Let me start reading where I left off last night and pick out what interests me.
Obama is asked "what are America's three most important allies around the world?" He throws in so much extra material that he gets around to naming two: the European Union and Japan. A follow-up question is asked: "I didn't hear you mention Israel, and I ask because there is a quote attributed to your name. You said recently, 'No one is suffering more than the Palestinian people.' Do you stand by that remark?" Answer:
Well, keep in mind what the remark actually, if you had the whole thing, said.What the remark said. There's that remark, talking away, and I'm over here, so I guess you can say I'm standing by it. Standing by, watching with amazement, wondering what that darned remark will come out with next.
But in his next sentence, he takes ownership of the remark:
And what I said is nobody has suffered more than the Palestinian people from the failure of the Palestinian leadership to recognize Israel, to renounce violence, and to get serious about negotiating peace and security for the region.And:
Israel has been one of our most important allies around the world. It's the only established democracy in the Middle East. It's the linchpin of much of our efforts in the Middle East.Has been? So it "has been" an important ally, but it "is" a "linchpin" of our "efforts."
Hillary Clinton is asked about Giuliani's statement that "the Democrats do not understand the full nature and scope of the terrorist war against us," and "America will be safer with a Republican president." She responds with what looks like her favorite debate move: say the current President is a failure.
We haven't secured our borders, our ports, our mass transit systems. You can go across this country and see so much that has not been done. The resources haven't gotten to the front lines where decisions are made in local government the way that they need to. And I think that this administration has consistently tried to hype the fear without delivering on the promise of making America safer. And its foreign policy around the world, as you've heard from all of my colleagues here, has also made the world less stable, which, of course, has a ripple effect with respect to what we're going to face in the future. So I hope that we can put that myth to rest. It is certainly something I will try to do during the campaign.There is absolutely nothing there about why she would do a better job as the next President, and we were just reminded of Giuliani. Who do you want to trust, Clinton or Giuliani? That's the question. She gives not one shred of a reason here to go with her. Is there some way she would secure our borders and ports better than he would? Picture her standing at a debate next to Giuliani a year and a half from now. That's what you ought to do if you're trying to pick the best Democratic candidate. Is she the one you Democrats want standing there?
There's a "show of hands" question: "Do you believe there is such a thing as a global war on terror?" Kucinich doesn't raise his. I don't bother to read his explanation.
Let's read something important. Obama is asked "how would you change the U.S. military stance overseas" if there were another attack on two American cities and we knew "beyond a shadow of a doubt" that al Qaida did it:
Well, the first thing we'd have to do is make sure that we've got an effective emergency response, something that this administration failed to do when we had a hurricane in New Orleans.The first thing he thinks of is Katrina. Bush failed there, don't you know. Think fast, Senator. It's another 9/11! What is the military response? Show us you can think like a Commander in Chief:
And I think that we have to review how we operate in the event of not only a natural disaster, but also a terrorist attack.So the military response is: think and talk.
The second thing is to make sure that we've got good intelligence, a., to find out that we don't have other threats and attacks potentially out there, and b., to find out, do we have any intelligence on who might have carried it out so that we can take potentially some action to dismantle that network.
But what we can't do is then alienate the world community based on faulty intelligence, based on bluster and bombast. Instead, the next thing we would have to do, in addition to talking to the American people, is making sure that we are talking to the international community.
Because as already been stated, we're not going to defeat terrorists on our own. We've got to strengthen our intelligence relationships with them, and they've got to feel a stake in our security by recognizing that we have mutual security interests at stake.
Edwards is supremely fortunate to get a shot right now at the same question:
Well, the first thing I would do is be certain I knew who was responsible, and I would act swiftly and strongly to hold them responsible for that.So, be strong. But mainly just try very hard to figure out how they did it and how we can defend against the next attack. His idea seems to be about winning the hearts of the next generation. How do you fight the terrorists? Why not make them love us so they won't want to be terrorists anymore? Surely, if they see the Democrats have brought their new tools into the White House, they'll feel the love.
The second thing I would do -- and, of course, some of these have been mentioned already -- is find out how did this happen without our intelligence operations finding out that it was in a planning stage; how did they get through what we all recognize is a fairly porous homeland security system that we have in this country that has not been built the way it needed to be built?
You know, did the weapons that created these two simultaneous strikes come through our ports? Were they in one of the containers that have not been checked? How did these weapons get here, and how do we stop it from happening again?
I believe -- and this goes to the question you asked earlier, just a few minutes ago -- global war on terror. I think there are dangerous people and dangerous leaders in the world that America must deal with and deal with strongly.
But we have more tools available to us than bombs.
And America needs to use the tools that are available to them, so that these people who are sitting on the fence, the terrorists are trying to recruit the next generation get pushed to our side, not to the other side. We've had no long-term strategy. We need one and I will provide one as president.
Now, Clinton gets her shot. Come on, Hillary, show you can do it! Your two biggest opponents have set this up perfectly.
Well, again, having been a senator during 9/11, I understand very well the extraordinary horror of that kind of an attack and the impact that it has, far beyond those that are directly affected.Boring. Non-responsive.
I think a president must move as swiftly as is prudent to retaliate.Yes! Retaliate!
If we are attacked, and we can determine who is behind that attack, and if there are nations that supported or gave material aid to those who attacked us, I believe we should quickly respond.Attack! Destroy! Thank God, one of them is willing to say it. Hillary wins.
Now, that doesn't mean we go looking for other fights. You know, I supported President Bush when he went after Al Qaida and the Taliban in Afghanistan.
And then when he decided to divert attention to Iraq, it was not a decision that I would have made, had I been president, because we still haven't found bin Laden. So let's focus on those who have attacked us and do everything we can to destroy them.
No one else is given a turn at this, the key question of the night. But the next time Richardson is called on -- with the special Hispanic question "How do you feel about normalizing relations with Castro's Cuba?" -- he insists on going back to the "two cities" question. Good for him! And he must have been pissed to have been excluded from the A group.
I would respond militarily, aggressively. I'll build international support for our goals. I'd improve our intelligence, but that would be a direct threat on the United States, and I would make it clear that that would be an important, decisive, military response, surgical strike, whatever it takes.That beats Hillary. Richardson is my favorite of the Democrats. And Obama and Edwards are unacceptable.
Taking a cue from Richardson, when Obama is asked a question about lightbulbs -- yeah, really, what kind of lightbulbs! -- he goes back to the terrorism question. Now, that he's heard the others answer, he knows he's screwed it up.
But one thing that I do have to go back on, on this issue of terrorism: We have genuine enemies out there that have to be hunted down, networks have to be dismantled.Am I going to let him off the hook for this? "In some cases, lethal force"?
There is no contradiction between us intelligently using our military and, in some cases, lethal force to take out terrorists and, at the same time, building the sort of alliances and trust around the world that has been so lacking over the last six years.
And that, I think, is going to be one of the most important issues that the next president is going to have to do, is to repair the kinds of challenges that we face.
Kucinich is spurred to challenge Obama.
My good friend, Senator Obama, that's a very provocative statement. You previously said that all options are on the table with respect to Iran. And I think that it's important for people to reflect on the real meaning of that, that you're setting the stage for another war.Oh, no. Kucinich is pushing him back into the peace corner.
I think it's important that we move away from global warming and global warring. And the connection is oil. We're in Iraq for oil. We're looking at attacking Iran for oil.Oh, no.
And until we change our international policies, which quit using war as an instrument of policy ... and change our energy policies ... we will continue to repeat this sorry cycle.Obama responds (with Kuchinich interrupting him throughout):
I think it would be a profound mistake for us to initiate a war with Iran. But, have no doubt, Iran possessing nuclear weapons will be a major threat to us and to the region.... And I don't think that's disputed by any expert. They are the largest state sponsor of terrorism... Hezbollah and Hamas.... There is no contradiction between us taking seriously the need, as you do, to want to strengthen our alliances around the world -- but I think it is important for us to also recognize that if we have nuclear proliferators around the world that potentially can place a nuclear weapon into the hands of terrorists, that is a profound security threat for America and one that we have to take seriously.Gravel goes wild here and says, among other things: "Who the hell are we going to nuke? Tell me, Barack. Barack, who do you want to nuke?"
Obama's all: "I'm not planning to nuke anybody right now, Mike, I promise."
Well, now I do want to watch the video. It seems as though Obama comes to life at the end, that he does best when he's reacting to the other candidates, rather than answering the question cold. This is a good sign that he may be an engaging candidate. I'll say more when I've seen the video.
From the transcript, I like Richardson best. Hillary didn't do anything wrong. Obama worries me. Edwards did not impress me. The others... I don't have to have an opinion on them. But what a nut that Gravel is.
UPDATE: Mere Rhetoric notes a discrepancy in some transcripts and questions whether Obama said "Israel has been one of our most important allies" as I have it quoted or "Israel is one of our most important allies" as the quote appears elsewhere. Since I have the debate TiVo'd, I checked. My quote is correct. I am certain.