Believe it or not, it was a night of some surprises. Some of the questions were pretty darn good. But two hours of this was just friggin’ exhausting, not just to cover but just to watch… I’m with Hillary and Edwards – thin the field, by food poisoning if need be.
Surprising Big Winner: Joe Biden. If there is justice in this world, Biden’s comment about voting for a recent appropriations bill that included upgrades for military vehicles to protect from IEDs, lambasting Hillary, Obama, and Dodd for voting against it, would be the sound-bite of the night. He points out the actual consequences of their pandering to the antiwar base of the party.
I don’t like his Iraq plan, but it is an Iraq plan. In a field of hyperactive panderers, he’s willing to tell the audience the facts they don’t want to hear. During these debates I feel like Biden is standing in for those of us who can smell a rehearsed talking point a mile away, who know that the easiest thing for every candidate is to promise exactly what the questioner wants to hear, whose instinctive reaction to every grandiose, generic pie-in-the-sky pledge is an incredulous, wincing, “oh, get real!”
And I admit, I loved that he closed with not one but two jokes at Dennis Kucinch’s expense: “I don’t like a damn thing about him…. Nah, just kidding. I like all the candidates. Dennis, the thing I like the most about you is your wife!”
Second Place: Obama. With each debate, he gets better in giving short, succinct, but good answers. He finally took the gloves off with Hillary; when she went into her rehearsed story about asking the Pentagon for details of withdrawal of troops and got the response from Edelman. His answer “the time to ask about withdrawal plans was before we went in” was the first time we’ve seen him really jab at her with passion.
Surprising Third Place: Christopher Dodd. Yeah, Dodd. He just sounded like a very old-school, Kennedy-following pol. I’ve said this presidential campaign is just a long cross-country retirement party, but he has been around politics forever, and so week by week, he’s getting better at offering what a Democratic presidential candidate can offer. Look at my record, blah blah blah.
Surprising Loser: Hillary. They’re raving about her now, but with questions coming from Deaniac lefties, she was left to straddle and came across as cautious, controlled, brittle, and quick to revert to convenient, not terribly compelling talking points.
For example, she tried to make it sound like the only reason she sent Chelsea to Sidwell Friends was the prying eyes of the press. Horsepucky. Many District of Columbia public schools are an unsafe, underperforming mess. Hillary could have even cited the Secret Service’s concerns about security. Instead, she ignored why parents want school choice and played the victim card.
“I’m agnostic on nuclear power” is a triumph of indecisiveness. Also, not willing to call herself a “liberal” but insisting on “modern progressive.”
Other Surprising Loser: John Edwards, backed into a corner, trying to explain why he supports civil unions but not gay marriage, and trying to insist his religious beliefs have nothing to do with it. In the end, he couldn’t articulate the difference, and his position looked like a carefully-calibrated straddle.
Other surprising loser: Any woman in a future draft, as ALL the Democrats apparently support making selective service apply to young women as well as men. I didn’t even know that I disagreed with the Democrats on this issue, and I’m baffled as to why they think there are votes to be won by requiring women to register for a theoretical, if highly improbable, future military draft.
Also, Richardson would have the government pay for the health care of undocumented illegal aliens. Yikes, these candidates are way to the left.