Democratic Debate IV: The Scorcher in South Carolina


I've got my Coke, my sushi and my viking helmet. Let's go.

7:01: You know what pre-canned YouTubes can't do? Ask follow-up questions. I'm pessimistic. [7:33 update: One of the video guys was in the audience.]

7:03: Chris Matthews suddenly looks pretty good, doesn't he? What do you think, Newt?

7:04: Experience is important, says Chris Dodd, whose experience is so deep he has to filibuster an easy question. "That's an important question… we need to bring people together to do the job."

7:06: Only an outsider like Barack Obama can combat the "special interests and lobbyists who are writing vital legislation." I like the idea of less legislation, too, but I'm not sure that's what he meant.

7:07: Kucinich gets the first loud burst of applause for a punchy anti-war answer.

7:09: Ah, Obama takes the first veiled shot at Hillary, saying we need "more than a change in parties." And, and… and he pulls back, the slacker.

7:10: Clinton abandons the word liberal, which "used to mean" you cared about the rights of the individual "back in the 19th and early 20th century." Hillary Clinton: Not A Hayekian! In case you were asking.

7:12: Mike Gravel obviously received his kickback from Obama: He throws him a 5 mph pitch about campaign donations and Obama gets to mention actual legislation he's passed.

7:13: Chuck Hagel shoots his TV.

7:14: So does John Edwards refuse to compromise, or does no one care enough to work with him?

7:15: The sweet, sweet acting of Chris Dodd.

7:16: The ghost of Wesley Willis tosses out a reparations question! Terrific. "I know you're all going to dance around," he says, and John Edwards dances around it.

7:18: Wow, the crowd likes Edwards even less than reasonoids do. His answer on reparations was better and more detailed than Obama's, but Edwards gets polite applause and Obama gets a roar.

7:19: Kucinich is the lone pro-reparations candidate: "The Bible says we must be and shall be repairers of the breach." If I wanted reparations, I'd be stomping on my hat right now.

7:20: Dodd: Preparations for Katrina "should have been done ahead of time." Good thing you didn't vote to fold FEMA into the DHS, huh, Chris? I mean… uhm…

7:21: Ah, I really would have liked for Richardson to distinguish himself on the Katrina question by talking about private investment. But he took up time that could have been used by Edwards, so it evens out.

7:23: "I'm not running because I'm a woman." No, you're running because you're married to Bill Clinton.

7:24: "When I'm inaugurated it'll send a great message to little girls and boys around the world." That the U.S. is a two-family constitutional monarchy?

7:25: Edwards: "If you're not voting for Clinton or Obama because you're a bigot, I don't want your vote!" Ninety percent of Democrats: "OK!"

7:26: "Isn't it terrific we're arguing about who'll be better for women?" Yes, that's never happened in a Democratic debate before.

7:28: Kucinich and Dodd would let gays marry. They'll also legalize unicorns. Neither of them will win, everybody.

7:29: Richardson for everything but the word "marriage." Ah, it's too bad Edwards didn't get that specific question: He had a great, sleazy moment a couple weeks back when his wife came out for gay marriage and Edwards said he had no idea she believed that.

7:31: Ah, Edwards got it. And he gave an actual answer. But the guy who asked the question is confused: "Some people were movin' around and I didn't get his answer."

7:33: Cold, cold Obama answer on gay marriage. He gets a chance to compare Loving v. Virginia to Goodrich and he Dukakises it: "In respect to civil unions…"

7:38: There! Now, don't you feel ashamed of making fun of John Edwards? There's nothing funny about John Edwards!

7:39: If you love children, you'll invade Darfur. "Doing something about poverty" will restore America's image in the world, says Richardson.

7:41: Joe Biden: "I'm so tired of this." The quote of the night. Also, has anyone not been to the Darfur refugee camp?

7:43: Good for Anderson Cooper, nailing down Hillary Clinton on whether she'd send troops to Darfur. She wouldn't, but it sounds like the reason is that they're in Iraq… and they're going to, *cough*, be there a while, probably.

7:45: I'm getting the feeling we'll elect the next president before anyone answers the "how do we pull out now" question.

7:47: Hm, Joe Biden is a Posies fan.

7:48: A simply beautiful example of Clinton doublespeak. No mention of her plan for Iraq, just a lot of bellyaching about how she wants "Republicans to join us in standing up to this president." Yet another Unicorn Plan.

7:50: I never feel so pessimistic about Iraq as when I hear Democrats talk about how they'll end it.

7:51: "No politics," says Richardson, as he promises to pull every soldier out of Iraq. I promise you, politics would be involve in that.

7:53: Look, I'm trying to be substantive, and Mike Gravel pounds the podium with the best of 'em… but septugenarians shouldn't talk about how they want ice cream cones.

7:54: So the Iraq War is pointless, and we can't win, but our troops aren't dying in vain.

7:55: Edwards: "Democrats need to stand up to this president!" Do as he says, not as he did.

7:57: Clinton proposes public service programs "modelled on the Citadel and other great military institutions." You know, I bet she's already bought the Big Brother telescreens and is keeping them in cold storage in Little Rock.

7:58: John Edwards, always handy with the chest-pounding answers to the questions no one asked.

7:59: Wait… all the Democrats want to draft women? What?

8:00: Holy Moses: Hillary Clinton is a woman? A woman who wants to be president? *cue goofy Laurel and Hardy "sproing" sound effect*

8:01: Obama: "The notion that not talking to countries is punishing them is ridiculous and it's been the guiding light of this administration."

8:03: Hillary won't meet with just any ol' foreign thug because her visit "might be used for propaganda purposes." I'm sure she knows how much mileage they can get when we avidly stiff them. Hell, Chavez feeds off that.

8:06: Richardson gives the only coherent answer on Iraq. The Murtha position, basically: We can pull troops out and not worry about inflaming a civil war because troop presence is metastizing the fighting. No one noticed, but he's been creeping up in the polls—ahead of Edwards in one.

8:08: Biden and Clinton call the rest of the Democrats liars.

8:09: Even in a YouTube debate, Kucinich's call to "text for peace" is cringe-inducing.

8:10: Probably not a good idea for Gravel to record a video in which he says "Been around since the beginning of time." "He sounds like William S. Burroughs," says John Vaught LeBeaume of the Reason Foundation.

The pain continues in a new thread.