(I have NO clue what is happening with the fonts on these posts…it is driving me batty trying to fix it so I am just going to leave it for now…my apologies…)
Last night, the first democratic debate was aired on MSNBC. Throughout the night I watched, having to pause it (I love that DVR) every so often to tend to the kids and get them to bed. So the 90 minute debate actually took about 3 hours to watch. Regardless, I am glad I did.
The participants in the debate were the candidates who have to this date (still watching to see if Al Gore will throw in his hemp hat) declared their nomination. The 2008 Presidential hopefuls who were in attendance were: Mike Gravel, former U.S. senator from Alaska, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Ct., former Sen. John Edwards of South Carolina., Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson., and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y.
The debate was hosted by the South Carolina State University in Orangeburg, SC. And it was moderated by NBC Anchor, Brian Williams.
The debate overall was pretty cordial and firework free. But I also believe it was very helpful in gaining a decent perspective for these candidates’ personalities and where some of their interests lay. It is my belief that campaigning should consist solely of debates. Live accessible debates and unbiased interviews, in print and on air. And that is where it should end. The millions of dollars wasted on these campaigns are nothing short of nauseating. We do not need to see them going from state to state pandering and kissing babies. And we certainly do not need the negative campaign ads. It is all about the issues and how the candidate presents him/herself. And that we can get from debates and interviews. Either that or perhaps FOX can create a new reality show in which all candidates will live in the same house and fight over the last bowl of Coco Puffs and bathroom rights. There can be a Donkey house and an Elephant house. As they get down to the final 10 they can compete in challenges against each other. Perhaps that way, more people will actually vote!! Tongue and cheek of course…but hey, an idea nonetheless J
The following are some tidbits from the debate from each candidate:
New Mexico Governor, Bill Richardson – He wants a redirection of foreign policy. He would have the troops out of Iraq THIS calendar year. Richardson said he would begin his presidency by de-authorizing the war. Says priorities need to be straight – domestic problems including education are taking a back seat to the war.
The New Mexico Governor was the last to call for the dismissal of Attorney General Gonzales. When asked by a reporter why, Richardson stated, “Because he is Hispanic.” When he was asked about this in the debate he said, “That is how I felt.” But he expanded and said he wanted to give him (Gonzales) a chance to explain. But he did admit that was the reason he held back. He did finally call for his resignation.
When the mention of the NRA’s endorsement of Richardson, he had this to say, "I’m a Westerner. I’m a governor of New Mexico. The Second Amendment is precious in the West. But I want to just state for the record, a vast, vast majority of gun owners are law-abiding."
Connecticut Senator, Christopher Dodd – His position on the Iraq War is basically no more troops period. He adamantly supports the Feingold Bill. He says that since the war in Iraq, America is more isolated and less secure. “The troops will tell you, there is no military victory here.” “We are going to provide whatever resources our troops need”, he said when responding to the inquiry as to the senate and house being held accountable by the president for the military not getting the funding they need. “The idea that we are going to bring resolution to a civil war there (Iraq) is an idea we need to get beyond.”
When questioned about an Iranian threat, Dodd had this to say, “The question about whether or not you deal with Iran, it’s about how you do so…I would have direct negotiations.”
“The American people can handle the truth; you just got to tell them the truth.”
Dodd also explains that he fully supports civil unions for gay citizens but is against gay marriage.
Mike Gravel, former U.S. senator from Alaska – Gravel believes that the other candidates ‘dance around’ the issues because they don’t want to rock the boat. When asked where he has been for 30 years he replied, “Hiding under a rock because I was so disgusted with the way the congress works”
“My name is on all the environmental legislations that took place in the 70s.”
The former Alaska Senator passionately suggests that our country should develop a law against being in Iraq so we can prosecute the president criminally for being there.
All the candidates were asked who the 3 biggest enemies to the United States are. Gravel’s answer was very much unlike his fellow candidates. "We have no important enemies. What we need to do is to begin to deal with the rest of the world as equals. And we don’t do that. We spend more as a nation on defense than all the rest of the world put together. Who are we afraid of?"
Illinois Senator, Barack Obama – “We have a healthcare system that is broken…by the end of my first term we will have healthcare for every single American.” As he explained after the debate, “We have an education system that needs to be transformed.” Senator Obama suggests that he will make grants and scholarships – not just loans – more available so that the youth will have a better chance of competing in our global market.
On the war, “We are one signature away or 16 votes away from ending this war.” To show the American people that Obama is not intending our country to be a doormat he made the following statement, “"We have genuine enemies out there that have to be hunted down, networks have to be dismantled. There is no contradiction between us intelligently using our military and, in some cases, lethal force to take out terrorists and, at the same time, building the sort of alliances and trust around the world that has been so lacking over the last six years."
Representative Dennis Kucinich, Ohio – “You can’t say you are a ‘peace candidate’ and still keep funding to support a war.” Kucinich explains in an interview after the debate. While he was hesitant to call his opponents hypocrites, he claimed they were ‘inconsistent’. The Representative claims that he wants to take the country into the direction of peace and prosperity. He believes in using diplomacy to reconnect with the world.
Regarding the war on terror Kucinich remarked, “As president of the United States, I intend to take America in a different direction, rejecting war as an instrument of policy, reconnecting with the nations of the world, so that we can address the real issues that affect security all over the globe and affect our security at home."
Former South Carolina Senator, John Edwards – After explaining that the $400 haircut which was paid for out of campaign funds was a mistake that has been rectified he states, “I live a privileged and blessed lifestyle now…but it is not where I come from. And I have not forgotten where I come from…The reason I am running is so that everyone in this country can have the same kind of chances I have had.”
Edwards had much to say about our environment. "On the issue of climate change, we ought to cap carbon emissions in the United States. We ought to invest in clean alternative sources of energy. We ought to invest in carbon sequestration technology, in coal technology. A billion dollars, at least, into making sure we build the most fuel-efficient vehicles on the planet. We ought to ask Americans to be patriotic about something other than war. To be willing to conserve."
When asked what his biggest political mistake was, he answered, "I was wrong to vote for this war. Unfortunately, I’ll have to live with that forever. And the lesson I learned from it is to put more faith in my own judgment."
Delaware Senator, Joe Biden – Certainly the most humorous moment of the evening was an answer from Joe Biden. In reports before the debate Biden had been regarded as a gaff machine, unable to hold his tongue. When asked, “Do you have the discipline you would need on the world stage?” He simply answered a short “yes”. Laughs permeated through the crowd.
When asked about the Supreme Court ruling about partial birth (or late term) abortions, Biden said the following, “"This decision was intellectually dishonest. I think it is a rare procedure that should only be available when the woman’s life and health is at stake. But, what this court did is it took that decision and … through dishonest reasoning, laid the groundwork for undoing Roe v. Wade."
As for the war, he had this to say, "The president has a fundamentally flawed (Iraq) policy. It’s based upon the notion of being able to set a strong, central government in Baghdad that will be democratic. And the real question is: Are we going to be able to leave Iraq, get our troops out, and leave behind something other than chaos?"
New York Senator, Hillary Rodham Clinton – Said she believes that the federal government failed the students at Virginia Tech due to loose gun laws. And that without violating 2nd amendment rights, gun rights should be limited.
When asked about her Healthcare plan, Senator Clinton said, “"We can save money within the existing system. I am not ready to put new money into a system that doesn’t work until we’ve tried to figure out how to get the best outcomes from the money we already have."
Regarding the war, she had this to say, “I’m very proud of the Congress … for putting together a piece of legislation which says we will fund our troops and protect them, we will limit the number of days that they can be deployed, and we will start to bring them home."
It is still so, so early in the campaign and I refuse to make any permanent judgments about any of the candidates at this point. But just using last night’s debate as a basis, here is a quick personal perspective of each presidential hopeful:
Richardson – Are we sure he isn’t a republican? Seriously though, I do not like his affiliation with the NRA whatsoever and his biased decision making regarding Gonzales is worrisome.
Dodd – I admire that he seems to give the American people enough credit to be honest. Whether or not he would be is another question. I support his views on Iraq, but have a problem with his stance on gay marriage.
Gravel – Whoa. Now, I have been called a liberal more times that I can count. And even though I still see myself as an independent moderate…I do take many liberal stances. But this guy takes the cake. He believes there should never be war for any reason and while I would love to believe that in a perfect world, I am just not sure that is reasonable. But boy, wouldn’t that be nice. I think this guy could be easily unhinged and entertaining as he may be, he is a little out there for me. But I do love how passionate he comes across!!
Obama – I like him. He is young and fresh and I feel that may just be what we need. Someone who hasn’t yet been eaten up by the system. If someone young and idealistic with realistic goals can get into the presidency…I think many things would change for the better. I am going to keep my eye on this guy.
Kucinich – Hmmm…I don’t know. He seems kind of too lefty to me too. I get a weasley, blame everyone kind of vibe from him. But I don’t know. Need to see more of him before I can really say.
Biden – I am sure he is a good guy and I like much of what he has to say. But I don’t think he could keep his composure when necessary. I agree with him about the right to choose and the war. But I need to hear more.
Edwards – I voted for Edwards in the last Democratic Primary. I like him. I think he is genuine when he says he has not forgotten where he has come from. I get a sense that I can trust this man. I think an Edwards/Obama ticket would be ideal at this point.
Clinton – I can say that I like her more after last night than I did prior. She knows what she is doing, that is for sure. And she is a smart cookie. But I worry that she has already been eaten up by the Washington Machine and is now just playing the game. I really would love a woman president. I really, really would. But I just don’t get that authenticity I am looking for in a candidate when I listen to Hillary. Like I said, we shall see.