Thursday, February 21, 2008

Clinton-Obama debate in Austin, TX on CNN

Tonight, Thurs. Feb. 22, there was no “Smallville” on CW (there were two Supernatural’s), but there was another Clinton-Obama debate, this time in Austin, Texas, in preparation for the March 4 primary. I know, there will be Rollerball. We’re not quite ready for something like Kennedy-Nixon debates of 1960, which I recall (as my senior year in high school started).

Present were Jorge Ramos, Campbell Brown, and John King, to ask questions. Anderson Cooper provided the wrap-up immediately after the 105 minute event on CNN.

Hillary Clinton started out with a comment to the effect that health insurance companies discriminate against sick people. We don’t discriminate by race, sex, religion, etc., but we do on health status. Barbara Ehrenreich has written about this in The Progressive.

In fact, the “middle” of the debate was about the semantics of health care reform. Hillary stuck to her guns and insisted that purchase of health insurance needs to be mandatory the way payment of social security and Medicare taxes is mandatory. I know that the conservatives are going to come right out of the starting block with “socialized medicine” or at least the Canadian system. She says no other way will work, and that we will all wind up paying an extra $900 a year to cover the uninsured anyway.

Barack Obama answered to the effect that people who don’t buy health insurance don’t buy it because they can’t afford it.

Obama supported the Dream Act, which would allow children of illegal immigrants already in high school to stay in the country if they go to college or join the military upon graduation.

Obama claims that weapons needed in Afghanistan have been diverted to Iraq, causing troops to be undersupplied and to use weapons captured from the Taliban. Senator John Warner (R-Va) has sent a letter to Obama about the matter, as the story seems questionable.

There were some trite phrases. Hillary said that “English is an important part of American experience.” No kidding. Both candidates favor strengthen foreign language instruction in schools, and blame “no child left behind” for hindering the ability and interest of Americans in learning the harder languages like Chinese and Arabic.

Clinton said, "if the debate is going to be about words, you should use your own words." Obama said the words were given to him. (That's a favorite concept in sales culture, "We give you the words." Actors expect that from screenwriters. Late show hosts expect that from WGA writers.) Before the FEC settled the matter about bloggers and McCain-Feingold, those "given words" might have been construed as a "campaign contribution." Do we use on politicians the way teachers use it on kids' term papers?

Clinton then said that Obama was the candidate of "change you can xerox," ridiculing him as an amateur despite the fact that she also called him her friend and that she was honored to be on the same stage as him. Her behavior was quixotic, to say the least.

Obama said that “President Bush doesn’t listen well.” Hillary said that we will “breathe a sigh of relief” when he is out of office (her words were stronger, maybe a slip).

Anderson Cooper noted afterward that this was the first debate in which Obama came in as the frontrunner. Another commentator criticized her body language; she would not look Obama in the eye.

The CNN link is here.

CNN commentators are saying that if Hillary loses Texas and Ohio, her run is over. Obama is the nominee. It's Obama v. McCain as the pitching matchups, as if for opening day in the Nationals new stadium (Atlanta at Washington Mar. 30; we need to find a Cubs v. Diamondbacks game, May 9, in Chicago.)

Update: Feb. 26, 2008

The MSNBC link for the debate from Cleveland, Ohio (at Cleveland State University) as carried on MSNBC tonight is here. Hillary offered to drop NAFTA after six months. Yet, I recall getting a survey call at home from the Clinton Administration in late 1993 about NAFTA.

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