Wow, it was brutal. If you missed it, NYT has a transcript.
Basically no matter who wins the Democrats, the Republicans have lots of material for TV commercials. There’s no way in hell Obama and Clinton can patch up their differences after Clinton went on the attack like she did (being lustily booed for it several times, and clearly not caring at all). Obama tried to give as good as he got, but clearly Clinton’s better at slinging the mud.
I gotta say, I think John Edwards just got a shot at taking SC. Neither Obama nor Clinton looked good at all - Obama sounded nervous and shocked, and Clinton sounded like she was channelling Karl Rove, while Edwards sounded like a bemused adult.
Not an accurate summary of what he said, obviously. It’ll probably turn out bad for Obama regardless, as Democratic primary voters are not going to enjoy hearing over and over how Reagan was right, or people thought he was right, or whatever Obama was trying to say there.
I think what Obama was trying to say there was pretty clear - Reagan successfully drove the country to the right by getting lots of independents and even Democrats on board with his programs. If we want to drive the country back to the left we have to do the same thing.
Hillary’s summation isn’t so much “not accurate” as it is bald faced lying. The debate tonight really did a lot to dampen the good feelings I’ve been having toward her lately.
I’d be a lot more upset about Hillary doing the lying thing if I thought Obama was actually telling an uncomfortable truth, rather than a fairy tale. If he really believes that was the story with Reagan it’s a perfect summation of everything I don’t like about him. I think Reagan got elected and set the agenda because Carter fucked up big time, southerners bailed on the Democratic party for the GOP - mostly for racist reasons - and long-term demographic trends swung political power from the Rustbelt to the Sunbelt. No bullshit about Reagan on entrepreneurship and personality responsibility required. Seriously, was he awake in the 1980s? The decade of robber barons and the death of blue-collar America?
They’re all pissing me off, I swear. Obama will get steamrolled with his happy come-together talk, or worse, he actually believes it, Hillary’s a boring centrist, and Edwards felt the need to call Hillary a crybaby girl.
So you people think Obama talks about Reagan instilling “optimism,” “clarity,” “dynamism,” and “accountability,” and think he’s just reporting facts, not expressing some amount of admiration for the man? For all his lofty speeches, Obama panders with the best of them. Yesterday he was practically hanging himself on the cross with all his talk about coming to Jesus as a young man. Whoa, South Carolina, here come all the Christians! Are you ready?
I think the worst part was when she gleefully explained “oh, we’re just getting warmed up!”.
She really, really enjoys the elbows-out smashmouth campaigning, and it’s going to remind people about the parts of the Clinton era that weren’t all moderation and booming economy. At any rate, it reinforced that there was one person at that debate I wouldn’t be voting for come the general election.
That being said, Obama wasn’t much better - it was pretty clear he intended to come out fists wailing as well, he’s just not as good at it. He would have done a lot better to stay above the mudslinging; Hillary would have scored the points on her list and it would have posed a pretty clear choice between that and Obama’s usual debating style (substance over form).
That “happy come-together talk” - which I’m pretty sure Obama does believe, or at least does a really excellent job of faking - is precisely what the country needs. Or we can have 4 to 8 more years of the Blumenthal Clintons vs the Rove Republicans and 50.001% razor-thin focus-micropolled majorities decided by drunken Palm Beach voters who may or may not have meant to vote for Pat Buchanan.
And Hillary’s only a centrist as long as the polls tell her to be. I suspect a HRC presidency, based on her record pre-Senate career (which I think we all can agree was basically an 8 year Presidential campaign) would be as far to the left as GWB was to the right, and equally as divisive.
But yeah, Edwards is a jerk. We can agree on that!
Check out the National Review’s blog tonight - they are almost Obama fans besides themselves. “Well, an Obama presidency would be totally disastrous, but, uh, he makes sense and I’m not sure what to believe any more HOLD ME”.
I’m disheartened by how quickly people throw their hands in the air in disgust after some snappy back-and-forth. Come on, people, it’s a contest! You really want someone who couldn’t handle that level of confrontation in the White House? As long as a Democrat wins the general election, I’ll be happy to know they made it through the steel bath of the primaries.
Seriously, it’s like people don’t enjoy politics at all.
Even if that’s true (and I don’t think it is), so what? Just pick a team and root for them, like the Super Bowl. Presidential campaign politics is the greatest sport of all, and there’s only a season once every four years, so start enjoying it.
He is definitely expressing admiration… of those qualities. Here’s an exercise: take Hillary’s quote, and replace “the ideas of the Republicans over the last 10 to 15 years” with “optimism, clarity, and accountability.” Now try to figure out how to make that sound like an insult.
All Obama said was that Reagan was an inspiring figure in a way that subsequent presidents have not been–he had the air of a leader rather than a politician–and he’s absolutely right. And I hated most of Reagan’s policies, personally, but that’s clearly not what Obama was talking about.
But see, this also strikes me as a fair assessment of one of the Democratic party’s biggest shortcomings in recent years. Many people, on both the right and the left, have said exactly the same thing: today’s Democratic party doesn’t seem to have a coherent ideology or platform, and they too often just fall back on the message “We’re not Republicans!” It seems to me that a willingness to look at your opponents and acknowledge both their failings and their successes is more of a strength than a weakness.
Given the American electoral system, though, I would put the blame squarely on the game, not the player. It’s a Schumpeterian circus of grand proportions, and as long as you, the voter, remembers the basic agenda of the candidates, I think you can safely ignore a lot of electioneering. In fact, in these days of media narratives, it’s probably wiser and more fitting with Democratic ideals to do so.
What Obama said about Reagan was exactly true, in spite of what a lot of people hate to admit. Carter years equalled a national depression, Reagan came in and did re-instill a sense of hope and optimism in the country, particulary in his first term. You can hate him and his politics all you like, you can refuse to admit that the “Reagan Democrats” had anything to do with his style, but you’re sticking your head in the sand if you do that. Obama is correct in saying that Reagan changed the atmosphere of the nation in a better direction, even if you hate Reagan’s politics. It’s a sign of how completely partisan we’ve become that a Democrat cannot even acknowledge that without being trashed.
And he’s also correct in that the GOP has been the party coming forward with a coherent platform and set of ideas, such as the concepts that they brought in with the Gingrich “contract.” Arguing about whether they were good ideas or whether anyone in America voted for them is beside the point. As Ben noted, lately the Democrats have been all about vote for us because the other guys suck (and it worked in the Democrat takeover of Congress because the other guys sucked SOOOOO much!) but even within the party there has been complaint that they have not presented a set of ideas for the nation to rally around.
I think Obama, when Hillary responded to one of his comments about Bill’s lies by saying “He’s not here - I am” (which is her standard line when someone says something about Bill in the debates,) should have replied “well, since you’ve got Bill doing most of your campaigning and attacking for you, perhaps you should just go all the way and have him here debating for you.” That’s unfortunately a “meaner” approach than Obama likes to take, but I would have loved to hear him use it.