Monday, August 06, 2007

Some Late Thoughts on the YearlyKos Candidates Forum

For a rollicking good time, watch the YearlyKos candidates forum on youtube. The audience was allowed to boo, hiss, cheer, and applaud, which made for a debate, er, forum, that was actually fun to watch.

Some might say that Hillary Clinton stumbled, but that is not entirely true. Though Barack Obama certainly hit her hard on the matter of taking campaign donations from federal lobbyists, she deserves credit for sticking by her unpopular position in front of a crowd of bloodthirsty netroots activists. She was in hostile territory, and she handled it with grace and a good sense of humor. When one of the moderators accidentally called her President Clinton, she sarcastically joked that it must have been a Freudian slip. Humor aside, Clinton’s delivery was poised and well practiced, as always. The Senator’s highpoint came in a candid response to a question asking what she learned from her mistakes as the head of her husband’s efforts to give America universal healthcare. If she could do it over again, she says she would have spent more time strategizing and building coalitions before attempting to take on the big insurance companies. The icing on the cake was a self-deprecating remark that she would not make the same tactical mistakes she made in the early nineties, which she says were too many in number to count. Honesty and authenticity is so refreshing, especially coming from Senator Clinton.

Meanwhile, Obama continued to raise eyebrows with some long awaited morsels of substance. This time he delved into the issue of U.S.-China relations. “I think that the right way to look at it is that China is a competitor, but it doesn’t have to be an enemy unless we help make it into an enemy,” he argued. From there, he commented that the United States must not only find its way out of debt to the Chinese, but also fill the void that China is currently filling in African nations. If you add the substance to the differences he drew between himself and Senator Clinton on accepting contributions from lobbyists, Obama had a solidly strong showing.

Since there is still some disagreement about whether or not it’s a two-candidate race, I’ll take some time to give John Edwards a few plaudits. While one part of me says his campaign can’t recover from his inability to reconcile $400 haircuts with populism, another part of me sees a man of substance and sincerity. His performance in the forum revealed an authentic passion for keeping the special interests out of important decision making in Washington. Edwards is in tune with those voters in Middle America who have lost faith in our democracy, and like the Bill of yore, he feels their pain. For whatever reason, he still does not seem to be catching enough traction to keep up with Hillary and Obama. Nonetheless, he still hasn’t gone away.


Taylor said...

Hillary is doing a great job of showing more and more personality as the race goes on. She will never have the vibe that Obama has, but she is showing that there is more to her than being a fierce policy politican (not that there's anything wrong with that).

BruinKid said...

And I was one of the ones booing her when she said she would still take Washington lobbyist money.