October 30, 2007

Debate tonight.

I happened to hear... via IM. Otherwise, it'd've flown right by me. I'll add some comments here I guess. I promise only to be lazy and arbitrary.

ADDED: They're all asked if they'll pledge to keep Iran from getting nuclear weapons, and they all hedge. At least three times, pushed, Hillary Clinton says she'll do "everything within my power" to keep Iran from getting nuclear weapons. In other words, I can't promise, but I'll try — subject to my view of presidential power. But there is no follow up question. Earlier, she criticized Bush for supposedly exceeding presidential power. Here's what I would ask: "When you say you'll do everything in your power, what is it that you think is beyond presidential power that you would not do, even if you thought it would prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons?"

MORE: I spoke too soon, Richardson makes the pledge. He blathers, but initially he is clear that he's pledging.

AND: Was that lazy and arbitrary enough?


tc said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ann Althouse said...

Now, Tom, I thought you were going to edit!

blogging cockroach said...

must be a bottle of dr bronner's
around here somewhere
i think tom's plaigarizing

reader_iam said...

I think that, in the aggregate, we're seeing more slogging and slugging in this one, and also more marked difference in where and how and from whom we're seeing fall-off.

I wonder how many have come to regret the elongated campaign season on which almost all of them bet.


A quiet question, addressed broadly, and without forgone conclusion: Has the longer season and the number of debates served the needs and purposes of the electorate, both specific and, more specifically, generally?

I remember when "publicly debate more" was a rallying cry, from various corners, of candidates and of the electorate/public. (Of course, I also remember the contra-cries, in various forms.)

What do people think now?

reader_iam said...

A presidential candidate is being asked what he's going to do about the relative unpleasantness of airline travel these days (and specifically not--at least it wasn't asked, nor answered in that way--of security issues, or even TSA).


blogging cockroach said...

no more public debates
i want smoke filled rooms
think of the presidents we got from smoke filled rooms
fdr truman eisenhower kennedy sort of
think of the presidents we've gotten from public debate

i didn't say i'd name them
you should just think of them
but please don't mention any
i just had a large dinner
and at this hour i digest

my motto is
less democracy
better government

about the airlines
i'd nationalize them
and bring back food service
think of all those tasty bits
of breaded chicken under the seats

reader_iam said...

Jeez, talk about pissed off: the Sen. Clinton-Sen. Dodd exchange over ID's (drivers, specifically, but more generally, really). And then there was Sen. Obama, moving right into that wedge... .

Joe said...

I can't sit through these debates any more. This campaign has been such a pain, and we don't even have the party nominees yet.

I applaud you, Ann, for your strictly lazy and arbitrary commentary. No other way to do it and stay sane.

Now, TC, I assume Ann is chiding you for profanity or some such thing, but you really ought to look into editing of another kind as well.

Randal Rogers said...

Was that lazy and arbitrary enough?

Works for me. It is hardly worth listening to when they have to respond to asinine questions about unpleasantness of airline travel.

Randal Rogers said...

Reader_Iam: IN RE: length of campaign: I guess it is because it takes so much money these days, unavoidable given the geo. & pop. size. I'd much prefer a shorter season with weekly debates without any of the idiot moderators. And if someone doesnt poll at least 1%, GET OFF THE STAGE!

reader_iam said...

blogging cockroach:
about my open query
sincere (and also open)
quiet ('cause it's open)
of course smoke is chokin'
but chokin's franchise
smoke don't own
nor its license
smoke's a bastard
have you met its cousin:

reader_iam said...

on the one hand
i bregrudge no one
the crumbs they munch
on the other
no one stuffs opinions
into my mouth
that aren't mine
no one

reader_iam said...

Your question is great, Althouse, and right on point: but because it contains a number of embedded questions, it would be too easy for Sen. Clinton to, if not dance around, then pick-and-choose about.

In an ideal world, I'd rather take what you pose and separate them out, in a situation where Sen. Clinton (actually, any and every candidate) could be engaged and pressed, piece by piece, and not just, effectively, say: "Enough of that. Next subject-segment!"

As if.

And not (ever).

Revenant said...

Was that lazy and arbitrary enough?

Nope. You need to put more effort into your laziness next time. Laziness isn't something you can achieve just sitting around, you know!

blogging cockroach said...

dear reader--
you're right about mirrors of course
no smoke these days because it's bad for health
but lots of mirrors because
what are mirrors but fake transparency

your query was sincere and my answers are sincere
within the limits i've got here including 960 brain cells
so don't expect too much deviousness just my opinions

if you want that opinion
it is that the longer primary season
is not good because i disagree with the whole idea
of too many primaries and genuinely like the idea
of smoke filled rooms if not the actual smoke
call me an old fashioned traditionalist cockroach
but i think the candidates were better when
they were vetted and mostly chosen
by party professionals who did all that dirty
political work showing up and organizing year after year
primaries were generally beauty contests
and served to put the brakes on a genuine turkey
if you don't mind mixed metaphors

and i really mean it when i say
less democracy=better government
although i should amend that to say
less fake democracy=better government
i don't mind real democracy where you have
lots of people really involved
which is very hard to do if you're choosing a candidate
and that's where the mirrors come in

anyway these long drawn out primary campaigns
do the following--

bore people silly and turn them off

waste lots of money so the candidates are even more in hock
to proverbial special interests who make the guys
sitting in that old smoke filled room look like boy scouts

force candidates to say stupid things that come back to bite them
if they need a little flexibility once elected

fracture party organizations so that a well organized candidate
with a machine such as mrs clinton can overwhelm and roll
the hollow shell of what's left of the party

in a similar way rich whackos such as you know who
can mobilize legions of keyboard kidz and drive
a former vice presidential candidate and respected senator
out of the party with a stupid but well oiled primary challenge

shall i go on...i can think of a half dozen other reasons
but i'm sure your eyes are glazing over so i'll quit

we need more professionalism and discipline in political parties
and less glittering and shiny fake democracy

and reader--i'm not sure what you meant about stuffing
opinions into your mouth
you wrote that as if to me
but as you can see
i have my opinions and you may have yours
which are probably better than mine because
of the 960 brain cell issue
and anyway i'm a pretty wysiwyg cockroach
with few if any ulterior motives or designs
to put opinions in anyone else's mouth or mandibles
as the case may be

reader_iam said...

yeah well it seems
960 = class + more grace
than i displayed
what prime crumbs
can i offer in return

note to self ...
sigh ... .

Ann Althouse said...

TC, you can be a commenter here if and only if you keep your posts to 200 words or less. When I say you need to edit, I mean above all make it short enough so it doesn't block the way for people who want to scroll through the comments to find things they want to read. You can put your longer material on your own blog. It should be easy to remove the repetition and irrelevant material and get within the word limit.

Ann Althouse said...

I'm not imposing this word limit on anyone else, but I bet everyone else has self-imposed ideas about how long a comment can be, and it's probably 200 words or less, with 200 only to be approached if you've got something unusual that can't be made shorter. Some of the best commenters (and bloggers) put effort into producing pithy one liners. You'll get many more readers if you do that.

MadisonMan said...

I'm guessing cedarford routinely exceeds 200 words. One more reason that I don't read his/her comments.

Simon said...

The first added question, about Hillary vis-a-vis executive power, is lacerating - but none of the other candidates on stage are in a position to credibly ask that question (or benefit from it) since they've boxed themselves in on this question. That's the question to ask loudly and repeatedly over the next year, but it's an argument against Hillary vis-a-vis the GOP candidate, not Hillary vis-a-vis the other Dem candidates.

A question I have for those who watched the debate. This morning, NPR played a clip of Hillary giving qualified support to some immigration idea that the Governor of New York came up with. NPR noted that Obama and Edwards jumped on her for not giving a straight answer, and played clips of them doing just that, and smarming about how important it is to be straight with the voters. My question is this: did either Obama or Edwards then go on to answer the question, and it's just the case that NPR edited the clips for effect, or did they really both totally ignore the question and talk about how Hillary wasn't answering the question right?

AJ Lynch said...

I watched the debate where Edwards slammed Hillary for taking money from special imterest groups and Richardson took a turn to defended her by saying "we are not running against Hillary".

I especially liked the social security segment where Hillary claimed the "crisis" is not real, it is just a Republcan talking point.

Then Obama actually showed some balls and said yes there is a crisis and is a real actuarial problem. He went on to say we should not continue to stick our heads in the sand about it.

Boy, did anyone else notice when Hillary got all dreamy-eyed and babbled about all the programs we need but Bush's nasty tax cuts don't leave enough money (I think Hillary got off message a bit there).

Bissage said...

(1) I’m bananas for the word pith and I’m not the only one:

FIELDING MELLISH: That's very wise. You know, that's. . . I think, pithy.

NANCY: It was . . . pithy. It had . . . great pith.


NANCY: Pith. Lithen, I have to . . . Listen, I have to go. I have a lot of work to do.

(2) I still remember the words of a high school biology teacher: “Be careful when you pith your frog or it might pith on you.”

(3) Funny stuff!

Simon said...

"Has the longer season and the number of debates served the needs and purposes of the electorate, both specific and, more specifically, generally?"

I would think that for those who worry about money n politics, a long campaign season followed by a very short primary season would be the worst imaginable situation, i.e. the configuration most likely to require candidates to obtain lots and lots of money.

I also think that the debates have not been as helpful as they could have been, but the reasons they haven't done as much as they could haven't been because it's a long season, it's a combination of a bloated field of candidates that the networks lack the courage to winnow, which results in less time for the serious candidates to talk, and the attitude of the American media corps that ask the questions. One of the differences between British political journalism and American political journalism is that the former is marked by a healthy mistrust and skepticism (bordering on total contempt) for the politicians of all parties and a better grasp of the material than the victim, while the latter is, relatively speaking, marked by fawning deference, poorly-disguised partisanship, and a layman's grasp of the issues (feigned or real). It would be shocking to hear someone - even Chris Matthews, the closest thing to Jeremy Paxman that America has - ask the question Ann posed, because the question presupposes a grasp of the issues involved, and a willingness to really thump a candidate in a way that is genuinely substantive and isn't just a cheap gotcha.

There's nothing wrong with the debates that couldn't be fixed if there were four candidates on stage and Antonin Scalia was asking the questions assisted by a bottle of Maker's Mark.

Simon said...

Ann Althouse said...
"I bet everyone else has self-imposed ideas about how long a comment can be, and it's probably 200 words or less [ordinarily].... Some of the best commenters (and bloggers) put effort into producing pithy one liners."

Gee, I guess that's me totally out of the running the "commenter of the week," huh. ;)

Original Mike said...

Richardson is pledging to keep Iran from getting the bomb??? How, exactly, is Mr. Get-Out-Of-Iraq-This-Instant planning on doing that? I had respect for Richardson at the start of this campaign. I don't anymore.

Jeremy said...

Original Mike-
Sometimes I get the feeling that the entire campaign process is designed specifically to do that - expose every flaw and defect of all comers. At the end of it you can't possibly hope to find someone that more than 49.9% of the population does respect.

Ruth Anne Adams said...

I like the marathon approach to the White House [as opposed to the sprint.] Long campaigns test the candidate's mettle and management skills. It also gives time for little-campaigns-that-could to gather steam.

Of course, I'm sort of a NASCAR fan, and that "season" is 10 months long.

Ruth Anne Adams said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eli Blake said...

Here's my two cents:

How can a Presidential candidate pledge to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons? All they CAN do is pledge to do 'everything in their power' to prevent it.

But the President isn't God, and he (or she) can't control everything that happens in the world. You might as well ask them to pledge that there won't be any more cases of genocide during their tenure, or that they will prevent the Chinese from making any more defective products, or prevent the Germans from raising taxes. The truth is, there is only so much thatanyone-- even the President-- can do.

As far as nuclear weapons are concerned, it is sixty year old technology and it's actually pretty well known by now how to make one. The only real hitch is acquiring enough fissile material, but given how much of it is already missing just within the former Soviet Union, as well as the fact that much more sophisticated methods have been developed for enriching Uranium and that Iran has had a nuclear reactor since the 1970s that we built for the Shah, it follows that if Iran is dead set on building a nuke the truth is there is very little that the President could do about it.

That's just the plain truth of the matter.

Revenant said...

Eli, I responded in the other thread you posted this in, regarding why preventing Iran from getting nukes is well within a President's power.

One other thing, though, is that you're wrong on the ease of Iran making a nuclear weapon. Their nuclear plant (which was built by Germans, not Americans) neither uses nor produces weapons-grade materials. The USA *had* planned to give Iran a reprocessing plant for extracting plutonium from nuclear waste, but it never went through.

So Iran, as it exists today, has no known access to weapons-grade fissionable materials, which is why it is building processing plants to produce it. Your belief that fissionable material from the Soviet Union is easy to come by is without basis and is not shared by proliferation experts.

blogging cockroach said...

reader--that's ok
i think we're victims of the althouse pithiness campaign
i was trying to write short aphoristic semi-snarky comments
and it went wrong so that people--yourself being a prime example--
probably got the wrong idea
so once i expounded and bloviated everything became clearer
although i expect plenty of disagreement out there
with my nostalgia for 1936

ruth anne for example likes a nascar primary season
--you know nascar the sport that never ends--
which is a fine metaphor
except i'm wondering who's paying for the gasolene
not to mention the pit crew
and what happens if mrs clinton's car spins out
and obama and edwards crash at 190 mph trying to avoid her
and the rest of the field is under a yellow flag
but their engines overheat or clutches burn out
and finally hillary gets her car going again
but there's nobody left in the race
hillary wins
you just know it's going to turn out like this
don't you