5:57pm (All times likely Mountain) The worst part about CNN hosting these debates is having to watch Lou Dobbs on the pregame show. He’s like Bill O’Reilly for Morons.
5:59pm According to DirecTV’s programming guide, tonight’s debate is scheduled to run for three hours. That’s nearly 20 minutes devoted to both candidates (plus special guest John Edwards!), and two full hours of longing closeups on Anderson Cooper’s best concerned face. I’m not sure I can take it.
6:01pm Here come the contenders. I almost miss the days of long ago last month, when the Democrats could still put eight or twelve candidates on the same stage. When it’s just a three-man race, that stage looks pretty bare. And I don’t mean to be sexist, using the phrase “three-man race.” I mean, special guest John Edwards isn’t that much of a girl.
6:03pm Again, CNN is having the candidates stand and wait on stage as Wolf Blitzer makes the introductions. And… the audio cut out. Bonus! Another bonus: Still no sign of Anderson Cooper.
6:04pm More people are joining the candidates (plus special guest John Edwards!) on stage, but CNN’s talking heads are talking all over the intros. So I have no idea who these people are, or why they’re on the stage.
6:06pm Remember, please don’t refresh the page more than every couple of minutes. That’s as fast as I can drunkblog, kids. Be kind to my server — it’s hard to find parts these days for my Amiga 500.
6:07pm Blitzer is explaining the rules. I suggest the next debate have only two rules: No eye gouging, and no kicks to the crotch.
6:07.5pm Oh, and no using your voice as a sonic weapon. (The Ron Paul Rule.)
6:09pm My how times change. The “number one issue” facing Americans today is the economy. Hillary says she’s glad she was asked about the economy. As opposed to, say, the Surge™ in Iraq. Also, people who signed adjustable rate mortgages are “essentially homeless.” Really?
6:12pm Obama looks good — duh. And so far, both candidates (plus special guest John Edwards!) have tied in their answers to MLK’s legacy. That’s not easy to do when talking about stimuli packages. Hillary looks like she’s not listening, tired. That’s a bad sign — you’ve got to be on your toes when going into a state you might just lose.
6:13pm Everybody on the Democratic side is running against GW Bush or Ronald Reagan. The Republicans are running against Clinton. The latter strikes me as smarter. Or at least, you know, slightly relevant.
6:15pm Special guest John Edwards just got in a nice little suck-up: “As Hillary said…” I think somebody is now running for Al Gore’s old job. But is he any good with PowerPoint?
6:17pm Please kill me. I hate hate hate it when politicians promise to “grow the economy.” Ugh. But now it’s worse. Special guest John Edwards is promising to “green the economy.” Kill me quickly.
6:18pm “NAFTA was a mistake.” There went any chance of me ever voting for Obama. At a time when our economy is more dependent on exports than ever, Obama wants to scuttle our most important trade agreement with our most important trade partners? And he’s a friend of the working man?
6:20pm Clinton wants Bush to take action, convene meetings, and do something about today’s market corrections. Also, she wants government-created “green collar jobs” in a government-managed “green economy.” Green this, lady.
6:21pm Special guest John Edwards’s dad did not have a green-collar job back in the caramel mines or wherever.
6:22pm Obama, for all his brains, is an idiot when it comes to trade. Does he not realize this country produces more steel than ever, with fewer people, and that we have free trade to thank for that tremendous increase in productivity? Dumb, dumb, dumb.
6:23pm We could have full employment forever if everybody just went back to the farm. Just a thought.
6:25pm Clinton and Obama are going after each other on… well, I’m not sure what, because there’s only so much room in my brain for useless trivia. Meanwhile, special guest John Edwards isn’t getting any screen time at all. Such a waste of quality hair product!
6:26pm Clinton is the first candidate to mention Iraq. Who had the over/under at 6:25?
6:28pm Obama is defending himself against charges that he ever once gave Reagan a big hug or something. Reagan, as was made clear earlier tonight during the Lou Dobbs for President Show, used to send holiday cards to Pieter Botha, telling him to enjoy his “white Christmas.” Mark this moment as the time when the debate got ugly.
6:30pm Man, I used to complain about the Republicans talking too much about Reagan. But at least all they ever did was mention his name a few times and genuflect. The Democrats just can’t stop shouting it.
6:31pm “There are three people in this debate, not two,” says special guest John Edwards. You really think?
6:32pm “This is not about us personally,” says special guest John Edwards, and “I have the most progressive agenda.” Inside, though, he’s thinking, “I’m gonna kill that bitch who over-waxed my eyebrows.” Jeeze, he looks like Dick Gephardt playing with a brown magic marker.
6:33pm “I’m gonna tax you bastards back to the Stone Age.” That’s special guest John Edwards, paraphrased.
6:35pm The question is, “Aren’t blacks also victims of mortgage lenders?” And now the Democrats get to genuflect at the altar of victimhood. Of course, the question went to special guest John Edwards. But you can see the real candidates licking their chops at the prospect of kicking the banks while smiling at minorities.
6:37pm Clinton wants a 90-day moratorium on foreclosures. My question is, doesn’t that make for three more mortgage payments for people who couldn’t afford their last three mortgage payments?
6:39pm “We have a history in this country of preying on low-income people.” That’s Obama, channeling Marx via Howard Zinn.
6:42pm Clinton “regrets” voting for the bankruptcy bill. She also regrets voting for the Iraq War, Goldwater in ’64, and the Do Something Nasty to Someone Helpless Day Act of 2003. However, she has no regrets for covering up her husband’s affairs and smearing the women in involved in them since (at least) 1992. At least we know where she stands.
6:44pm “You never take responsibility for any vote…” That was Clinton, talking to Obama. She then goes on to accuse him of voting “present” 130-something times in the Illinois legislature. In other words, skating through the tough votes. She got booed for that, although it seems to me a fair critique.
6:46pm Lots of so-called conservatives (cough, Andrew Sullivan, cough) have serious crushes on Obama. But tonight, Obama has come out as a serious economic populist. I wonder how many people will backtrack on their support of him by tomorrow morning? (I already have. So there.)
6:48pm Every time the questioning moves to special guest John Edwards, there’s some small joke about him being ignored, or the third wheel, etc. I know he’s promised to stay in the race right through the convention in Denver. But at the speed he’s running, he won’t reach the Rocky Mountains until the election is over.
6:50pm “I have led” on “issue after issue,” claims Obama. Tonight, he’s been blindly following Clinton’s and special guest John Edwards’s lead. And as a result, I’ve lost all respect for him.
6:52pm Clinton is bringing out the tired old gag that the government has some kind of magical negotiating power to get cheaper drugs — in this case, for HIV/AIDS medications. Tell me, who other than the government could negotiate the price of a hammer down to $400?
6:53pm The question to Obama is, “Is your health plan dreamily socialist enough to cover illegal immigrants?” His answer is, “No… because we don’t have the resources.” Not, mind you because we shouldn’t be paying out government grants to people who come here illegally. (And that complaint is coming from a guy like me, who is a virtual agnostic on the illegal immigrant issue.)
6:54pm The question to special guest John Edwards is, “Is your health plan dreamily socialist enough to cover illegal immigrants?” “No… even I’m not that big a fool on an issue like that!”
6:55pm Special guest John Edwards is at least honest. He talks about “mandates” on “everybody.” Remember those two words. They mean: Washington tells you what to do, and there is no out, at all, forever.
6:57pm “Everybody will be forced to buy health insurance.” That’s Obama, expanding on what special guest John Edwards just said.
6:58pm I need to make another martini. Another very freaking large martini.
7:01pm Let’s be honest about something here. The biggest reason to mandate health insurance is to force young, healthy people (millions of whom neither want nor need insurance) to pay in, thus lowering rates (and thus transferring wealth) to millions of old people who have a lot more money than young people. But old people also vote a lot more than young people. And by and large they vote for Democrats.
7:04pm The question is to Clinton, and it’s basically, “So Iraq doesn’t entirely suck anymore. Are you looking to end this war or win it?” And Clinton straight up tells the enemy she wants out “in 60 days” and that “there is no military solution.” And she’s the hawk in this limp-wristed field.
7:06pm Clinton just told the Iraqi government that “their time is running out.” If anybody on that stage is elected President, that statement will become self-fulfilling prophecy.
7:07pm I’ve gotten a lot of jokes out of these debates, both Democrat and Republican. But tonight, in just five minutes of foreign policy talk, the Democrats have me scared.
7:09pm Obama says the troops should be brought home and ordered to lay broadband cable in West Virginia or something. Also, al Qaeda is “stronger than at any time since 2001.” Does he have one single metric to back that up? Like maybe a couple tumbling office buildings or something?
7:11pm Clinton is pissed off that Bush might make commitments to our allies in Iraq. Imagine, if you will, that in 1948 Thomas Dewey [Corrected, thanks, John! And now I’m switching to brandy] had told Europe that the Truman Doctrine was a fraud and that, if elected, it’d be “sayonara, suckers!”
7:14pm It’s the Comfy Chair Debate! “Starbucks, Senator Clinton? It’s sustainably grown…”
7:20pm We’re back from commercial, and everybody looks relaxed in their comfy chairs. Obama says he can “bring the country together most effectively,” and special guest John Edwards is sipping on a sustainably-grown beverage. Clinton, oddly enough, looks exactly the same sitting or standing.
7:23pm Special guest John Edwards doesn’t like poverty, and he wants to go become a veterinarian because he loves children. Oh, and colored people.
7:24pm Clinton also wants to end poverty. Certainly, she’s ended the poverty she was born into, by trading four cattle futures into a hundred grand. Oh, and by marrying the richest ex-president, like, ever.
7:26pm Best from the comments section so far tonight: “You know what’s not sustainable? My patience.” Also, Clinton wants “shared prosperity.” That’s code for “I’m gonna tax you bastards back to the Stone Age.” Special guest John Edwards nodded approvingly, dreaming perhaps of “Clinton/Edwards” bumper stickers.
7:28pm Obama wants people to have hope, audacious hope, for a “movement of change in this country.” There’s a bowel movement joke to be made here, but even I’m not going to touch it.
7:31pm “My family was so poor, my mother almost got repossessed.” I’m not sure if special guest John Edwards is pulling my leg or not, but my left boot did just come off.
7:33pm “Was President Clinton our first black president?” Asked of Obama, of course. Correct answer: No. Obama’s answer: We’re half a minute into it, and he still hasn’t said one goddamn thing. Although he’s willing to admit that “people can change.” Change skin color?
7:34pm I want you to imagine that a white Republican (but I repeat myself, right?) had been asked if Obama was more white or more black, and answered, “I’d have to see him dance.”
7:35pm While running against lame duck GW Bush, Clinton says we have to “focus on the future.” Umm… you first, lady.
7:37pm Of course, Obama is right when he talks about unfairness in sentencing when it comes to race. What he won’t tell you, however, is that most of the “unfairness” stems from stupid drug-war mandatory-sentencing laws — which he’s never talked about repealing. End the drug war, and most of the problem goes away, without having to convene (at taxpayer’s expense) a bunch of race hustlers.
7:38pm And Hillary goes into bobble-head mode on that one.
7:39pm Special guest John Edwards had a dad who worked in a mill. Who knew?
7:40pm Correction: Worked in a “meeyil.”
7:42pm Question to Clinton, paraphrased: “Your husband has become something of a loudmouth, huh?” Answer: “This campaign is not about our spouses.” If it was, I’d be so totally voting for Kucinich.
7:44pm Time for another drink. Obama is in Reconciliation Mode, which we’ve all seen a dozen or more times already. No one will miss much while I’m gone.
7:47pm Tigerhawk blogs, “One thing about the Dems this time around, they are having fun with it. The laughter among them is a lot more appealing than the childish bickering at the beginning of the debate. As I wrote the other night, no matter what one things of Hillary and Barack, they are both manifestly stronger as candidates and likely presidents than either Al Gore or John Kerry. So the Republicans have a race on their hands regardless.”
Well, that and the Republican candidates mostly suck, too.
7:48pm Special guest John Edwards can go “anywhere in America and compete against John McCain.” I think he should start, say, at a Miss Teen USA pageant.
7:52pm Not only is the commercial break over, but my lovely bride just brought me a pizza.
7:54pm I’m pro-choice, and strongly so. But Obama’s complaint that “right-wingers” are going to take abortion rights away strikes me as false. It’s not like the Republicans haven’t had plenty of chances to do just that the last 20 years, to no avail. And historically, the courts have never once (that I know of) taken away a right once granted.
7:55pm Also, Clinton knows all about fighting the right wing.
7:56pm Also, special guest John Edwards doesn’t take money from special interests. Rather, he has juries hand it to him.
7:57pm During Act One, the candidates (plus special guest John Edwards!) had podiums. During Act Two, everybody got comfy red chairs. For Act Three, how about a pit and a pendulum?
7:58pm Clinton promises to get “the money out of politics.” Finally, a Democrat who will cut taxes!
8:00pm Obama wants to end the fear-mongering in “describing a new foreign policy.” Just an hour ago, he claimed that al Qaeda was stronger than ever. You’d think a smart, well-dressed chap like Barack would know what “cognitive dissonance” means.
8:02pm One final question! To both candidates, plus special guest John Edwards: “If MLK were alive today, why would he endorse you?”
Edwards: Because I love the blacks and other poor people.
Obama: “I don’t think Dr King would endorse any of us.” Just when I start to despise Obama, he comes out with a smart, right, perfect answer to a question that just begged him to pander instead.
Clinton: “Change comes from people. People with change. Colored people make change for me all the time, at restaurants and at valet parking stations all across this great nation of change.”
8:05pm If you thought the debate was ugly, CNN just cut directly to Anderson Cooper.