5:52pm (Mountain) You barely have to watch the debate to know what will happen. One of Clinton’s cronies is on Lou Dobbs, and said that Obama “is just words, and you can’t even trust those.” Tonight is gonna be nasty. And fun!
5:58pm Of course, it’s ironic that Hillary’s last stand will take place in Texas, a state neither she nor Obama have any chance of winning come November.
6:00pm Dobbs is still selling that “NAFTA Superhighway” bunk. Look, when you send and receive a lot of goods, you need a lot of road. A simple flippin’ highway does not presage the end of a sovereign America. Sheesh.
6:01pm Who’s the newsbabe in the polkadots? Inquiring minds (and other organs) want to know!
6:03pm Man, that is one busy-looking set. I bet it took at least two dozen graphic designers to come up with all that stuff. And again, CNN insists on holding a live photo-op as the candidates come out on stage. Why?
6:04pm Clinton gave Obama that look that says, “Chum!” As in, the shark has pretty teeth, dear.
6:06pm No rules debate! Although I would prefer to see a cage match. Obama’s got reach, but you know Clinton would fight inside and dirty. Clinton’s opening statement is drab, forgettable, and her delivery is, well, oh-so-Hillary.
6:07pm Do Texans even remember Ann Richards any more? And is it wise to bring up an ex-governor unseated by W?
6:08pm Clinton just telegraphed two of her upcoming moves. She just stressed bipartisanship (real, not the Obama-imaginary kind), and “results.”
6:10pm Obama: Smooth. Speaking of Clinton he says, “We’ve been friends… we will be friends afterwards.” His opening “statement” is really just a stump version of his stump speech. Although in his case, that may be no bad thing — it’s a helluva speech.
6:11pm BTW, I’ve started off tonight with brandy. We’ll see if it makes a difference in the blogging.
6:12pm “Washington is a place where good ideas go to die.” A great line from Barack. But he forgets its corollary: Washington is the place where bad ideas never die.
6:13pm “I want America to be as good as its promise.” Unless it made that promise to the Kurds or something.
6:15pm First question: Will you talk to the post-Castro dictator of Cuba? Well, I wasn’t expecting Obama or Clinton to win Florida, anyway. Clinton smartly calls on the new leadership to release political prisoners, etc — and then we’ll talk. Nice contrast to Obama’s promise to bend over for Tehran any old time.
6:17pm And like clockwork, Obama says he’ll talk to Raul Castro or whoever without conditions. But he’d give them a stern mention about human rights!
6:19pm “Process-EASE.” How Hillary pronounces the plural of “process.” It sounds like a lubricant.
6:21pm “We have emboldened our enemies.” Like the al Qaeda fighters slinking out of Iraq, boldly advancing to the rear?
6:22pm Meeting with the President is not a privilege to be earned, says Obama. Wonder what President O would think if I showed up on the White House lawn one morning, demanding a meeting?
6:24pm You’d think on foreign affairs, Hillary would have her claws out already. I mean, most Texas Democrats are bolder hawks than New York Republicans. What gives?
6:26pm Obama mentions our “addiction” to foreign oil. Fine. Let’s give it up. Anybody want to hazard a guess what those detox symptoms would be like? And with an economy that he admits is shaky? When the patient is having a heart attack, you treat it before you get to the cancer.
6:28pm “What would you (Clinton) do differently on Day One from President Obama?” And what are the first words out of her mouth? “Well, I would agree with a lot of what Senator Obama said…” Clinton saved her big guns in this answer for targets in… China? This is not, so far, the debate I was hoping for.
6:30pm Hillary on adjustable rate mortgages: “Millions of Americans are going to be homeless.” Yes, people who sell or get foreclosed on are prevented from renting.
6:31pm Wait… did I just hear Clinton imply that we need more stay at home moms?
6:33pm “We need a path to legalization…” for “undocumented workers.” That’s Clinton again, giving up entirely on the Angry Middle of the electorate. I’m more inclined to agree with Clinton or McCain on immigration (partially, but far from totally) but I know that’s not a popular position this year.
6:34pm Obama is making the same play for Hispanic voters as Clinton. Really, it’s a dumb/smart move for the both of them. Dumb for Election ’08, smart for the Democrats’ long-term prospects. Republicans should study Pete Wilson and take notes.
6:35pm Everyone wants to improve relations with Mexico and the other Latin American nations. How about more free trade and fewer anti-drug laws?
6:38pm To Clinton: Would you speed up building the fence, or take some time to review it? She’s not answering directly, so I assume she means the latter. Yes — she just said “I think we should review this.” But her long windup makes it difficult to tell if she’s talking about the Mexican border or the Canadian one. I think that’s on purpose.
6:40pm “Let’s deploy more technology and people…” and not so much on the “physical barrier.” That’s Clinton, and Obama says he basically agrees.
6:44pm The question is if America will become bilingual. Hillary says she wants Americans to learn a second language, but that English should be our “unifying language.” And she got some nice applause for that. Although she wouldn’t make English the official language of the US. Ladies and gentlemen, that’s what we call a straddle.
6:46pm Obama wants everyone to learn English, but that “every student she be learning a second language.” That’s Hillary’s answer, stated boldly the other way around. Somehow this ties into the evils of No Child Left Behind. Wild applause. I don’t get it. Neither candidate addressed what to do when English is the second language.
6:50pm Obama is a lefty. Had no idea.
6:53pm CNN is trying to get the candidates to draw blood, asking them to defend the terrible accusations they make about each other in their speeches. Hillary deflects, taking aim instead at President Bush. If you’ll pardon the language, I have to ask “What the fucking fuck?” Tonight is no different than any of Clinton’s previous debate performances — and we can tell how much good those have done for her. Is she setting herself up for a graceful exit on March 5? She’s a Clinton, I can’t believe that.
6:54pm Obama deflects, also. But in his case, that’s the smart move. As for Hillary… I’m a little drunk and could use some help picking my jaw up off the floor.
6:57pm Barack just made fun of one of Clinton’s anti-Obama lines, and Clinton is doing that weird face-thing she calls a laugh. The debate just ended. It’s too late. There is nothing Clinton can do at this point to turn this thing around.
Turn off your TV. Scrub your TiVo’s hard drive. It’s over.
I’ll keep watching, out of some strange sense of blogger duty, and because I still have a lot of brandy to go.
But the rest of you should just go on home already.
6:59pm And the general election might be over, too. Obama just used the phrase “good jobs at good wages.” If that sounds familiar, it’s because that line he cribbed from uber-loser Mike Dukakis.
7:00pm I’m still aghast at the ‘good jobs at good wages” thing. I’m not even hearing Clinton talk right now.
7:02pm If I were John McCain, I would make Mitt Romney my veep, putting Michigan (and maybe even bits of New England) in play. Because at this point, that might be all it takes to beat an Obama/Bentsen ticket.
7:05pm Oh, crap. Barack is talking numbers on health care reform, and you could just see Clinton getting wet. Now, at long last, she’ll attack. Too little, too late.
7:10pm We’re back from break, and I have a fresh cocktail. Why I’m still here, I have no idea.
7:13pm Once again, CNN is freaking begging Clinton to draw blood. The question is, Do you think Obama is unqualified to be commander-in-chief? And Clinton says, and I quote, “I will leave that for voters to decide, and I want to get back to health care.” Health care! She thinks some wonk-talk trumps command ability during wartime? And to think I once considered voting for this woman!
7:15pm The candidates are talking about health insurance like it was the draft. Mandates! No outs! Go after deserters!
7:17pm Once again, Clinton is asked if she really thinks Obama is unqualified to act as CinC. And once again, she’s dodging the question. There’s blood in the water, all right — and it’s hers. My prediction: Obama will win Ohio and get as-good-as-a-draw or better in Texas. This race is over.
7:19pm Pennsylvania will be a blow-out for Obama. The Keystone State will serve as the coronation Clinton expected to get on Super Tuesday. Either that, or Clinton has pictures of at least 500 superdelegates in bed with live boys or dead girls.
7:21pm “TAHL-EEEEEE-bahn.” That’s how Obama says “Taliban.” Jingizzzz Khan, anyone?
7:23pm “Is Iraq better off than it was before the Surge?” Clinton: “You have to remember the point of the Surge…” Can no one even remotely even near the center, much less left of it, give an honest answer to this question?
7:24pm The egregious drunken typo at 7:19 — which everybody pointed out, thanks — has been fixed.
7:26pm Obama wants more foreign aid to Latin America. But free trade there is, apparently, too expensive for his tastes.
7:28pm Important cue: Obama just made a pointed reference to McCain, right near the end of the evening. Obama is feeling pretty confident right now that he’s going to be the nominee. And he should feel that way.
7:31pm We’re back from commerical break. Get ready for the exciting adventures of more of the same!
7:33pm Obama has $91 million in earmarks, which is a small number. Good for him. But I’m surprised (not!) that CNN is barely asking about earmarks in tonight’s debate. The fact that they gave Obama an easy lob speak volumes, too.
7:34pm Look. Let’s be honest. As a percentage of the federal budget, pork barrel spending is a tear shed in front of Hurricane Katrina. But it is an important symbol, of both accountability and integrity. And people are angry about it.
7:35pm Clinton will “get us back to fiscal responsibility.” By raising taxes and spending and reducing trade. Great! The budget will be balanced, but we’ll all be poor and sick.
7:37pm “We will have a unified Democratic Party and we will go on to victory.” I’ll be damned. I was right earlier — Clinton really is setting herself up for a graceful exit on March 5. Mark my words.
7:38pm Regarding my last comment, I wonder just how bad Clinton’s internal polls must look.
7:40pm “What was the moment that tested you the most?” Obama dodges, and reaches for his stump speech biography. If Clinton were honest (an oxymoron?) she’s answer “Monica and all the other ‘bimbo eruptions.'”
7:41pm “I think everybody here knows I’ve lived through some crises…” Good for her! That was, if a bit vague, still the answer I suggested for her. For the first time in any of these debates, she delivered a funny line with real humor.
In other words, I think she is getting ready to drop out on March 5. And, yes, gracefully.
7:43pm “I am honored to be here with Barack Obama.” “Whatever happens, we’re going to be fine.” “We have support from our family and friends.” What you just heard was a preview of Hillary’s concession speech. And it got the biggest cheers I’ve ever heard for her.
7:45pm As always, I’ll post my post-debate wrap-up as soon as I’ve had a chance to eat some dinner and finish my last cocktail. Look for that in just a little bit.