Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Reflections on the Debate (Philadelphia)- no. 3


If only it were so. Very early in the 10/31/07 Democratic Presidential debate sponsored by MSNBC, Senator Obama charged "and Senator Clinton, in her campaign, I think has been for NAFTA previously. Now she’s against it. She has taken one position on torture several months ago, and then most recently has taken a different position..."

Actually, although Senator Clinton, eager to have unions either endorse her or forego endorsing the more economically-progressive Obama or Edwards, has expressed some misgivings about the North American Free Trade Agreement, but has not opposed it. She still supports the NAFTA, negotiated in her husband's administration, despite the serious cost in American jobs.

But at least the Illinois Senator found his voice in criticizing the frontrunner. More aggressive, and effective, in doing so, was John Edwards. Soon after Obama's comments, Edwards explained


Let me talk a little bit about what I see as the choice the voters have. I think that from my perspective, President Bush over the last seven years has destroyed the trust relationship America and its president. In fact, I think he has destroyed the trust relationship between the president of the United States and the rest of the world.

I think it is crucial for Democratic voters and caucus-goers to determine who they can trust, who’s honest, who is sincere, who has integrity.

EDWARDS: And I think it’s fair in that regard to look at what people have said. Senator Clinton says that she believes she can be the candidate for change, but she defends a broken system that’s corrupt in Washington, D.C.

She says she will end the war, but she continues to say she’ll keep combat troops in Iraq and continue combat missions in Iraq.

To me, that’s not ending the war, that’s a continuation of the war.

She says she’ll stand up to George Bush on Iran. She just said it again. And, in fact, she voted to give George Bush the first step in moving militarily on Iran—and he’s taken it. Bush and Cheney have taken it. They have now declared the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization and a proliferator of weapons of mass destruction.

EDWARDS: I think we have to stand up to this president.

And then, finally, she said in our last debate that she was against any changes on Social Security—benefits, retirement aid, or raising the cap on the Social Security tax—but apparently, it’s been reported that she said privately something different than that.

And I think the American people, given this historic moment in our country’s history, deserve a president of the United States that they know will tell them the truth, and won’t say one thing one time and something different at a different time.

RUSSERT: You stand behind the word “doubletalk”?

EDWARDS: I do.


Later in the debate, without a hint of embarrassment, Governor Richardson actually stated "you know what I’m hearing here? I’m hearing this holier than thou attitude towards Senator Clinton that—it’s bothering me because it’s pretty close to personal attacks that we don’t need. Do we trust her? Do we—did she take money from special interests?"

What we "don't need," Senator, is a candidate loathe to give clear answers to penetrating questions. Nor a candidate basing her run on experience while discouraging release of papers which would help the Democratic electorate evaluate that experience. Nor for that matter do we need a dark-horse candidate whose comment suggests that he is more interested in being nominated for Vice-President or Secretary of State than for President.

What we do need, Governor, are challengers who question the frontrunner. Perhaps if Senator Edwards had done so 3-4 years ago, he would have been nominated, would have won the election, and would have spared us the Presidency of another man who believes that a leader should not be questioned.

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