The Envelope Please: Dems Debate in Hollywood

6:52PM -Wow.. this was exhausting. I don't know if I would have watched this entire debate if I wasn't live-blogging. (The game is very close and the Chinese food has just arrived from the little hole in the wall down the street from the Kodak.) Would Obama and Hillary run together? Beats me. But I wouldn't be surprised. They want to win. Have a nice night.

6:45 PM - Hillary's laugh on the issue of whether she could control her spouse was so staged and phony the directors in the audience must have groaned. I've said it before and I'll say it again - no more dynasties, no more Divine Right of Kings in the US.

Meanwhile, the mandatory Industry question earlier - should the kids be seeing all this sex and violence - missed the important point. Why is Hollywood producing such depressing anti-American crap?

UPDATE: Check out the observations on tonight's debate by TigerHawk.

And check out my pre-debate photos of Spiderman, et al in front of the Kodak, if you haven't.

6:39 PM - The Democrats may be talking gibberish on foreign affairs... either the War on Terror is important or it's not... either you want to win it or you don't... but I did sneak a look at the Laker game during the break and... miracle of miracles... the Lakers are ahead. Without Bynum. One Laker fan not at the Kodak tonight - Andy Garcia.

6:28 PM - Obama is giving that BS line about Afghanistan failing because of Iraq. The Democrats didn't care about Afghanistan in the first place. Let's get real here. If it is McCain, he will have something to say to these people. I don't Romney can carry this fight as well. But that's me and I'm blogging here.

BTW, I suspect Hillary might, just might, be a hawkish president. As we know from the past, you never know what a person will be like when they get in office until they get there. What scares me with Obama is that at one of the most crucial moments in our history he is a mystery on foreign affairs. Some people will take him on faith. I wouldn't.

6:25PM - Why is it that the media don't ask the Democratic candidates some obvious questions on Iraq? Do they intend to leave US troops in Iraq to protect the US and Western interests from expansionist Iran? From Syria? What do they intend to do when most of the Middle East goes nuclear if we have vacated the area? Whatever they say now, they are going to be saying something different after they assume office. The level of prevarication on this matter by the Democratic candidates is extraordinary. They pander to their voters and they lie to themselves.... [But what do you really think?-ed. You just heard it.]

6:12 PM - Best question of the night - A 38-year old woman wants to know why she hasn't been able to vote for someone who wasn't a Bush or a Clinton her entire life. Hillary, of course, cannot answer that in any way that isn't partisan, so she goes for the partisan. The fans love it, but the country may feel differently. I know I do. I'm sick of dynasties.

Meanwhile, bad news for Laker fans in the debate audience. Detroit 58 - LAL 50.

5:60 PM - I can't believe they are asking the same questions we have heard so many times before... What qualifies you?... Are you qualified enough?... This is umpteenth rerun of the umpteenth rerun. I must say I admire both Clinton and Obama for staying awake. They must really want to be President... Good line by Obama on Romney on not getting great results for his business investment. I hate to admit it, but I'm in it for the good lines. Especially since there's nothing new when it comes to poliicy.

Absent from this debate so far is foreign policy. I thought we were at war. I guess the Democrats don't care about that.

UPDATE: The biggest lie of the night... Hilary saying "Neither of us would ever have dreamed we would be sitting here tonight." Come again? Hillary Clinton has been thinking about running for President for her entire adult life.

5:50PM - Ah, the break. Or should I say half-time. It is so much like a Laker game. When you're at Staples, people wander around at half-time to see the clebrities. I just spotted a good one. Stevie Wonder's in the audience. But where's Jack? When he's not at a Laker game, you assume he's on location filming. But then he usually slips out for a big game. Evidently, not for a debate.

5:45 PM - Obama seems vague on immigration. What I don't like about Obama in general is his vagueness. He feels slippery on the driver's license issue. He knows full well it's absurd to give undocumented workers driver's licenses because that makes them essentially documented in our society. That's citizenship by driver's license. So he dodges the question and says it will never come up if we solve the whole issue. Sometimes I think Obama will be a formidable candidate, sometimes I think he will implode. One thing is clear - no matter what you think of John McCain - he has done so much more, accomplished so much more than either of these people it's not even funny

5:38PM - Obama has humor and Hillary doesn't. That is a huge difference. He made a joke about the well-heeled crowd paying a bit more taxes and it humanized him. This is his strength. Still, this debate is breaking no new ground. There isn't one new thing here we haven't heard. I can't imagine one vote changing so far. Enough of this. The Writers' Strike better end soon. We need these people off the air.

5:30 PM - Bombing in Tinseltown. When you come to Hollywood to debate, you should at least have some style. Neither of the poeple do tonight. They should really not be debating in the Kodak. It makes them look bad. Where's Letterman or Leno? You keep waiting for the concert to start, but what you get is CSPAN comes to Lalaland... and not even a good episode of CSPAN.

5:25 PM - John Edwards, John Edwards, John Edwards... These candidates seem like (boring) authors on a book tour who are trying to mention the key word that sells their book... in this case John Edwards. This is boring beyond words at this point. The cameras should be showing the freaks on Hollywood Blvd., far more interesting.

I just saw an agent I know in the audience... David Schiff... yes, this is Hollywood. The agents get the best seats!

5:20 PM - Now we are in wonkery competition, interpspersed with ritual bows to John Edwards to try to get those few voters who might really have been wedded to John. But mostly we have heard all this stuff many times before (17 debates!). What is the point of so many debates? It's nuts. To give exposure to as many reporters as possible? Turn Wolf Blitzer into a household name? If I hear anymore about their health care plans, I am going to need a paid government stress vacation in Oahu. I'll vote for the person that puts that on their plan.

5:14 PM: The first thing you're thinking as they come out is that that these two people could end up running together, not good news for the Republicans. The audience is very LA. It reminds me of Staples Center but without Kobe and Phil Jackson, at least not yet. You see faces like Rob Reiner and our Mayor Villaraigosa, Clintonesque himself when it comes to fidelity.

Obama begins smoothly and not specifically, as is his wont. Fairly cliched. Attacks the "special interests" who have been attacked so many times now (whoever they are) you'd think they'd never made it out of the Paleolithic Age. Clinton is also bland, but less charming. Is that just my reaction? No. TI think that's the reaction of the world.

Hillary sees the differences between them as two - universal health care and a moratorium on mortgage foreclosures. When you hear this, you hope their primary campaign ends as quickly as possible. It is SO dull. Hillary says she is not "more of the same," but she is. She is very much "more of the same." If gender is the only difference, zzzz.....

4:50 PM - It's a street party on Hollywood Boulevard as everyone waits for the event to start. Obama supporters vastly dwarf Clinton supporters in the streets - but this is Hollywood, a charisma town and a youth town and Obama bests Clinton on both fronts. In fact, the street party aspect is far beyond anything I've seen recently hereabouts from the ubiquitous Gay Pride parades to the Academy Awards themselves, relatively stodgy in recent years (no streakers, not even much liberal baloney).

For those of you who have never visited the Kodak Theater, it's not very elegant, more of a post-modern mish-mash, as is the Hollywood & Highland mall where it is housed. Downtown Hollywood is itself is on something of an economic/real estate rise, but it's still very tacky, one of the t-shirt capitals of the world.

Roger L. Simon is an Academy Award-nominated screenwriter, novelist and blogger, and the CEO of Pajamas Media.