Debate Blogging

http://f9:03: “Brilliant legal scholar” and a moment of silence. GAME ON!

9:07: Trump decided to go Google a few good options for SCOTUS. But otherwise, he seems resigned to the idea that Obama will nominate.
Kaisich doesn’t want this to run into politics, and thinks the best idea is to either not nominate, or else nominate someone everybody just love, l0ve, loves. Good idea.
Carson: doesn’t think lifetime appointments are a very good idea. Also, we don’t need to be political, we need healing, fuck Obama.
Rubio: pretty boy studied some talking points. Says it’s not unprecedented, but cites a completely bogus idea that lame duck presidents don’t nominate. Forgetting the God of Republicans, Reagan.
Bush: Surprisingly lucent argument that nominating justices with no record isn’t working. Better to fight for the nomination you want. We need concensus, so fuck Obama..
Cruz: “80 years of not confirming.” Getting the facts straight gets a boo from the audience. But the grandstand on the SCOTUS is actually very effective and sounds legitimately heart-felt. Really, I think he comes off a lot better than Trump, whom to the crazies, probably sounds too soft.

9:18: Trump’s commentary on our overall foreign policy is lucid and effective. Not specific, but very few politicians are in this context. Rubio is the best speech maker on the stage. But I don’t hear a lot that is any less robotic than it was before. Carson just sounds wobbly in the beginning, but his idea of being an experimental doctor is interesting. Not sure if interesting gets across in this environment. Kaisich is way too wonky. Bush sounds schooled and informed. His answers sound rational and considered, not posed and rehearsed.

9:27: Trump says you can’t fight two wars in front of a room full of people who supported fighting two wars for how long? Oh, and he tries the “special interests” joke a second time. Bush rises to the “bitch-slap politics” of Trump pretty decent, in my view. He still sounds like he knows what he’s talking about. Trump just sounds angry. Cruz argues against regime change in front of a room full of people who have supported regime change for how long? He also supports air attacks, which generally is received as pussy work by Republicans.

9:32Vomiting child break. Sorry. I won’t be continuing this live blog. But the statements on the SCOTUS were what I was after.

9:50: Ok, I’m back. Kaisich sounds informed. But in being informed, he’s required to accept the expansion of Medicare, which is an anathema. “Repeal and replace” is the Bush line. I’m not sure that the “replace” thing works anymore for Republican audiences. Kaisich cites Reagan. It becomes a Traditional Conservative-off. Probably not a winning strategy. I don’t know what the hell Ben Carson just said. Absolutely no idea.

Commercial break thoughts: It is genuinely breathtaking how little sanity seems to matter in this primary. Kaisich and Bush have substantive differences on real policy issues. And they’re fighting an uphill battle against pure id and bitch-slap. How does any of that anger play out against an electorate made up of people who actively support the things Republicans are so pissed off about?

Trump seems a lot more focused on genuine answers to policy questions than in the past. He’s got his applause lines. He’s not letting go of the Republican Screaming Id’s hand. But he’s also getting just serious enough to be taken seriously by the people who want him out, the Republican establishment.

Also: what does “vicerous” mean?

10:04: Cruz tries to get in on the “donor class” schtick. Trump can do that. Cruz needs those dollars. Cruz’s debate skills are showing through, though. Somehow, Rubio backs Cruz up on his record on immigration and it backfires against Cruz. Bush is a lot less informed on this issue, or else doesn’t know how to communicate it. Least of all to this red-meat crowd.

Jeb Bush’s defense against Trump was laughably weak. But Trump’s whole “take his pants off” thing is weirdly weak as well. Kaisich argues for less negative adverts. In a Republican primary. What is he smoking?

10:14: Shorter Carson: Financial execs committing crimes? We need less regulation! Because reasons! Cruz can’t even complete a sentence when the question is about helping the poor and minorities. Trump gets asked a basic question. He spins it into a crap argument about “deal making.” He was asked how he could promise taxes on companies leaving America like he promised his supporters.

Commercial break thoughts: Trump is way off right now. It really seems like he’s trying to pivot to the general right now by offering solutions that sound cogent. This is exactly what most observers have always assumed he would do eventually. But right now seems way too early. What is he seeing in South Carolina that the rest of us don’t? He’s four points ahead and falling in SC. Arguments among the second tier seem focused on seeming rational to the Republican donor class, which has yet to fully commit to anyone specifically.

10:24: Trump is now a “common-sense Conservative.” Fully in pivot mode. Meanwhile, Cruz hits Trump on abortion. Trump responds with bitch-slap about lying.


Debate Wrapup

Looking back on the debate, there’s not a lot in the way of real blood-letting to be taken away from this debate.  I think whether you think Barack or John won will be based largely on style or personal preference.

On the other hand, it was McCain’s debate to lose.  He’s in a hole right now, and he needed to look better than expected.  I’m not sure he did that, and I’m not sure there was a lot to inspire confidence in those whose confidence he lost.  He didn’t look at Obama, he laughed weirdly, and despite Barack Obama’s many compliments and attempts to engage in discourse, McCain could not bring himself to return the favour.  Frankly, it looked petulant and unpresidential.

Overall, my personal feeling is that this was roughly a draw, but practically a loss for McCain.  Not a win for Obama, precisely, but a loss of opportunity for McCain.


Debate Night Open Thread

I’ll be live blogging this evening’s debate here at home.  I’m monitoring my Twitter with the phone, watching MSNBC for the debate, and have a few windows open on a few blogs to get thier reactions.  Stick with me and keep me posted in the comments!

9:03: funny that Jim Lehrer felt the need to justify the economic questions as foreign policy.  Was anyone going to be disappointed if he talked about the economy?

9:07 ~ Failures on Main Street?  That’s coming back in a commercial by the end of the night.

9:10 ~ Oh, cripe.  Here we go with the “I also did that” crap from McCain.  He has been absent or actively against any plan for regulation since he went into office (the office held formerly by Barry Goldwater, don’t forget.).  What is this crap about Normandy.  Jesus.

9:18 ~ John is trying his best to make earmarks what matter in this debate.  Hey, they’re important, but his tax cuts are worse.  McCain’s rhetorical skills are sharp.  But it seems like he talks a lot and says very little.  Hence he refuses to talk directly to Obama.  Jeeze, he wanted to ride in an airplane with him and go to town hall meetings?  Seriously?:

9:24 ~ Hit him with the regulation stuff, Obama!  Hard!

9:26 ~ Didn’t some one tell John to stop frickin’ laughing?  He looks like an idiot at best.

9:30 ~ Delving into obscura of military spending isn’t exactly the best method of looking strong on the economy.

9:33 ~ Both candidates are kind of dancing around the issue of what changes in their administration as a result of the economic crisis.  At least Obama talked about Iraq, finally.  John wants to take money out of our foreign aid.  We give less per capital to foriegn aid than any other industrial nation.

9:39 ~ I’m not sure there actually is a “Miss Congeniality” election within the Senate, is there?  And man, is it just sad to hear a person call themselves a maverick like McCain just did.  Holy crap does this sound desparate.

9:45 ~ John McCain will not look at Barack Obama at all.  If you recall, he fucking hates Obama.  And he’s getting pissed.  That’s not good for McCain.

9:48 ~ John McCain’s election law in Iraq?  Provincial elections.  Wow, that’s great.  I guess we’re almost done, so can we leave?

9:56 ~ Bomb, bomb, bomb.  Bomb, bomb McCain!!

9:59 ~ “About bombing Iran, and all that. . .”  Where is he going with this?  Sometimes he goes for war, some times he doesn’t?  Oh, here comes Wolfbourough, NE.  Bring out yer dead!

10:04 ~ When you repeat the question as an answer, it’s a stall, John.

10:09 ~ Ackmajinidinijuni. . . . .

10:13 ~ Spain!  You knew that had to come up.

10:14 ~ Um, John?  If you talk to insane people, they will insist that everyone who disagrees with their world view simply doesn’t understand.  “What Senator Obama doesn’t seem to understand is. . . ”  Watch yourself, there, Corky.

10:19 ~ Lack of Understanding Watch 2008 officially begins. . . . . nnnnnnnow. . . .

10:25 ~ My wife felt compelled to point out, and I have to say again, John McCain snickering and laughing with everything he disagrees with is not only not attractive, it’s not very presidential.  In fact, it looks a little sleazy.  It didn’t look good during the Republican debates and it looks even worse when he’s not facing dolts.

10:32 ~ Again with the understanding thing.  And what the hell is he talking about with SDI?  That was the biggest joke of the decade and began after nuclear talks began with the USSR.

10:35 ~ SDI!  I can’t believe it.  Remember Star Wars?  Obi Ron Kenobi?

10:38 ~ Fucking A, with the Vietnam shit.  POW!  POW! POW!


These Guys Don’t Like Each Other Much

Interestingly, the national news media has yet to delve into the personal problems between Barack Obama and John McCain much, even with the current dust-up over foreign policy so much in the news.  Sadly, in transitioning over to the new platform for DFE, I’ve lost my original article on the subject which includes a few links, but here is an after-the-fact article from the MSM about but one such argument.

The point is, this is going to be a long, hot summer in politics thanks to these two gentlemen’s personal long-standing contempt for one another.  More than that, the contempt has largely centered on McCain’s assertion that Obama was an inexperienced hack, the very same argument he’s now pushing as a campaign platform.


I dunno, I think setting about making your personal gripes the center of your public policy is bad form for anybody, but especially for the known hothead that is John McCain.  As for Obama, we’ve seen a fire and an aggression out of him in the last week that was previously unknown in the Democratic debates.  It will make for great theatre, but how long before this argument divorces itself from the reality of the issues facing our nation?

I’m sure the media is working on that angle right now.


Audience: Please Check Your Pitchforks at the Door

A poll conducted by Harris and commissioned by Research!America finds that 85% of Americans would like to see a science debate between the candidates for president, discussing the scientific means of solving our nation’s problems:

‘85% of Americans Want a Presidential Debate on Science’ by Science Debate 2008 –

WASHINGTON—May 12, 2008— A new poll (charts, pdf, 3.1mb) shows that 85% of U.S. adults agree that the presidential candidates should participate in a debate on how science can be used to tackle America’s major challenges. The poll found no difference between Democrats and Republicans on this question. A majority (84%) also agree that scientific innovations are improving our standard of living.

I was initially skeptical of this finding, but if Harris did the poll, then even with a margin of error (3.1), this is a strong showing for scientific discourse. One might make the argument that many of those people want to discuss science so they can have it discredited publicly. But I think the really important point here is not so much support for or rejection of science so much as it is a profound desire for intelligent discourse on issues that matter. This one poll – in a bubble, at least – suggests that people are genuinely interested in something more substantive than lapel pins and pastors for this year’s election.

In other words, George Steppenwolf need not apply.