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Friday, December 14, 2007

Notes on the final Democratic debate before the Iowa caucus

I've read too much about "who won" each debate. Allow me to express my impressions of each candidate after what I watched the other night. Richardson was there, this time.

Biden: The guy has guts. He is pushing for a partition of Iraq, which may be our best policy option but is a tough sell. He's the only candidate who spoke honestly about how lost Iraq really is. He gets riled up when he sees injustice, and he speaks his mind when he disagrees with anyone. The man will not back down even from his friends. I worry that his passion may undermine his ability to work with a legislature.

Clinton: The line the press is making a big deal about really did hit me hard. She's all about the details – all about banging out policy after meeting with a bunch of people. But with her I still can't shake the feeling that she doesn't have a stronger conviction than simply wanting to do a good job at whichever job she does. That said, her push for healthcare back in the day showed plenty. In Clinton, I see a hard worker who's very willing to adapt to any political climate in order to be successful.

Dodd: His speech on his commitment to public service impressed me. His crisp explanations of the limitations on the President made good retorts to both Edwards' promises and Richardson's bragging. Also, Dodd is the only candidate who supports a carbon tax, which I find bold and admirable.

Edwards: All the Democrats were anti-trade, but Edwards took it to another level. He promised voters to fight all the bad guys, and this apparently has won him some support. I think his trade policies would undermine our economy's strength – for some reason, Edwards does not accept that we must lose some jobs in order to create new ones. But I do not doubt his conviction or his morals.

Obama: My favorite moment was the specificity with which he laid out his top priorities for the first year of his presidency. Right at the top of his list was reviewing, with his attorney general, every single executive order that W. Bush has made. The top is where that belongs. On foreign policy, he takes more flack than he deserves. Yet I was disappointed by his willingness to pander in regards to trade. Standing for change should mean more than standing with the Democratic Party's base on every issue.

Richardson: I usually laugh and hurt at how hard he has to try to smile, but this night was different. He's the only candidate, he finally showed, that's capable of not always taking himself seriously (and I'm not just talking about the weight joke). To me, his ability to subtly make fun of himself shows his confidence. His policy on Iraq is bold, clear, and unique among the candidates'. Energy (independence) and education (teacher pay) are his next highest priorities.

I wish with all my heart that Richardson hadn't pandered to all the anti-China guys, but no Democrat didn't. Richardson dwelled on human rights record longest, so of all things, I'll take that. I sure would have preferred he left out the currency "issue," but I can't have everything. We have real choices in front of us.

I think Joe Biden said it best: "This debate isn't about change or experience. It's about action."

You look at these guys and you tell me who's the most capable of taking meaningful positive action. I've made my choice, and I'm sticking with it. Bill Richardson for President.

Salon.com had this to say about Governor Richardson's peformance:

Former Democratic Rep. Dave Nagle, who is neutral in the presidential race, offered an intriguing theater review of the debate. "The second tier beat the first tier," Nagle said, boosting Richardson, Joe Biden and Chris Dodd...Richardson did deserve plaudits for what may have been his best debate performance of the long theatrical season...

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