While I was out and about early voting today, Bill and Barack were down the block. Well not exactly. Bill was on the stump for Clinton in downtown Fort Worth, while Barack’s people were opening headquarters within walking distance, in a tiny space that shouted economy as you approached it. After signing up for volunteer work on Wednesday prior to Obama's rally (first one) in Fort Worth Thursday, I went home and watched the (last) debate between these two opponents.
They Began by Talking Health
It was the first 16 minutes of the debate about something that has not yet materialized: UHC, or universal health care, or whatever acronym will evolve from the next administration, that some have criticized. Why go on about fighting for the people over something they have not yet won FOR the people?
Tim Played the Wright Card
Tim Russert hosting alongside Brian Williams (MSNBC) asked about the connection between Obama’s Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Minister Farrakhan. He said that he has denounced Farrakhan in the past strongly and did not invite nor accept his help or endorsement. He went so far as to say that one cannot censor another person and keep them from saying that "you're a great guy." Censor is a dirty word among liberals no doubt. But come on people, domestically we have bigger fish to fry than whose church one attends.
To make the situation worse, Clinton chimes in with her two cents even though nobody asked her. She quickly began to recount her experience in New York with a party that was strongly Anti-Semitic in of all places New York. This interjection brought out the “look at me” side of Hillary. She said that she roundly rejected them and their position. She indicated that rejection was stronger than denouncing. Obama deflected this arrow by agreeing and then said that if rejection is stronger than denouncing (laughter from audience) then he will both “reject and denounce” Minister Farrakhan’s stance on Judaism. There was applause for this agreement.
Question posed: Who circulated the “dressed” photo of Obama wearing traditional Kenyan garb? Clinton disavowed any knowledge of the photo and Obama took her word for it. But haven’t we all done this when visiting foreign countries? I know I have. Religious arguments will get us all in trouble rather than together. People will be quick to use the h-word and no one will get anywhere when pejoratives such as heretic, atheist, and Muslim (as dirty word) are thrown around. If I were a practicing Muslim I would be not be happy with that characterization.
Did Clinton Talk Herself Out of the VP Slot?
That was the question that I went in wanting to know. And if you don’t have what I call “high cable” access, then you were unable to watch this debate and get your own questions answered. She may not have talked away the VP slot but she may have walked away from the VP slot. Why? Because she said that she is a fighter, over and over again. Thus I found my title for this piece. The Democrats don’t need “Scrappy” Senator Clinton fighting their Obama “Hope” President.
There are, to be sure, many issues and questions that yet remained unanswered. The biggest ones are domestic: economy, manufacturing jobs, schools, energy and immigration readily come to mind. Many advocate charter schools. I have the credentials to open my own charter school. But they have not proven to be more effective than lousy regular public schools. Why? Mostly because they have a hell of a lot less money to work with. The students who populate these schools are typically more at risk than those in public schools. There are really no easy answers to these and to immigration issues.
Hillary is Neither a Bitch nor a Witch
Hillary has said that she has no crystal ball, and does not make predictions when asked in an interview. I think that has been her problem, clearly, as I like to say, clearly Clinton’s problem. She did not see the Iraq quagmire “bus-in-the-ditch” war coming, nor did she see a Kennedy-style political machine rolling down the road equipped to bulldoze the competition into the ditch, to borrow a phrase from Obama.
She only invoked Bill’s name once. But NAFTA has finally become an issue on the debate table. The Clintons need to answer for it. And someone needs to kill NAFTA and the ethanol cow, while they’re at it, before both consume the consumers.
Will She Step Aside in the Near Future?
Maybe Hillary needs help on this one from her campaign advisors. Hopefully, one of them has more vision than their fearless leader. Why? Because she has already stated that she does not have the capacity for looking down the road, for making predictions. That is what success in modern life is all about, I believe. This is what Obama has banked on when taking the pulse of the people and bringing them back to believing in hope and change. The Aquarian Age represents change brought about by its symbol of two wires which have connected the whole world at the speed of light and sound. It is no coincidence that Obama is a Leo (opposite) — the sign of leadership and vision. Information in this age is transmitted over long distances in an instant means power to see the past and present, and to make informed decisions about the future.
Showdown or Backdown?
Obama was sitting on the same side of the round table that Clinton sat on when she offered heart-felt conciliatory words and sincere tone to close Austin’s debate. Tonight was Obama's turn. He rose to the occasion and paid Clinton a fair compliment. Clinton went to the gender “sea change” argument and won applause on that line. But Obama did not go there in terms of race. He did not and should not say that he would be more historic or represent greater change as the first black president. Rather he argued that he could create coalitions (transcend, if you will) race, gender, age, classes in his presidency.
Niceties aside, Obama did not parse words when it came to clarifying his strong stance on Iraq and his specific warnings about U.S. involvement there. He was taking direct aim at McCain while sitting next to Clinton. He seemed to be speaking to her, rebutting her, but resolving the audience that we were watching the nominee. He drove home the point that to “equate experience with longevity” has not worked in foreign policy in the Bush administration. And when Senator Dodd endorsed Senator Obama today he humbly mentioned that very thing, he said something to the effect: "look where touting experience got me: 1% polling." Good man, good endorsement.
Who Won the Debate?
I think that this last fork in the road was carefully managed by both candidates. The sky did not open up, there were no celestial choirs cheering at the end of this debate, but it ended just the same. Clinton from the first debate established herself as a debating fool, the one to beat. Obama has, at this last debate, grown in the role of debater (he’ll need it against McCain) and in the eyes of voters as the one to vote for. With conservative talking heads and GOP regulars goading undecided voters and regular Democrats into choosing Clinton, Obama still needs to win the next four state primaries.