Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Contrasting Styles At Democratic Debate

Despite the nature of last night's Democratic debate in Charleston, South Carolina, there were these moments of substance:

Senator Obama, in an obvious swipe at Senator Clinton: "...but what I also know is that the time for us to ask how we were going to get out of Iraq is before we went in." After the Illinois Senator commented further, followed by applause, did Anderson Cooper question Mrs. Clinton about the remark? "To the question of, did the troops- Are the troops dying in vain, though. Yes or no?" (Generously, we can call that "conflict-averse"; not so generously, more conspiratorily, that Cooper did not want to press Clinton on Obama's big issue, that he is the one Senator on stage who voted against authorizing the war.)

Former Senator Edwards on gay marriage in a response to Reverend Longcrier: "But I personally have been on a journey on this issue. I feel enormous conflict about it. As I think a lot of people know... my wife Elizabeth... actually supports gay marriage. I do not. But this is a very, very difficult issue for me. And I recognize and have enormous respect for people who have a different view of it." John, we know you are thoughtful. And conflicted. And respectful of the opinions of others, especially those of your wife. That, in the minds of many voters, is what separates Democrats from Republicans. Republicans seem so self-assured- or arrogant. The "no apologies" party. The "Daddy Party." Try this, given your views. "I support full partnership benefits for everyone, regardless of sexual preference, how they were born, fully assured of God's love. But I believe marriage is between a man and a woman and do not support legalizing gay marriage."

But John Edwards had what I believe was the best, most meaningful moment of the debate, contrasting himself to Clinton and Obama: "And the question is, do you believe compromise, triangulation will bring about big change? I don't. I think the people who are powerful in Washington- big insurance companies, big drug companies, big oil companies- they are notgoing to negotiate. They are not going to give away their power. The only way that they are going to give away their power is if we take it away from them."

And you know I can't get through a blog of this sort without criticizing Hillary Clinton. Rob Porter from Irvine, California asked Mrs. Clinton "would you use this word (liberal) to define yourself?" After taking 194 words to describe herself as "a modern progressive," Clinton was asked by Cooper "So you wouldn't use the word "liberal," you'd say progressive?" HRC nodded, to applause.
How about this, Senator? "Yes, I am a liberal. I'm in favor of clean air, clean water, and national parks we all are proud of, despite assaults from special interests. I'm in favor of good wages for all Americans, and distressed at the record high of mortgage foreclosures we've recently seen in our country. I'm in favor of equal opportunity- not necessarily equal outcomes- for everyone, regardless of race, religion, or gender. And I'm in favor of a leader who is strong enough to pursue diplomacy first, to talk with our enemies when necessary so our people are safe and secure, and to resort to war not as a first, but as a last, option. And I'll be that President starting January 21, 2009."
But embracing the word "liberal" requires courage.

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