Thursday, September 27, 2007

On Last Nights Dem. Debate, And Supporting The Nominee

When I got home from work last night I caught the last half hour of the Democratic debate. In final stages of the debate, I thought Senator Clinton turned on a high hardball from moderator Tim Russert and knocked it out of the park.

The moment came when the candidates were in the lightning round, which meant they had a 30 second clock to answer various questions. Tim Russert tossed the candidates a hypothetical question based upon a former guest he interviewed on Meet The Press. The hypothetical involved a high ranking Al Qaeda member being captured, who our intelligence service is certain possesses knowlege about an attack on America in the next couple of days. Under that circumstance Russerts guest had asserted that American intelligence operatives have the duty to beat the information out of the detainee.

Russert tossed the ticking time bomb to Senators Obama and Biden first, who both answered that torture was wrong under any circumstance. Then he moved to Senator Clinton who echoed the previous answers. At this point Russert wound up and delivered his beanball: "The guest who laid out this scenario for me with that proposed solution was William Jefferson Clinton last year"

At this point the camera was on Hillary and she sort of fixed Russert with this glare, as if waiting for him to finish his delivery... Russert then said: "So he disagrees with you."

Hillary took that beanball and knocked it into the next timezone: "Well, he's not standing here right now." She was beaming as she said it.

Then, just to finish it off, after the wild applause from the audience had settled down, and Russert tried to press the point Hillary figuratively rounded the bases. Russert: "So there is a disagreement,"
Clinton: (heavy on the sarcasm) "Well, I'll talk to him later."

When I watched the debate in full later, the impression this moment left on me when I first saw it was validated. Dennis Kucinich had some good moments, and Mike Gravel can always be counted upon to toss some grenades into the fray... but from my opinion Hillary's take on Russerts beanball was the highlight of the debate.

The coverage after the debate on MSNBC hardly touched on that moment. The couple of times it was brought up it was presented as a gotcha moment for Senator Clinton by Russert. I thought he tried to make it that, but the Senator handled it beautifully. If nothing else she demonstrated a quick wit and ability to think under pressure.

Which brings me to another question currently roiling the waters on the lefty side of the great political divide. What happens if Hillary wins the nomination? This issue was brought into focus for me by a caller to Thom Hartman who I heard on the way to work today. The caller was upset with the media determining that Senator Clinton is the nominee and described being in despair about the state of politics to the point of just not voting anymore. Hartman implored the caller to hang in there and vote for the Democratic nominee regardless, and tied it into the rights drive to suppress the vote. That is a valid point to be sure, but I have another reason for voting for whoever gets the nomination.

The executive branch is not just the President. The people the President surrounds him/herself with have a great deal of say so in the every day workings of our government. Think of it this way. Who was better for America as Secretary of Defense: Donald Rumsfeld or Les Aspin? Who made the better Secretary of State: Condi Rice or Madelaine Albright? It is obvious that the talent pool the Democratic President would choose from is light years ahead on qualifications and ability to wisely govern compared to what we have already experienced under the Bush administration.

This is the same principle that guides me when I vote for Senator and Congress. I could actually disagree with the Democratic nominee and agree with the Republican on the vast majority of issues, but I can not imagine ever voting for a Republican. Because on the really important vote on who it is that controls the Congress, I know that the Democratic nominee who may not be as ideologically pure as I'd like is going to vote for Harry Reid as Senate Leader, or Nancy Pelosi as House Speaker.

So even if a Congressional Democrat will vote against my issues more often than a Republican would on the same votes, the fact is that the leadership chooses what they will get to vote for. Even if the Democrat doesn't vote my way on those issues when the votes are called, those issues still get voted on if the Democrat gets elected. But those issues are strangled in the cradle if the Republican, no matter how ideologically in tune they are with my point of view, votes for Republican leadership.

The point in all this is that there is more that should go into the voting decision than just who agrees with you on the issues you think are important. Believe you me, if everything were equal I would positively love to hop on the Kucinich bandwagon and ride it to the Presidency. I have yet to reach a decision as to who I will support in the Democratic primary with the caveat that if Gore decides to make a late entry to the race that he will be my guy. But I can guarantee you this. Who ever is the Democratic nominee in the general election will have my full and ungrudging support. Because I think this nation is sick and tired of Rumsfeld's, Brownies and Cheney's running the show.

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