So I don’t know how many of us are actually checking these things out, but I thought I’d, uh, check in with some comments on Sunday’s Iowa GOP debate and Tuesday’s big AFL-CIO forum from Soldier Field. Just in case some of you don’t feel like watching but feel like listening to yours true describe the debates like they were indie rk recs.
REPUB DEBATE: Winner? Rudy the dude Giuliani
Sorry, Mitt. Mitt did fine, taking a page from Hillary and rocking the “let’s don’t succumb to bickery, dickery infighting, team” thing. But it wasn’t enough to win. Today was Rudy’s day. I’m not sure his “let’s focus on having less abortions” thing is ever really going to play with el Righto, but he really channels that libidinal will-to-violence thing Hawks like. Whether Rudy’s decrying “Islamist terrorism” or “socialized medicine,” a sort of tooth-clenching righteousness abounds that has crowds adjusting their pants.
Other notes = Tom Tancredo is genuinely horrifying, physically and verbally. The McCain campaign is over, no matter how ‘transcendent’ the issue of “Islamic Jihad” turns out to “be.” Tommy Thompson’s jowls are interesting to scope, and Brownback, uh…he and Tancredo are supposed to be, like, the Christian guys? They’re the two smuggest people in either race. That’s what too much Christing will do to you, I guess.
DEM DEBATE: Winner? Obama.
Finally, a debate that Hilly didn’t win-y. The Soldier Field capacity and the union atmosphere made for the most interesting and firework-y debate to date, though I hope we see more in the YouTube style.
The point has been made that the Dem chasepack is sorta choosing sides in advance of a Clinton/Obama, DLC/”Populist,” Failed Objectives/Imperialist War battle. More plainly: Dodd and Biden are now (consciously or not) doing Hillary’s bidding by attacking Obama – and Edwards – as inexperienced and/or irresponsible. Aside from the fact that this strategy FAILED at the debate, another reason to get fired up is cuz the picking of sides is such a no-brainer.
I’ve said this already, but Iowa notwithstanding, I am ready and willing to support Obama as the Dem opposition candidate. I still think Edwards is more substantively left(ish), but Obama has different things going for him. First, on a purely intellectual level: he’s the smartest person on a stage full of smart people, and my ivory tower hair and teeth appreciate that. More importantly, his much-touted “passion for social and economic justice” is as palpable and as real as it is vague and liberal. In other words, I think Obama has running room on an anti-establishment platform, even though he himself is a US Senator, and it’s really more of an “I have somehow retained a shred of personal integrity” thing.
And of course, the comeback on accusations of irresponsibility re: foreign policy was the single most satisfying moment of the Dem race up to now.
Again, Obama has said nothing to merit more than “vaguely liberal” status. Part of that is because he is a platitudinous dude, yet charismatic enough not to need to truck with particulars (yet). And here we get to the third reason I am firmly behind ‘em: the boomer establishment fears and hates Obama. It’s as though his anti-war, “organizer” thing brings them face to face with the fact that their generation peaked 39 years ago? No, it’s really that he threatens the Dem establishments hold on things, and his very candidacy reveals a throbbing and pissed bunch of anti-war youth and “NetsRoots” wags and non-rich people that Clintons cannot really cater to in anything but “at least we’re not GOP” terms. Seriously, watch the pundits: nobody backs Obama. I don’t think it’s racist or anything.. it’s just as though this guy’s meteoric rise, and the subsequent realization that his personal charisma and energetic whatever actually merits it is too much for them to handle. And the more they try to undermine this guy, the more I think a lot of us will rise to his defense. And if there were a real, 1968-ish ground swell (far-fetched, I know)… well, this guy has the money to be in the race for a long time. And a helluva tag team partner in Edwards as far as the righteous outrage bit goes. If Edwards wins Iowa, and Obama wins South Carolina….?
Other Notes = Hillary remained “Presidential,” made no mistakes and made her opponents work for every punch landed….she also was booed when she went after Obama. How seriously do you all take the fact that she polls high for “competence” and terribly for “likeability” et al? Biden remains oddly madcap, irate, condescending, blunt and lovable. I honestly would be “perfectly fine” with him as a Dem-Realist Secretary of State (maybe kind of in the way I’d be “fine” with a Romney nomination.) Edwards is neither as charismatic as Obama nor as genuinely “radical”(-sounding-ish) as Kucinich, so he’s increasingly lost out there.
Other, Other Notes = Hillary’s big line – paraphrased as, if you want somebody who can stand up to the Right Wing, I’m yr girl – was ludicrous. How has she effectively “stood up to the Right?” By avoiding indictment? By being her husband’s wife? By voting to authorize the war and war funding again, again and again? Who does this shit play with, how big and how vacuous of a “middle” can there actually be out there? Really big, I know. Shucks.
Oh Yeah = How could Biden have dismissed that question from the miner’s widow? I don’t know, but that’s the sort of leadership I demand from a Sec o’ State. You think Gates would tramp on that lady’s grief to hold forth on something “more important?”
(see youtube appendices)