6:53pm (Mountain, as usual) Who has the worse pregame show — CNN with Lou Dobbs and his giant orange head, or MSNBC and Keith Olberman’s giant little penis? It’s a tough call. I should warn you that Melissa and I started in on the Chianti early tonight, and I’ve since moved on to gin martinis. You’re welcome.
6:56pm The problem with hauling the laptop into the bedroom for these events is, I can’t have a cigar in the bedroom. Who wants to contribute to the Buy VodkaPundit an Outdoor Television Fund?
6:58pm The candidates are on stage, and they both look good. Clinton is wearing some brown patterned outfit, completely different from the usual plain Ann Taylor-looking pantsuits. Is she signaling something?
7:00pm Olberman asks if Hillary is going to compare Obama to Bush Jr. Northern black man = Texas fake cowboy? That’s not going to work, I don’t think.
7:02pm Once again, the promise is “no rules.” Except no kicks to the crotch and no fishhooking.
7:05pm “Well, this is a contested campaign…” Clinton, explaining her “change of tone” since the debate last Saturday. She excuses herself by playing defense on NAFTA and her health care plan. It’s a judo move, trying to make Obama look like the attacker. I think it sounds lame.
7:07pm I’m curious what the candidates internal polls tell them, since they’ve only really gotten heated with each other over health care — and not over Iraq.
And now we’re talking about Obama in the Somali garb from yesterday. Clinton denies everything, but says she’d ask people to “leave my campaign” if they were responsible for distributing the photo. Riiiiiight.
7:09pm Obama says he takes Clinton at her word, but he’s skipping over the photo kerfuffle and getting right into the health care debate. What is it about Democrats that they can talk for hours over who covers either 14 or 15 million more people? Yawn.
7:11pm “This is not just any issue… but whether the country will do what is right.” “Right” in this case telling millions of people exactly what to do. I thought rights were things the government isn’t allowed to stop us from doing.
7:12pm Clinton tried to stake the ground of John Edwards. Wasn’t his campaign the first big loser of the year? Is that a wise move? (She tried it on Saturday night, too.)
7:14pm “Subsidies.” “Mandates.” Obama’s two favorite words — and they sound like 1976 all over again. Or 1964. Or 1938. But 2008? The Republican attack ads practically write themselves.
7:15pm HillaryCare is just like a 401(k) because it’s “automatic.”
7:16pm Are they really arguing over whose government program will do they most to “control costs?” First person to give me a solid example of Washington controlling costs will win a free pony.
7:17pm On a plus note, at least the candidates are going after each other. I’m also pleased to note that Clinton just admitted that her plan can’t save money unless young, healthy people are forced to buy insurance they don’t want and probably don’t need.
7:19pm And now we’re on to NAFTA. Can’t we talk about gay marriage or medical marijuana or some other “soft” issue where I’m likely to agree with at least ONE of these guys?
7:20pm Oh, please. Clinton says she has been against NAFTA “since the beginning,” but bit her tongue because she was First Lady. Did I already say “Oh, please?” And what the hell is a “trade time-out?”
7:21pm “Hey, Mexico, don’t send us any stuff for a couple weeks while we figure stuff out. You too, Canada. We don’t need no stinkin’ Dodge Chargers for a while.”
7:23pm Obama wants a “fair deal” for American workers. Harry Truman called, and he wants his line back.
7:24pm The moderators are pretty much killing Hillary on her NAFTA wiggle. She’s in trouble, and it’s early yet. “We will opt out of NAFTA unless we renegotiate it.” And Obama is to her LEFT on trade.
We’re in trouble, folks.
7:27pm Clinton has spent the last thre minutes explaining exactly how she’s going to screw over our two largest trade partners. That weak dollar? It’s not going to get any stronger with talk like that.
7:29pm Obama agrees with Clinton on trade, he says.
7:30pm At least Obama has sense enough to praise American workers’ productivity. You know, so long as they’re behind some giant trade barriers.
7:32pm Good on Tim Russert for pointing out that Ohio exports a lot of stuff. Lots. The #4 state, in fact, to Canada and Mexico. Obama deflects, saying Bush is to blame for… something, I’m not sure what. He has no explanation to offer for why Ohio’s best-educated are leaving the state. Maybe because Ohio government has pretty much sucked the last four or five years?
7:33pm “Five million new jobs in five years” was Clinton’s promise to New York. Upstate New York has lost jobs. What went wrong? “I thought Al Gore would be president,” says Clinton. I told you Florida would vote Republican in November.
7:34pm Government makes jobs! Yawn.
7:36pm Some rock tunes have “city shout outs.” Think of Huey Lewis and “Heart of Rock and Roll.” The big cities got mentioned in the real song, then at the end a local radio edit included dubbed-over shouts for a couple of towns in your area. The candidates do the same thing in these debates. And when they do, I always hear Huey singing “St Louis!” over the fade-out.
7:38pm Obama on the Muslim world: “You know those elections and riots that have totally screwed up Pakistan lately? I would have made sure they happened much sooner.”
7:39pm Clinton on Obama: “He gave a great speech in 2002 when he didn’t have to do anything.” And, “until relatively recently” Obama and Clinton have voted the same on war issues in the Senate. It’s a pretty lame attack.
7:40pm On the other hand, Clinton pointing out that threatening to “bomb Pakistan” maybe wasn’t “too wise” was pretty sweet.
7:42pm Hillary has two big weaknesses. On the attack, she sounds rough, rehearsed, and yet somehow uncertain. On the defense, Obama deflects as smoothly as a very smooth thing having been recently resmoothed by a professional smoothing company.
7:43pm Obama’s weakness is, he forgets that the enemy in Iraq is al Qaeda and Sunni deadenders, and not the government in Baghdad.
7:44pm, Cripes, but I need a fresh cocktail. I’ll be gone for two minutes. You’ll tell me if I miss anything good, yes?
7:47pm “NATO is critical to our mission in Afghanistan,” says Hillary. True enough. But the problem isn’t whether Obama understands that. The problem is whether the other NATO countries understand that. BTW, I have a very icy Bombay Sapphire with a twist of lemon. How are you enjoying the debate?
7:48pm Germans won’t fight in Afghanistan because we’re fighting in Iraq, says Obama. I’m sorry, but how stupid is this man?
7:52pm Commerical break is over.
7:54pm Hillary getting all sarcastic in not a pretty sight. Neither are her hips in that bright yellow jacket.
7:55pm Somehow, Obama used that video flashback of Clinton’s Sarcasm Tour as a segue into his stump speech. This guy is the Jos. A Bank Wrinkle Free Traveler Shirt of politics.
7:57pm Clinton’s explanation for her Sarcasm Tour? “I was just trying to have a little fun.” Hillary, honey… Next time, have your fun in private. Get an intern to go down on you or something. It worked for Bill, thanks to you.
8:00pm Now it’s Obama’s turn for a video flashback. This one shows him picking on Clinton for trying to claim all of the good and none of the bad during her husband’s administration. He looked a little cheap, but at least he wasn’t wearing yellow.
8:02pm “I voted for it, but hoped it wouldn’t pass… but if you don’t want something pass you vote against it.” Best line of the night so far, and it belongs to Obama. Ive said this before, but it bears repeating. Obama reminds me of John Kerry’s singular strength: The man is a debating machine. You just can’t get him off-message or out-of-sorts.
8:04pm My drunkblog is being liveblogged. That’s so meta, I need a drink.
8:05pm “If I’m the nominee I will sit down with John McCain…” and try to weasel out of my promise to stick with public financing. It’s schadenfreude, I know, but I hope both nominees get screwed up the keister by their past support for public campaign finance.
8:07pm Clinton is bragging that donations are up since she loaned herself five million dollars. That’s a lot like a drowning man bragging about that lifesaver they threw in the water.
8:08pm You know what is weird about Americans? We sometimes love our presidents, but we hate our candidates. Why else would we insist that they release their tax returns, something we ask of nobody else?
8:10pm Kudos for Obama for denouncing Louis Farrakhan… but then he dodged the issue of rejecting Farrakhan’s support. Dude, you can’t pull out after you’ve… oh, never mind.
8:12pm Obama: “The Jews love me!”
8:14pm Clinton: “They love me, too!”
8:15pm This half-Jew is pretty much sick of the both of you.
8:15pm “We cannot let anyone in any way say these things…” That’s Clinton, with a positively McCain-like view of the First Amendment.
8:16pm Commercial break. You know what that means, don’t you? Cialis ads and a fresh martini.
8:20pm “How can you run with a more liberal voting record than Ted Kennedy?” Obama: Because I’m running against the worst candidate since John Kerry. OK, so he didn’t actually say that, but I wish he had.
8:21pm Obama has a point that the liberal/conservative Senate voting credentials don’t always make sense. That aside, a gun-hating, trade-hating, Iraq-screwing, dictator-loving junior senator from Chicago can hardly be called a centrist.
8:24pm When Clinton talks about Putin and Russia, I trust her a lot more than I trust, say, President Bush. Of course, I’d trust her with my liver more than I’d trust, say, Hannibal Lecter — but that’s assuming HillaryCare doesn’t get passed.
8:25pm “I think that we work with the international community… and state that ‘that’s unacceptable’.” Obama, explaining how to deal with a Russian-sponsored Serb invasion of Kosovo. While you’re at it, Barack, be sure to give those nasty Russkies a stern mention about civil liberties.
8:27pm Clinton, at long last, renounced her vote on the Iraq War. I think. Kind of, anyway. Depending on how you parse the Clintonese, that little statement could be the big story of the night.
8:29pm Obama would have changed how he acted (or failed to act) regarding Terry Schiavo. Nobody gained anything to be proud of from that sad case.
8:31pm And we end with a general love fest, group hugs, kumbaya and all that. I’ll have a lengthier (and possibly more sensible) analysis later tonight at PajamasMedia.com.