Thursday, February 21, 2008

Quick thoughts on tonight's Democratic Debate in Austin

1.) I know it will never happen, but Obama and Clinton would make an extraordinary ticket together. Obama could make the big visionary speeches and build a governing majority. And Clinton could manage the details of moving legislation through Congress. It'd be the greatest ticket in history. The audience in LA a few weeks ago and the audience in San Antonio tonight both seemed to share that view with their standing ovations and clear adoration for both candidates.

2.) On the economy: I wanted both candidates to make the link to Iraq more strongly. Democrats need to be saying over and over -- "the Iraq war is causing the recession and withdrawing from Iraq will end the recession." Obama made the point late in the evening (over an hour into the thing) but he could have made the point in the first 10 minutes.

3.) On immigration: I wanted either candidate to make the connection very clearly between NAFTA and our current immigration problems. NAFTA has failed both the U.S. and Mexico and it's a big reason why so many people are trying to come to this country. Again Obama alluded to this point but didn't drive it home as clearly as he could have.

4.) On John McCain: when asked about McCain's record as a "reformer" -- Clinton should have hit McCain as being part of the Keating 5 -- and the millions of dollars McCain cost taxpayers as a result of his bad judgment. She also could have brought up his current relationships with lobbyists (ahem Vicki Iseman). The "reformer" meme needs to be challenged aggressively and consistently.

5.) Did Obama have a cold tonight? And what was up with the wind in the room -- they had to keep holding their notes down to keep them from flying away. I also thought Clinton's suit was rockin'-- black with green piping -- very Jillian from Project Runway.

6.) I'm so completely disgusted with CNN I want to scream. Yet another debate sponsored by the coal industry, yet another debate with ZERO questions about global warming!!! It's not like the future of the planet depends on figuring this out -- oh wait, it does. CNN has once again shown that they are bought and paid for by big, dirty, polluting coal. With friends like these...

7.) Clinton's "plagiarism" line of attack is ridiculous. Obama was quoting the Declaration of Independence and MLK for god sake. If she wants to draw distinctions, Clinton should be making a detailed defense of partisanship and how fighting for ideas is what gets results. (It seems to me that Obama's emphasis on post-partisanship is actually his biggest weakness.) But the current plagiarism line of attack makes her look petty.

8.) If Clinton really wanted to win this thing -- she should have used the Monica Lewinsky scandal in reply the question, "What was the moment that tested you the most in your life?" Her answer about wounded vets was brilliant and got a standing ovation, but a candid reply about Monica would have completely dominated the news cycle and could have changed the dynamics of this race.

9.) Also, if Clinton wants to win, she needs to fire Mark Penn. People HATE that dude (and he's giving her really lousy advice -- see point #7). If she wants to show she's listening, firing him would be a great move. Oh yeah she also needs to fire Terry McAuliffe -- I don't care if he's not actually getting paid by the campaign, dude is a total tool.

10.) All that being said, I came away feeling that these are two extraordinary candidates. In any normal election cycle we'd be lucky to get one candidate this brilliant. The Democratic Party is lucky to have 2 wonderful choices.

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