obama-clinton debate observations, first hour

On the eve of what might be Hillary’s last stand in Texas; the media focus tonight is on John McCain. Perhaps McCain’s reported indiscretion will preserve Clinton’s political future by shifting attention away from the debate…?

Another note. With Lou Dobbs on air leading in to the debate, i’m expecting a focus on immigration/ NAFTA superhighway debate, as well as seeing both candidates are, well, evil.

OK, here it is.

8pm: Clinton starts out by talking about her first experiences in Austin 36 years ago doing voter registration. She mentions Barbara Jordan, Anne Richards, Texas icons, and doesn’t mention George McGovern, whose campaign was the reason she was there. Mentions need for sense of humor. If only she was serious about this point.

Obama appears presidential, very gracious, hits issues from Iraq to special interests, which is subtle shot at McCain, then also ends with Barbara Jordon quote. Jordan was big voice in Texas politics, on race, integrity and immigration.

Jorge Ramos (JR). First question on Cuba to HC
HC: chance for Raul Castro to change direction: release p prisoners, open press restrictions, open economy; she would wait and watch for changes.
Will you meet w/ him?
HC: not til evidence of change
CB: obama same Q
BO: would meet with raul. Chance to change relationship w/o preconditions, though yes preparations, w/ agenda that incl HR, press, … important to talk to enemies as well as friends; loosening restrictions on travel; won’t normalize til see changes, but sees normalization as goal, to happen in steps. JFK quote: “never fear to negotiate”
HC agrees, need to open diplomatic process; notes difference w/ BO: should pres. meet with leaders.
HC says not at beginning; also references JFK

Only a subtle, soft shot at BO here. HC being kind and positive. Cuba issue shows some real differences between the two in foreign policy

BO: of course, preparation needed; but bush is so bad, we need to undo damage, so pres needs to take extra step at this point in history.
BO gets last word here.

JK: how BO different from HC on economy?

BO: tax breaks companies investing in us; end tax cuts for wealthy; give them to mid class 75K or less tax cut. Close loopholes; on trade, trade should be “fair” trade; Green economy;
Obama noting democratic consensus on these issues and then emphasizes his ability to build coalitions and overcome special interests.

HC: agrees with BO on dem agenda;
Nice point: wealthy and well connected have had a pres for past 7 years; it’s time for the rest of you to have a president; calls for a trade prosecutor; tougher standards; (Clinton goes into more detail than BO); example mortgage crisis: moratorium on home foreclosures; freeze int rates years (real solid answer here); need to rebuild America (infrastructure) end bush’s war on science…
(HC trying to be “the happy warrior here)

Immigration Q:
Would u stop removal of parent in mixed status family?
HC: would consider it, need comprehensive reform;
Legalization; help Mexican economy; feds to help locals on health care…

BO: mostly agrees; immig being used as political football; need to tone down rhetoric; need to reconcile nation of laws and nation of immigs; safeguards for people with sp. surnames.. (1st time I have heard a rights based argument this year); should stop discriminatory feeds; and improve relationship w/ Mexico so mx is producing jobs in mx;

Border Fence (ut oh!):
HC and BO voted for construction of fence in 06;
HC: UT-Brownsville would have part of its campus cut off; says bush built a dumb fence; HC wants a smart fence (does she mean this? smart= virtual fence); bush plan is counter productive; need to listen to people along the border; they have answers; yep, she shifts to technology and smart fencing (SBInet?); eminent domain actions against landowners and municipalities;

BO we almost entirely agree: key is consult w/ local communities. Bush admn not real good at listening;
BP, surveillance and technology the better approach!!!! (See my earlier posts on this blog on privatization of border); must deal w/ constant influx; need comprehensive reform; immediately, pass the Dream Act (wow!, see my earlier post on in-state tuition on this blog); in my book, both candidates lose on virtual fence issue; neither see real dangers w/ privacy and social control.

Q: 30 million in US speak Spanish; any downside to a bilingual nation?
HC: English remain common unifying language; not official language; yes bilingual.
BO: important learn English, binding ourselves as a nation; and important to learn a 2nd language;

So little difference between BO and HC on issues thus far. BO close enough to HC on details, though she wins on micro-analysis by a little; so why, if things continue this evening along these lines, will this debate ostensibly cement the nomination for Obama?

I think, what it comes down to is narrative; BO has one; HC doesn’t. The BO story is the subtext in every answer he gives; BO embeds emotive and visionary language even in policy responses; she doesn’t; for BO– a little less detail; but more narrative; see. language does count! more comprehensive in the respect that each response is a thread in a large quilt that BO is weaving during the campaign; one response connects to the next to tell the story; his responses are more vital; compare this w/ HC’s technocratic responses; He really is the Kennedy to her Humphrey this eve.

Is BO all hat–no cattle? (Wow, see my previous blog on Hillary and barack!)

BO: gives details on legislation he has helped pass; not talk but action;

Ok, now they are beginning to have at it.

BOshe is suggesting all my supporters and editorial bds have been duped….
He ju-jitsu’s HC’s attacks before she has time to develop them. Very clever response;

Reporters trying to strike up some blood.

BO slams down the plagiarism line; “silly season in politics.” people want to know about jobs, health care…
BO gives specifics…

HC digs into the mud on plagiarism issue; campaign by Xerox; here it comes, and my guess here is that she has made a fundamental mistake here, unless she baits him to lose his cool…; her choice was to stay positive and go out in style, or just go.

I think BO just knocked out HC on her turf–health care

End of the hour.

i missed some of HC’s final statement; came in at end; from what i heard, it sounded like a graceful concession (but then everybody stood up?). why does she get human only when she senses her own political demise?


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