Friday, November 16, 2007

What Happens in Vegas....

Most post-debate political commentators focused on the fireworks last night between presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama during the start of the CNN Democratic fracas in Las Vegas, but the real "gotcha" moment came near the end of the debate.

Clinton: I do not want to fix the problems of Social Security on the backs of middle class families and seniors. If you lift the cap completely, that is a $1 trillion tax increase. I don't think we need to do that.

Obama: Hillary, I've heard you say this is a trillion dollar tax on the middle class by adjusting the cap. Understand that only 6 percent of Americans make more than $97,000 -- so 6 percent is not the middle class-- it's the upper class.

And you know, this is the kind of thing that I would expect from Mitt Romney or Rudy Giuliani-- where we start playing with the numbers..... No, no, no, no, no. This is too important.

Hillary, looking like a deer caught in the headlights, was rescued by a favorable audience who hooted, even booed, any of her opponents who dared catch the Queen in parse, or fudging mode.

And, that was the biggest problem with this debate. It was conducted like a high school football game complete with cheers and unruly fans, and Clinton was the home team. The visiting team was Obama, while John Edwards, Joe Biden, Bill Richardson and Chris Dodd were the sidelined second-stringers, and Dennis Kucinich the ignored water boy.

Referee Wolf Blitzer lost control of the debate at the git-go when Clinton and Obama scrapped like cats in a bag, ignoring Blitzer's attempts to redirect the action. It set the tone for a rowdy night. When cornered on her record, like her vote recently to support Bush on his Iran policy, or Edwards' accusation that she is a corporate Democrat, Clinton stiff-armed with accusations of "mud slinging."

Biden gave his usual strong performance on foreign policy.... instead of giving Bush the Clintonian wink-and-a-nod on his Iran ambitions, he revealed that he told The Decider privately that if he went to war against Iran he would move to impeach him. Kucinich unsuccessfully tried an impeachment maneuver in the House last week.... but, such a threat from a no-nonsense Biden is a different matter.

Biden also scored on the issue of Supreme Court appointments, and Roe vs. Wade as settled law, saying that he would "not appoint anyone who did not understand that Section 5 of the 14th Amendment and the Liberty Clause of the 14th Amendment provided a right to privacy."

It's difficult to watch Richardson debate. He seems to have some difficulty expressing himself, so he tries to make up for this with continuous expansive gestures as he tries to articulate. It seemed at any moment he would take flight.

While Hillary won the "supporters in the audience" edge, she lost the "sartorial splendor" award. Hillary.... ditch that "asbestos" Tinky-Winky-designed pantsuit. Truly, what was worn in Vegas should stay in Vegas.

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