Democratic forumblogging


The Democratic candidates are answering blogger questions at Yearly Kos. I'm going to blog it and see if the universe collapses.

1:17: Richardson gets asked why he said anti-Roe Whizzer White was his model Supreme Court justice. "I screwed up on that one." Kennedy appointed him, and I figured Kennedy would appoint a decent guy.

1:20: Chris Dodd agrees with Chuck Schumer that Democrats won't approve any more Bush judges."I don't regret it, because I believed him when he said he'd respect precedent." He's learned how to be brutal or at least how to pander more effectively.

1:23: The innovations of a blogger presidential forum: instead of Clinton getting asked about universal health care she gets asked about Ezra Klein asking about universal health care. "It will be my highest domestic priority." Obviously

1:25: Obama on deficits: "This is the most fiscally irresponsible administration in… memory." (Obama was 8 when LBJ left office.) Would he deficit spend in order to eventually shrink the deficit? "Yes, but the question is, are we investing in the American people instead of in wars that should have never been waged?"

1:28: OK, the question is what you'll do about the debt. Edwards doesn't even come close to answering. "This room is filled with people who want change. Bless you for that!" He sucks up to the room with the force of a hundred hurricanes, winding up to some babble about change that gets a huge ovation.

1:30: Richardson: "These are very fine speeches but I'm a guy who's actually balanced budgets. The question was about the $9 billion deficit." He says we need to a balanced budget amendment to loud boos and hisses. Then he knocks corporate welfare: some applause. He's really taking the hammer to Edwards: "You can give speeches about change and leadership, but this is obscene. You're talking about a generation of people here…" and he's cut off.

1:34: Hah. Dodd gets a media regulation question, blasts the Dow Jones-Murdoch deal, and pounds his chest about "standing up to Bill O'Reilly!" Amid the huge applause I look over at Howard Wolfson, Hillary Clinton's communications director who went on O'Reilly to defend Yearly Kos two days before Dodd did. He sort of sets his jaw and checks his blackberry.

1:36: We don't have universal health care, says Kucinich, because "no one is going to the people. I'm ready to rally the people in the cause of universal health care!" Hooray!

1:37: Edwards: Close Gitmo no illegal spying, no secret prisons. "This government doesn't belong to the president. It belongs to yewww!" And demand that "we [Democrats[ pledge here today not to take a dime from Washington lobbyists." Watching Edwards with his audience is like watching Marcello Mastroianni massaging some lucky Italian woman's shoulders.

1:39: Aha! Mike Gravel gets asked about the Fair Tax. When the questioner describes it she gets hisses. Gravel dodges: "What you heard from the people on this stage is what you heard four years ago, eight years ago." The Fair Tax is moot: "The Fair Tax will never pass the Congress because it would dilute their power." That gets some chuckles of the "laughing-at-him" variety.

1:43: The moderator asks, basically, why won't Hillary cut the purse strings and stop the Iraq War, but in the asking she refers to "President Clinton."

"Sorry, I went back a few years," she says.

"I think it was a Freudian slip," says Clinton.

1:45: Kucinich bounces off Clinton's pander-fu, when she got some applause noting her "fight with Dick Cheney." "First of all the way we deal with Dick Cheney is that he should be impeached for lying…" and he's interrupted by an ovation.

1:47: Richardson: "I have a one point plan for Iraq: Get out! Get out!" It's really striking how the Iraq question muffles support for Hillary but boosts everyone else.

1:49: Gravel whacks Hillary again: "They say they don't have the votes? The votes are there, you just need to go get 'em!"

1:50: Obama gets a potentially tough question on whether American foreign policy bears some responsibility for 9/11. "I don't think there's an excuse for 9/11." No applause. "That was an act of evil and we need to hunt down those that perpetrated it." Some applause. "By the way, they weren't in Iraq."

1:53: Good for Matt Bai: He follows up and re-asks the question. Obama waits a bit before answering. "As I said before… there was no excuse for 9/11. But have we always acted intelligently in the Middle East? Have we always acted with respect to Muslims?" It's masterful answer, drained through a sieve to rid it of stuff Republican candidates can seize on. But Obama is quiet and academic and only when he says "Iraq" does he really light the room up.

1:54: Edwards says "I don't agree with those who say George Bush has made this country safer!" No one said that.

1:56: Clinton thinks Bai mis-asked the question. "There's not so much anti-American sentiment as there is anti-Bush sentiment." The question was about policy before 9/11, like when her husband was president… but the bloggers don't care, and they cheer.

1:58: Hm. Interesting Hillary judo flip. She says "the war on terror is not a bumper sticker," and before anyone boos she adds "it is a complicated issue." Getting to Edwards' right rhetorically without actually disagreeing with him.

2:00: Can China be a friend and competitor if its government is basically evil? Obama doesn't address that, but says we can't do anything about it if "we're their debtors."

2:05: Chris Dodd wants more Peace Corps-like programs, as does Edwards. This is an un-electrifying section.

2:06: "American foreign policy should once again stand for human rights."

2:07: "If elected will you hire an official White House blogger?" Everyone raises their hands and Edwards adds: "Her name will be Elizabeth Edwards." So that, uh, cancer thing… not so much of a problem after all.

2:09: A fun question for Gravel: "Are all Alaskan politicians corrupt, or just the Republicans?" Some are corrupt, and others subscribe to reason.

2:11: "How many of you would commit to visiting all 50 states?" Hillary doesn't raise her hand, so Obama goes to his strength on electability. If you're a junkie and you've heard a Hillary defender talk about how she can win by nabbing "Kerry plus" (the Kerry states plus Florida or Ohio)—and bloggers, by definition, are political junkies—Obama's answer is like candy. He'll visit everywhere and elect candidates everywhere. The kids love it.

2:14: Aha, Hillary tries to steal Obama's thunder by giving the same answer and mentioning her 2000 campaign in New York (where she came a mere 10 points behind Al Gore).

2:16: Here comes the electability round. Richardson tosses some red meat on voting reform and paper ballots then says "we need an electable candidate."

2:17: "We need to stop talking about the political strategy and start being the party of real change," says John Edwards, who has said he's the most electable candidate.

2:18: Hillary: "That's a position that John has certainly taken."

2:19: OK, this is good. Hillary scraps a little with the moderator to take the question, because she wants to talk about lobbyists. There are some boos. "That's good—that adds a sense of reality to me being at this convention." Then she argues, quite accurately, that lobbyists represent all sorts of interest groups including nurses (who hates nurses?) One guy tries to heckle and is shushed.

So Hillary did Sister Souljah this convention after all. She did so defending… liberal interest groups.

2:23: "Do any of you have a Washington lobbyist?" asks Edwards, smirking. Since there are some union members and AARP card-holders in the crowd, I think "yes," but that's not what he's going for.

2:24: Edwards just got in over his head. "I have never taken and will never take money from a Washington lobbyist." Someone's going to check that, I think.

2:31: Hillary will work to pass a Constitutional Amendment for public financing. So she realizes public financing is unconstitutional… but will introduce bills setting up public financing. I'm momentarily wistful for a Hillary-McCain race and the looking-glass fun it would provide.