Friday, February 22, 2008

Clinton/ Obama debate

I watched my first debate of the political season this year, tuning in to the Clinton/ Obama debate.

The debate was in Austin, about a mile from my office, and Jason and Jamie made me watch it instead of watching basketball or something involving Superman.

I haven't read any post-game analysis yet, but a few things are pretty obvious to me. Both front-runners for the Democrats hold very similar viewpoints, and its going to come down to how you think they should go about approaching their goals rather than what goals they're considering in order to make a selection. This means that you're talking a few degrees of separation in policy the two are advocating. Which means a lot is going to come down to a gut or emotional reaction to the two.

Congrats to both candidates for, at no time, attempting an awkward "howdy, ya'll!"

Both agreed on the basics of getting the uninsured insured, border fences (and I wasn't particularly blown away by either candidates' approach on that one), major points on Iraq and that George Bush has dug a hole they believe they're going to have to climb out of.

So, once again, you're left with a gut reaction. While Obama lacks national-stage political experience, its tough to point to Clinton's national-stage political experience without noting on whose coattails she rode to get there. Both have worked on legislation which is appealing to a lefty like myself. Both have voted for some things that leave me unimpressed.

Them's the brakes.

So left to gut feelings about twenty years of Bush/ Clinton rule of the White House, its appealing to want to go to the unknown factor. But I'm not sure Obama has the political experience or clout to move things through, just as I'm not sure that a Clinton in the White House wouldn't re-mobilize the GOP and make sure Clinton was unable to pass a single initiative in four years. No one is sure what would happen with Obama in the White House. He could start dressing as a crazed Admiral and firing cannons from the roof of the White House for all I know.

I'll tell you one thing that drives me berserk about Clinton: The smirk

I'm not sure why nobody has not spoken to Clinton about this, but sitting next to your opponent and smirking while he answers is really... unbecoming. It's kind of like the "heh, heh, heh!" that Bush has become famous for. Or Gore's wandering around the stage during the debates.

Anyhow, I can't tell if she's thinking "I've got this sucker on the ropes", if that's some nervous tick, or if she's remembering last night's episode of Venture Bros. But, seriously... Senator Clinton. I implore you. Stop it.

Now, while waiting for Clinton to finish her thoughts, Obama does this weird "I'm a Vulcan" bit, where he presses his fingers together and tries to look serene. Not annoying, but... I guess it's inappropriate to be texting friends or playing with the cover-flow feature on your iPod when your opponent is speaking. I'm fairly ADD, so I know in either of their places, I'd be making faces or, when the moderator wanted me to respond, I'd say "Wha-...? Can you repeat that whole last thing you just said?" and then go off on a tangent about a jet-pack in every household.

Otherwise, I thought both did a great job, even when I didn't necessarily agree with them.

I didn't hear much on education aside from some perfunctory opening statements.

I guess I'd now be willing to watch McCain and Huckabee debate, but I'm not sure there's a point until McCain is up against his Democratic opponent later this year.

I'd also like to salute them for their basic collegiality. There weren't any low-blows. The one moment where Hilary took a dig at Obama, I sort of felt fell back into karmic balance when she alluded to Bill's indiscretions. I grew to really, really dislike the political process during the past few years, and last night's debate made me feel a wee bit better about the whole thing.

We'll see what happens when it gets down to the GOP/ Dem debates, but I believe McCain is basically sane and decent, even when I disagree with the guy. So I'm not foreseeing anything too ugly. And, hey... I could be convinced. Let's see what McCain's got.

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