a standing ovation. WRONG! The standing ovation came because it was the end of the debate. STOP THE LYING AND HYPERBOLE! This is not journalism or first rate reporting. It's infotainment run amuck. All of the spin is enough to give you motion sickness.

Below is a live blog roundup of the debate, taken from the (Read from the bottom up)


By Lisa Anderson


The stakes couldn't be higher in Austin, Texas tonight as Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama go one-on-one in a Democratic presidential debate sponsored by CNN and airing at 7 PM (CST).

I am blogging for you from my post in New York City, while my colleagues in Austin cover the action on the ground in the Longhorn State.

The crucial, delegate-rich Texas and Ohio primaries are coming up on March 4 and new Washington Post-ABC News polls show the two candidates locked in a Texas tie, while Clinton of New York shows a narrow lead in Ohio over her Senate colleague from Illinois.

Tonight's debate represents their first face-off since their meeting in Hollywood on Jan. 31. They will have only one more planned televised debate--February 26 on MSNBC--before what are shaping up as very close contests in Texas and Ohio.

Clinton, who has lost the last 10 state primaries and caucuses to Obama, desperately needs to win, and win big. To do that, she must use this debate to convince voters that she truly is not only tough enough and experienced enough for the nation's top job, but diplomatic enough to overcome the polarizing image that dogs her.

Obama, who has been on an impressive roll, wants to keep that roll going through the next big contests and beyond. To do that, he must effectively counter Clinton's charges that "the best words in the world aren't enough unless you match them with action." Or, in Texas parlance, that he's all hat and no cattle. And, he must avoid getting lost in the verbal weeds when talking about policy.

Given what has transpired in the last three weeks, it will be interesting to see if the sarsaparilla sweetness that drenched the last encounter between these two will continue or if they are now locked and loaded for a showdown tonight.



While they may have been trying to draw more sharply the differences between them, Clinton and Obama Thursday night succeeded more in showcasing the similarities in their positions.

As hard as they tried to elbow each other, more often than not they ended up saying that they "agreed" with each other.

Given the fact that polls show them deadlocked in Texas and extremely close in Ohio--the next two big primaries on March 4--there seemed to be little in this debate that promised to significantly shift those numbers.

Neither candidate stumbled and both got off some good lines. Some of Clinton's best lines, in fact, were her last and, indeed, she got the very last word in the debate.

Before Texans and Ohioans vote, Obama and Clinton will have one more televised go at each other during the MSNBC debate next Tuesday.

Thank you for joining me tonight.


9:45pm--ONE MORE QUESTION.......

What was the moment that tested you the most, the candidates are asked.

Obama notes he was raised by a single mom, made mistakes in his youth but learned to "take responsibility" not only for his own actions but how to help others. His cumulative experience as a community organizer and attorney,he said, is what helps him to lead and bring people togetrher.

Said Clinton, wryly, "Well I think everybody here knows" I've had some challenges in my life." The audience laughs. But, she said, nothing she has been through is as tough as some of the things she's seen, including badly wounded soldiers coming home from Iraq.."The hits I've taken in life are nothing compared to what goes on everyday" in the lives of people around the country.

No matter what happens, she said of herself and Obama, "We're going to be fine. We have strong support from our families and firends. I just hope we'll be able to say the same thing about the American people and that's what this election should be about."

Obama appeared to open his mouth to add something, but Campbell Brown abruptly ended the debate .

To his credit, Obama nonethless, graciously held Clinton's chair as she rose to leave. She smiled. After all, she had the last word.

And that was that.


9: 36pm--MUM'S THE WORD

The subject is secrecy. Obama is asked by CNN's John King why he has not disclosed what earmarks he has proposed in the budget. Not true, Obama said. He brushed the question away with a promise that he'd get the info for King asap. "I've been consistently in favor of more disclosure about earmarks," he said, making sure they are "not done in the dark of night" and will push for that when he's president.

Clinton says she's going to get us back to "fiscal responsibility," and did we mention middle-class tax cuts, college affordability and universal healthcare? On those counts, she said, she's more than a match for anything McCain can throw at her.



Surge or no surge, Clinton will begin withdrawing troops within 60 days of her inauguration and make the Iraqis get serious about carrying their own water.

Obama admits that violence has been reduced in Iraq since the surge began surging. "But, this is a tactical victory imposed upon a huge strategic blunder," he said. Moreover, he said, it will be easier for the candidate opposed to Iraq from the beginning to debate and draw a contrast with John McCain. The Arizona senator and presumptive GOP presidential nominee, Obama said, has indicated the U.S. may have troops in Iraq for 100 years.

Time for another commercial break.....



Clinton quickly assures the questioner that she's the one who's ready on Day One-- then insists on getting back to her healthcare answer which was so rudely interrupted.

Obama points out that Massachusetts, which has a universal healthcare plan, has had to exempt 20 percent of the uninsured in the state because they simply could not pay for insurance, despite the threat of fines.

Clinton says programs like Social Security and Medicaid would never have worked had everyone not been obliged to contribute. The same thing for universal healthcare, she said. "I want universal healthcare," she added, verbally stamping her feet.

Campbell Brown struggles to get them back to the leadership question.

Clinton launches into another litany of her accomplishments, including serving on the Senate Armed Services Committee. "Just this week," she pointed out, we had elections in Pakistan..change of government in Cuba, independence in Kosovo and our embassy in Serbia set on fire. "When you think about everything that is going to happen...I believe I am prepared and ready on Day One to be the commander in chief, to be the president...And that is what I'm putting forth to the voters."

'I wouldn't be running if I didn't think I was prepared to be commander in chief," Obama countered. He stresses that he will use the military wisely and harks back to Clinton's vote to authorize the war in Iraq.

By opposing the war, he said, "I believe I showed the judgment to be commander in chief and Sen. Clinton was wrong in her judgment." In fact, he basically said, he has shown the best judgment in almost everything. So there--again.



Obama stresses that he and Clinton agree that everybody needs healthcare, they just want to get there in different ways. He says he knows that everyone wants healthcare, but not everyone can afford it and that's why he thinks mandatory insurance is not the way to go.

Clinton opens her mouth, raises her hand and clearly is dying to respond--but Campbell Brown cuts her off to go to commericial....If Clinton's smile gets any tighter she'll need the Jaws of Life.


9:01 pm--"COPYCAT?"

Asked about the charge that he plagarized a speech from Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, Obama scoffed. "The notion that I stole the line from someone who is my national co-chair, who gave me the line, is silly," he said, saying the "silly season" has set in.

Clinton swooped in like a raptor . "If your candidacy is going to be about words, they should be your own words," she snapped Then, she came in for the kill, "Lifting passages from someone else's speeches isn't change you can believe in, it's Xeroxing," she said, to a chorus of boos.



John King asks them about the difference between their jabs at each other on the stump and c the cordiality on display so far tonight,
He asks Clinton if she things Obama is all hat and no cattle. She says she thinks the next president will have to be less hat and more cattle, without commenting directly on Obama's haberdashery or livestock.
However, she stresses "there are differences between our records and our experiences." She notes nastily that one of Obama's surrogates was tongue-tied recently when asked to name one of his accomplishments.

"I think actions do speak louder than words," Obama shot back and began listing all the great things he accomplished in his political career so far, both in the Illinois legislature and in the U.S. Senate.

"I do think there is a fundamental difference between us in how change comes about," he said, noting he's been endorsed by every major newspaper in the state of Texas. He said his rival has implied that "somehow they've been duped" and have yet to see the reality of things.

You need more than policy positions to govern, he said pointedly You also need to inspire.



Both Obama and Clinton agree--yes again--that everyone should learn to speak English in America, although bilingual education is an important aid in that effort.
Obama also wants English speaking children to learn other languages.

So far, a bit sharp elbowing at the top, but mostly they seem to agree on just about everything--except who should be president....

Commercial Break...



Clinton said the U. of Texas at Brownsville would wind up with part of its campus cut off by the proposed border fence with Texas, calling some of these plans absurd. "There may be some places where a physical barrier is appropriate" but as with so much the "Bush administration has gone off the deep end," she said.
"There is technology than can be used instead of a physical barrier," Clinton said, noting that the views of the people who live along the border should be heard.

Obama said, "Well, this is an area where Sen. Clinton and I almost totally agree." Clinton nodded her head and smiled slightly.



Asked if the canadidates would stop raids on illegal immigrants--a huge issue in Texas--Clinton emphasized a more humane approach that keeps parents from being ripped suddenly from their children and that would establish a path to citizenship.
Obama agreed and added that it is "absolutely critical" that we tone down the rhetoric in the immigration debate that leads to discrimination. He also wants to institute comprehensive reform that cracks down on employers who hire undocumented workers but doesn't make the path to legal citizenship so expensive and difficult that people are discouraged from trying.


8:25 pm--ECONOMICS 101--AGAIN

Obama said he and Clinton agree on many economic issues, the question is "how to get it done?"

A priority must be to overcome the influence of special interests, he said, noting that's an area where he thought he and Clinton slightly diverge.
Clinton also agreed that they agree on a number of things, including adjusting the tax code to help the middle class. Clinton launched into a litany of all the other things she would do, such as creating new "green jobs," put people to work rebuilding the infrastructure and "end George Bush's war on science."


Clinton says she's ready to work with a new Cuban government and "make it very clear if Cuba moves toward democracy and freedom for its people" the U.S. will work with them.

Obama said he's ready to meet with the next leader of Cuba--with preparation and an agenda--saying the US should talk not just with its friends. This is where he got into trouble on another occasion, when Hillary jumped him, insinuating he was naive for saying he would talk to any leader without condition.
This time he seemed to side-step that, but Clinton wouldn't let him off the hook that easily. "There has been this difference between us about when the president should offer a meeting, without conditions....," she said, stressing that while the unilateral arrogance of the Bush administration is over, prudence is also in order.
Obama reiterated that "preparation is important," but said the president must take a more active role in diplomacy than in the past.
So there.


8:03 pm--AND THEY'RE OFF

Obama won the coin toss and opted to go second with his opening statement, so Clinton has begun with a chat about her happy memories of the Longhorn State, about how Rep. Barbara Jordan and Gov. Ann Richards were such inspirations to her. Then she launched into how she has pioneered health care for children and families and will continue to do that in the White House. She heartily invited the people of Texas and Ohio to help her "continue to make a difference" for Americans.

Obama, in his turn, assured the audience that he and Clinton were friends before this campaign and will be friends when it's over. Then he talked about how he has encountered families whose mortgages have doubled, people who work two jobs and can't afford health care, communities devastated by jobs shipped overseas. And families whose loved ones have been lost in "a war I believe never should have been authorized." Zing into Clinton, who smiled tightly but looked taken aback.
"Washington is a place where good ideas go to die," Obama said, because "too many politicians are interested in scoring political points rather than" resolving differences to get things done.

So, the gloves are off from the get-go tonight.


the poet Shazza said...

Wow this was a bias post.

I thought Hillary did very well. As well as two identical candidates can do.

I disagree that CNN was trying to help Hillary Clinton. I often found that she was often cut short with answering questions which she aggressively made sure she did.

Barak Obama's weakest momments were his explaining of his HEALTH CARE program which the more he explained it, the more it made no sense which tells the public that it isn't HIS IDEA and it needed re-tooling. the other weak moment was his response to Immigration.If he was weak on the Latino vote, he practically fell over board with no lifesaver jacket.

All the other stuff was the same 'ol fluff and repetition.
At this point, people know who they will be voting for and in the end, it will be tied or near tied all the way. As long as one holds over 45% of the overall total, there will be no clear cut winner. And then there is John Edwards' delegates and the still to be determined Michigan and Florida delegates.

I think the Democratic party is going to ride this to the end so that everyone can have their vote and say and PUT THEM ON THE SAME TICKET FOR AN OBAMA/CLINTON CLINTON/OBAMA RUN FOR THE WHITE HOUSE.

There are just too many people invested on either side to dismiss for the other and chance the fear of people in the end NOT COMING OUT TO VOTE PERIOD and allowing a Republican to remain in control of the White House.

Brian said...

"wow" "a biased post"

I'm free to be as biased as I wish on my own blog.

I provided my observation of what took place as I saw it....pointing out the media's bias, and the same tired arguments made by Clinton.

John Edwards & Tom Vilsack were the candidates that I hoped would do well earlier on. I'm not a huge Obama fan. But given the choice between Obama and Clinton, I would much rather see Obama do well. I cannot and will not root for Hillary Clinton under any circumstances. And i'm free to do that on my blog.

If you want to do any cheerleading for Hillary Clinton, you are free to do so... on your own site.
But if you want to debate the issues, I am open to that.

I thought Obama did a pretty good job of explaining his healthcare plan.

"The more he explained it, the more it didn't make sense"?

That's only for those who haven't been paying attention. I clearly understood what he said.

Neither healthcare plan is perfect. Both keep the corrupt private sector in charge of healthcare...which is a fundamental flaw with both approaches. Neither represents a National system...which is what we really need...where the doctors and the patients are in charge of making the healthcare decisions.

CNN was not attempting to help Clinton?

They practically stretched and tried to make her the winner, based on the last 20 seconds of the debate....just so that she could claim some kind of symbolic victory...and not come away empty handed. It was disgusting to watch.

Clearly she had to best Obama in this debate in order to slow him down...and it just didn't happen.
His momentum was going to be slowed anyway, due to the political environment and the demographics surrounding this part of the race. But her mission was to make her mark and slow him down even more, so that she could get the margins of victory that she needs on March 4th. I don't know what debate you were watching tonight, but in the debate that I saw....HILLARY CLINTON DID NOT ACCOMPLISH THAT GOAL!

In terms of sharing a ticket... I certainly hope not. She would need Obama more than Obama would need her.

I think that Obama is too far apart from Clinton in terms of political style and ideology, as well as message. At this particular time, I don't see Hillary as a VP for Obama. That could change...but just I don't see it right now. Besides, her ego would not allow it.

But if Hillary pulls out a miracle (or steals the election) there would be much more pressure on her to include Obama. In fact, I don't think she would have much of a choice.

I don't think voters would stay home if Obama gets the nod. Because of his positive campaign, and the enthusiasm & excitement that he has brought to this race, voters will come out to support him. Democratic participation this time around has been through the roof. Democrats and independents (and even a few moderate Republicans) are much more concerned with making sure Republicans don't win the White House than to which Democratic candidate gets the nod.

But if Hillary manages to steal the nomination by some sort of underhanded backroom deal... then many Obama supporters may stay home. However, this scenario does not seem likely if Obama wins.

CERULEAN said...

Thank you- for clarifying some of my own feelings about the debate. I felt that Clinton was given quite a few morsels to tear at Mr. Obama and he handled her with dignity. I've read many who watched felt he should have been more agressive but disagree. Her tired blather didn't deserve more than Obama's calm responses. After all, wasn;t she trying her damndest to get under his skin so he'd make a gaff?

What I don;t understand is (1) what's the big deal about Obama using his friend's words. Don't candidates and presidents have speeches written for them all the time? For example, I know Mark Helprin has written entire speeches for individuals. And (2) I don't understand why the press seems to play down Clinton's admission that she feels it would be fine to garnishy (forgive my spelling) wages. This upsets me no end, because what it means is I might notbe able to pay my rent or some essential bill, due to money taken from my paycheck without my permission- a horrible thought when you have a small income.

the poet Shazza said...

One of the issues, and I have to agree with the Clinton's and most media outlets (THE RESPECTABLE ONE'S) is that "IF" anyone has a legitimate question about Obama (and I am not refering to Speaches or His Lack of Experience) but a real across the board question that is normal to ask of all candidates Republican/Democrat/Independent/Ron Paul ... it is viewed as a personal attack on Obama. Which is not the case.

Your response to my posting is an example. I only mentioned that I felt that Hillary did well in the debate. I never stated SHE WON or SHE WAS BETTER THAN OBAMA I only stated she did well. Obama did have weak moments in the debate as did Clinton. That is the nature of a DEBATE. The "bias" statement wasa joke. And yet I get a focused Obamaholic response.

IT IS OK TO CRITIC OBAMA, the whole WORLD is and will be doing it. With Obama's presense on the Political front, not everything said is from a RACIAL point of view. As Black People, we will have to CHANGE (like the Politics of a Nation) our degree of sensitivity over our BLACKNESS as it relates to Obama. Both candidates have political flaws, to bring up Obama's isn't racist or selling out, it is called exercising one's intellecual choice. the real question is, once everything is said and done, what will PEOPLE do with all that energy?

Brian said...


Who stated anything about race?

I mentioned no such thing. Nor did my comments come from a racial perspective. The issue of race, or my position on the blackness scale is usually brought up by Black bloggers who visit the site, who don't bother to check the site thoroughly. I'm offended, & at the very least annoyed, when Black bloggers try to tell me what I need to do (in terms of race & or politics) as a Black person. Save that for someone else. It assumes that you know more about me than you really do. This is why I absolutely hate being a Black blog author... because I constantly have to deal with the "race" nonsense, and annoying racial comments from those in the "Black Blogosphere". You come off like the annoying Tavis Smiley. Save it!

I'm an Obamaholic? I have to disagree with that characterization.

I'm probably more anti-Clinton than pro-Obama.... Although I think he's pretty good. But that's my choice.

Just like it is your choice to support Hillary Clinton.

But if you want to cheerlead for Hillary Clinton, you will have to do that elsewhere. This is not the place for it. You have your own blog where you can cheerlead as much as you wish. And that's the last thing that I will state about the matter.

rikyrah said...

Well AI,

I'll take the challenge.


I have no qualms saying this anymore.

I support Barack Obama and equally dislike Hillary Clinton.

Where the policy positions might not be that far apart in certain areas, there are some where he's totally on top of her:

1. Transparency in Government
2. The Imperial Presidency

I was willing to hold my nose and vote for her UNTIL SOUTH CAROLINA.

After the Dogwhistle Race Baiting, HELL NO. I WILL NOT EVER VOTE FOR HER.

You can't scare me with a GOP Bogeyman.

Once they used Racial Politics in South Carolina, it went BEYOND Barack Obama.


IF the Clintons are allowed to win using Racial Smear Tactics, then that will become the blueprint for the future against other Black Politicians.

I will NOT be complicit in setting up this plan for the future.