Thursday, April 26, 2007

First Democratic Debate Shows Candidate Strength

There have rarely been as many strong candidates for one party's presidential nomination as the Democrats have this election cycle. The MSNBC-broadcast debate between (alphabetically) Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Chris Dodd, John Edwards, Mike Gravel, Dennis Kusinich, Barack Obama, and Bill Richardson. Sure, the names that lead the pack, Clinton, Obama, and maybe Edwards, look to be building their lead as opposed to the rest of the field. But what surprised me -- aside from the fantastic entertainment value of Mike Gravel (and he did say some true stuff regarding "politics as usual") -- was how unified the field was. It will be interesting to see how that unity does as the campaign wears on, considering that (after all) the candidates are trying to defeat one another while not being so mean about it that they leave potential Dem voters sick of the whole thing.

For this bluechristian, I found the big plus to be their relentless focus on Bush's stubborn, ill-advised, and lethal (for Americans and Iraqis) policies in Iraq and the so-called "war on terror."

The big minus? It is unavoidable, of course, but the chest-thumping by everyone (except Kucinich and Gravel) about how they'd be so willing to be manly men about pursing lethal means in response to any "terrorism" on American soil. Even my man Obama's worst moment was the one where he, too, joined the overall fray to be sufficiently warlike to achieve manhood. I groan.

My second beef? The Dems on abortion sound like a broken record. Once again, a complete lack of imagination on their part collectively. Heck, as Feminists for Life observed recently, a technological advance that allowed a pregnant woman to very early on become "unpregnant" yet also created an artificial womb-like environment to safegard the human fetus in question would completely reshape the abortion controversy. Pro-lifers -- the ones at least that, like their pro-choice counterparts, are without imagination -- would probably refuse to recognize the fact, much as many among them also fail to realize the fact of global warming. But pro-choicers, those who (quite properly!) often also promote solar energy, wind power, and other alternatives to the nasty petroleum / carbon nexus, seem completely unable to leave their "womens' choice equals legalized infanticide" box. Come on, people! As I say, a complete failure of imagination.

My third beef? This was provoked by MSNBC's commentators blabbing after the debate. I am SICK of hearing how Hillary Clinton comes off "sharply" in comparison to the other (MALE!) candidates. We have a serious double-standard here, folks. If she was a man, who would call her "sharp"? No one. What sexist idiocy. She has to play along of course, and the MSNBC commentators graded her performance sufficiently behaved "until near the end." Look, if someone wants to compare Obama's ease, communication skills, and overall "presence" to Hillary, fair enough. I think he is a magnificent orator as well as very fast on his feet. Hillary is also quick, but without that startling -- even to someone who as a Chicagoan is somewhat used to him -- Obama articulation. But lay off the sexism. Really.

It's early. And we'll soon get a look at the Republican crew, who I suspect will take a page from the Democratic playbook to target the Dems instead of one another...

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