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Democratic Debate in Las Vegas on Nov 15th – Performance Evaluation of Edwards, Obama and Clinton

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stevenleser Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 02:51 PM
Original message
Democratic Debate in Las Vegas on Nov 15th – Performance Evaluation of Edwards, Obama and Clinton
Edited on Sat Nov-17-07 03:01 PM by stevenleser
http://www.opednews.com/articles/opedne_steven_l_071117...
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
November 17, 2007
Democratic Debate in Las Vegas on Nov 15th – Performance Evaluation of Edwards, Obama and Clinton

By Steven Leser

With 47 days to the Iowa Caucuses, I spent a few days thinking about the performance of the top three Democrats in this last debate and what I thought each of them needed to show in the next and final debate in California on December 10th. In the interests of full disclosure, I am a supporter of John Edwards, but I have attempted to be honest and fair in my evaluations of all of the candidates.

In previous articles, I have expressed how I would support but be less than fully enthusiastic with a Hillary Clinton nomination. I made two main suggestions how she could help me be more enthusiastic about her nomination should it come about. I am somewhat surprised and gratified that she has done exactly what I thought she should do. I am not so arrogant to think that she did those things because I said she should. As far as I know, neither Senator Clinton nor any members of her campaign know that any of my articles or I exist. It just speaks to an awareness of political reality and an improved understanding of the reality of the lives of everyday Americans and of policies that hurt them. Specifically, I suggested in two articles on the candidates, http://opednews.com/maxwrite/manage.php?submit=view&sto... and http://opednews.com/articles/opedne_steven_l_070223_dem... that Senator Clinton take a look at the effects of NAFTA on American manufacturing and Labor and if she didn’t like what she saw, acknowledge that and come out for a new course on trade. Here is an excerpt from the debate on Nov. 15th from the Council on Foreign Relations website:

MR. BLITZER: All right.

Senator Clinton, all of us remember the big NAFTA debate when your husband was president of the United States, and a lot of us remember the debate between Al Gore, who was then vice president, and Ross Perot. Ross Perot was fiercely against NAFTA.

Knowing what we know now, was Ross Perot right? (Laughter.)

SEN. CLINTON: All I can remember from that is a bunch of charts. (Laughter.) That sort of is a vague memory.

Look, NAFTA did not do what many had hoped, and so we do need to take a look at it and we do need to figure out how we're going to have trade relations that are smart, that give the American worker and the American consumer rights around the world.

-------------------------------------------------------

That acknowledgement by Senator Clinton was very important for me. I have said many times that I supported NAFTA at the time and really wish I hadn’t. It did not turn out the way its Democratic supporters thought that it would. It has hurt many people and was the Coup de grâce for an already hurt US manufacturing sector. Hillary needs to keep letting people know that she is aware of those Republican AND Democratic policies that have been mistakes and have hurt people, particularly the middle class and she needs to further explain what changes she should make.

The other thing she has done since my February 23 article is she has worked to improve her ‘negative’ percentages. She and her campaign need to keep doing that. They need to be seen as kind and reaching out to people and running an inclusive and welcoming campaign. She could take a page out of Al Gore’s book and explain that she is running to be the President of “All of the people.”

Senator Clinton did very well in this debate. It was a big improvement from the last one and she handled criticism very well. What was a mistake was the “Boo birds” that her campaign planted in the crowd. First, she didn’t need to have them because as I said, she handled herself well and dealt with the attacks well, and second, it seemed to me a tactic born of weakness. If your opponents have legitimate issues to raise against you, and you cannot handle them on the stage and have to resort to planting people in the audience to boo your opponents, you have acknowledged your weakness on those issues.

It is particularly worrisome for the campaign of a Democratic candidate to do things like this in the contest for the Democratic nomination because attacks from fellow Democrats are lukewarm and milquetoast compared to what will come from Republicans in the general election. If you have to pull out tricks like these now to handle issues your opponents are raising, you are telling me that you will be in big trouble dealing with Republicans. No one should forget that these events are DEBATES. Your opponents are supposed to be telling people why they are better and more qualified than you are and they are supposed to be attacking your positions. That is why we have these events. Having your supporters sit in the audience and attempt to shout down your opponents (and in fact, the questioners in several instances) with boos when they do exactly what they are supposed to be doing defeats the entire purpose of having debates like these. I’m hoping we see no more of this in California. In fact, I think this debate makes a strong argument for not having a live audience that can attempt to bias the conduct and perception of the debate. What would be the procedure for vetting who gets in and from what campaign? This vetting cannot be done as I think this debate clearly shows.

Barack Obama did well in the debate but he is not risking nearly enough to show distinction between himself and Senator Clinton. He has to be more aggressive. He has to do a lot more to explain to people why he is a better choice. While he is at it, in the next debate he needs to cement in people’s minds why he is running for President in the first place. If I were Obama, I would go back to his book, Audacity of Hope and to his speech at the 2004 Democratic Convention. Use those sources for examples and ammunition to explain who he is, why he is different from Hillary and why he is running for President. Some of that comes out in answers to questions in the debates but not nearly enough.

Obama also needs to reach out and make amends to the GLBT community between now and the next debate because of having Donnie McClurkin sing at a campaign event http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/10/29/obamas-go... / . Because of that event, Barack’s message of hope and tolerance is not resonating with one of the most discriminated against segments of our society. If that isn’t ironic, I don’t know what is.

John Edwards handled himself very well and maintained his composure in the face of some interesting tactics by the Clinton campaign. I don’t think this last debate gained him any new supporters but I don’t think anyone stopped supporting Edwards because of the boo birds either. If anything, I think seeing Edwards and Obama booed by Clinton supporters would make either of their supporters less likely to bolt their camps for team Clinton. Edwards has to keep drawing distinctions between himself and Clinton but in the next debate, I would mentally separate the debate into three equal parts.

In the first part, I would seek to let people know his vision for America. In the second, I would emphasize the difference he has with Senator Clinton on the “most important” two issues; my suggestion would be the Iran vote, and Iraq. In the final third, I would concentrate on the area he is strongest, his empathy with the middle class and his understanding of middle class worries and issues and what he would to do address them.

Finally, Obama and Edwards should be prepared with supporters in the crowd. If Hillary’s supporters start booing again, they should retaliate in kind. I would prefer that no campaign do those kinds of things. When I think of underhanded campaign tactics, I think of Republicans as do most people and I think it best to allow that correct perception to continue. This campaign for the nomination is probably going to be all but decided two months/60 days from now. As Democrats, we need the best candidate possible to come out of that to ensure we can beat the Republicans and take back the White House. I’m looking forward to supporting that nominee. I hope it is Edwards, but I am feeling better about supporting any of the top three.
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mitchtv Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 02:58 PM
Response to Original message
1. Ohio Caucus?
you mean Iowa?
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stevenleser Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 03:00 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. Damn, thanks. Changing...
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stevenleser Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 03:03 PM
Response to Reply #1
3. I just can't help thinking about Ohio when I think about elections...
just like after 2000 I had Florida on the brain. Hopefully we will get a Democrat elected and those horrific memories will be partially expunged. I'll never completely forget, of course.
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creeksneakers2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 03:09 PM
Response to Original message
4. I don't believe the Clinton campaign had anything to do with
the boos. As far as anybody has been able to dig in, the crowd was made up of 100 undecided voters picked by groups that probably lean toward Edwards, 300 members of the media, and the rest of the 2000 seats divided up between students and faculty of UNLV and the state Democratic Party. Many in the state party support Clinton but nobody came up with anything yet that said one had to be a Clinton supporter to get a ticket. Tickets went to people who had juice. Nothing anywhere substantiates the unfounded accusations that Clinton encouraged anyone to boo.

Maybe the best answer is to remove the audience from the next debate.

My turn to give Edwards advice - Don't lie about Hillary and encourage your supporters not to make unsubstantiated accusations.
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stevenleser Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 03:16 PM
Response to Reply #4
5. It wouldnt matter what Edwards says, I write what I believe...
... and it doesnt take a rocket scientist to come up with what I think is the correct answer here. Hillary attacks Edwards? Silence. Hillary attacks Obama? Silence. Questioners ask pointed questions of Obama and Edwards? Silence. Questioners ask pointed questions of Hillary? Boos. Obama attacks Hillary? Boos. Edwards attacks Hillary? Boos.

You want to try again?
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stevenleser Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 03:26 PM
Response to Reply #4
6. And in terms of "Lying" lets take a look at one of his accusations that caused Boos
SEN. EDWARDS: It's absolutely fair. But -- (applause) -- it's absolutely fair for people to learn from their experience and grow and mature and change. Anybody who's not willing to change based on what they learn is ignorant, and everybody ought to be willing to do that.

That's not what I'm saying. I'm saying there's a difference between that and saying exact -- saying two contrary things at exactly the same time. I mean, for example, just over the course of the last week, Senator Clinton said in Washington that she would vote for the Peru trade deal -- (boos) -- and she said in Iowa, talking to union members, that she wanted a moratorium on trade deals.
--------------------------------------------------------

Are you saying that what Edwards said here isn't true? Should I post some of his other accusations that got booed so we can evaluate them as well?
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lyonn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 03:31 PM
Response to Reply #6
7.  I am enjoying this debate between you and Creeksneakers
Not hostile, just opinions and some facts.
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creeksneakers2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 03:55 PM
Response to Reply #6
10. Edwards came out of the box with negative attacks
Edited on Sat Nov-17-07 03:57 PM by creeksneakers2
Edwards started out with a general statement about the need to restore trust. The audience cheered and that was fine. Edwards then went on with a speech about how he could be trusted but Hillary couldn't and after that went on awhile the booing started. Edwards turned the audience against himself and never got them back. They booed his attacks after that.

The Peru deal charge didn't just bother the crowd. Even Kucinich brought up John's positions on trade with China. Edwards said China should be included in the WTO. People in the audience could see what a finger pointing hypocrite Edwards is and they booed him. I'm glad they saw him for what he is.
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stevenleser Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 04:03 PM
Response to Reply #10
11. So, now you are saying he didnt lie, but he is a hypocrite...
Ignoring for a moment that you have changed your story, is Obama a hypocrite too, and is that the reason HE was booed? How about the questioner that was booed? Was he/she a hypocrite too? Why was no one booed when they attacked anyone other than Hillary?

Face it, you cannot spin away what happened here. The more you try, the more ridiculous the arguments become and the more obvious I am right.

Hillary's campaign planted people in the audience who booed when anyone attacked her. The best option for her supporters is not dig the hole deeper by attempting to spin this away.
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creeksneakers2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 04:22 PM
Response to Reply #11
12. I never said Edwards didn't lie.
Edited on Sat Nov-17-07 04:24 PM by creeksneakers2
Although I didn't catch any lies by Edwards during the debate itself. An example of an Edwards lie is his smear that Hillary screens her audiences and screens all her questions. That reminds me. Edwards was booed when he made that cheap shot joke about questions being planted.

I'd like to see film of the booing against Obama. I thought Obama fought a clean fight and came out ahead. If you could help me find film I'd appreciate it. I also didn't catch booing over a question.

I watched the debate on my computer while I was doing other stuff. I didn't see or hear all that well and could have missed other boos.
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stevenleser Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 04:29 PM
Response to Reply #12
13. Here is the transcript with some of the boos listed
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creeksneakers2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 05:48 PM
Response to Reply #13
14. Thanks a lot for the link. I've been looking for a transcript
From what I could read, all of the candidates got lots of applause, including Edwards. According to the transcript no candidates were booed except Edwards and Kucinich. The transcript doesn't indicate a crowd that gave all their applause just to Hillary or who booed everything Edwards said on cue.

Kucinich was booed when he called Edwards a trial lawyer. If the audience was stacked against Edwards, it doesn't make sense that the booed when Edwards was attacked.

There were two incidents of Edwards being booed.

Here he suggests Clinton is a corporate Democrat and likened her to a corporate Republican, an insult:

"I spoke earlier about the difference between corporate Democrats and corporate Republicans and how critical it is for us to give the power in the democracy back to the American people so we can give a better life to our children, as 20 generations before us have done.

And my point is, some of us have taken a different approach to that. Senator Clinton defends the system, takes money from lobbyists, does all those things. And my point is simply that people have" -- (chorus of boos)

Here Edwards suggests that his changes of positions are OK but its different when Clinton does it because her changes are close together and therefore not genuine. The audience perceives this as Edwards using a different standard for Hillary than he does for himself:

MR ROBERTS: But Senator, you have changed your position on several issues. You were for the Yucca Mountain nuclear repository before you were against it. You were for the Iraq war before you were against it. People change their positions. If it's fair for you to change your position, is it not fair for her to change hers? (Applause.)

SEN. EDWARDS: It's absolutely fair. But -- (applause) -- it's absolutely fair for people to learn from their experience and grow and mature and change. Anybody who's not willing to change based on what they learn is ignorant, and everybody ought to be willing to do that.

That's not what I'm saying. I'm saying there's a difference between that and saying exact -- saying two contrary things at exactly the same time. I mean, for example, just over the course of the last week, Senator Clinton said in Washington that she would vote for the Peru trade deal -- (boos)

A question from Mr Roberts that sounded like it was directed toward Hillary was booed. That was an audience reaction to all the focus being placed on Hillary. Roberts calmed the crowd by promising the question was for somebody else.

I looked at Obama on You Tube and only found two videos. There was jeering in one video, but it didn't occur until the question about health care kept going back and forth between Clinton and Obama, and there were interruptions and two talking at once. The audience, like in the other incident had a hostile reaction to too much of the debate centering on Hillary. That's understandable after the farce Russert ran as the last debate.

When I look at the whole thing it looks much more like the journalists and bloggers described it - hostile reactions to negative campaigning. That's a much simpler and more likely explanation than one that includes a big conspiracy.

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mitchtv Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 03:33 PM
Response to Original message
8. Undecided, but trend to Edwards
But I think he went a little too far. As a Democrat he got real close to calling Sen Clinton corrupt. I object to this tone of debate. After what I saw in California with Steve Westley and Phil Angelides,for governor campaign; my tolerance is pretty low for lowbrow campaigning.Obama seemed pathetic.
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Inspired Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 03:41 PM
Response to Original message
9. Audience participation should not be allowed...period.
I attended the debate held in Des Moines. We would have been removed from the audience if we had shown that type of reaction to any of the candidates. There were clear rules stated before the debate started by George Stephanopolous. We were told to hold our applause until the end. Our job as the audience was to create an environment that allowed for an unbiased view by the TV public.

Before the debate there were sign wars. It was nuts!

After the debate there were post debate parties and rallies. It was very exciting!

During the debate there was respect for all of the candidates.

That is how a debate should be done.
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Reno.Muse Donating Member (307 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 09:08 PM
Response to Original message
15. Edwards is the main one. He's for the little guy and gal, most progressive.
And he did handle himself well in spite of Hillary's whining and bumbersticker slogan yapping.

Go Edwards!
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