Democratic Debate in Myrtle Beach

January 17, 2008

Here are the notes I made while watching the Dem debate on CNN.

6:52 p.m. Jack Cafferty’s reading a letter from Prosperity, South Carolina. There’s a lot of letter-reading on these cable news-man shows. The content is never addressed, just recited like it was fourth grade English class.

6:54 p.m. First “Clean Coal” commercial. AARP card commercial; same old dude playing golf, hiking, going to the theater, the beach, all with his AARP card in hand.

6:57 p.m. CNN bit on bad versions of the “Star-Spangled Banner” from the campaign trail. Not even the campaign anymore, now it’s like she youtubed some funny videos from hockey games and is just running it to flesh out the fact that there are only two actual videos from the campaign trail: one of Hillary singing off-key and one of a little girl getting the words wrong. Wait, that is shat she’s doing. What the fuck?

Shh. Lou Dobbs. Talking about Bill Clinton as Hillary’s “attack dog.” Clip of Clyburn saying Clinton “needs to chill.” Some ten-second clips from Obama’s Hilary’s, and Edwards’s MLK comments. Hillary saying “get it done.” Obama sounding boring and rhetorical. Edwards sounding like a whiner.

7:07 p.m. Bill Snyder: “Hillary is the ‘where’s the beef’ Democrat. Obama is the ‘new menu’ Democrat.” What?

Lou Dobbs just congratulated white people because some of them voted for Obama. Seriously.

7:11 p.m. Lou Dobbs is talking to some fat woman with red hair (Candy Crowley) who keeps talking about conference calls she gets from the campaigns. This woman’s insane. Edwards is the “counter-programming campaign.” Awkward misunderstanding between correspondent and Dobbs. “All things are possible in politics, Lou.” Lou’s hair’s looking pretty sweet these days. Crawl: “Former President Clinton and GOP…” Fuck! I missed it.

7:15 p.m. Obama commercial. Lawrence Tribe. Claire McCaskill. Clips from the 2004 DNC speech that got us all into bed with him in the first place.

7:16 p.m. Cisco “Human Network” commercial with that kid who’s in the Peace Corps or something? Cleaning up Katrina? Who knows. They have HD-TV and Cisco Telepresence, wherever it is.

7:17 p.m. Lou Dobbs. Drug smuggling violence from Mexico. Same old song. Crawl: Hillary endorsed by Calvin Butts. Crawl: New Zealanders mourn Sir Edmund Hillary. Crawl: Sunday bombings in Bhutan after they announced first ever general elections. Dobbs still talking about Mexican border agents. An agent was killed attempting to stop a Hummer that was rushing the border. Crawl: Zambia loses power across nation for the 2nd time in 3 days.

7:41 p.m. Dobbs on the coming recession. GW says we’ll be “just fine” if something something happens.

John King from FL. Giuliani’s tour bus on the track at Daytona. Giuliani is getting really deep into his defensive crouch: McCain does this, I don’t. Romney did this, I did it better. None of the other candidates’ tax plans are as visionary as mine. He looks like a low-level schoolyard goon who’s suddenly lost the big boys at his shoulders. Hey, I was a big deal once, I talked to important people, about important things. NYC-abandonment issues. He’s out there in some dopey town in Florida running against a bunch of geriatrics, Sunday school teachers, and copy toner salesmen, and all he can think about is a time when he still felt the power between his legs. Most New Yorkers are probably embarrassed by the connection these days.

Not upstate, though. In Saratoga Springs, NY, the wealthy horse-racing enclave just north of Albany, Giuliani has raised $72,000, according to the Washington Post. (The next closest candidate is Obama, with about $6K.)

8:02 p.m. Wolf Blitzer introducing the candidates. (Hillary’s shorter than Blitzer!) The front-runners—Obama, Edwards, and Clinton—are out on stage, and…they’ve stopped introducing anyone. They’re just out there, waving at the crowd and being greeted by VIPs. (I think they’re VIPs; CNN is just rolling on with the commentary.) Where the fuck is everyone else? No Kucinich or Gravel. I’m probably late on this train; I haven’t been watching the debates. But Kucinich and Gravel are definitely still in it. Good thing CNN had that youtube debate; the uneducated observer might be inclined to think they’re out of touch.

8:08 p.m. Hillary: “We have to stimulate the economy.” Moratorium on home foreclosures. Interest rate freeze for 5 years (?!). “Green collar jobs” based around environmentally-friendly development. Good idea but she didn’t really do anything more than mention it.

Obama: March on Washington was “for jobs as well as justice.” Ragging on Bush…why do that? Why run against President Bush? It doesn’t make any sense. Where were you in 2005?

Clinton thinks $650 is a good amount for a tax rebate. Blitzer seems to think it’s pretty cool. These first anwers seem to be MLK show-and-tell time. Clinton brought up his birthday, then Obama went into the March, now Edwards whips out his knowledge that the campaign MLK was working on when he died “was—it was for garbage workers, actually, in Memphis.”

8:18 p.m. The format is actually better than it has been in previous years. It seems like there’s more opportunity for response, more chance to call “bullshit.” Even on the ridiculous VMA set CNN has set up, even with all the commercials and crawls and distractions, there’s a structure there that could do some good in the right hands.

Clinton, in reaction to Obama asserting that she had wrongly criticized his record of support on the war, keeps saying “our criticism was actually about this,” “our criticism was related to your actions and…” You’d think she’d want to distance herself from her husband a bit more, but she’s all about it.

8:28 p.m. Obama and Clinton are scrumming. Edwards looks a little lame on the side of all this. It seems interesting on the surface. They keep bringing up all this shit from each other’s past about Hillary on the board of Wal-Mart, Obama representing slumlords, etc. Edwards benefits from a lot of it. Weird.

8:33 p.m. So Joe Johns asks the questions, then Blitzer manages the responses. But after the first response, he asks his own questions. Who’s moderating? Who’s guiding the debate? Blitzer or Johns?

9:00 p.m.Clinton’s going to the mat for health care and she doesn’t want to put band-aids on our problems. It’s sort of Edwards-Clinton v. Obama. Or, more likely, Clinton-Edwards. Getting kind of old.

9:04 p.m. Question: In light of recent progress in Iraq, would your goal be to merely end the war or win it? Question: John McCain said the surge is working. Why do you think McCain is wrong?

9:10 p.m. Candidate smoke break. More clean coal bullshit.

9:15 p.m. Setting up for the “no rules” portion. Set starting to resemble “LoveLine.”

9:34 p.m. Clinton: I’m reminded of one of my heroes, Frederick Douglass…who printed in his newspaper, The North Star, in upstate NY…Why doesn’t she say Rochester? Why doesn’t Clinton talk about poverty in Buffalo and tell stories of her own personal experiences fighting poverty in her “home” state like Obama and Edwards? It’s because she doesn’t have any.

9:48 p.m. Edwards just referred to Clinton and Obama as “these two guys.” Asserted that he could compete against a John McCain candidacy more effectively than Clinton or Obama. Didn’t entirely fail to dissuade the notion that it was because he’s a white dude.

10:01 p.m. Well, they danced around this horse shit all night, but here it is: the MLK endorsement. “If Dr. King were alive today, why do you think he’d endorse you?”

Gimme a break.

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