November 15, 2007

Live-blogging the Democratic debate.

1. Isn't it fascinating that the candidates aren't standing at their lecterns? Wolf Blitzer thinks so, as he announces each candidate and we wait while each one walks out to screamy — or not so screamy — cheers. The candidates stand in a line, lamely clapping, boring the hell out of us, and Wolf takes to chatting with the news commentators, who all blab about pressure on Hillary Clinton. Wolf elaborates the ground rules and expresses his hope to get into a "real conversation." One good idea: if you try to change the subject you lose your turn. We're 8 minutes into it, before the real questioning starts.

2. Hillary is asked if she "parses" her positions. Obama is drawn in: Does he think HC "triangulates." Answer: They have different health care plans. There's some testy argument about who's for universal health care. Hillary looks stressed and angry — and quite bright pink. She's yelling hoarsely. My ears! The audience is heckling and cheering alternately, and Wolf Blitzer is waving his arms about making things seem chaotic. It seems like a free for all. It's so abrasive. Hillary starts laughing — as if to say she's feeling loose and comfortable.

3. "Hell, no, I wouldn't support any of these guys," says Joe Biden, making me laugh, after all the others say they'll support the Democratic nominee, whoever it is.

4. Obama says he supports driver's licenses for illegal aliens. Or... did he? That was garbled. Later, he gets to yes. Edwards? No. Hillary: no. Richardson: yes. Most of them chew Wolf out for asking the question forcing them to answer without the condition of comprehensive immigration reform.

5. Did Wolf hear him right? Did Richardson say human rights are more important than American security? Richardson pauses and there's a look of fear. Will this be used against me? But he's already said it. He says it again: yes. Obama is asked the same question, and he tries to say there's not necessarily a conflict. Wolf doesn't pin him down. Dodd is clear: national security is obviously first. Hillary too puts national security first. Kucinich is all: "Hello? Hello?" They still don't call on him.

6. Is Hillary playing the gender card? That's the question. Of course, she denies it. Follow up: What did you mean by "the boys' club"? She refers grandly and vaguely to the "impediments" there may have been along the way to progress. Wolf asks if anyone thinks she is playing the gender card. Edwards takes over, but totally fails to talk about gender. When he says HC takes money from lobbyists, the audience boos him loudly. Who knew the pro-lobbyist sentiment was so strong? Anyway, no one wants to talk about gender.

7. After the break, the candidates are sitting now, and the questions come from the audience.... I'm not going to summarize all the talk about policy. I found this part pretty dull, which I suppose means it was a big victory for Hillary. The final question was from a UNLV student who asked Hillary: "Diamonds or pearls?" — a twist on the old "Boxers or briefs?" question famously asked of Bill Clinton in '92. She says — smiling — that people accuse her of not making up her mind, but here she can be clear: "Both." Which is mildly amusing, but then Biden goes "I want diamonds." And that — with a big laugh — happens to be the end. Goodnight, everybody!

IN THE COMMENTS: Enigmaticore wrote:
I have changed my vote intentions. I was not going to vote in the Democratic primary in my state, although I can.

But I am going to, and I will vote for Biden, even if he has no shot of getting the nomination. I had written him off because of his slim-to-none-nomination chance, but damnit, he's fun and he's right on a lot of things.
Reader I_am writes (after many, many comments on the subject of merit pay for teachers):
Wow. A thread on a national politics, specifically a presidential-candidate debate, has turned into one relating to the public schools in our own communities.
Blake responds:
1. This is the second night in the row I've seen positively civil debates here between people who hold polarized viewpoints. It's "best of Althouse commentary".

2. I would humbly suggest that the President of the United States is a virtually trivial role compared to the problems of education. A society survives on the quality of its education, and ours has been dismal for several generations now. It's not only more important than any short-term issue, it's also more important than any long-term issue, because those being mis-educated today will be trying to handle those long-term problems tomorrow.

Jes' sayin'.

137 comments:

Maxine Weiss said...

Keep your eye out for "The Brunette"....

Do you know who "The Brunette" is?

Read my current Blog post to find out.

Revenant said...

1. [JUST WAIT. MORE TO COME.]
2.
3.

The preceding are Hillary Clinton's official plans for Iraq, Social Security, and illegal immigration.

christopher said...

Let's have a lottery.

Predict the moment Ann makes her most deeply shallow observation about something Hillary says. Or is wearing. Or whatever.

ZPS said...

Be sure to be nice to Gravel...he may be the next President of the United States!

ZPS said...

In all seriousness though, I think the only two who stand a chance of being the next Pres/Vice Pres are Edwards/Obama. Hillary will never, ever, ever, be President. Mark my words.

Ann just wants her to be the nominee for the show of it all, not because she really likes her or really thinks she can win. Ann's heart belongs to the crook from New York.

Maxine, who are you leaning towards? I figure you as a Bill Richardson kind of gal. You like you men stocky and tan.

Then again, he is a Mexican.

Palladian said...

Oh Ann, I think you should leave it the way it is; I'm sure, in its current form, it will sum up the substance of the "debate" perfectly well.

Palladian said...

Choosing between Hillary! and Giuliani is going to be worse than choosing between Bush and Kerry. Much, much worse.

Did Ann ever say she liked or supported Giuliani? I only remember her making fun of his silly NRA phone call stunt.

Maxine Weiss said...

I'll vote for whoever has the least amount of baggage.

Maxine Weiss said...

Oh, she's having an affair with that Brunette? Isn't it interesting that she doesn't choose a Blonde....

TituslK said...

Good evening fellow republicans and Palladian...hee hee blush.


I am ready to despise these democrats. Let's get ready to rumble.

They are at COCKS theater-how hot is that?

I would do Obama, ok?

TituslK said...

Hilary's makeup looks nice, agreed republicans? Still hate her.

Maxine Weiss said...

Her mascara's smudged, and her lipstick smeared.

Palladian said...

I like the Democratic candidates in general more than I like the Republican candidates. That's damning by faint praise I know, but still...

Simon said...

Maxine - yes, sorry, my fault; she was unavoidably detained.

Roost on the Moon said...

(for Palladian)

I've said before that I like Giuliani. He is my current favorite among the candidates.

-AA 7/25/07

reader_iam said...

My son: "Do you have to watch debates in you want to vote?"

He appeared worried.

Ruth Anne Adams said...

Revenant: Very clever. I'm not gonna' let you get ahead of me in some obscure post like this.

Maxine Weiss said...

She needs rouge

reader_iam said...

I relented, and let him go to another room and watch a documentary on the History Channel about how animals build their homes.

(Really!)

Maxine Weiss said...

Where's the Vegas razzle-dazzle ?

ZPS said...

This "merit pay" for teachers thing is absurd. Way too many variables...where is the school? Who gets to choose? How are they judged? Ridiculous.

Edwards looks hot tonight, as usual. I just wanna mess up his hair and make out with him! If his wife ever dies...he knows where to come ;)

Love,
ZPS

reader_iam said...

"Don't tell me about your values, show me your budget" and I'll tell you what your values are.

(Not sure I have the part after the end-quote exact.)

Food for thought, eh?

Palladian said...

"I've said before that I like Giuliani. He is my current favorite among the candidates."

Must have missed that one... I wonder if that's changed?

Roost on the Moon said...

I wouldn't presume to speak for her, but I get the strong impression it hasn't. I would love to see a tally of positive/negative Althouse posts for each candidate. It would probably give some ammo to the "You're a Republican, just admit it" crowd. But it would still be interesting.

reader_iam said...

"Congressman Kucinich, ... "

The voice in Wolf's ear must be reading your post, Althouse.

Revenant said...

Revenant: Very clever. I'm not gonna' let you get ahead of me in some obscure post like this.

Curses! The saucy minx has thwarted me once again!

Joseph Hovsep said...

Human rights or national security? Aren't human rights what are what our nation is supposed to be securing?

AJ Lynch said...

I think it is funny to see Ruth Ann & Revenant counting each other's comments.

I have the debate on too and Reader IAM - your paraphrase on Biden's father was correct enough.

reader_iam said...

"... I'm just playing the winning card ..."

--Sen. Clinton

Ain't that a soundbite.

Palladian said...

"One good idea: if you try to change the subject you loser your turn."

mmm, good Freudian slip!

ZPS said...

Like Ann, my mom is rooting for Hillary (what is it with you mothers who like Hillary?!)...but I'm trying to convince her that Hillary is a lost cause. She will never, ever, ever be President. Mark my words!

Uh oh...coming up is the "undecided voters" section. Great...I'm sure these folks will be wondeful. Barf.

christopher said...

Joseph Hovsep said...

Human rights or national security? Aren't human rights what are what our nation is supposed to be securing?


Good luck convincing this crowd...

Revenant said...

I would love to see a tally of positive/negative Althouse posts for each candidate. It would probably give some ammo to the "You're a Republican, just admit it" crowd.

Well, those people define "Republican" as "anyone who ever votes for a non-Democrat". So sure, probably.

But in reality, Rudy is slightly more popular among independents than any of the Democratic candidates are, Hillary included. His big problem is that while he's got the best appeal to moderates and independents of any of the candidates, he's got problems with support from Republicans themselves. Current polls indicate that he would lose to Hillary simply because Democrats are more willing to vote for her than Republicans are to vote for him.

So it would be ironic to call someone a "Republican" for liking a guy whose biggest problem is weak support from the Republican base.

downtownlad said...

I'm sorry, but if you think security is more important than human rights, then we have a word for you.

WIMP

jeff said...

"I'm sorry, but if you think security is more important than human rights, then we have a word for you."

Everyone has a line where security is more important that human rights. The dispute is where that line is.

Simon said...

Joseph Hovsep said...
"Human rights or national security? Aren't human rights what are what our nation is supposed to be securing?"

The left's commitment to that has been clearly shown today in the overwhelming reaction in the leftosphere to the decision of an islamic court in Saudi Arabia to punish a young woman for being gang raped by imposing 200 lashes on her. A few bloggers actually nearly posted about it. Kudos to those very, very few who did (including, to be fair about it, Jessica Valenti).

Roost on the Moon said...

What is this Human Rights vs. Security garbage? They aren't necessarily opposed. They aren't even intuitively opposed. It's meaningless abstraction. And when they do conflict, who would really say that they support one over the other in all cases? Such nonsense.

Roost on the Moon said...

(high five jeff)

reader_iam said...

Pithy answer of the night, so far:

(After a nod) Yeah, that's because I read it.

--Sen. Kucinich

Revenant said...

National security is about protecting the lives, liberty, and property of American citizens. Those three things are the bedrock of all our rights. You can't have freedom without strength -- the failure to recognize that fact is the key failing of most libertarian foreign policy.

Was the question referring to non-American human rights, maybe? Like "is national security more, or less, important than the rights of Iraqis"? That would be a legitimate distinction to draw.

John Stodder said...

Ann, please don't correct this typo:

Edwards takes over, but totally fails to stalk about gender.

Sounds like so far, Wolf is doing exactly the opposite of what Sen. Clinton's campaign ordered him to do.

He better change his routine when he drives home tonight.

reader_iam said...

But Biden's answer is more on point with regard to the question about profiling, as that topic relates to the Patriot Act.

vnjagvet said...

The wisdom of the campaign managers as developed by tonight's participants:

OUT WITH BUSH

John Stodder said...

This "merit pay" for teachers thing is absurd. Way too many variables...where is the school? Who gets to choose? How are they judged? Ridiculous.

Yeah, what kind of country would we be living in if your "boss" could "decide" what you should be paid based on your "performance?" So unfair.

christopher said...

downtownlad said...

I'm sorry, but if you think security is more important than human rights, then we have a word for you.

WIMP


You forgot un-American.

christopher said...

John Stodder said...

He better change his routine when he drives home tonight.


If meant as a joke, not funny.

If meant seriously, you're pathetic.

downtownlad said...

"Live Free or Die"

Unless you're a Republican, when your motto would be "Oh please Mr. President, please protect me, even take my rights away if you have to, because I'm soooo scared of those dark skinned people."

christopher said...


jeff said...
Everyone has a line where security is more important that human rights. The dispute is where that line is.


And the Bush administration has been on the far end of the wrong side of that line since forever....

reader_iam said...

"... This is what I would expect from Mitt Romney, or Rudy Giuliani ... "

--Sen. Obama to Sen. Clinton.

Damn.

reader_iam said...

As it turns out, looks can't kill.

cRift said...

It looks like Obama won my vote. He seems serious about addressing problems. And maybe his Washington naiveté' will help him.

I'll need to switch parties so I can vote in the primary. But that's no problem, the GOP, and especially "conservatism," doesn't do it for me anymore.

jeff said...

"And the Bush administration has been on the far end of the wrong side of that line since forever...."

You make the mistake that it's a fixed line. My point is it's not. Obviously yours is somewhere else, but you do have a line. And someone out there thinks your line is also to far towards security rather than human rights.

jeff said...

crift, you misspelled "moby"

Trooper York said...

In his final words tonight, the Judge said that we can be "the terror of the world." I don’t think we want to be that. I think we would prefer to be the encouragement of the world: the proof that at last man is worthy to be free. But we shall provide no such encouragement unless we can establish our ability as a nation to live and grow, and we shall surely do neither if these States fail to remain united. There can be no distinction in the definition of liberty as between one section and another, one class and another, one race and another. A house divided itself cannot stand.
(Abe Lincoln in Illinois, Lincoln Douglas Debate scene)
(The way it should be done)

Ramon said...

Too rich.

Obama just said "Politics should stop at the water's edge" and that is not happening "because of the Bush administration"!

ROFLMAO

Ramon said...

Too rich.

Obama just said "Politics should stop at the water's edge" and that is not happening "because of the Bush administration"!

ROFLMAO

jeff said...

Yeah, but that Lincoln guy has kind of a screechy voice and looks goofy. No way he can get elected president. Plus he lost all of those other elections. Clearly not someone we can have run the country in this difficult time.

rcocean said...

Obama,

What a pander bear! Doesn't want to send nuclear waste to Nevada. Good grief, have you been to Nevada? Its miles and miles of nothing. You could wipe Yucca mountain off the map and no one would notice. But they want to pander so he yaps about solar power (pie in sky) instead of facing reality.

Absurd.

Freeman Hunt said...

Maxine is a comments star.

ZPS said...

Regarding merit pay for "better" teachers, Stodder said:

"Yeah, what kind of country would we be living in if your "boss" could "decide" what you should be paid based on your "performance?" So unfair."

Ok then, how does a "boss" (whatever that means) "decide" who gets a "raise" between a teacher of a class of 17 or so well behaved, rich, white children who mostly have two, well-educated parents in somewhere like Laguna Beach to a teacher of 25 or so manic, urban, poor, children who mostly have single (or no) parents with little to no education of their own in somewhere like Inglewood or Santa Ana.

Give me a break. Unless you've been there and seen the differences and the challenges, you probably shouldn't say anything. "Merit pay" is an absurd, I repeat, ABSURD notion. No teacher I know supports it, from a variety of districts, so I'd like to think THEY are the ones who can best determine if THEY shold receive extra money. But I suppose something like "A Raise for Good Work!" falls right in line with so much of the two-dimensional thinking on this blog.

Revenant said...

I keep hearing how Bush has "trampled all over my rights", but I have all the same rights and freedoms I did in 1999.

Yeah, yeah, blah blah, "locking Americans up without trial" etc etc. Presidents have been able to do that for well over a century. Crack open a history book sometime.

jeff said...

Defending the Iranian Revolutionary guard from being tagged as a terrorist organization is a winner in the Democrat party?

jeff said...

"Ok then, how does a "boss" (whatever that means) "decide" who gets a "raise" between a teacher......"

Same way my boss decides who gets a raise between me and 20 or so of my peers scattered across the country at different sites. I have had 7 bosses in the last 6 years and have actually met two of them. Yet they give me my review and determine my raise.

jeff said...

"No teacher I know supports it" Odd. All my aunts and uncles and mother and sister and some cousins are or were teachers at one level or another and they all supported it. All worked with incompetent teachers who were paid at the same rate as themselves. Would that count as "being there"?

Tim said...

jeff said...
"Defending the Iranian Revolutionary guard from being tagged as a terrorist organization is a winner in the Democrat party?"

Yes, absolutely. If the United States only had a different foreign policy and a single-payer health care system, the Mullahs in Tehran and Osama in his cave would just love us, to pieces.

Tim said...

"Would that count as "being there"?"

Nope. Ya gotta be a union stiff with the teachers' association before you get seniority credit for "being there."

Freeman Hunt said...

"Merit pay" is an absurd, I repeat, ABSURD notion.

Yes, you are right, comrade. Can you believe these crazy Americans? Next they will be telling us that we have to perform to keep our jobs. Pure madness.

Revenant said...

who gets a "raise" between a teacher of a class of 17 or so well behaved, rich, white children [and] a teacher of 25 or so manic, urban, poor, children

There are plenty of ways to do this. One obvious one is this:

(1): Set aside a pool of money, at the district level, for merit bonuses.

(2): Allocate the merit bonuses to individual schools by comparing this most recent year's performance to an average of previous years for that school. The larger the improvement, the bigger the allocation. Schools not showing an improvement get nothing.

(3): Within the individual schools which have received "merit money", allocate the money by comparing the individual teachers to their peers. The basis for comparison should be scores on standardized, district-wide tests.

No teacher I know supports it

What the teachers want isn't relevant. The education system doesn't exist to serve them -- they exist to serve it.

PatCA said...

Yes, the Dems' position is that human rights are more important than security.

Dodd elaborated later and said that strengthening our rights will result in strengthened security! Wow, too bad Abe Lincoln didn't know that! Who knew that it was the suspension of habeus corpus that caused that Civil War thingie.

Then Dodd pandered in Spanish for a while, but that's another story.

But that's the progressive belief: that human beings are good and only act badly when deprived (usually by white males) of human rights.

Should such a person be Commander in Chief?

jeff said...

"who gets a "raise" between a teacher of a class of 17 or so well behaved, rich, white children [and] a teacher of 25 or so manic, urban, poor, children"

In my business, to get a qualified person in the second job would require a higher rate of pay than the one at the first job.

It seems like more and more of the money spent on education goes to pay for the bureaucracy above the teacher. At least in my particular school district.

Revenant said...

Yes, the Dems' position is that human rights are more important than security.

In all fairness to Hillary (ow! that phrase hurts my mind), she didn't put the priorities in that order.

jeff said...

I think Edwards was the guy defending the Revolutionary guard. If there is one thing I am not concerned about regarding Hillary, it's national security. Not in the same context anyway.

Simon said...

PatCA said...
"Then Dodd pandered in Spanish for a while, but that's another story."

Creo que cualquier persona que promueve o los panders al bilingüismo descalifica el themself de cualquier oficina política. Estoy apesadumbrado pero creo que este país debe tener una lengua, si ése sea español, inglés o ruso. Preferiría inglés, siendo la lengua más elegante.

Zeb Quinn said...

So, what I'm getting is that Hillary's opponents had the opportunity to take her out once and for all, and all they had to do ot get it done was hold her feet to the fire on gender and illegal immigration, but they lacked the cojones to pull the trigger.

jeff said...

Hey Hippy. We speak English in these parts. And I fully agree with you. I wish I could speak Spanish, (or any other language. I barely speak this one) but one of the things that tie a country together is common language.

jeff said...

"nd all they had to do ot get it done was hold her feet to the fire on gender and illegal immigration,"

Democratic primary, not general election. Even if they had done that, I don't know that they would have gained much.

Simon said...

Qué significo es que los políticos que hablan español al ingratiate ellos mismos con los hispanos son fundamental unamerican. they have judged badly totally what he he to being an American or being an immigrant. Han juzgado mal totalmente lo que él él a ser un americano o a ser un inmigrante. si usted es un inmigrante a América, está para que usted cambie para acomodar América, no para que América le acomode. Si usted desea hablar español, váyase. Si usted desea hacer un americano, gret I usted como parentescos.

rcocean said...

Merit pay for teachers is an iffy idea and shouldn't be a subject for the POTUS in any case.

Teaching is subjective. Who decides who merits an increase? The principal? The principal will distribute them to their favorites. Office politics. If not the principal, then what is the OBJECTIVE criteria?

But the biggest fallacy of merit pay is the idea that teachers need to be motivated by money. People who are motivated by greed don't become teachers.

Simon said...

Jeff - precisely.

jeff said...

Yes. At least by the second generation. I found the tombstones of my ancestors in Pennsylvania from the late 1700's/early 1800's and they are in German. I imagine everyone spoke German where they lived. But the country is completely interconnected now and if you make your home here, you have some responsibility to speak the dominant language.

ZPS said...

I repeat, Merit Pay is absurd. You can't decide who gets a raise based on the fact that rich white kids perform better than poor black kids. Simple as that. I take it that those of you who claim to have "been there" have never taught at an underperforming school.

It's not the teachers' fault, it's not even the students' fault...the blame goes to the socio-economic circumstances that these kids walk into a classroom with. If you can even those out (just where is that invisible hand?!), then, and only then, can you dictate who gets a "raise" and who doesn't.

This discussion is closed!

Love,
ZPS

jeff said...

"Merit pay for teachers is an iffy idea and shouldn't be a subject for the POTUS in any case."

I fully agree on the second part. Or the federal government.


"The principal will distribute them to their favorites."
If you have an unprofessional principal that is a definite possibility. The hope is that his/her boss will notice the good teachers don't stay at that school. Plus, isn't that the case in any boss/worker situation? Why should teachers be protected?

jeff said...

"I take it that those of you who claim to have "been there" have never taught at an underperforming school."

Why would you assume that? My mother was the LD teacher at a lower income school. Change the metric to reflect that.

"This discussion is closed!"
Dangerous stance to take no matter which side you fall on. The discussion can be refined and improved, but never closed.

cf said...

Are we voting for a President or a school board member? I don't remember when this issue began to dominate presidential debates, but I for one would give major points to the first candidate who said this is under our constitution a local issue and aside from doing what I could to encourage high standards and best practices thru the Dept of Education, I leave this issue to our fine and capable local authorities.

Simon said...

Cf, I agree but for one point: I would give major points to the first candidate who said this -- and healthcare, for that matter -- are under our constitution a state issue, period. Bonus points would be obtained for a promise to abolish DoE, not work through it.

Revenant said...

I repeat, Merit Pay is absurd.

Repeating a comment doesn't make it more intelligent.

You can't decide who gets a raise based on the fact that rich white kids perform better than poor black kids.

You're obviously not paying attention. Like I noted above, there are plenty of ways to award merit pay that avoid that problem.

It's not the teachers' fault

It is not *entirely* the teachers' fault, no. But the teachers are part of the problem, and they are one of the parts that we can actually fix. We can't magically make some inner-city crack whore suddenly start giving a rat's ass about her kids, but we can give the teachers who TEACH those kids an incentive to do something more than wait patiently for the little rascals to flunk out of school.

There are two kinds of teachers at failing inner-city schools:

(1): Incompetents with tenure that no better school will take
(2): New teachers who haven't managed to get a transfer out of the hell-hole they're stuck in yet.

There are virtually no good, or even competent, teachers there, because no competent is going to dodge bullets for the same pay she'd get teaching in a peaceful suburban school whose students can actually spell "cat".

he blame goes to the socio-economic circumstances that these kids walk into a classroom with

What a silly load of horseshit. There are plenty of dirt-poor communities whose children do well enough in school. One or more of the following four factors is to blame for any failing school:

(1): The teachers are incompetent
(2): The school has no incentive to improve
(3): Too many lousy parents
(4): A culture that discourages academic achievement

Poverty isn't the issue. The world is full of poor people who can spell, read, and do math.

Maxine Weiss said...

"Maxine is a comments star."----Freeman Hunt

Oh, how nice! And, Capricorns usually hate my guts. My two biggest enemies are Cparicorns !

But, they'll live longer than I will. Of course, it won't be a happy life, but lengthy nonetheless !

Maxine Weiss said...

That was a 'thank-you', wasn't it?

Randy (Internet Ronin) said...

RE: Merit Pay: Be careful what you wish for. If it ever comes to pass, I think we can be pretty sure that the overwhelming majority of teachers will get rated as above average and get merit raises. The only ones who won't are those that the principal (or whoever makes the decision) doesn't like personally.

Randy (Internet Ronin) said...

Roost on the Moon: I seem to recall a change in opinion being expressed since that time. I could be wrong, though.

jeff said...

"But, they'll live longer than I will. Of course, it won't be a happy life, but lengthy nonetheless !"

really? Unhappy and longer life based entirely on the rotation of the earth at time of birth? Well, this throws a wrench in everything.

EnigmatiCore said...

Tivo blogged. Without the blog. Other than commenting now.

I have changed my vote intentions. I was not going to vote in the Democratic primary in my state, although I can.

But I am going to, and I will vote for Biden, even if he has no shot of getting the nomination. I had written him off because of his slim-to-none-nomination chance, but damnit, he's fun and he's right on a lot of things.

I'm going to vote for Giuliani in the general, if he gets the Republican nomination. If he doesn't, then I would vote for Biden. If not him, then I don't know; I might not vote.

Tim said...

Simon said...
"Cf, I agree but for one point: I would give major points to the first candidate who said this -- and healthcare, for that matter -- are under our constitution a state issue, period."

Except, Simon, federal tax and labor law (including ERISA) is primarily responsible for the employer-based, third-party payer health care system we currently have - and all three of those are very significant impediments to state action on health care. Federal action is necessary, but not at all along the lines Hillary! or others on the redistributors side of the political spectrum would favor.

ZPS said...

"we can give the teachers who TEACH those kids an incentive to do something more than wait patiently for the little rascals to flunk out of school."

Oh I know, totally! It's such a black and white issue. Most teachers I know are there strictly for the money...so if we offer them more, THEN they'll do their jobs better and the kids, seeing that their teachers are trying harder (kids are so perceptive!), will automatically improve. Simple!

"Poverty isn't the issue. The world is full of poor people who can spell, read, and do math."

You're smart. Where did YOU go to school?! I guess it's just a coincidence that graduation rates are higher in higher income communities, and
the children who are being "left behind" are predominantly poor, minority students.

Where ever you're coming up with your ideas, pass them along to your local congressman or state Senator...I'm sure they could use people like you! Genius!

jeff said...

"I guess it's just a coincidence that graduation rates are higher in higher income communities, and
the children who are being "left behind" are predominantly poor, minority students. "

You're getting straw all over the place. It's going to take forever to clean up. The question is how to reward the good teachers and phase out the bad. Your position seems to be that either there are no bad teachers, only good one's. Or that it is impossible to do so,therfor might as well pay them all the same. I reject both. There has to be a better way.

christopher said...

Revenant said...

I keep hearing how Bush has "trampled all over my rights", but I have all the same rights and freedoms I did in 1999.


Oh really?

Call us when you get disappeared.

Enjoy the rendition...

cubanbob said...

Are they running for the school board or for the presidency? Why not a merit selection program for the parents:vouchers.

Luckyoldson said...

John Stodder said..."Yeah, what kind of country would we be living in if your "boss" could "decide" what you should be paid based on your "performance?" So unfair."

Simplifying the teacher's merit pay issue in such a manner is demeaning to those who actually teach.

jeff said...

"Call us when you get disappeared.
Enjoy the rendition..."

What the hell is Revenant doing running around the middle east shooting at American's? Where do you find the time to post in here?

PatCA said...

I agree, Simon. We are entitle to have a language and a culture, like everyone else.

And the Latino activist who asked the question is wrong that no terrorist has come over the southern border.

http://www.jihadwatch.org/archives/000765.php

ZPS said...

"There has to be a better way."

I agree.

"The question is how to reward the good teachers and phase out the bad."

Kind of agree, but again, the bigger problem is the environment in which many of these teachers (good and bad) teach. No teacher gets into the profession to do a "bad" job, but I know many get burned out quickly when they see that, no matter how hard they try, their students are just not able to succeed.

To be specific, my best friend wanted to "change the world" and went to teach at a high school in a poor area south of LA called Lawndale. Aside from being called a "bitch" every day, having her cell phone stolen, and having to break up fights on a weekly basis, she was berated by ignorant parents who scolded her for being too strict with their kids. Two years later, she gave up and moved to Bangkok to teach at an international school.

Also, my mother teaches 1st grade at a nearly all Hispanic school in Santa Ana (the poor part of Orange County). All of her kids are ESL and come from a variety of broken home/low income families. She loves her students, meets with parents weekly and calls them at night when she gets home, became head of the PTA at her school, and has tried endlessly to raise the test scores that dictate so much of the funding her school receives under the ridiculous "No Child Left Behind" act. But even if her students were to improve (it's been an uphill battle to say the least) she can't be responsible for all the other students and teachers at her school, not to mention in her district.

The point is, yes, there are bad teachers...but by and large most teachers are good and care deeply. So it's not worth focusing on "bad" teachers as being part of the problem as they make up such a small percentage of the teaching population.

The problem is in the living conditions of the students. What's going on in their homes? Why are their parents making minimum wage and/or divorced? Why don't they speak English? The problem is bigger and messier than anyone can fix, it is our entire culture and society. So the lame brain solution of simply "rewarding the good teachers" is both offensive and ineffective.

Good teachers don't want rewards or incentives, they want the basic tools to do their jobs and a safe environment to teach in so that their students succeed and learn. And any teacher who tells you different is in the wrong profession.

cubanbob said...

"The problem is in the living conditions of the students. What's going on in their homes? Why are their parents making minimum wage and/or divorced? Why don't they speak English? The problem is bigger and messier than anyone can fix, it is our entire culture and society. So the lame brain solution of simply "rewarding the good teachers" is both offensive and ineffective"

Fix the culture in part by making the price of being a screw up a costly one. No welfare or unemployment benefits for those who screw up. First work ten years before being eligible for benefits. A stick is more effective by itself than a carrot by itself.

reader_iam said...

Wow. A thread on a national politics, specifically a presidential-candidate debate, has turned into one relating to the public schools in our own communities.

reader_iam said...

Enigmaticore: More, please.

reader_iam said...

Maxine: You've earned it.

reader_iam said...

A stick is more effective by itself than a carrot by itself.

Even assuming that stark, sharp point of view, it seems to me that it would depend on whether it's being used to prod or to beat.

What's your goal?

reader_iam said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Revenant said...

Most teachers I know are there strictly for the money... so if we offer them more, THEN they'll do their jobs better and the kids, seeing that their teachers are trying harder (kids are so perceptive!), will automatically improve. Simple!

Let's clear something up. Being a GOOD teacher is a hard job for poor pay. Being *a* teacher is an easy job that takes no intelligence or skill, has good side benefits (like vacation and schedule) and is virtually impossible to get fired from if you can just tough it out long enough to get tenure.

The reason for merit pay isn't to encourage those screw-ups to start doing their jobs. It is to attract good people -- and retain the good people who would otherwise burn out -- so that we can fire the dead weight.

You're smart.

I've got good genes.

Where did YOU go to school?!

I'm a graduate of the Memphis public school system. Beverly Hills it ain't.

I guess it's just a coincidence that graduation rates are higher in higher income communities, and
the children who are being "left behind" are predominantly poor, minority students.


You're confusing correlation with causation. Chronic poverty and poor parenting have many of the same root causes. Poor kids with responsible, hard-working married parents have good graduation rates.

Revenant said...

Oh really? Call us when you get disappeared.

Oh, please. I'm more likely to get killed by a meteor strike than I am to get "disappeared" by the US government. Besides -- like I mentioned before -- the US government has been "disappearing" people since long before George Bush was a twinkle in his father's eye. The difference between 2007 and 1999 is (a) you don't trust the guy in charge and (b) you're paying attention. Your rights are the same.

reader_iam said...

Re: Randy's 11:03:

Nailed.

That's why, even though for a whole host of reasons--from upbringing to philosophy to experience in other work arenas, and for reasons that, I can assure you, people can and do consider right, left, and center--I supported the concept for many, many years, I have at last become a confirmed skeptic, at best, on the topic.

Sometimes, practicality--the realities of both human nature and systems--trumps.

Verso said...

Boy, did you guys see that Iraq war vet (3 tours!) who was at the debate tonight? He said the troops should come home.

Holy cow! He has no idea what the conservatives are going to do to him! Sheesh! He better duck for cover! They will tear him to shreds.

The conservative movement doesn't tolerate such insolence. It's amazing that in 2007 there are still ordinary American citizens who don't realize that they will be smashed to pulp by conservatives if they dare to express opinions contrary to the wishes of, say, Michelle Malkin or Little Green Footballs.

Which right-wing blog will be the first to dig up some dirt and try to destroy this poor veteran?

Revenant said...

The point is, yes, there are bad teachers...but by and large most teachers are good and care deeply.

Yeah, and most Congressmen are honest, upstanding citizens who only want to do what's right for their country.

Pull the other one, it's got bells on it.

Freeman Hunt said...

Maxine: You're welcome.

John Stodder said...

I repeat, Merit Pay is absurd. You can't decide who gets a raise based on the fact that rich white kids perform better than poor black kids. Simple as that. I take it that those of you who claim to have "been there" have never taught at an underperforming school.

Who the hell is proposing a dumb-ass system like that. Obviously -- and I can't believe you're pushing this straw man so I have to explain it -- you judge teachers based on comparable situations.

If I were running a school district, I would take information from many subjective sources, including the students' themselves, their parents, the principals, other teachers who have had to deal with kids from the prior year's teacher, and to a limited degree, test scores, to determine merit. It would not be bound by classic civil service thinking. I'm sure mistakes would be made, but not as many as the current system makes.

I would offer bonuses to teachers to teach in the difficult inner city school areas. But I'd also give them far more authority to discipline kids. Most school district play "dance of the lemons," shipping the worst teachers to the worst schools because the parents don't complain as much.

The point of my simple initial response to your categorical rejection of Merit Pay was simply that all of us in the workforce are judged based on the perceived value we bring to our companies. Perceived. We all have to deal with the sense that our merits are going unnoticed relative to someone else. That's life. But all in all, over time, things equal out, and the system allocates the highest rewards to the best performers. Why should teachers be treated differently? It's unfair to the one who do this difficult job with passion and skill and bring their A game every day. And it also removes from supervisors the ability to use "no raise for you" as a stick to improve performance or get the person to quit or retire.

You can pronounce "end of discussion" all you want, but the US educational system now, in almost every city and many suburbs is letting us down, failing our kids and failing our society. The Clinton/Bush/most other politicians' answer, more and more tests and "higher standards" is a cruel and useless joke. What we need is more professionalism from teachers. Merit pay is only the first thing I'd do to assure it. I'd bust the unions. I'd take a machete to the overregulation that each school has to comply with. I'd fire 80 percent of middle management and use the savings to pay teachers more -- those who earn it. I'd insist on parental involvement. I'd pay for ongoing education for teachers -- not in these bullshit ed school courses, but in their subject matters. I'd greatly increase the amount of time given to arts education. I'd reinstitute P.E., but limit "recess" which is just Lord of the Flies. I'd stop worrying about class size -- I'd rather have 50 kids being taught by a great teacher, with an assistant helping with the administration of it, rather than a locked-in number for each teacher no matter how bad or good. I'd make teaching an exciting, rewarding profession, but one where you've got to put your all into it or you're out.

So, keep me far away from schools, man. I'd be too tempted to blow them up.

P.S. I'd have thrown some of my credentials to say these things into the mix, but I reject that kind of ad hominem argument. If you want to assume I've never set foot inside a classroom, go right ahead. It's a bullshit way to argue, but if that's the best you can do, I can't in good conscience disarm you.

Chip Ahoy said...

God, sometimes I hate reading these comments. It's a full time effort keeping you argumentative loons, ever banging at the same depressing points, at arms length.

Half of you need a serious world-view makeover. pffft. I'm off.

DCPI said...

Did I hear Hillary tell us in response to one question that she would have a "time out" on trade with China and then fifteen minutes later say that she would ask for China's help in preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons? Jeez, I would love to be her ambassador to China and sit through the long harangues that would follow such an incoherent policy, not.

XWL said...

When it comes to education, rather than discussing the merits or demerits of merit pay, I'd rather the candidates step back and question the validity of education being a problem for the federal government to solve.

The more locally controlled and funded schools are, the better. It's a subject best handled at the county and state level, the history of federal involvement in K-12 education hasn't been a good one, and I haven't seen any evidence to suggest it will get better.

So rather than argue about all this, I'd love to hear a presidential candidate to answer that question by saying she (or he) would eliminate the Dept. of Ed. entirely, and work to pass legislation to end all the unfunded mandates (and even the funded ones) that muddle the choices available to educators at the local level.

Seems like all these candidates, GOP and DEM alike (but especially the DEMs) aren't just running for President, but are running for School Board, Supreme Court, UN Ambassador, Dog Catcher, Nanny in Chief, Police Chief, Plumber, Human Resources Manager, Claims Adjustor, Chief Financial Officer, Street Corner Preacher, Commander in Chief, and Chief Officer of Good Cheer.

I'd rather elect somebody based on their guiding principles, the people they are likely to bring along with them, their ability to work with and/or restrain the legislative branch (depending on the task at hand), and the degree they are committed to their principles and their willingness to articulate those principles before we commit to voting for them.

The way the process is designed, I'm just going to have to guess at the answers I'm looking for.

Blake said...

Reader,

Vis a vis the digression:

1. This is the second night in the row I've seen positively civil debates here between people who hold polarized viewpoints. It's "best of Althouse commentary".

2. I would humbly suggest that the President of the United States is a virtually trivial role compared to the problems of education. A society survives on the quality of its education, and ours has been dismal for several generations now. It's not only more important than any short-term issue, it's also more important than any long-term issue, because those being mis-educated today will be trying to handle those long-term problems tomorrow.

Jes' sayin'.

Bruce Hayden said...

I don't know if merit pay for teachers is the best way of handling the problem, but there is a problem to be solved. As one poster above pointed out, the problem is partly attracting good people to the profession. But the other is that the reward structure is skewed. In many districts, teachers raise their pay by putting in their time and getting advanced degrees, and mostly not by working hard at teaching. Of course, to do even better, they move into administration - which is one big reason that the non-teaching personnel in many districts now outnumber those teachers (interestingly, at many private schools, even the principals still teach).

I think in a lot of situations the better teachers are there to save the world. But there is another part of the population of teachers who are there for the benefits. In Dillon, CO, a ski resort, I am always surprised at the number of former teachers living there in half million dollar plus houses who retired in their early fifties. Some can expect to live nearly that long, well, on their nice pensions. And I am now a half a decade older than they were at retirement, with a minimum of a decade left before retirement. One friend, still under 55, is starting a second career as a ski patrol, while his wife now teaches part time at the community college.

I don't mind this sort of benefits for the teachers who spend their careers in inner city schools, or who work late every night grading papers. But I do resent it for those who earn more and work a lot less, gaming the system instead of teaching the kids. We, the taxpayers, are the ones paying the tab, and should get some quality for our own sacrifices.

And that is why merit pay has some attraction to me. It is one way to try to compensate for the poor economic incentives endemic in the public education system (as well as throughout much of the public sector).

Bruce Hayden said...

One of the more frustrating things about the current War on Terror is that question of trading off of civil liberties for security. I hear all the time how the Bush Administration has stolen all of our civil liberties. When I ask for examples, the ones I most often get are Gitmo and warrantless wiretaps.

But I ask, how many American citizens are being held at Gitmo? I am not sure if there are any, and if there are, they can be counted on the fingers of one hand. Contrast this to what happened to Japanese American citizens living on the West Coast when we entered WWII. At least those being held at Gitmo have born arms against this country. The only crime of those Japanese-Americans during WWII was being born of the wrong ethnic background.

And then there is the alleged warrantless wiretapping. Someone I know well mentioned having all of our calls to overseas tapped. I first noted that they never called overseas. I then went on to ask them what they knew about FISA (very little). I ended it when they admitted that they didn't know the difference between 1801(f)(1) and (f)(2) and how that impacted warrant requirements (and, coincidentally why that section was recently amended). The reality is that 99+% of those who complain about warrantless wiretapping don't have a clue about the interaction between Title III and FISA, how the NSA TSP works, or that they are more likely to have their phones tapped by PIs or rogue cops than by the NSA, unless they make it a habit of communicating electronically with bona fide terrorist suspects overseas.

Interestingly, the biggest impact on our civil liberties as a result of the War on Terror is by the TSA. For little practical effect, air travel has become ever more burdensome. Even a year or so ago, I could take a two liter bottle of caffeine through security. Now, we are limited to 3 oz bottles that can fit in one single quart sized zip lock baggie. And we have to take off our tennis shoes to go through the metal detectors.

The difference? The ridiculous TSA screening is out in the open. Gitmo and the NSA TSP are nebulous evils that can be easily parlayed into unreasonable fears of those who don't know any better. Never mind that it is unlikely that there is anyone here who has had their phone calls illegally tapped by the NSA. Or who knows anyone being held at Gitmo, or indeed, probably anyone who knows anyone who is being held there.

If you are worried about your civil rights, then don't look at the bogeymen that we keep hearing about but never see, but rather look at what is out in the open:
- TSA screening
- SWAT teams doing forcible entries for mere drug possession.
- MADD, drunk driving and pot possession laws, etc. (the ABA Journal recently noted that more and more states are allowing forced blood samples for suspicion of DUI - this means two cops holding you while someone stabs you and pulls your blood, even if you are willing to take a breath test).

Paul Zrimsek said...

No teacher gets into the profession to do a "bad" job, but I know many get burned out quickly when they see that, no matter how hard they try, their students are just not able to succeed.

Why are so many teachers so determined to talk themselves out of a job? If it doesn't matter what sort of teacher certain kids have, then it doesn't matter whether they have a teacher. If we start from the premise that they're ineducable, the only sensible response is to look for cheaper ways to fail to educate them.

Simon said...

Tim said...
"Except, Simon, federal tax and labor law (including ERISA) is primarily responsible for the employer-based, third-party payer health care system we currently have - and all three of those are very significant impediments to state action on health care. Federal action is necessary, but not at all along the lines Hillary! or others on the redistributors side of the political spectrum would favor."

Sure. I'm certainly not opposed to federal action to remove federally-imposed barriers that retard the abilities of the state to develop healthcare solutions. :)

Roger said...

What Bruce Hayden said: While there may be some that worry about be rendered and disappeard, I am not one of them. For those of you who want to worry about that, feel free to do so. In addition to Bruce's list, I would add the three private corporations who "rate our credit," and whose ratings over which we have very little control can affect our lives dramatically. Seems to me the threats to our liberties do not come from the federal level.

As to the debates: when will this long national nightmare end--does anyone know how many people watched the dog and pony show in Las Vegas? I, for one, sure wish what happened in Vegas last night, stayed in Vegas.

Zeb Quinn said...

Democratic primary, not general election. Even if they had done that, I don't know that they would have gained much.

I'm talking about primary opponents who debate like they want to defeat her, who should've smelled the blood in the water and pounced accordingly. They didn't and they didn't.

Luckyoldson said...

Roger,
Why would anyone think you would waste your time watching a Democratic debate?

Your mind is already made up and it certainly doesn't include a Democratic candidate.

It's kind of like a black person watching a Republican debate.

What would be the point?

Luckyoldson said...

Bruce Hayden said..."...the ones I most often get are Gitmo and warrantless wiretaps."

Those are the ones we know about.

But are you saying the U.S. Attorney situation shouldn't be included? (That we shouldn't care or have any say if attorneys are hired and fired based on their political leanings?)

Or how about the 5 million missing emails? Who wrote them and what were they about? (Think they may have had anything to do with the before mentioned wiretapping or other areas of government we' entitled to know about?)

Or, hey...remember the energy meetings Cheney had with...hmmmm, do YOU know who they were with or what they discussed? (I know for sure that gas costs about $3,35 where I live...and that oil runs at about $95+))

All of what I've mentioned involve American's rights to know what their elected officials are doing...at least that's what a Democracy is supposed to be all about...right?

The whole point of being subversive is to keep what you're doing...secret.

EnigmatiCore said...

"Enigmaticore: More, please"

More what?

Cedarford said...

Bruce Hayden normally gives rational posts, so it is a mark at how effective the Lefty historical revisionists have been when you read:

Contrast this to what happened to Japanese American citizens living on the West Coast when we entered WWII. At least those being held at Gitmo have born arms against this country. The only crime of those Japanese-Americans during WWII was being born of the wrong ethnic background.

If a lie is repeated enough, it becomes true. It was not "Japanese-American Citizens" that were targeted but enemy alien citizens of Japan - of which 10,000 of 110,000 West Coast ethnic Japanese
were considered virulently hostile to America in the war - and they didn't know exactly who in the Japanese community on the West Coast was hostile.

In this case, the media and text-book misrepresentation that only loyal Japanese-Americans were interned.

The truth is that the Executive Order FDR signed 1st put all people - white, black, asian citizens - plus resident aliens -who happened to be in Hawaii, Puget Sound, Alaska under martial law.
Followup efforts to put the West Coast under martial law were resisted.
The 2nd Executive order was to only relocate or intern the 45,000 Japanese nationals, but discussions with the leaders of Civic Associations and Societies were that the Japanese insisted they not be separated from their 65,000 young born in the USA dependents (the Japanese Americans).

Of those relocated, almost 10,000 eventually declared loyalty to the Emperor and asked to be swapped for Allied civilians held by Japan. Another 20,000 were evaluated as "more hoping for Japan to prevail in certain ways than America" - meaning they didn't want Japan to defeat America, but keep China and the Philippines...

Even when the US won, 5500 were insistant on returning to Japan to serve the Emperor at war's end. At war's end, a smattering of the 800 Japanese-Americans who fought on Japan's side who were caught in Japan but sided with Japan rather than be interned (the Kebai) actually sought to return to America, saying their military service was forced.

The Relocation Camps themselves were better conditions than most US soldiers barracks, occupants could leave to work or study, and almost 2000 full college scholarships were given to Nisei that went to schools all over the country.
At war's end, many of the camps were used by families of demustering US soldiers because the housing & conditions were better than on Army bases..

BTW -
The truth about the Nisei most-decorated of all US GIs, "super-hero" soldiers, was that the 442nd Hawaiian was rated as one of the 30 top state-raised infantry outfits. It had very few of the less assimilated West Coast Japanese. (West Coast Japanese had the lowest volunteer rate of any ethnicity in the War)

By wars end, the 442nd had established a great reputation, and significant national recognition - but it had nowhere near the record of medals or valor as the Pacific Marine regiments or Ranger outfits or even other State-raised infantry like the West Virginians and Mainers.

It became "the most decorated unit of the war" through relentless agitation by powerful Japanes-Americans in Congress that secured ex post facto wheelbarrows full of new medals 40-50 years after the fact.
Culminating in Clinton's panderfest in 2000 where 20 new Medal of honors were tossed out to the 442nd, coincidentally including Senator Inouye, Congressman Matsui, and a buddy of theirs who who went from an action report of being killed by a nearby German mortar or grenade to "throwing himself on the grenade"....

Same shit is being done to the "Tuskagee Airman" being recast by PC historian populizers, school textbooks, and media as the superhero airman of the War - who outflew all white boys and never lost a bomber they escorted (not true on either account).

Luckyoldson said...

cedarfor says: "Same shit is being done to the "Tuskagee Airman" being recast by PC historian populizers, school textbooks, and media as the superhero airman of the War - who outflew all white boys and never lost a bomber they escorted (not true on either account)."

Could you post a link to a story that says any of that?

"...outflew all white boys...??"

Luckyoldson said...

Cedarford,
Are you disputing any of the following:

# The all-Black, 332nd Fighter Group consisted originally of four fighter squadrons, the 99th, the 100th, the 301st and the 302nd.

# From 1940-1946, some 1,000 Black pilots were trained at Tuskegee.

# The Airmen’s success during World War II – not losing a single bomber to enemy fire in more than 200 combat missions – is a record unmatched by any other fighter group.

# The 99th Squadron distinguished itself by being awarded two Presidential Unit Citations (June-July 1943 and May 1944) for outstanding tactical air support and aerial combat in the 12th Air Force in Italy, before joining the 332nd Fighter Group.

# The 332nd Fighter Group was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for its longest bomber escort mission to Berlin, Germany, March 24, 1945. It destroyed three German ME-262 Jet fighters and damaged five additional jet fighters without losing any of the bombers or any of its own fighter aircraft to enemy fighters.

# The 332nd Fighter Group had also distinguished itself in June 1944 when two of its pilots flying P-47 Thunderbolts discovered a German destroyer in the harbor of Trieste, Italy.

# The tenacious bomber escort cover provided by the 332nd "Red Tail" fighters often discouraged enemy fighter pilots from attacking bombers escorted by the 332nd Fighter Group.

reader_iam said...

I would humbly suggest that the President of the United States is a virtually trivial role compared to the problems of education. A society survives on the quality of its education, and ours has been dismal for several generations now. It's not only more important than any short-term issue, it's also more important than any long-term issue, because those being mis-educated today will be trying to handle those long-term problems tomorrow.

Was this supposed to be ironic?

reader_iam said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
reader_iam said...

I have no problem with digressions in comments threads, with rare exceptions, last night's discussion not being one of them.

Blake said...

"Was this supposed to be ironic?"

No. What struck you that way?

Freder Frederson said...

Cedarford,
Are you disputing any of the following:


Of course he is. Facts don't intrude on Cedarford's world. Japanese are treacherous little slant-eyed devils (who just loved internment and were lucky to be interned btw), Jews are hook-nosed greedy, money grubbing vermin who control the media, and black people are sub-human cretins genetically predisposed to criminality (but damn they can run fast).

Revenant said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mortimer Brezny said...

Wolf Blitzer let Hillary land blows without response. The first question Hillary got from Campbell Brown was about the “politics of parsing,” a phrase that John Edwards has used. Clinton filibustered.

Instead of exercising his moderator’s discretion to follow-up on Clinton, Wolf focused on Obama to get his reply. What reply is Obama supposed to have to a criticism of Hillary Clinton that John Edwards made and Hillary Clinton failed to respond to? (And who doesn’t know what “triangulation” means?)

There are two proper follow-ups in that situation: 1. Follow-up with Clinton to pin her down; or 2. Follow-up with Edwards about the “politics of parsing.”

Given a pass, Hillary then responded to Obama’s answer by mischaracterizing his health care plan. Obama responded to that mischaracterization. Hillary went again, distorting things just like her critics say she does. When Obama tried to respond to the direct attack, Wolf tried to shut him down and move on to Edwards. Kucinich says, “Hey, there’s a debate here.”

Dennis was right. Showing where the fault lines are is one thing. It is something else to ignore a real debate in real time that America needs to hear so you can to stick to your moderator’s script and centrist media frames. That’s disgusting.

Then Wolf moved to Edwards, who noted that Clinton obscures her positions, without mentioning health care. Wolf saw that as a personal attack on Clinton, so he gave Clinton time to respond. In her rebuttal, Clinton accused Edwards of slinging mud from the Republican playbook and then said -- because Edwards had brought up health care -- that Edwards wasn’t for universal health care in 2004. Get that? Edwards never mentioned health care. Unless Clinton is so old and stupid that she confused Barack Obama for John Edwards in the heat of the moment, she had a scripted attack on Edwards that she deployed too early. She didn’t “punch back”. She delivered a pre-written attack line at Wolf Blitzer’s prompting. Then, Wolf waved off John Edwards -- who had never raised the issue of health care and who had just been accused of slinging mud from the Republican playbook, a personal charge if ever there were one -- and directed a completely different question to Joe Biden. Huh?