Debate Drunkblogging -- LIVE!
5:49pm (All times Mountainish) The comments thread is below. Loud [Freudian typo? -ed.] Dobbs needs to fire his colorist, but it's not like they're hurting for business over at Crayola.
5:53pm Mike Gravel is notable for his absence. CNN made up a completely arbitrary rule that, if you aren't tall enough to raise one million dollars, then you can't get on their ride tonight. John Edwards raised that much, collecting change from under the sofa cushions in his 28,000 square foot house. Anyway, I think it's a good rule. Fewer candidates = even extra time for non-answers to non-sensical questions in this non-debate. Everybody wins! Except Gravel, but that was going to be the case anyway.
5:57pm Dobbs's enormous orange head is starting to unnerve me. It's going to be thirsty work tonight.
5:59pm "The truth is never fair, it's never balanced, it just is." Lou Dobbs channeling Donald Rumsfeld channeling Plato on a bender. Excuse me while I go make my second martini 20 minutes ahead of schedule.
6:02pm Did I miss anything? I could kind of hear Wolf Blitzer talking, but that's about as clearly as I've heard him since 1991. I learned early on in the first Gulf War how to filter him out. Also, Edwards did get the extra-angry flounce in his hair tonight. Well worth the $400 right there.
6:04pm This is the first debate in my memory--going back to 1980--where the candidates were being introduced like they were coming on Carson's stage to do three minutes of stand-up. Question is: Will Johnny invite any of them back to the sofa after?
6:05pm Bill Richardson raised a million bucks? Also, who staged this thing? First, the talk-show intro. Then, going back to the spin room before the debate. Leave it to YouTube to be different, OK, CNN?
6:07pm Watching these guys make their ways back to their podiums, I flashed back on Monty Python's "Upper Class Twit of the Year Contest." There's a good joke in there, but I'll save it for the next Republican debate.
6:09pm Blitzer says this debate will feature "two halves." Or maybe three thirds. Or for those really paying attention, sixteen sixteenths. Edwards insists it will be one haves, and one have-nots.
6:10pm To Hillary: Is it true that you skirt questions? "Well, that depends on what you mean by 'skirts.'" Seriously, though, Hillary couldn't even deliver her "asbestos pant suit" gag well enough to get many laughs. She has all the humor of me after covering one of these, sober.
6:13pm To Obama: Is it true Hillary skirts questions? Man, this is going to be a long night for Hill, huh? Anyway, Barrack came out swinging, bringing up the whole immigration thing, plus social security and other things. Clinton came back with... health care coverage? Using Edwards' signature "special interests" codephrase? She looks a little weak already.
6:14pm On his response, Obama went off-message by defending his health plan instead of keeping up the attack on Clinton. So the fireworks aren't about Clinton, they're about policy-wonk details. Obama missed a great chance there.
6:16pm Blitzer brought Edwards into the fray, and he's going straight for Hillary on everything under the sun, even mentioning "the neo-cons." But compared to Clinton and Obama? He looks small. But his hair is freakin' perfect.
6:19pm As if on cue, Clinton says she doesn't mind if her colleagues "throw mud," so long as "it isn't from the Republican playbook." But all I could think was, "Too much Botox, honey." I also couldn't help but notice that, on the word "colleagues," Joe Biden shook his head. I wonder what he really thinks of Clinton as a Senator?
6:20pm Also, Biden might just be the most serious lost-cause debater I've seen. You gotta respect that.
6:22pm To Edwards: Aren't you a bit of a flip-flopper, too? Great opening, and Edwards is taking it to nail Hillary on everything from Iraq to Latin American trade deals, and how she's tried to play both sides at the same time. I can't vouch for his accuracy, but it's fun to watch.
6:24pm Even Chris Dodd is getting into the act. I haven't seen a scene like this since I Got Gang Banged #17. No... I think it was #8. Wait, it was #17.
6:25pm Richardson finally got asked a question, and he started in with, "By the way, I'm Bill Richardson and I'm governor of New Mexico." Great line, and delivered perfectly.
6:28pm The question was, Would each of you support whoever wins the nomination? Best answer? Biden: I wouldn't vote for any of you guys! Weirdest answer? Dennis Kucinich: Only if they renounced war as a national policy. Or words along Kellogg-Briand Pact lines. Pathetic.
6:33pm Please, folks, I appreciate the traffic, but don't click "refresh" more often than every two or three minutes. Love the attention, but you're killing my poor little server. Meantime, I'll play catch-up as soon as the good folks at my hosting company get the server reset.
6:34pn Well, the Bash Hillary section of the show seems to be over, and we're into the "meat" of the debate. Which means "policy talk." Which means, get me another drink because the fireworks might be over.
6:36pm I love watching Dodd get the FDR Coalition all hooting and hollering. It's like an old newsreel, and I half expect to next see footage of Nazi tanks storming through Poland.
6:38pm Kucinich really needs to swing for the fences if he wants to make any headway. He's got to try a new ploy. Something like, "Have you seen my wife? How'd you like four years of that on the TV news every night? Huh?"
6:40pm OMG, did Richardson just say he wants to be "the education president?" Really? It's one thing to run against lame duck George W. Bush. But to run as George H W Bush? Who's advising this guy?
6:41pm Hillary: "You've got to weed out the teachers who aren't doing a good job." And you'll do that without taking on the teacher's union how?
6:43pm Just a note. When you hear "national service," remind yourself the Democrats are talking about reinstating the draft, only for welfare programs instead of the Pentagon.
6:45pm Biden would use military supplies access to push Pakistan's Musharraf into doing our bidding. While probably effective, I'm not sure how wise that would be. A bit like cutting off Lend-Lease to force the Brits to hold elections in 1942.
6:47pm I need another drink, and my server is still overloaded. Back in a flash.
6:49pm Edwards doesn't like how we've dealt with Pakistan in "an ad-hoc" way. How else do you deal with a basketcase country like that? Well, Edwards says he'd "rid the world of nuclear weapons." How come nobody else never thought of that?
6:51pm Let me reiterate, please, don't click refresh more than every two-three minutes. That's as fast as I can drunkblog, and as much as my server can handle. Thanks.
6:55pm Question: Is Petraeus correct that the surge is bringing security to Iraq? Richardson: The surge is not working, and he has GAO numbers or something to prove it. "Even by Republican math, that is a failing grade." His answer is heartfelt, he has numbers, and he's completely wrong. He's out on the edge where only Kucinich and Ron Paul are his neighbors. And he wants the money-- deficit money--spent on welfare programs. I liked Richardson, right up until I saw him up close.
6:57pm Obama, taking the same question: Our troops are doing a magnificent job, but...
6:59pm I started drunkblogging because, almost six years ago, I knew that was the only way I was going to get through another State of the Union address with any kind of sanity. SOTU speeches are just that formulaic and awful. These debates have gotten just as bad, especially now that the Democrats have a "Yes, but..." recurring feature on the Iraq War. "YES, I support the troops, BUT..." Pass the vodka.
7:01pm Edwards claims that NAFTA has cost "millions of jobs." Can anyone back up that claim? Anyone?
7:03pm "Was Ross Perot right on NAFTA?" Hillary laughed so hard, one of her eyebrows almost moved. And while she thinks we should "look at" looking at NAFTA, she's not willing to commit one way or the other. Instead, she proposes a "trade time-out." That's like putting a time-out on your ATM card, or your paycheck.
7:06 Obama has so many takes on trade, I have no idea what he just said. Also, I'm getting pretty buzzed, so take that into account.
7:08pm Obama: You're a real NIMBY guy when it comes to nuclear waste, huh? OK, look -- let's be fair to the guy. Do we want to put nuclear waste right next to Chicago, or under a mountain 50 miles outside of West Intestine, Nevada?
7:10pm The question doesn't matter. Obama's answer, perfectly delivered, was, "I'm running for President because I think we can do it." He needs to use that as the tagline to every TV spot he runs for the next four months.
7:12pm The question, from
Gloria Borger that hot brunette talking head not named Borger, is pretty much, "Hillary, you're a weak little girl, aren't you?" Reply: "...I'm comfortable in the kitchen." And you know what? I totally Dowdified that quote.
7:15pm Edwards just got booed. That turns me on.
7:18pm Commercial break, at long last. If I get fat, blame it on politics. They've not only driven me to drink, but now I'm also eating Cheetos.
7:18.5pm Stale Cheetos. I demand a government program to cover fresh snacks and my resulting health care needs.
7:23pm Here's where it really gets bad. CNN is turning over the questioning to a bunch of "undecided voters," each of whom will undoubtedly want these candidates to promise them something. On the other hand, could any of them be worse than Wolf, the Hot Chick, or the Other Guy?
7:25pm First question: We've been rushing to war against Iran since 1979. Are you going to send my son there?
7:26pm Biden answers with, If Bush goes to war against Iran without approval from Congress, we should impeach him. Hillary chimes in with something about "aggressive diplomacy." Which is a lot like having sex without an erection.
7:29pm Everybody thanks the troops, nobody defends the mission. Which is a lot like having sex without an erection. Meanwhile, Edwards has to repeat, "Bush, Cheney, and the neocons" like some kind of mantra. Please, people, neither of those guys is running in 2008.
7:31pm Obama: Strong presidents negotiate with our enemies. Really? Name one. OK -- name one that worked out well for us.
7:33pm Next question: My son is poor. What are you going to do about that, huh? Why are moms asking all the questions all of a sudden? Why can't people ask their own questions? What's CNN thinking with this?
7:35pm Curious dichotomy of the night. Richardson would bring all the Marines home, right now. He'd also increase the size of the Corps by two-thirds, up two divisions. My question is: If he won't do anything with the Marines, why does Richardson think we need almost twice as many of them?
7:36pm Gitmo, Edwards says, is a "national embarrassment." International, maybe -- but national? Not so much.
7:38pm Kucinich: In the future, everybody will think like me! (Space aliens included, I can only presume.)
7:40pm Biden: It's not who was right when, but what you're going to do now. Which, in Biden's case, is lose badly in Iowa then drop out of the race.
7:41pm Richardson: "I'm not in Washington!" Also, "You know who has higher approval ratings [than Congress]? Dick Cheney and HMOs." Classic.
7:42 As a bit of an agnostic on the whole immigration issue, I think Richardson makes some practical sense. And... there goes half my audience tonight. Oh, wait -- two thirds? Sigh.
7:44pm Three out of four undecided voters on CNN are pear-shaped middle-agd women with a tendency to ramble, and who want things from the government. Don't blame me if you think that's cruel--I'm just reporting what I see.
7:46pm Obama: George Bush is raiding Social Security to pay for Iraq. Unlike every other president, who raided SS to pay for whatever the hell he liked, too.
7:48pm Obama says we'll save money by spending more money on health care. Was there ever a government program that saved money? Ever? Also, Hillary is finally back in the game, talking about the fiscal responsibility we enjoyed back in 2000. Does that mean she wants another Republican Congress?
7:50pm Barrack Obama: I'm quite a bit taller than Hillary.
7:51pm Another commercial break, at long last. How much more of this do we have to endure? I think my brain can take it, but I'm starting to worry about my liver.
7:54pm My favorite cocktail shaker, a Christmas/Chanukah gift from a couple years ago, has developed a leak. I blame the speeded-up campaign season. Also, I wish I were kidding. It's a gorgeous shaker. I had to make this new martini with the Emergency Backup Travel Shaker. Sigh.
7:57pm Jeebus, but this is a sloppy production. CNN came back late out of ads, in the middle of Dodd answering something about Supreme Court nominees. Also, it's an ugly set with bad lighting, and the commercial break graphics look like they came out of one of those inept Bush '92 campaign ads. Politics aside, CNN objectively sucks.
8:00pm Question: Who likes abortion the most? Now, I'm pro-choice, but it's a little sad watching all these candidates show fealty to Roe v Wade. Especially Clinton, who had to rephrase the question around "privacy" instead of abortion. Then Obama went and did the same damn thing. And then Edwards, too. Does not one of these characters have the balls of a field mouse?
8:02pm If elected, asked the young man who isn't at all pear-shaped, what would you promise our divided country on your swearing-in? Well, it was generous of Obama to offer to speak to Republicans, even before he'd speak to the leaders of Iran and Syria. Most generous.
8:05pm To Hillary: Is it true people just really hate you? Her best answer would have been: Yep, and that's what we need right now. Her actual answer: Hell if I can parse what she's saying.
8:06pm We've been going for more than two hours and three 3.5 ounce martinis. Stop the madness!
8:08pm Richardson, after retreating completely from the Middle East, seems to think he would still have enough heft to provide "leadership and diplomacy." Um... you got a stick to go with that carrot, governor?
8:09pm Last question was to Clinton, and I swear to god it was, "Do you prefer diamonds or pearls?" Since I'm doing this drunkblog here instead of on PJ Media, I feel free to ask, What the fucking fuck was that?
8:13pm Ultra-quick wrap-up: Lots of fireworks, yet still the worst debate I've seen all season. The blame rests squarely with CNN. They ran a bad debate on a bad stage with stupid questions from insipid people in a format that was neither fish nor fowl but spoiled meat nonetheless. Horrible, even by the low standards set by Fox News and MSNBC. Horrible, horrible.
No winners tonight, and anyone who just watched came out a loser. Horrible.