7:50 p.m. - I intended to live blog the whole thing, but I tuned in a few minutes late, and by the time I got there they only debated for 45 minutes, and they spent the first 30 minutes at least squabbling about and parsing the immigration problem, and in the end, nobody really said anything. My eyes glazed over, and I wasn't able to shake it off and make with the live-blogging.
One thing was for sure - Mitt Romney got pummeled from all sides, and Huckabee got in the best shot of the whole shootin' match. At one point he said something about "his position" and Huck piped up and said "which one?" - Mittens visibly winced.
Not one word about health care, except for how illegals shouldn't get any. (Yes, lets not immunize because those diseases aren't communicable and won't mutate to reemerge if we let up. Short sighted morons.)
Ron Paul was on the stage, after initially being excluded. At the end Charlie Gibson asked the Democrats who will be taking the stage shortly to come out so they could all shake hands and share the stage.
Where the hell is Dennis Kucinich? They let Ron Paul represent the Libertarian right. Why isn't Dennis allowed to represent the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party?
Back shortly with the Democrats...
Topic number one - nuclear terrorism. After six years of ineptitude, the U.S. has no reliable method to intercept nuclear material, and Osama is still on the loose. Not only that, but he is strengthening. How would the Democrats handle this?
Obama: We should cooperate with Pakistan, to go after al Qaeda, and pressure them to go after the terrorists currently hiding out in Waziristan. If they didn't act, and we had actionable intel, he would strike.
Edwards: If I knew where Osama was, I would go get him. Period. If the radicals get control in Pakistan, they have nukes, and then all bets are off. Would work long term for nuclear disarmament world wide.
Richardson: Diplomacy first. last thing we need is more war with the Islamic world. Pakistan is a potential failed state with nukes. Right now we have the worst of all worlds. Richardson would ask him to step aside, using a provision of the Pakistani Constitution, for a caretaker government in the short term.
Clinton: Important to get back to your question, because that is the greatest threat to America today.
- bin Laden has regrouped because Afghanistan was muffed.
- Imperative that actionable intel be given the most careful consideration, and the Pakistani government needs to be informed that the missiles are flying so Pakistan doesn't attack India.
- Right now the nukes are secure. Would work very hard to get Musharef to share the security of the nukes with a delegation so a failsafe is in place.
- Repair the failed policies of the Bush administration.
In 2005 Sam Nunn asked "on the day after a nuke explodes in an American city, what will we wish we would have done? What will we do?"
Edwards: It is the responsibility of the president to react, but also reassure. Ratcheting up the rhetoric is counterproductive.
Obama: Rebuild the NPT. Bush has all but abandoned it.
Clinton: Have a high level of commitment in the WH to work toward nuclear containment. Ports are not secure, and when you look at where we are, stateless terrorists have to operate from somewhere, and if they are finding safe haven, we have to make it clear that safe havens will be punished.
Richardson: I will seek immediate negotiations with the Soviet Union (sic) and other countries that have nukes to rein in the loose ones.
Okay, now Gibson is trying to get a cage match going between Obama and Clinton re: health care. Goo grief. Such an issue deserves honest debate, not this silliness!
And this is why I've personally been backing Richardson: "I've been involved in hostage negotiations that were more civil than this. There will be plenty of time for that with the Republicans. They were just out here, you heard them." [Laughter]
And now Iraq. Charlie Gibson just called on them to admit that the Surge™ has worked. He got smacked by Clinton and Richardson on the lack of political progress. He tried to argue, prefacing it with "I'm not here to debate" and Obama is pointing out that we are back where we were two years ago. Edwards will end combat operations within a year. End the war by ending the occupation.
30 seconds to recap
Richardson: End the war and take care of the veterans.
Clinton: Get the troops home as quickly and responsibly as we can, inform Maliki that blank check George gave him is going to bounce. Take care of the Iraqi's who helped the Americans.
[Taking a break - R & C went over - coming back for Edwards and Obama]
Okay - it's getting a bit tedious. Everyone is going over their resume with the director of HR. (That's us. But this is what? Their eighth or ninth interview?)
Barack got the shot of the night in - when asked about the Republicans, he said "well, I was going back and forth between the Republicans and football."
Richardson rated a golden zinger too, when he told us that he will have Democrats, Republicans and Independents in his cabinet - "Okay, I won't over do it on the Republicans."
Edwards: You have to take them on, you can't compromise them to death. This is not a fight with politicians and it is certainly not a fight with the American people. It's a fight FOR the American people."
Well, it's over. The most cynical part of the whole thing was ABC pimping their own news shows with clips to set up questions in the first part of the debate. And the biggest slip-of-the-mask was Gibson entering the debate to argue with the candidates about successes in Iraq, when the lack of political progress negates any reductions in violence from increased American troop presence.
Damn that is an impressive bench. Every last one of them on that stage would be a damned fine President. The people who were up there the first forty-five minutes shouldn't even be allowed to buy a ticket to the stands to watch a game being played in that league.
Can I have them all? Maybe in succession? Look who we are offering and then look at who they offer. The Republican day is done. Once a pendulum changes direction, it doesn't turn in mid-swing. The Democrats are on the ascendancy after their time spent in the wilderness, and the Republicans are heading out to forage.
And for the love of all that is sacred and holy (the Bill of Rights, the Constitution, the Magna Carta, Democracy herself...) Can we please have the League of Women Voters take these things back over?